A writer uses a bridge statement, or bridge sentence, to link one idea to another and create a smooth transition between ideas. John Trimble explains in "Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing" that essays should maintain a steady flow by "bridging" ideas for the reader. Instead of starting each paragraph with a topic sentence, you can use a bridge sentence to show how the previous idea relates to the idea your article is about to introduce.
One of the most important bridge statements in an essay, within the introductory paragraph, sets the scene for the reader. The opening statement usually functions as a "hook" or attention grabber to draw in the reader. After this comes your bridge statement, which explains how the opening is relevant to the thesis. The last sentence of the introductory paragraph contains the thesis statement, which demonstrates or sets the stage for what the reader can expect from the rest of your paper.
Instead of starting with a topic sentence for each paragraph, the writer uses a bridge to make a smooth transition into a new paragraph. Also called a transition idea or transition sentence, it usually discusses the previous point and how it ties in to the new point.
According to Elizabeth Abrams from Harvard University's Writing Center, bridge sentences resemble topic sentences in the essay structure. They clue in the reader to what the article just mentioned and what will come up next, and how the two topics relate to each other. Expository essays -- the most common essay assigned to students -- inform the reader or give an explanation of a topic based on fact. Persuasive or argumentative essays aim to convince the reader to agree with your point of view by addressing both sides of an argument and refuting the opposition. Both essay types make use of bridge statements.
The words you use in your bridge sentences help define the relationship between the paragraphs or ideas you seek to connect. Janet McIntosh from Harvard's Expository Writing Program explains that words such as "consequentially," "therefore" or "accordingly" demonstrate a cause-effect relationship. Words like "whereas," "although" or "nevertheless" establish a contrast between concepts, while "furthermore," "in addition" or "similarly" help you further expand an idea.
- National University of Singapore: Centre for English Language Communication: Writing an Introduction for an Essay
- Writing With Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing; John Trimble; 2010
- Writing Center at Harvard University; Topic Sentences and Signmosting; Elizabeth Abrams; 2000
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