cohesion vs coherence

taken from
A text is cohesive if its elements are linked together. A text is coherent if it makes sense. It should be clear that these are not the same thing. That is, a text may be cohesive. It is coherent because we can easily imagine a context in which it would make sense. Just as we can imagine a context in which the following would make sense. In this regard in writing academic writing cohesion and coherence is an important factor which is necessary to convey the exact information that the author wishes.
Cohesion is a formal feature of texts (it gives them their texture), while coherence is “in the eye of the beholder” – that is to say, it is the extent to which the reader (or listener) is able to infer the writer’s (or speaker’s) communicative intentions. Thus, cohesion is objectively verifiable, while coherence is more subjective (Raimes, 1983)

In this assignment coherence and cohesion and the use of these have been explained. This is done with the essay that has been provided. Furthermore the same text has been modified so that the text is cohesive and coherent.

As a reader, most of us assume what is written is a text that is forms a coherent whole. What there is the text that convinces the reader and makes it interesting is the coherence of the text. The sense of “hanging together” come from cohesive ties of various functions, such as reference, ellipsis and conjunctions, these make the text coherent.
According to Halliday and Hassan (1976), a text is “unit of language in use”. The texture is provided by the cohesive relations that exist between certain linguistic features that are present in the passage and can be modified as contributing to its total unity. In other words, the texture of a text is formed by the cohesive ties that it contains.

For an example,
Studying overseas has clear advantages, studying overseas is not without its problems. Studying overseas has significant academic benefits
In the sentence marked in bold “studying overseas” has been repeated (Lexical relationships repetition) but the other sentence give the meaning more precisely and accurately, which contain the linguistic features which makes the text more cohesive.

Any given document, and in particular a news story, will have typically have a central theme or focus. Here “studying overseas” is the theme. Computing the lexical chains in a document is one technique that can be used to identify the central theme of a document. This in turn leads to the identification of the key section(s) of the document which can then be used for summarization purposes. By developing the theory of lexical chaining we postulate that it will be possible to build more sophisticated summarization techniques than the simple keyword-based ones that dominate in current commercial systems.

The notion of lexical chaining derives from work in the area of textual cohesion in linguistics (Halliday and Hasan 1976). The linguistics term text is used to refer to any passage, spoken or written, that forms a unified whole. This unity or cohesion may be due, for example, to an anaphoric reference which provides cohesion between sentences. Cohesion is brought about by the referring item and the item it refers to.

Carrell (1982) challenges Halliday & Hassan’s concept of cohesion as the basis of coherence in the light of schema-theoretical views of text processing. It emphasizes the interactive process between the text and the prior background knowledge or memory schemata of the listener or reader.

The insufficiency of Halliday and Hassan’s concept of cohesion, according to Carrel (1982), lies in their failure to take the contributions of the reader into account. This means, that the reader play a role in the coherence and cohesiveness of the text, since different readers perspectives are not the same.

Example: Many people choose to continue their education at colleges or universities in other countries.

The coherence of this mini text does not reside in the linguistic lexical cohesive tie between “education” and universities. “Rather the readers recognition of the string of sentences as a coherent text is based on the fact that we “access a familiar schema” in which education and universities go together. In other words, the lexical cohesion could be the effect, instead of the course, of the text’s coherence.

The relationship between coherence and cohesion might be examined from another facet, namely its universality. According to Hatim and Mason (1990) have argued that the sequence of coherence relations, such as cause-effect, problem-solution should remain constant in translation from the source text to the target text.

Transitional words and phrases guide readers from one sentence to the next (Widdowson, 1978). Although they most often appear at the beginning of a sentence, they may also show up after the subject. Here are the common transitional expressions, grouped according to the type of relationship shown by each.

“Many young people choose to continue their education at colleges or universities in English-speaking countries such as Britain, Australia or America. Nevertheless, while studying overseas has clear advantages, it is not without its problems. In this essay, both points of view will be considered. “

The word nevertheless has been inserted into text as a transitional word so that it guides the reader from one sentence to the other. It links one sentence to the other. However in the sample text, linking words has been frequently omitted, therefore it seems a combination of ideas has been presented in the text.


Coherence is more elusive but it has a lot to do with the way that the propositional content of texts is organized. If the content of a (written) text is organized in such a way that it fulfills the reader’s expectations, it is more likely to achieve its communicative effect. This means that learners can be helped to write coherent texts through the analysis of the generic features of particular text types. This has long been the approach to teaching business, technical, and academic writing. More important still, is second-guessing the intended reader’s questions, and then answering them. This means that it is important that, when doing writing tasks, students have a clear idea both of the purpose of the text, and of the intended readership. Good writers are able to “keep their reader in mind”. Keeping reader in mind does not guarantee coherence, but it would seem to be a prerequisite.

Part 2

Many young people choose to continue their education at colleges or universities in English-speaking countries such as Britain, Australia or America. Nevertheless, while studying overseas has clear advantages, it is not without its problems. In this essay, both points of view will be considered.

To begin with, studying overseas has significant academic benefits. On the whole, the standard of education is very high thanks to the up-to-date equipment and resources that are available in colleges and universities. As a rule, the quality of teaching is also high, as teachers and lecturers are well-qualified professionals who are aware of all the latest developments in their fields of interest. As well, the qualifications which a student obtains are usually valid anywhere in the world. In addition to the obvious academic benefits, students also gain experience of another culture, improve their language skills and meet many new people. On account of living away from their families, they become more independent, tolerant and emotionally mature, all of which aids their personal development.

Still, in some cases, studying abroad can have quite negative effects. For example, if students are insufficiently prepared academically, they might have difficulties understanding lectures or writing assignments. Furthermore, young students may have problems adjusting to a different culture with its unfamiliar climate, food and lifestyle. As a result of this, they may experience much loneliness and home sickness. A final problem could be that some students adapt so successfully to Western culture that they have problems readjusting when they finally return home.

In conclusion, although there can be problems in studying abroad, most students, with appropriate preparation and support, should be able to overcome these obstacles. On the whole, the advantages of an overseas education far outweigh any of the disadvantages described above.


Carrel, P.L.(1982). Cohesion is not coherence. TESOL Quarterly
Halliday, M.A.K, & Hassan, R.(1976). Cohesion in English. London: Longman.
Hatim, B, & Mason, I,(1990). Discourse and the translator: London: Longman.
Widdowson, H.G (1978). Teaching language as communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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