What is a Cohesive Sentence?

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
A cohesive sentence is a complete sentence with a noun or subject and a verb. Explore cohesion, examples of cohesive sentences, and additional cohesive devices such as pronouns, transition words, correlative conjunctions, or conjunctive adverbs. Updated: 12/28/2021

What Is Cohesion?

Cohesion is a word that we use to describe unity or togetherness. In other words, things that are cohesive fit together. Think about an army. For an army to be effective, it must have cohesion. Good soldiers, a strategic general, and strong communication all mesh to create a united, cohesive organization.

Cohesive sentences are a lot like cohesive armies. They have good soldiers (like a noun and a verb), a strategic general (a writer who carefully places words in all the right spots), and strong communication (sentence and paragraph transitions make sense).

One of the greatest challenges of the English language is writing strong sentences. It takes practice. In this lesson, you'll learn about the components of cohesive sentences so that you can practice cohesive writing.

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  • 0:03 What Is Cohesion?
  • 0:52 Examples of Cohesive Sentences
  • 3:09 Additional Cohesive Devices
  • 6:21 Lesson Summary
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Examples of Cohesive Sentences

Every cohesive sentence in English must have a noun, or a subject, like a person place or thing, and a verb, or an action. It should be an independent sentence, meaning the sentence is full and complete, not a fragment or a partial sentence. These are the good soldiers.

Let's take a look at an example of a cohesive sentence:

  • I am.

This sentence has a noun, 'I' and a verb, 'am.' It's cohesive, but it's not a great sentence because it doesn't give much information other than the condition of your existence.

Let's keep going and add on more information to our sentence:

  • I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep.

Our sentence is beginning to make more sense. So not only does a cohesive sentence have a noun and a verb, a cohesive sentence makes sense. This is the strategic general giving direction. This sentence makes sense, but what happens next?

Let's take our cohesive sentence and add other sentences:

  • I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep. Many sheep are white. White is the color of snow. Snow is cold.

These sentences no longer make sense. There is no strong communication between the sentences. These sentences are not cohesive because they are not coherent. A cohesive sentence must have a noun and a verb, but it also must make sense and it must flow with other sentences. Without this flow, a cohesive sentence will not fit into a longer paragraph. So while a cohesive sentence must be an independent sentence with a noun and a verb, it must also agree with other sentences around it to be both cohesive and coherent.

Now let's look at our sentence and make it cohesive and coherent:

  • I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.

This sentence is part of a quote from Alexander the Great, one of the most celebrated and famous leaders in human history. It's cohesive, coherent, and can stand alone. By repeating the words and the main idea, Alexander said that a weak army with a strong leader is much better than a strong army with a weak leader. While both parts of the sentence could be independent (they have a noun and verb), the parts of the sentences combined make a powerful cohesive sentence.

Additional Cohesive Devices

In addition to being an independent sentence, having cohesion and flowing with the sentences around it, a cohesive sentence can include a cohesive pronoun, transition word, correlative conjunction, and conjunctive adverb usage.

In a cohesive sentence, a pronoun, a word that takes the place of a noun, must agree with the subject. For example:

  • If someone takes a test, it's essential that he study for it.

Someone, the subject, is singular, and therefore the pronoun 'he' must be singular as well. Most people are uncomfortable writing 'he' as it sounds non-inclusive of 'she' and write 'they' instead.

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