Coherence in Writing: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Defining Coherence in Writing
  • 0:45 Coherence Between Words
  • 1:30 Coherence Between Sentences
  • 2:50 Coherence Between Paragraphs
  • 5:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rachel Noorda
Have you ever wanted to make your writing more logical, unified, and consistent? What you are looking for is to improve the coherence in your writing. This lesson will give you tips and examples for making your writing more coherent.

Defining Coherence in Writing

Have you ever read something that was hard to follow, where the writer jumped around from idea to idea and did not have unity or consistency to connect the words, sentences, and paragraphs? That is something that you want to avoid in your own writing. But how do you do that?

Coherence in writing is the logical bridge between words, sentences, and paragraphs. Coherent writing uses devices to connect ideas within each sentence and paragraph. Main ideas and meaning can be difficult for the reader to follow if the writing lacks coherence. In this lesson, you will see some examples and learn some tips for making your writing coherent between words, sentences, and paragraphs.

Coherence Between Words

Between each word, coherence can be created by parallelism. Parallel structure means using similar grammatical constructions between words in sentences. Parallelism is particularly important for words in lists. If you're writing a list of things someone likes to do, then each activity in the list should take the same grammatical form. For instance, if one verb in the list takes on the '-ing' gerund form, like 'running,' then the other verbs in the list should also be in the gerund form. An incoherent structure would be to say:

Sarah likes to jump, running, and skate.

Instead, the list should be parallel like this:

Sarah likes jumping, running, and skating.

Coherence Between Sentences

Coherence can be created between sentences through repetition and transitional devices. Repetition of words across sentences helps to reiterate the same ideas between sentences. One way to use repetition to create coherence is to repeat the same word or phrase at the end of one sentence and the beginning of the next sentence to show how the ideas connect. Here is an example of sentences that create coherence through repetition:

The most important part of an essay is the thesis statement. The thesis statement introduces the argument of the essay. The thesis statement also helps to create a structure for the essay.

In this example, the repetition of the phrase 'thesis statement' helps to unify the three sentences. It is a phrase that ends the first sentence and transitions into the next sentence by starting with that same phrase.

Another way to create coherence between sentences is through transitional devices. There are many types of transitional devices that show time and help ideas flow smoothly. Transitional words, such as 'first', 'later', and 'then', are a few examples of transitional devices that show time to help ideas flow more smoothly. Transitional devices are like signposts that tell the reader what is coming up ahead and where the discussion is going.

Coherence Between Paragraphs

Transitional words can also be used between paragraphs. Words such as:

  • Therefore
  • However
  • Yet
  • Thus
  • First
  • Later
  • Then

can not only be used between sentences, but between paragraphs to connect them. Other ways to create coherence between paragraphs include having a consistent paragraph structure and point of view.

The structure of a coherent paragraph includes a topic sentence, which focuses on the main idea. The topic sentence usually comes first in a paragraph. The topic sentence is followed by supporting sentences that develop the idea, and finally, a concluding sentence to tie it all together. Transitional words then bridge the gap between paragraphs, and the structure starts anew with another topic sentence for the next paragraph.

Finally, consistent point of view is a way to create coherence between paragraphs. Point of view is the narrator's position in telling the story. The types of point of view in writing are:

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