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IELTS writing - cohesion - a brief introduction

Saturday, May 23, 2009 Posted by Dominic

Cohesion is how sentences and parts of sentences link together. It matters because if your sentences are cohesive, your writing becomes easier to read and you become able to write more sophisticated English by linking ideas together. More than that, it is an important factor in how your writing is graded.

How does it work?
There are a variety of ways to make your writing more cohesive, here are a few ideas:

conjunctions: these are the words like and and but
pronouns: pronouns (it, they, this and that etc) are generally linking words as they link back to nouns
vocabulary: another way to link is to use the same or similar word again.

How to do it?
There is no easy answer to this question. However, one very useful piece of advice is to make sure that each sentence starts with a reference back to the previous sentence. Look at this example:

There are many people who claim that global warming is the most significant threat facing us today. They argue this because it is a danger not just to the current generation, but also to the generations to come. Indeed, it is this threat to our future that is of most concern. For instance, some research shows that one effect of global warming might be there will not be enough food to feed the world in the near future. If that did happen...

If we look at how this links together, we see:

many peoplethey (pronoun)
that global warming is ...this (pronoun)
claimargue (synonym)
not justbut also (a matching pair)
current generationgenerations to come (repetition)
a dangerthis threat (pronoun + synonym)

Indeed (linking phrase for further explanation)
generations to comefuture
global warmingglobal warming (repetition of technical phrase)
there will be not enough foodthat (pronoun)

A common mistake
One very common mistake is to overuse certain linking phrases such as "furthermore" and "moreover". This can be a problem because they are frequently misused: and to link badly is no better than not linking at all. A secondary problem is that by only using such phrases, candidates forget to use pronouns (especially "this") for linking.

Open the document in the box below and read through the exercise. There are two texts there. Which one do you prefer? Be careful, the better (and more cohesive text) may not necessarily be the text with the most obvious linking words.

Cohesion exercise - Get more Business Documents

Now check your answers.

Cohesion - answer sheet - Get more Business Documents

Cohesion Vocabulary
Read through the sample language in the text below to see how you can make your writing more cohesive.

cohesion in IELTS essays - Get more Business Documents

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