Text structure – connectives and conjunctions

Cohesion in texts includes the use of connectives and conjunctions and more sophisticated texts effectively use a variety of referring words, substitutions, word associations and text connectives to improve the flow of the writing. It refers to the use of linguistic devices to join sentences together, including conjunctions, reference words, substitution and lexical devices such as repetition of words (or synonyms), collocations and lexical groups.

Strategy

Students need to connect ideas in logical ways in order to display and build precise factual knowledge, develop their ideas to persuade more convincingly and express more complex relationships in their speech and writing.

Referring words: set up links by referring to sentences or the context that has just been mentioned to maintain continuity and avoid repetition. Other referring words include:

  • noun-pronoun chains
  • demonstratives: this, that, these, those, there
  • interrogative pronouns: who, which, what, whose, whom.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: fill in the gaps

Note: activity 1 is a prerequisite for activity 2.

Students decide which label bests extends the topic sentence to add further information.

For example:

problem, issue, topic, question, aspect, solution, approach, fact, argument, view, point, situation, position

What do you think of animal rights? That’s quite a big ______________
We are running out of funds. How do you propose to solve the__________?
Is there life on other planets? This is a _________ nobody has answered yet.
You can do your presentation on any _______ you prefer.
Iceland has taken the banks to court. This new ____________ to tackle the crisis is quite unusual.

Activity 2: growing paragraphs using referral words

Students write a sentence about the HSIE or Science content they are currently studying with a partner or small group.

For example:

  • pollution is increasing.
  • we need to control the number of cars in our cities.
  • the government has been cutting down on the education budget.

They then match the sentence with a suitable label from the following:

problem, issue, topic, question, aspect, solution, approach, fact, argument, view, point, situation, position

This then allows students to add further information through the use of referral words.

  • pollution is increasing. The PROBLEM is getting worse every day.
  • do we need to control the number of cars in our cities? This is the biggest ISSUE we face today.
  • the government has been cutting down on the education budget. You can’t ignore the FACT that the government has been cutting down on the education budget.

Activity 3: growing paragraphs using referral words

Discuss words which replace verb, noun groups, and whole clauses using the following examples.

“so” replaces the clause “you would like one”
“Would you like one?”, “Yes I thought so.”

“did” identifies the past tense and the rest of the verb group “to stick a chicken bone through the bars of the cage” is left out (ellipsed)
Gretel told Hansel to stick a chicken bone through the bars of the cage. And he did.

“one” identifies the number and the rest of the noun group “pieces of fruit” is left out (ellipsed).
I've got two pieces of fruit. Do you want one?

“so” replaces the clause, “She was sick of cleaning up after them.”
She was sick of cleaning up after them. They heard her say so.

Students use the text below or an to draw coloured lines and highlight the noun the referring word replaces:

'To Laurie - at fifteen, transplanted by his parents from the country to the inner suburbs, wandering his new streets, marveling at the unearthly blue of the jacarandas and the fleshiness of the suspended mangoes - the man appeared as a sign. He was going somewhere.

The move to the city had been a success. He felt he should acknowledge his friend, his fellow explorer - just a nod of the head. But he never did'.

References

Australian curriculum

ACELA1763: Text structure and organisation: Understand that the coherence of more complex texts relies on devices that signal text structure and guide readers, for example overviews, initial and concluding paragraphs and topic sentences, indexes or site maps or breadcrumb trails for online texts.

NSW syllabus

EN4-3B: Outcome 3: uses and describes language forms, features and structures of texts appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts  (EN4-3B) - Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features: understand that the coherence of more complex texts relies on devices that signal text structure and guide readers, for example overviews, initial and concluding paragraphs and topic sentences, indexes or site maps or breadcrumb trails for online texts

NSW literacy continuum

WRIC13M4: Aspects of writing, Cluster 13, Marker 4: Uses paragraphing to structure information and partition events and ideas.

Teacher resources

  • Clear information and activities on different aspects of cohesion.
    learning.uow.edu.au/resources/LD/Cohesive1.pdf

Student resources

  • Further information and practice activities for students. This site focuses on the common errors of referencing and provides feedback on correct responses also.
    www.towson.edu/ows/proref
  • Interactive site for students to find the referencing words and they are able to check their responses as they work through the activity.
    www.englishw.com/Cohesion2
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