Focus on Cohesion & Coherence(GT)

25% of your Writing Task 1 is assessed on how coherent and cohesive your writing is.

Coherence:- Involves organizing information logically and in paragraphs so that it is easy for the reader to follow.

Cohesion:- Involves connecting sentences and ideas using techniques such as pronoun referencing, signposts and special phrases.

Therefore, coherence and cohesion refer to how well your writing communicates its message, that is, how well it:

  • flows
  • is organised
  • can be understood.

To do this, we will focus on the use of:

  1. Letter skeleton
  2. pronoun referencing
  3. signposts/ connective words

1. Letter Skeleton


The greeting:-

The greeting depends on who the letter is being written to. The most common greetings are:

  • Dear John: this is used to begin a casual letter, such as to a friend or relative.You should use only the person’s first name.
  • Dear [Mr/Mrs/Ms Smith]: this is used to begin a formal letter, such as to a client or customer. You should use only the person’s family name, plus their title.
  • Dear Sir or Madam: this is used to begin a formal letter when you don’t know the name of the person you are writing.

The Purpose & Introduction:-

The introduction is where you introduce yourself (recipient is unknown), say why you are writing, and explain your situation.

The body:-

The body is the main section of the letter, where you give further details. Your letter should be divided into paragraphs and, as in an essay, each paragraph should have one main point.

The closing/sign-off

The closing or sign-off is where you finish your letter and request a response, if appropriate. Like the greeting, the sign-off you choose depends on who you are writing to.

2. Pronoun Referencing


Pronoun referencing involves using pronouns to refer back to a subject that has already been mentioned in the same sentence or in a previous sentence. Notice the bold letters in the given letter:-

Dear Jane,

How are you? It was great to hear from you. Thanks so much for inviting me to your birthday party next Saturday. It sounds great, and I’d absolutely love to come there, but unfortunately I’ve already arranged to do some thing else that day.

Do you remember my cousin Victor? He‘s the one who‘s been living in Singapore for the last year. Well, he’s flying in for a visit and I promised I’d show him around. He‘s only going to be in town for the day, so I really can’t get out of it.

I really want to get together, though. How about coffee next week or the week after? I know you‘ve got a lot on your plate at the moment, but I’ll give you a call and we can sort out the details over the phone. Maybe we can check out that new cafe near the library. I hear their coffee is to die for.
Have a great party! Hope to catch up with you soon!

Lots of love,
Mary

If you use pronoun referencing, you improve the cohesion and coherence of your writing because you connect sentences smoothly with each other by not repeating the subject, thereby improving the flow too.

3. Signposting


I often suggest my students, “Never surprise your examiner.” Connective words(signposts within a sentence) and signposting devices(between sentence and paragraphs) if you want to chieve this. Let’s analyse this letter in terms of signposting(Bolded).

Dear Mr Perez,

I was extremely grateful to receive your letter of the 23rd, informing me about your country. I would be most interested in visiting Mexico if I was given the opportunity.

You requested some information about my usual activities. With regard to my employment, I am currently a student pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. Moreover, I am employed on a part-time basis as a private tutor for young children, which I find quite rewarding. During my Leisure time I typically read or meet acquaintances socially.

As to food, there is a great variety available in my country. Also, here is a strong influence from Asian cuisine, such as Thai and Malaysian. If you were to visit I would be pleased to prepare one of my Thai stir-fries for you.

Finally, you enquired about the climate of my country. Most of the year it is extremely sunny and pleasant, although the heat can be excessive in summer. Winters are cool but never overly cold, and usually rainy.

I hope to hear from you soon with further information about Mexico.

Yours sincerely,
Susan Smith

Do you notice those bold words above? As an IELTS examiner why do I like these connective words?

  • they give an idea about what is coming next.
    • Moreover → Another part of the explanation is set to begin.
    • Also → Addition of information
    • Finally → The last information is to begin.
  • they enhance cohesion and and cohesiveness of your letter
  • they link ideas between sentences
  • they link ideas between paragraph
    • Finally → Among all the above explanatory paragraph, this one is last.

Use at least one connective word per paragraph after introduction.

Table 1 Signposts usually found at the beginning of the sentence

FunctionSignpost
Introduce a new subjectRegarding
With regard to
As regards
Concerning
Turning to
Sequence ideasFirstly
The most important reason
Another reason
Finally
Introduce a contrasting ideaHowever
In contrast
On the other hand
Nevertheless
Although
Yet
Introduce a similar ideaLikewise
Similarly
Also
Add another ideaMoreover
Furthermore
In addition
Besides
Give an exampleFor example
For instance
Give the causeBecause of
Due to
Give the effectTherefore
As a result
As a consequence
Consequently
For this reason

Table 2 Signposts usually found within a sentence (conjunctions)

FunctionSignpost
Introduce a contrasting ideaCities are polluted, but/while/whereas the countryside is not.
Give an exampleUrbanisation causes a lot of pollution such as air, noise and water pollution.
Add another idea.Air pollution is caused by smoke from factories and/as well as cars.
Air pollution is caused by smoke from factories too/also.
Give the causeCities are polluted because/as there is so much smoke.
Give the effectThere is a lot of smoke in cities so/so that they become polluted.

This is the table consisting of all the most common connective devices used in IELTS writing and speaking.

Using connective words to signpost:-

Addition

  • in addition
  • and
  • similarly
  • likewise
  • as well as
  • beside that
  • furthermore
  • moreover
  • even
  • and then
  • not only… but also

Sequence

  • firstly
  • initially
  • to begin with
  • then
  • next
  • earlier/ later
  • after this
  • following this
  • afterwards
  • following that

Consequences

  • as a result
  • thus
  • so
  • therefore
  • thereby
  • eventually
  • consequently

Certainty                 Condition                        Definition

obviously                        if                                      is

certainly                         unless                             refers to

plainly                           whether                           means

of course                        provided that                    that is

undoubtedly                  for                                   consists of

                                      so that

                                      whether

                                      depending on

Example                        Reason                           Time

for instance                     since                               before

one example                   as                                    since

for example                     so                                    as

just as                             because (of)                    until

in particular                     due to                              meanwhile

such as                            owing to                          at the moment

namely                            the reason why                 when

to illustrate                       in other words                 whenever

                                       leads to                            as soon as

                                       cause                               just as

Contrast                        Summary

however                          in conclusion

on the other hand            in summary

despite                            lastly

in spite of                        finally

though                            to sum up

but                                  to conclude

on the contrary                to recapitulate

otherwise                        in short

yet

instead of

rather

whereas

nonetheless

compared with

alternatively

nevertheless

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