Linking Ideas


Your Writing Task 2 essay 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 academic 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. pronoun referencing
  2. signposts/ connective words
  3. academic phrases


1. 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 examples:-


An increasing older population would cause many problems for society. It would place a lot of pressure on the social welfare system. On the other hand, it could also provide great benefits to society by making more experienced workers available for a much longer time.

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, therefore improving the flow.

Compare the following two paragraphs and decide which paragraph flows better.

Paragraph 1
Reference words refer back to a subject that has already been mentioned. Reference words make your writing more academic as reference words demonstrate your understanding of the subject. Using reference words helps the reader to follow an idea throughout the text without having to repeat the idea.
Paragraph 2
Reference words refer back to a subject that has already been mentioned. They make your writing more academic as they demonstrate your understanding of the subject. Using these words helps the reader to follow an idea throughout the text without having to repeat it.

Paragraph 2 flows better. Paragraph 1 repeats the nouns ‘reference words’ and ‘idea’, while Paragraph 2 uses pronoun referencing to replace these nouns.

Let’s look at more examples of how to use pronoun referencing.

Example 1
China, for example, is well known for its traditional healing methods.
Example 2
Traditional medicine looks at both the mind and the body. It aims to cure the patient, but also uses a variety of methods to improve the lifestyle of the patient.
Example 3
Traditional medicine is growing in popularity and many people are now using methods such as acupuncture and herbal remedies to maintain and strengthen their health. Many of those who have experienced traditional medicine believe that it is more effective than modern medicine. I completely agree with this.

2. Signposting words/ Connective Words

Signposts can be used to link your ideas between sentences and paragraphs and within sentences. Signposts that link ideas within a sentence are usually called conjunctions.

Table 1 and 2 present some of the functions of signposts in a sentence.

It is not practical to list all the signpost words, so we will focus on those that are most commonly used.

If you would like to print the tables on this page, click on the PDF link below.

Table 1 Signposts usually found at the beginning of the sentence

Function Signpost
Introduce a new subject Regarding
With regard to
As regards
Turning to
Sequence ideas Firstly
The most important reason
Another reason
Introduce a contrasting idea However
In contrast
On the other hand
Introduce a similar idea Likewise
Add another idea Also
In addition
Give an example For example
For instance
Give the cause Because of
Due to
Give the effect Therefore
As a result
As a consequence
For this reason
Conclude your essay In conclusion
To sum up
In summary


Table 2 Signposts usually found within a sentence (conjunctions)

Function Signpost
Introduce a contrasting idea Cities are polluted, but/while/whereas the countryside is not.
Give an example Urbanisation 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 cause Cities are polluted because/as there is so much smoke.
Give the effect There is a lot of smoke in cities so/so that they become polluted.


3. Academic Phrases

A further way of achieving cohesion and coherence in your Task 2 essay is the use of academic phrases. An academic phrase is a group of words that is used to draw the reader’s attention to your ideas making your arguments and ideas clear.


Academic phrases are used to:

Give your opinion
  • I think
  • I feel
  • I believe
  • I am of the opinion that
  • It is my belief that
smoking should be banned in all restaurants.


Show to what extent you agree/disagree with a statement
  • I firmly agree/disagree
  • I partially agree/disagree
  • I totally agree/disagree
that smoking should be banned in all restaurants.


Give the opposite side of an argument
  • However, I would argue
  • To counter this, I would say
that everyone should be allowed to make their own decision.


Give the opinion of others
  • Some people say
  • Many people would argue
that smoking in restaurants affects non-smokers as much as smokers.


Give a solution to a problem
  • I would recommend
  • A good solution would be
that all restaurants have a special smoking area.


Show the cause followed by the effect
  • causes
  • is the cause of
  • results in
  • is the reason for


Show the effect followed by the cause
  • is caused by
  • is due to
  • is the result of
  • is the consequence of


Make a prediction
  • I feel confident
  • I am certain
  • I am sure
that restaurants will be force

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