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Using Signal Words and signal phrases in an Essay

Jan 26, 2022

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Jan 26, 2022 | Blog

Writing is a limitless form of expression and an attempt to express thoughts, ideas, or emotions.

Writers use words as the building blocks for their message, which can be used in many different ways.

Words can combine in many different ways, resulting in various interpretations of what you are trying to say.

Signal words are like invisible stitches that connect two halves of a sentence.

Signal phrases serve as guides ensuring only certain things will be communicated when using them.

Signal words are also known as transitions.

Signal words are just a transition between two sentences; they also help the reader understand how one sentence relates to another.

What are signal words?

What are signal words? | Essay Freelance Writers

What is the meaning of signal words? and what is the use of signal words?

Signal words are words and phrases that show a connection between ideas?

They are also called sentence superheroes, transitional words.

Like traffic signs or accident prevention signs are important to drivers to warn of danger ahead, signal words are essential in writing.

One will know the transitions and the relationship between ideas when signal words are used in writing.

It will be easy for students to build new ideas framework by reflecting on what they have read and predicting the next outcome.

The reader can make predictions of what will follow when signal lights are used correctly in writing.

When a signal word is not used, the possibility of getting confused when reading partial sentences is very high.

It is essential to ensure clarity at the beginning of your essay as you write for the reader to know where you are going are with your argument.

This way, the reader will know your intentions and for clear communication.

Any person reading your work will know where you are coming from with your argument and where you are going.

Types of Signal Words

There are different categories of signal words, which are highlighted below.

Introduction Signals

Introduction Signals | Essay Freelance Writers

When writing your introduction, it is crucial to ensure you have clear phrases to indicate that you are starting the essay.

There are specific assets that are used in an introduction that shows specific sentences belong in this category.

Examples of an introductory signal sentence include; in this essay, I will analyze/ explore/discuss…

This way, the reader knows exactly what to expect in your work.

Time and Order Signals 

Time and Order Signals | Essay Freelance Writers

The structure of your essay tells much about your planning.

They Indicate when something happened about something else.

To signal the reader concerning time and order, use the phrases

  • Before
  • Since
  • Soon
  • During
  • Previously
  • Immediately
  • While

Emphasis Signal Words

Emphasis Signal Words | Essay Freelance Writers

The most important ideas in any given article are often the ones that pertain to its main point.

Some supporting points may not be as pertinent, but they serve an integral purpose by reinforcing which side of a debate is stronger or more persuasive.

But when it comes down to what really matters about the piece you’re reading – whether for pleasure or academic purposes – usually those key concepts will be near-ubiquitous

If something has been mentioned constantly throughout your text (or even just once), the chances are good that this idea was chosen because it’s absolutely pivotal!

For instance,

The most important weapon in fighting corruption in third-world countries is political will.

The emphasis words highlighted set apart political will as the main weapon among many others.

Some typical words showing emphasis include the following:

Important to note, most of all, a significant factor, a primary concern, a key feature, the main value, precious, most noteworthy, remember that, a major event, the chief outcome, the principal item, pay particular attention to, the chief factor, a vital force, above all, a central issue, a distinctive quality, especially relevant, should be noted, the most substantial issue

Compare and Contrast Signals Words

Compare and Contrast Signals Words | Essay Freelance Writers

Contrast signal word

Some signals will indicate that you have a different opinion concerning your argument, and you should highlight them.

To show you have an alternative viewpoint, contrast words use the following sentences or phrases:

Even though, Conversely, Nevertheless, In contrast, On the other hand, Instead, Despite, but yet, differ, difference, variation, still, on the contrary, otherwise.

Comparison Signals

They show the relationship or similarities between ideas

The second idea, in some way, looks like the first one.

What the writer wants to achieve is to point out the similarities between the subjects.

Examples include:

In like manner, Likewise, Similarly, Just as, Just like, like, likewise, equally, in the same way, alike, as in a similar fashion.

Importance of compare and contrast signal words

Compare and contrast signal words have the following importance in an essay

When writing compare and contrast essays, you are trying to examine subject matters.

You can either compare them, contrast them or do both.

The essence of comparing and contrasting essays is to show the differences and similarities between the two subject matters.

When writing an essay, you must highlight the subjects you compare and contrast and highlight what is learned.

One of the reasons you are comparing and contrasting is to give the reader additional information that is constructive.

It would help if you used comparison and contrast phrases to signal to the reader how to analyze the subject matter.

Additions Signals

Additions Signals | Essay Freelance Writers

As you write your essay, you may want to build up or continue your arguments in the same direction.

You will then need to add more details or points of the same kind.

Addition signals show the thought process of the writer in presenting more than one idea.

Addition words tell you that the writer is going to continue in a similar direction.

He will add more details and points of the same kind. Addition words are typically used for enumeration.

Useful phrases in this category include:

Apart from, In addition to, Besides, First of all, Furthermore, Another, Moreover, second, Also, Finally, First, For one thing, Last of all, Likewise, Next, And, Second, The third reason

Illustration signals

Illustration signals | Essay Freelance Writers

Illustration words use illustrations to make ideas clearer.

They’re typically found in textbooks that present several definitions and examples for those concepts to the students.

But they don’t have to be just for books!

They show development or clarification of an Idea.

Examples of illustration words include;

For example, Specifically, Including, Such as, For instance, illustrate, once

Explanation, clarifying, or emphasizing words signal

Explanation, clarifying, or emphasizing words signal

When you want to give more explanations concerning an argument.

They also show a particular idea is especially is important.

Writers use emphasis words to make the reader pay attention to an idea.

They are also used to expand a point.

Use the following phrases.

  • Clearly
  • Certainly
  • Obviously
  • In other words
  • To clarify this
  • This is to say
  • To be sure
  • Truly
  • As a matter of fact

Location Signal Words

Location Signal Words | Essay Freelance Writers

They show where something is located

  • Nearby
  • behind
  • Beneath
  • Below
  • Between
  • Next to

Signal Words for Cause and Effect

Signal Words for Cause and Effect | Essay Freelance Writers

The cause and effect signal words help to determine the relationship between various phenomena.

A cause-and-effect essay shows what the writer can see as the main course of an event and effect.

When writing a cause-and-effect essay, you can begin with the effect and later give more information about the cause or vice versa.

Using the right causative phrases can help you signal to the reader to understand the connection of different elements.

Cause and effect signals show what happened and why something happened.

Listed are examples of cause and effect signal words

Cause Signal Words and Phrases

  • Because
  • Due to
  • To be a result of
  • To result from
  • The sequence of
  • As a consequence of
  • Because of
  • The effect of

Effect Signal Words and Phrases

  • As a result
  • As a consequence
  • To result in
  • The cause of
  • The reason for
  • To affect on
  • To cause

Conclusion or summary signals 

Conclusion or summary signals | Essay Freelance Writers

Conclusion signals the reader that you are wrapping up your work or is concluding a thought.

Therefore, it would be best to make this as clear as possible as you are winding up your arguments.

Summarizing or concluding words

Signal words examples

  • In summary
  • To conclude
  • Ultimately
  • All in all
  • In short
  • On the whole
  • To sum up

Essay Writing Tips – Using ‘signal word’ in essays

Essay Writing Tips – Using 'signal word' in essays

As you write essays, the words that signal where your argument is going next are essential.

For example: “This essay will now explore what we can learn from psychology about why people got upset when they saw their favorite characters die.”

Or, “I’ll start by exploring Arnold’s theory of horror” implies a discussion in which Arnold’s ideas and thoughts on horror movies as well as how these affect our society today will be introduced to readers before discussing other theories or works with different points-of-view.

To get an idea for some signaling words, look at examples on the EssayFreelanceWriters website.

Essay Introduction Signals

Essay Introduction Signals

As you write essays, the words that signal where your argument is going next are essential.

For example: “This essay will now explore what we can learn from psychology about why people got upset when they saw their favorite characters die.”

Or, “I’ll start by exploring Arnold’s theory of horror” implies a discussion in which Arnold’s ideas and thoughts on horror movies as well as how these affect our society today will be introduced to readers before discussing other theories or works with different points-of-view.

To get an idea for some signaling words, look at examples on the EssayFreelanceWriters website.

Essay writing examples – time and order

Essay writing examples – time and order

In the first place, we will begin by discussing the crucial points of your essay.

Previously, it would help if you mentioned what these thoughts are being used to avoid confusion later on in the paper.

To conclude this section, here is a quick recap:

In order words and phrases such as “firstly,” “lastly,” or otherwise mentioned before that designate where one thought ends and another begins within an essay.

To sum up, their purposes use terms like ‘for example,’ ‘e.g.’ etc.; finally, explain how they’re linked with each other at large.

Writing Tips – Contrasts

You might use words like “however, “despite this,” or even “on the other hand.”

To show disagreement with an idea in your essay, try to use of the word such as “although.”


The best way to expand on your argument is by using phrases such as, that’s to say, and one can put it another way, which clarifies something.

Other words are also a great option!

Conclusion signals

Conclusion signals

What I have to say is finally coming to an end.

It’s been a long and bumpy ride, but it was worth the journey because here we are after my argument that this essay has shown.

In summary, after all that work you put into reading what I had to say about XYZ’s topic (just kidding), take note of these critical points.

Did you know that the way you signal your ideas in an essay can help you earn higher grades?

There are many ways to put signals into essays, but they all have one thing in common.

They make it easier for readers to follow along.

Have you found a good website with more advice on signaling words, or is there something else we should discuss below?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are signal words?

Signal words can be defined as words that show the connection between ideas.

They are also referred to as sentence superheroes, sentence connectors, or signposts.

These words show the writer’s intention and the direction they give the reader to slow with the idea.

Examples of signal words also include, in contrast, for example, however, as also, and as a result.

What are the six types of signal words?

What are the signal words for compare and contrast?


  • Same
  • The same as
  • Also
  • Likewise
  • As well as
  • Both
  • In the same way
  • In common
  • Too


  • Although
  • However
  • In contrast
  • instead
  • on the contrary
  • except
  • Differently
  • On the other hand
  • Even though
  • While

What are examples of signal phrases?

A Signal phrase gives a better understanding of a sentence.

The reader can identify and know the flow of your work

Signal phrases Suggest, imply, point out, respond, comment, declare, Claim, argue and


Examples of the phrases include

  • Because of
  • As a consequence of
  • As a result of
  • Just like
  • As a matter of fact

The moment you understand how to signal in essay writing, you will write a good master’s dissertation in the future.

The more one is exposed to signal words in speech and writing, the better you will recognize and use them easily.

If you need to learn concerning signals in essay writing, consider reaching out to us through our websites.

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