Cohesion and Coherence

A text in many different colours: colour-coded to show, reference and substitution and conjunction words and phrases.

Cohesion and Coherence


Introduction

Every writer wishes to make their points clearly to their readers, with pieces of writing that are are easy to read and have logical links between the various points made. This coherence, this clarity of expression, is created by grammar and vocabulary (lexis) through cohesion. This is the “glue” that joins your ideas together to form a cohesive whole.

In this Learning Object we are going to focus on how this is done, in order to assist you when you come to write your next assignments and in your reading. In reading, if you understand how the author makes connections within the text, you gain a better understanding of his or her message. As regards your writing, after analysing the texts in this Learning Object, you should analyse your own writing in the same way. This will help you to realise which techniques you could use more to benefit your reader.


Objectives

  • To raise awareness of how cohesion contributes to coherence in text
  • To raise awareness of how cohesion is created through: reference, conjunction, ellipsis, substitution and lexis, including cohesive nouns.
  • To raise your awareness of cohesion at paragraph level and how punctuation plays a crucial role in this


Activity 1: How cohesion is created in text

According to the writers Halliday and Hasan (1976), there are six main ways that cohesion is created in a text. These they called: Reference, Substitution, Ellipsis, Lexical Chains, Cohesive Nouns and Conjunction.

Open this Cohesion Presentation PDFdocument that shows you examples of each of them.

Now study this info-graphic about the six ways of creating cohesion

Then try this Cohesion quiz to test your memory of the terms.


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Instruction

Now open this short narrative text Word document showing a short piece of creative writing about a student. The first time you read it, try to think of a title for the piece. Then read the text again and colour-code the words and phrases that create cohesion in the 6 different ways, in 6 different colours.



Activity 2: Cohesion in a discursive text

In this exercise you are going to see how the 6 ways of creating cohesion are used in a short text arguing in favour of working in groups as a way to learn better in class. Before you read the text, you might like to predict what the arguments might be in favour of and against classes being organised to work together in this way.


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Instruction

To do a series of exercises to raise awareness of different forms of cohesion used in academic writing, try these interactive cloze exercises.

Activity 3: Colour coding the cohesion in the discursive text

Now, we are going to use the same text to see how your awareness of cohesion is improving.


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Instruction

Now read the Working in Groups Word document containing a discursive text about working in groups and colour-code the words and phrases that create cohesion in the 6 different ways, in 6 different colours.



Activity 4: Cohesive nouns, reference and substitution

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Instruction

For more exercises to practise cohesive nouns, reference and substitution try this Reference and Substitution cloze exercise.

Activity 5: Cohesion and coherence at paragraph level

Cohesion has a strong connection to coherence (logic and meaning). In fact, cohesion is the grammatical and lexical realisation of coherence at a profound level within the text. It is what makes a text more than just a jumbled mixture of sentences.


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Instruction

In this exercise, you will use your understanding of cohesion and punctuation, and your understanding of the underlying meaning of paragraphs, to put them into the most logical order. Now try these Paragraph Cohesion Activities.

Would you like to review the main points?



© William Tweddle, Queen Mary, University of London, 2010, visual created by the author using a Smartboard and Jing