What Is a Cohesive Essay? - Definition & Example

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

A cohesive essay is a type of writing that all writers should know how to accomplish. In this lesson, we will cover the definition of a cohesive essay.


A cohesive essay is a vital type of composition that needs to be understood by writers by the time they finish their first year in college. A cohesive essay involves developing a thesis, providing evidence and analyzing ideas. It requires strict attention to structure and style as well. Before you can begin writing a cohesive essay, you need to know exactly what it is and what it requires to be successful. In this lesson, we will cover the main definition of a cohesive essay and talk about well-known cohesive essays.

What Is a Cohesive Essay?

A cohesive essay is an essay that is written about a single subject using the ideas of the author and supported by scholarly evidence. The writing is abundant with analysis and reflection on the topic. Furthermore, the cohesive essay is structured around a well-written thesis and adheres to a logical structure and style.


A thesis is a statement that incorporates both the topic of the essay and the interest that the author has in the topic. Most importantly, a thesis is a statement that can be agreed or disagreed with when presented to the readers. It is never a statement of fact; rather, it addresses the questions and thought that the author has about the given subject.

Many writers start with a basic thesis when beginning a cohesive essay. By doing so, the author has an idea as to what the essay is going to be about, but is not chained to that idea as the essay progresses. Generally, after the essay has been written, the writer goes back to the thesis and adjusts it based on what was actually written. Successful theses undergo several revisions until the writer has landed on a statement that reflects that reason for writing about the given subject.

Structure and Style

In high school, and even in college, students are taught to write in terms of the five paragraph structure that unfolds based on chronology or repetition. A successful cohesive essay does not follow those guidelines.

A cohesive essay thrives on argument as the underlying architectural design. Using logic, a cohesive essay builds from one paragraph to the next to develop the argument initially presented in the thesis. As the essay moves from one idea to the next, the argument stacks on top of itself with new evidence and analysis of the subject matter.

A cohesive essay does not have a set number of paragraphs. The writer uses as many long or short paragraphs as needed to write the topic and fully develop the argument outlined in the introduction. A cohesive essay should open with an introduction and close with a conclusion.

Stylistically, the author needs to control the voice, tone, and vernacular throughout the entire essay. The author needs to make sure all of the terms are clear and the sentences are as concise as possible to keep the reader engaged with the writing.

Evidence, Analysis and Reflection

A cohesive essay has mounds of evidence in the form of quotations to support the statements being made by the writer. Evidence is used to support the thesis and back up any claims made by the author throughout the essay.

Additionally, a solid cohesive essay introduces evidence that goes against the thesis to demonstrate the writer's analysis of the subject matter. By adding in contradictory evidence, the writer adds a defense against potential criticism from readers who are adamantly against the author's perspective.

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