Compare and Contrast Signal Words

Signal Words: The Road Signs in Writings


Writing is all about communication. An essay writer seeks to communicate ideas or thought to the reader by cutting out a path through words. There are very many different ways that the same words can combine to communicate different ideas, the role of signal words is to ensure that the only ideas a particular combination of words used in writings communicate are the ideas the writer wants communicated.

Signal words are also known as transitions; they combine two different parts of a sentence to clarify the writer’s thought pattern.

Types of Signal Words

Emphasis Words

In writing, some ideas are central to the general thrust of the article while others are not as important. There are no ideas that are universally important. Although global warming poses an existential threat to the world and all that is in it, it is liked to be mentioned as a passing. Though, when explaining why a certain ingredient in a recipe tastes different than they used to taste a hundred years. The importance of an idea depends on context and context depends entirely on what the writer has in mind. Use of emphasis words informs the reader what is important to the writers thought pattern. The ideas emphasized using these words are what the reader should carry at the back of their minds as they continue reading.

For example:
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.

Addition Words

When used at the beginning of a thought, additional words signal the fact that the writer will be presenting a number of thoughts on the same issue. Some examples of such words are first, first of all, for one thing and many others.

For Example:
For one thing, there must be political will for the fight against corruption to succeed. Some addition words can be used as the thought continues e.g. moreover, second, in addition and so on. There is still a part of these signal words that are used at the end of a list. This includes words such as last of all and finally.

Comparison and Contrast Words

These are words that are used to point out similarities and differences between two items. Comparison words include words like likewise, equally, just as and many more.

For Example:
Political will is important in fighting corruption, equally adherence to the rule of law promotes integrity. Contrast words point to the authors change of thought. They indicate that the writer is pursuing a thought that moves in the opposite direction from the worn expressed previously. This is where words like however, conversely, but, still and others.

For Example:
The rule of law is critical in fighting corruption however, lack of political will limits progress.

Illustration Words

These words signal the author’s intention to provide an example to demonstrate the thought they are pursuing in action. They include for example, for instance, such as, to illustrate and others.

For Example:
There are many determinants to whether the war on corruption will be successful for example political will, the rule of law etcetera.

Cause and Effect Words

These words signal the fact that the author is about to mention the results of the effect mentioned before the signals. Examples of these words include because, as a result, therefore and others.

For Example:
Political will is important in the fight against corruption because politicians are the policy makers.


As seen in this article, signal words are aptly named as they act as signals to the direction the writer is taking. They make it easier for the reader to follow and absorb the thoughts of the writer. Over and above showing direction, they clarify the writer’s thoughts.

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