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French Transition Words: A Comprehensive Manual

Transition words may not seem like much, but when added to sentences they can really make a whole world of difference. From literature to debates, they’re widely used and essential to learn if you’re looking to boost your conversational skills.

Are you ready to learn everything there is to know about French transition words?

Enfin (Finally)

If there’s a weapon you can use to end all sentences, it’s this word. It also doubles up as an interjection when fulfilling the role of words like “at least”, “well” and “all in all” to name a few.

Enfin, le spectacle est terminé (Finally, the show is over)

Dès que (As soon as)

As you can probably guess from its English translation, dès que is used with future tenses. It works especially well when threatening someone, or discussing an unscheduled meeting or flaky ambitions.

Dès que les nuages arrivent, il va pleuvoir
(As soon as the clouds come, it’ll rain)

Comme / Puisque (Since)

Comme: It relays reason as well as outcome within a sentence. It’s usually placed at the beginning.
Puisque: This is merely used to explain something. It has no set placement in a sentence, but you’re more likely to find it either at the beginning or somewhere in the middle.

Puisque tu es debout, lave toi les dents! (Since you’re up, brush your teeth!)

En fait (In fact)

One of the easiest transition words to remember since it’s so alike its English counterpart, this one is practically self-explanatory. As well as being widely used in conversational and casual French as an equivalent to “basically”, one might also find it in a research paper at the beginning of a conclusive paragraph for instance.

En fait, nous avons visité le parc l’année dernière
(In fact, we visited the park last year)

En plus / En outre (Also or In addition)

If you’re having a conversation and want to add on to something that’s already been mentioned, other than opting for the mainstream aussi (also) it’s the perfect opportunity to use en plus. Similarly, en outre is a good one to use in writing.

En plus, j’ai eu une pizza hier soir (In addition, I had a pizza last night)

Watch the video below to discover even more French transition words


À mon avis (In my opinion)

Before you start talking about all the scenes you loved in the latest big franchise film, start off with this transition and you’ll sound like a French pro from the get-go.

À mon avis, les héros ne portent pas toujours de capes
(In my opinion, heroes don’t always wear capes)

Après que (After/when)

Being a compound conjunction, this term requires to be used only when followed by a verb.

Je vais lire après avoir regardé un episode (I’ll read after I watch an episode)

Bien que (Although / even though)

This French transition verb allows you to highlight a particular contrast or to add certain conditions to statements.

Je vais danser, bien que j’aime chanter (I will dance, although I like to sing)

D’abord (First of all)

Whether you’re giving someone directions, talking about something exciting that happened to you or giving a set of instructions, this should be your go-to transition word.

D’abord, tournez à gauche (First of all, take a left turn)

Donc (So)

It may be small, but it can make all the difference in the world. This term can be placed in such a way that it implies causation within a sentence.

Elle passait devant, donc je lui ai fais un signe (She passed by, so I waved her)

Pour ma part / Pour moi (For me)

It’s all about you! That’s right, when you’re discussing something regarding yourself these transition words are the ones to go for, especially if you’re in need of a little bit of that spotlight! The first one is best for stating opinions, while the second one is perfect for ordering food.

Pourrais-je avoir des pâtes pour moi, s’il vous plaît?
(For me, I’ll have the pasta please.)

Puis (Then)

This is one of the most frequently used terms in French, whether that’s verbally or in literature. Trust us, you won’t be able to stop noticing it everywhere from here on out!

Puis, elle lava la vaisselle (Then, she washed the dishes)

Ainsi que (As well as)

When you’re having a conversation with someone and you want to extend or discuss more on a certain topic, ainsi que is the transition word for you. It’s also pretty useful if you’re listing a succession of things one after the other.

Elle visiterait l’église ainsi que le temple
(She would visit the Church as well as the Temple)

Avant que (Before)

Here, because of the que the phrase is a compound conjunction.

Jenny va rentrer chez elle avant que sa mère se reveille.
(Jenny is going home before her mother wakes up)

Quoi Que (No matter what)

Here’s another useful colloquial transition word to get familiar with. Let’s see how it’s used in an example.

Quoi qu’il arrive, je vais le soumettre aujourd’hui
(No matter what happens, I’ll submit it today)

Quoique (Even though)

No, you’re not seeing double – this transition word is completely different from the above. Yes, really! There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to quoique in one word – it never takes a space between the quoi and the que, and it’s the French equivalent of “even though”. It also happens to be exactly the same as bien que too.

Il viendra, quoique c’est tard (He will come, even though it’s late)

Cependant (However, nonetheless)

When you want to talk about a contradiction, then the adverb cependant can be used and placed at the start of a sentence to become a transition word instead.

Cependant, le rendez-vous était plus long que prévu
(However, the meeting was longer than expected)

Ensuite (Next)

If you are giving directions or simply recounting an event, this is the transition word to use.

Ensuite, nous avons bu du lait (Next, we drank milk)

Parce que / Car (Because)

There’s a fine line between these two, and you’ll have to tread carefully. While the first one is widely used as the French equivalent of “because”, car  leans more towards meaning “since” or “for” instead.

Ils adorent naviguer parce que ca donne de l’adrénaline
(They love to sail, because it gives them adrenaline)

Tant que (As long as)

By itself, tant is used to express an undefined quantity of something. But with a slight modification and by adding the faithful que, it becomes a transitional word.

Tant que tu m’aimes (As long as you love me)

Pour que (So that)

Not only will using pour que most likely earn you brownie points amongst native speakers, this transition word really makes your sentences stand out as well. It’s a win-win on both accounts!

Mange maintenant pour que tu puisses aller au théâtre
(Eat now so that you can go to theater)

Lorsque / Quand (When)

Although either of these can be used, the first one is usually used in a more formal context. It’s also good to know that lorsque can imply “whereas” and quand can also mean “whenever”

Becky se baignait quand vous êtes arrivés (Becky was bathing when you arrived)

En revanche / Par contre (On the other hand, in opposition)

Last but not least, these transition words are used to create a clear contrast between two things.

Henry était un mauvais politicien mais par contre Julien était pire
(Henry was a bad politician, but on the other hand Julien was worse)

Yes, that’s finally it – we made it to the end! À mon avis, you’ve now gained enough knowledge to easily manoeuvre your way through a conversation in French than avant que you started this lesson, no?

See you next lesson – and in the meantime, don’t forget to practice!  If you do need any help, don’t hesitate to get into contact with one of our online French Tutors.

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