Teaching Students About Cohesion

Why is cohesion necessary?

Cohesion means that writing is well structured with linked ideas that follow a logical pattern. Sentences and paragraphs flow smoothly and are written in the same tense, meaning the piece is fluid and makes sense.

Children need to learn about cohesion, which builds literacy and creative writing skills.

Cohesion is essential as:

  • It teaches children how to order and structure sentences and paragraphs
  • It means related ideas are kept together and flow logically from one to another
  • It helps children express their ideas in a way that the reader will clearly understand

How can cohesion be achieved?

To achieve cohesion, children must be able to select appropriate nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs for a sentence to make sense.

They must then write appropriate sentences which organize their ideas and follow a logical sequence.

There are four main types of sentences that children can choose from:

Statements – convey information

Questions – ask something and usually end with a question mark

Commands – give instructions or tell you to do something

Exclamations – typically begin with ‘What’ or ‘How,’ includes a verb, and can end with an exclamation mark

What are cohesive devices?

Cohesive devices are techniques that can be used to help create cohesion. Some examples of these are:


Expressing place, time, or manner, adverbials can help create cohesion in or across paragraphs. Take a look at this example:

Without adverbials:

“Tim left home. He realized he had forgotten his homework.”

With adverbials:

“Tim left home early in the morning. Later that day, he realized he had forgotten his homework.”

The adverbial of time keeps the sentences in a logical order and makes it easier for the reader to follow the text.


Ellipsis is another cohesive device that can improve the flow of a sentence. Ellipsis refers to removing superfluous words, as the meaning can be inferred from the preceding clause. For example:

Without ellipsis:

“If James listens to music, he will have to dance to the music.”

With ellipsis:

“If James listens to music, he will have to dance.”

In this case, the sentence with an ellipsis avoids repeating words but still makes sense.


Repetition can also be a cohesive device to highlight or emphasize important information. For example:

“Peter was running late. He had promised not to be late this time. If only he could get to places on time!”

In this example, the repetition of the adjective/adverb ‘late’ helps create a sense of urgency across the sentences.


Using pronouns in a sentence allows you to refer back to a noun without repeating it. For example:

Without pronoun:

“Billy listened to music while sitting in Billy’s car.”

With pronoun:

“Billy listened to music while sitting in his car.”

In this example, using a pronoun helps the sentence flow smoothly while still making sense.

This is also known as an anaphoric reference. A cataphoric connection is the opposite of this, referring to something later in a text. For example:

“Jess couldn’t wait to see him, but Jack would not be back until next week.”

In this case, the pronoun ‘him’ refers to Jack.

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