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What is coherence?

Coherence in a piece of writing means that the reader can easily understand it. Coherence is about making everything flow smoothly. The reader can see that everything is logically arranged and connected and relevance to the central focus of the essay is maintained throughout. Test test

Two key aspects of coherence

  • Cohesion This relates to the linking of ideas within a sentence, the linking of sentences (the ties between sentences) within a paragraph and the linking between paragraphs.
  • Unity This relates to the question of relevance and maintaining the central focus of a single paragraph and throughout the essay. A paragraph has unity when the support sentences contribute to a greater understanding of the point made at the beginning of the paragraph.

How can you achieve coherence in your writing?

Even if English is not your first language, you can achieve coherence in your writing by using some cohesive devices.  Cohesive devices are the “glue” that holds a piece of writing together. They carry meaning within a sentence and from a previous sentence into the next. They allow the reader to follow from one part of the text to another, and to understand the logical relationships between sentences and paragraphs.

We will examine four cohesive devices:
(Note: the symbols in brackets will be used in examples and practice activities.)

Pronouns (P)

Repetition (R) – with exact word or parallel term/synonym

Transitions (T)

Parallelism (PllM) – the use of similar grammatical forms and sentence structures

Four cohesive devices

This diagram shows how the four cohesive devices – pronouns, repetition, transitions and parallelism –  are used to create a coherent text.

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