What are the four types of grammatical cohesion?
This is the second of three lessons about Cohesive Devices. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Review Lesson 1’s introduction to cohesive devices
– Explore the four grammatical categories that improve cohesion in an academic essay
– Study extensive examples that demonstrate cohesion
In Lesson 1 of this short course on cohesive devices, we explored the concept of cohesion in a piece of academic writing and introduced four types of lexical cohesion: reference, substitution, collocation and semantic fields. In this next lesson, we turn our attention to the four grammatical strategies that can be used to improve coherence in your writing. After completing this lesson, consider unlocking our Lesson 2 Worksheet to check your knowledge of this topic before moving on to our third and final lesson.
What did we learn in Lesson 1?
- cohesion improves coherence on a micro level
- there are eight strategies for improving cohesion
- cohesive writing should flow easily and be well structured
- cohesive writing should guide the reader through a clear argument
- cohesive writing should follow a logical pattern and have well-connected ideas
Strategy 5: Repetition
The first grammatical strategy is quite simple: repetition is when ideas or objects are repeated across a text. Particularly common in poetry (though less so in academic writing), a writer may repeat a word or phrase or a more complex parallel structure such as a series of clauses to form cohesion between ideas, as in the examples below:
The use of synonyms is another method that a writer may call upon to show the repetition of ideas throughout a text, although this method is more lexical in nature:
Strategy 6: Ellipsis
Ellipsis, when words are elided (deleted) from an expression, is another method of increasing the cohesive bonds between expressions. Not only does ellipsis strengthen relations between ideas, but the reduction of an utterance is more economical, avoiding unnecessary repetition and therefore improving concision. As the following examples show however, this cohesive strategy should be far less commonly used in academic settings due to its more informal and verbal nature:
Regardless of the deleted phrases, it’s clear in expression (a) that ‘the second’ refers to the experiment, and in (b) that the arrival is related to the ‘final exam’. These two clauses and sentences can therefore be said to have strong cohesive links regardless of whether key words have been elided.
Strategy 7: Conjunction
Another strategy, one that’s much more commonly used in academic writing, is to include accurate coordinate and subordinate conjunctions (such as ‘and’, ‘so’, ‘because’ and ‘while’) and conjunctive adverbs (like ‘however’ and ‘therefore’) in your writing. Not only are conjunctions very useful on a grammatical level for joining together words, phrases, clauses and sentences, but each conjunction contains lexical meaning that further indicates and specifies relationships between ideas. When used correctly and in a varied manner, such conjunctions can be one of the most successful ways of improving coherence in an academic essay.
While the topic of conjunction is explored more thoroughly in our third and final lesson, some of these semantic relations can be seen in action here through the following excerpt, taken from an essay introduction. This excerpt provides evidence of how ‘while’ is able to express comparison between two arguments, how ‘although’ introduces a concession (that ‘some benefits do exist’) and how ‘because’ exemplifies a cause for the students’ poor performance:
Strategy 8: Tense/Aspect Agreement
The final grammatical strategy for creating cohesion in a text relates to the correct use of tense and aspect. Much like how certain words go together (see Strategy 3: Collocation), certain tenses (‘past’ and ‘present’) and aspects (‘simple’, ‘continuous’ and ‘perfect’) must also match grammatically. Consider the following examples:
- I realised then that the tutor… has been leaving X will leave X had left ✔ the classroom.
- If you fail the exam… you would X you will X you will have ✔ failed the course.
- Misunderstand the question and… risking X have risked X risk ✔ losing significant marks.
Great work on completing this second lesson on cohesive devices. Continue studying with our third and final lesson to learn about the key cohesive devices that improve cohesion, focussing in particular on Strategy 7: Conjunctions.
There are currently no PowerPoint activities, additional teacher resources or audio and video recordings created for this topic. Please come back again next semester.
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