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Cohesion In Speaking & Writing For The IELTS Exam - Article

Updated: Feb 17


The article discusses the concept of cohesion in speaking, which refers to the use of linguistic and rhetorical devices to connect sentences and paragraphs in a coherent and unified manner. The article provides examples of cohesive devices, such as referencing, conjunctions, pronouns, ellipsis, and repetition, and examples of what is not considered cohesive in speaking, such as disjointed sentences, jargon, tangents, unclear pronoun references, and vague references. The article then provides tips and examples for using each type of cohesive device effectively in speaking, including pronouns, conjunctions, and adverbial conjunctions. Finally, the article provides a quiz on identifying conjunctions and their functions.


Cohesion refers to the linguistic and rhetorical devices used to connect sentences and paragraphs in a coherent and unified manner. In speaking, cohesion helps to make the flow of ideas and concepts clearer, making it easier for the audience to follow and understand the speaker's message.

Examples of cohesion in speaking include:

Referencing: using words or phrases to refer back to previous information, such as "as I mentioned earlier" or "the same thing happened yesterday."

Conjunction: using words such as "and," "or," "but," and "because" to connect ideas and sentences.

Pronouns: using personal, relative, and demonstrative pronouns to refer back to earlier information, such as "he," "which," "this," etc.

Ellipsis: leaving out words or phrases when they are understood based on the context of the conversation, such as "I was at the store and she was at the bank."

Repetition: repeating key words, phrases, or concepts to reinforce the message and create a sense of unity and coherence.

On the other hand, examples of what is not cohesion in speaking include:

Disjointed sentences: when sentences do not have a logical connection or do not follow a clear pattern, making the flow of ideas difficult to follow.

Jargon: using technical terms or language specific to a certain field that is not easily understood by the audience.

Tangents: going off topic or shifting abruptly from one idea to another without a clear transition, making the message difficult to follow.

Unclear pronoun references: using personal pronouns without clearly defining who or what they refer to.

Vague references: using words or phrases without clearly defining their meaning, making the message unclear or confusing.

In conclusion, cohesion in speaking is an important aspect of effective communication, helping to create a clear and coherent message that is easily understood by the audience. It is important to use cohesive devices appropriately and to avoid those that detract from the clarity and coherence of the message.

Types of cohesive devices


Reflexive pronouns. A simple cohesive device. Examples

Examples: he; she; it; they.

Reflexive pronouns refer to a pronoun that was previously mentioned in the text. Example:

He introduced himself. Nouns and pronouns must agree in gender, number and person.

It should be very clear what your pronoun refers to.

Avoid using too many pronouns in one sentence.

It can easily confuse your reader. If you have to refer to several subjects within one sentence, substitute the pronoun for something else. For example:

Original sentence: She said she doesn’t know him.

Corrected sentence: Jane said she doesn’t know him or She denied knowing him.

In the second example not only did we use just two pronouns instead of three, but we also made the sentence more concise.

Original sentence: They refused to cooperate with him.

Corrected sentence: The politicians refused to cooperate with him or They refused to cooperate with the President.

You can substitute either pronoun to make your sentence more reader-friendly.

Note that pronouns their/them/they can be used with singular when you want to refrain from mentioning the person’s gender. Example:

Please remind your client that they should come on time. (We are talking about one person here).

Using pronouns in speaking helps create cohesion by referring back to previously mentioned individuals or objects, reducing the need to repeat proper nouns and making the conversation smoother and easier to follow.

Here are a few tips for using pronouns effectively in speaking:

Establish clear antecedents: Before using a pronoun, make sure that the person or thing it refers to (its antecedent) has already been clearly established and is easily recognizable by your listeners.

Use the right pronoun form: Choose the appropriate pronoun form (e.g. she, her, hers) based on the gender, number, and case of the antecedent.

Repeat the antecedent: If there is any doubt about what a pronoun refers to, repeat the antecedent or use a proper noun instead.

Use pronoun agreement: Ensure that the pronoun agrees in number with its antecedent. For example, if the antecedent is "the team," use the pronoun "they" instead of "he" or "she."

Avoid ambiguous pronouns: Be careful not to use pronouns that could refer to more than one person or thing, as this can cause confusion.

By following these tips, you can effectively use pronouns to create cohesion in speaking and make your conversations easier for your listeners to follow.


Conjunctions are words that connect clauses or sentences and help create cohesion in speaking.

Here are a few tips for using conjunctions effectively:

Connect related ideas: Use conjunctions to connect related ideas, such as contrasting or contrasting ideas. For example, you can use "but" to connect contrasting ideas, or "and" to connect similar ideas.

Show cause and effect: Use conjunctions such as "so," "therefore," and "thus" to show the relationship between cause and effect.

Add emphasis: Conjunctions such as "not only... but also" and "both... and" can be used to add emphasis to a point you are making.

Create lists: Use conjunctions such as "and," "or," and "nor" to create lists and connect items.

Express conditions: Use conjunctions such as "if" and "unless" to express conditions and connect related ideas.

By using conjunctions effectively, you can create cohesive speech that is easy to follow and understand. The key is to use conjunctions to connect related ideas and help your audience understand the relationship between different parts of your message.

Using conjunctions is simple, the only challenge lies in determining whether it is appropriate to begin a sentence with "and" or "but." The truth is, you can start a sentence with these conjunctions, but be mindful that doing so creates a strong connection with the preceding sentence. Ensure that this connection is deliberate and intended.

It's also worth considering omitting the conjunction altogether. If the meaning of the sentence remains unchanged, it may not be necessary to include it. Additionally, avoid overusing conjunctions as they can lose their impact if used excessively.

Adverbial conjunctions

Adverbial conjunctions are words that connect clauses or sentences and provide information about time, place, or manner. These conjunctions can help create cohesion in speaking by linking different parts of a message and making the conversation flow smoothly.

Here are a few examples of adverbial conjunctions and how they can be used to create cohesion:

Time: "when," "while," "before," "after," "as soon as," "once," "until," etc. For example: "I'll start cooking dinner as soon as I get home."

Place: "where," "anywhere," "everywhere," "nowhere," etc. For example: "I'll look for my keys anywhere I can think of."

Manner: "as," "like," "as if," "as though," etc. For example: "She sings like an angel."

Purpose: "so that," "in order that," "to," etc. For example: "I'm studying hard so that I can pass the exam."

Condition: "if," "unless," "provided that," "on condition that," etc. For example: "If it rains, we'll stay inside."

By using adverbial conjunctions effectively, you can create a cohesive message and make your speech flow smoothly. The key is to use these conjunctions to link different parts of your message and provide information about time, place, or manner.

Here is a list of other adverbial conjunctions:

​Purpose of conjunction

Conjunctions (conjunctions in brackets are optional)

​Adding something

​Also, besides, finally, furthermore, in addition, moreover, still, therewith, too, on top of that


​Also, as well, alike, similarly


​Although, (and) yet, (and) at the same time, despite that, even though, however, in contrast, instead, in spite of, nevertheless, on the other hand, though


​Certainly, definitely, indeed, in fact

​Giving an example

​For/as an example, for instance, to illustrate, in other words, it is true that, namely, specifically, case in point

​Showing equality

as … as, both … and, either … or, neither … nor, not only … but also

​Summarising, concluding

​As it was/has been said, in conclusion, finally, in short, in other words, to put it simply, on the whole, summarising


The sentences below contain a conjunction of one sort or another. Your task is to:

  • Identify the word and type

  • Say what the function is

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