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Published on: Grammar

Step-By-Step Guide to Using Transition Words in Spanish

Spanish transition words are necessary to connect sentences and, therefore, ideas. Use them to organize your speech and sound more natural.

Written or spoken, a sentence must sound clean. Whether you desire to contrast information or add a new perspective to nourish the speech, transition words need to be used.

Spanish transition words help the language user provide a different style to the sentences and this is unique to every person.

In this article, you are going to find a list of the Spanish transition words you will most likely listen to in conversations or read, maybe the case be.

Why are Spanish transition words important?

It’s completely natural to start building quick sentences when we are learning a new language. Those sentences usually go with a subject, a verb, and a short complement.

However, after properly learning some grammar rules, and acquiring more and more vocabulary, you should be able to start building complex phrases. You can’t talk about your routine separate by dots like this:

“I woke up and took a shower. I ate breakfast. I went to the park to exercise.”

As was said before, this is entirely natural at the beginning of the learning trip. The thing here is, as English is your mother tongue, you won’t express the sentence that way.

The goal would be to use similar expressions to link those ideas not to sound like a robot in Spanish. Hence:

“After waking up, I took a quick shower. Then, I ate breakfast, I was hungry! After that, I went to the park for some exercise. Finally, I came back home to start working.”

That paragraph is not the summit of the amusement but people reading it or listening to it will be a lot more interested than with the first one thanks to the transition words.

spanish transition words
Spanish transitional words and phrases help you connect and organize your ideas in a sentence. Image by Mike via Pexels

How many Types of Spanish transition words are there

In Spanish, we have 8 types of transition words: 

  • Spanish transition words for time.
  • Spanish transition words for place.
  • Spanish transition words to add an idea.
  • Spanish transition words to explain an idea.
  • Spanish transition words to compare and contrast ideas.
  • Spanish transition words to show a result.
  • Spanish transition words to emphasize an idea.
  • Spanish transition words to summarize.

Let’s take a look at each one with the translation and some examples. That way, you will be able to place them in similar real-life situations.

Also, information is added by means of a description so you can understand its usage.

Spanish transition words for time

Ya / todavía: now / already / still

Spanish native speakers would always use these two even when it’s not necessary. Actually, ya has become a very common filler in this language.

  • ¿Todavía estás usando la computadora? – Are you still using the computer?
  • Te lo voy a decir ahora si no te lo había dicho ya. – I’m going to tell you now if I hadn’t already told you

Todavía no: not yet

Following the previous transitions but in a negative way…

  • ¡No, todavía no abras la puerta! – No, do not open the door yet!

Ya no: not anymore

Sentences containing these first types of transitional words are quite popular in Spanish.

  • Ya no quiero hablar contigo. – I no longer want to talk to you.
  • Tu opinión ya no es relevante. – Your opinion is not relevant anymore.

Primero / en primer lugar: first / first of all / firstly

The ideas to be expressed will be enumerated by using ordinal numbers.

  • Primero, yo no dije eso. Segundo, no deberías estar aquí. Y tercero, ¿por qué le dirías a la gente sobre esto? – First, I didn’t say that. Second, you shouldn’t be here. And third, why would you tell people about this?

Luego / más tarde / después: later / then

You might be wondering how to use a word with three different meanings, but let’s not take things that far, yet. Luego and después are basically the same, they both talk about something occurring after another event.

Más tarde, on the other hand, refers to an action occurring after another without the sense of continuity the previous ones have. Instead, this one says the next action is taking place further in the future.

For example:

  • Esperaremos a los niños para luego salir. – We’ll wait for the kids to then go out.
  • Voy a pensarlo y te diré más tarde. – I’m going to think about it and I’ll tell you later. 

Learning Spanish you will find that building a phrase with these words is actually pretty simple. 

If you want to go further, there are synonyms available:

  • Para empezar: to start / for starters / to begin with.
  • En primer lugar: in the first place / firstly.
  • En segundo lugar: in second place / secondly.
  • Inicialmente: initially.
  • Próximo: next.
  • Antes de: before.
  • Después de: after.
  • Para concluir / para finalizar / finalmente: finally / to conclude.
  • Por último: lastly.

Spanish transition words for time is the longest category as the employed words possess many synonyms.

Memorizing the ones you like better will help you focus and not be looking for another word. Aside from the types that we have already covered, there are some other transitions that express time differently.

Mientras / mientras tanto: while / as long as / in the meantime / meanwhile

  • Quédate junto a mí mientras esperamos. – Stay next to me while we wait. 
  • Mientras seas la siguiente, no seré el último. – As long as you’re next, I won’t be the last one. 
  • Mientras tanto, yo escribía la última palabra. – Meanwhile, I was writing the last word.

Cuando: when

  • Entreguen sus trabajos cuando estén listos para corregirlos aquí. – Hand over the papers when you’re ready to grade them here.

Durante: during / over

  • Hubo muchas protestas durante la transición política. – There were a lot of protests during the political transition.

En cuanto / tan pronto como: once / as soon as

  • En cuanto aprenda español, hablaré bien con mis amigos. – Once I learn Spanish, I’ll talk well with my friends.

Spanish transition words for place

Not many can be found under the label of transition words when talking about the place.

Sobre / por encima: on / above

The first one refers to the position in which you are stepping on something and, with the second one, you express you are over with something or you don’t care.

  • Ellos necesitan empezar a hablar sobre el calentamiento global. – They need to start talking about global warming.
  • Ellas hablaron del calentamiento global por encima. – They barely talked about global warming during the conference.

Enfrente de / delante: facing / in front of

These two are different when the physical position is relevant and we must be specific. When we use these two as transitional words, it makes no difference if you choose one or the other.

For example:

  • Vamos a caminar al parque que está enfrente. – Let’s walk to the park across the street.
  • Ella no dirá que no si está delante del problema. – She won’t say no if she’s in front of the problem.

Spanish transition words to add an idea

It’s well-known that y in Spanish translates to and in English.

It’s any Spanish-language starter’s favorite conjunction. But, did you know it’s considered a coordinating conjunction because it connects two sentences within the same category? For example:

  • Encendí la luz y me puse a trabajar. – I turned the light on and started to work.

Por un lado / por otro lado: on one hand / on the other hand

Por una parte… por otra parte can be used in Spanish with the same meaning.

  • Por un lado, nuestros niños pueden correr libremente en el parque. Por otro lado, se pueden lastimar. – On one hand, our kids can run freely in the park. On the other hand, they can get hurt.

Asimismo / igualmente / del mismo modo / de la misma manera: also / likewise / furthermore

Use these to add new information to something we already knew which was expressed in the previous sentence.

  • Este será nuestro último examen. Asimismo, es requerido que cada uno de ustedes pase para que el resto sea aprobado. – This will be our last test of the term. Also, it’s required that each of you passes so the rest is approved.

Asimismo must not be confused with a sí mismo (to oneself) or así mismo (in the same way).

Además / además de: in addition / in addition to / furthermore / moreover / besides

  • Además de Google, ¿Qué otros motores de búsqueda usas? – Besides Google, what other search engines do you use? 
  • Katherine es linda; además, ella es muy inteligente. – Katherine is cute; moreover, she’s very smart.

También: as well / also / too

  • Yo también quiero salir a jugar. – I want to go out and play as well.
  • No me gusta esta camisa. También, mis pantalones son demasiado cortos. – I don’t like this shirt. Also, my pants are too short.

Spanish transition words to explain an idea

Es decir / esto es / quiere decir: that is / i.e. / that is to say

These expressions will help you use other words to express something you said.

For example:

  • Lo despidieron, quiere decir que no podrá venir con nosotros. – He got fired, that is, he won’t be able to come with us.

Como: like / as / since

Three different meanings in English again. Depending on the position como occupies in the sentence, the meaning will differ.

  • Ámame como yo te amo. – Love me as I love you.

“Like” would be the same there if we replaced it.

  • Como llegaron temprano, agarraron los mejores puestos. – Since you got there early, you got the best places.

Entre ellos / entre otros: among them / among others / among other things

  • Tengo muchos amigos, entre ellos, los de mi infancia. – I have a lot of friends, among them, my childhood ones. 
  • Entre otras cosas, el deporte es lo que amo. – Among other things, sports is what I love.

Por ejemplo: for example / for instance

The favorite transitional phrase for beginners in this category since its purpose is pretty straightforward. Use it to add an explanation by means of a more illustrative phrase.

  • Para comer sanamente debes ser responsable. Por ejemplo, el alcohol no está permitido. – To eat healthily you have to be responsible. For instance, alcohol is not allowed.

Así: thus / thereby

  • Duerman temprano, así, descansarán más. – Sleep early, thus, you’ll rest more.

Spanish transition words to compare and contrast ideas

easy spanish transition words
Image by Ivan Bandura via Unsplash

Pero: but

Every category has a favorite word or phrase. This time, “but”.

  • Voy a las 7, pero de la mañana no de la tarde. – I’m coming at 7 but in the morning not in the evening.

A pesar de: despite / in spite of

It adds a contrasting idea in a more polite way. Use it with a noun or an infinitive.

  • A pesar del calor, ellos siguieron trabajando. – In spite of the heat, they kept on working. 
  • A pesar de correr tan rápido, perdió. – Despite running so fast, he lost.

Al contrario / contrariamente / por el contrario: on the contrary / as opposed to / contrary to

  • No me dijiste la verdad, al contrario, seguiste mintiendo todo el tiempo. – You didn’t tell me the truth, on the contrary, you kept lying the whole time. 
  • Contrariamente a lo que se creía, esas teorías resultaron acertadas. – Contrary to what it was believed, those theories were right.

Sino: but

You can add some nuance to your regular pero transition with sino.

Be careful, you can also find si no in Spanish which has a totally different meaning. Si no is used for conditionals in Spanish. In English, its equivalent would be “if”.

For example:

  • No eran pocos, sino muchos amigos. – They were not a few but a lot of friends.

Sin embargo: however / nevertheless

A fine transition phrase to start improving your Spanish.

  • Yo quería responder, sin embargo, no encontré las palabras adecuadas. – I wanted to respond, however, I couldn’t find the right words.

No obstante: However / nevertheless

This Spanish transition is not distinct from the latter in meaning, only in terms of politeness. No obstante is a formal expression.

For example:

  • Ellas hicieron promesas. No obstante, ellas nunca las cumplieron. – They made promises. Nevertheless, they never fulfilled them.

Aunque: although / while / even though / even if

Common transition word in Spanish with a lot of equivalent words in English. We know these are the words and phrases that give you headaches but no worries, it’s simpler than it looks.

  • Aunque haga frío, no necesito usar un abrigo así como tú. – Although it’s cold, I don’t need to wear a sweater just like you

Spanish transition words to show a result

common transition words in spanish
Image by John Schnobrich via Unsplash

In this kind of transition, we’ll find more words together to provide a specific meaning.

Por esta razón: for this reason

  • El conductor del programa fue muy ofensivo con los invitados, por esta razón ellos se retiraron antes de tiempo. – The host of the program was very offensive to the guests, which is why they left early. 

Por consiguiente / por lo tanto: therefore / thus

More formal than the first one, this Spanish transition phrase is also used to convey the outcome.

  • Estudié todos los tipos posibles de verbos reflexivos en Español. Por lo tanto, estoy listo para el examen. – I studied all possible types of reflexive verbs in Spanish. Therefore, I am ready for the exam.

Por lo tanto is in the middle between formality and informality. People like using it a lot.

Como resultado: as a result

  • Tuve un accidente, y como resultado, perdí mi carro. – I had an accident. As a result, I lost my car.

En consecuencia / a consecuencia de: as a consequence / as a result of / because of

  • En consecuencia, por no seguir las reglas, fueron expulsados. – As a consequence of not following the rules, they got expelled. 
  • Las calles se inundaron a consecuencia del aguacero. – The streets flooded as a result of the heavy rain.

Por eso / Por esto: Therefore / for this reason / that’s why

In Spanish, these two are informal. Use this transition often to add naturality to your sentences.

  • Son las mismas camas, por eso tienen el mismo precio. – They are the same beds, that’s why they have the same price.

Así que / de modo que: so

A phrase with these words is simple, and beginners widely use it. 

  • Me faltó una palabra de la lección de inglés, de modo que no completé la frase. – I missed a word from the English lesson so I didn’t complete the phrase.

Spanish transition words to emphasize an idea

Add these Spanish transition words and phrases every time you can. There is almost no difference in the formality level for the following phrases.

Sobre todo / especialmente: particularly / especially / above all / mainly

  • Esas palabras de transición en español no son difíciles, sobre todo las de énfasis. – Those Spanish transition words are not difficult, particularly the emphasis ones. 
  • No quiero estudiar la misma lección sobre todo. – I don’t want to study the same lesson above all. 
  • El tiempo vuela especialmente cuando juego. – Time flies especially when I play.

Principalmente: especially / particularly / mainly

The idea for this Spanish transition is to demonstrate we have other options yet we are choosing one in specific.

Even when sobre todo and principalmente use the same words in English, they have that small difference in Spanish. These types of differences are quite common and practicing will help you tell them apart.

  • He usado todas mis faldas muchas veces, principalmente las negras. – I’ve used all my skirts many times, mainly the black ones.

Efectivamente / realmente: effectively / actually / really / truly

Used at the beginning or at the end of the phrase. For example:

  • Esa oración es efectivamente correcta. – That sentence is effectively correct. 
  • No estoy seguro de si ellos me van a ayudar realmente. – I’m not sure if they are really going to help me.

De hecho: in fact / indeed / as a matter of fact

  • Para aprender no es necesario ser un genio. De hecho, para aprender solo se necesita dedicación. – It isn’t necessary to be a genius to learn. In fact, the only thing you need to learn is dedication.

Spanish transition words to summarize

formal tranasition words in spanish
Image by Christina @ via Unsplash

En otras palabras: in other words

This transition can help you both summarize and give a better explanation.

  • En otras palabras, para finalmente encontrar la cura, debemos comprar muchos tipos de químicos. – In other words, to finally find the cure, we must buy many types of chemicals.

Después de todo: after all

  • Después de todo, casi terminamos con este artículo sobre transiciones en español. – After all, we’re almost finished with this article about the transitions in Spanish.

En general: in general

  • En general, para terminar una idea, usamos este tipo de palabra de transición. – In general, to finish an idea, we use this kind of transition word.

En resumen / para resumir / en síntesis: to sum up / in summary / in short / in a nutshell

  • Para resumir, estos tipos de transiciones son muy útiles. – To sum up, these types of transitions are very helpful. 
  • En síntesis, para dar la oración final perfecta en una conversación, usa estos tipos de transiciones. – In summary, to provide the perfect ending sentence in a conversation, use these types of transitions

Final Thoughts

In the end, it doesn’t matter which Spanish transition words you choose to use, as long as you do use them, your speech will have a sense of organization.

Needless to say, there is a time for informal and a time for formal transitions. Spanish could be a relaxed, rich language but the formality is something we can’t overlook.

You’re probably itching to start putting some transition words on to use. So go ahead and sign up for a free private class or a 7-day free trial of our group classes so you can practice what you learned!

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