Linking ideas across paragraphs with a wide range of cohesive devices
Your child will use words and phrases to build cohesion within a paragraph. Thankfully, the grammar knowledge required isn’t too tricky and many children will do this naturally when they write. The main difficulty as a parent lies in knowing what the different terms mean.
A text has cohesion if it is clear how the meanings of its parts fit together. A cohesive text will make sense and is easy for the reader to follow. To help their writing flow, your child will be taught to use cohesive devices. Cohesive devices are words used to show how the different parts of a text fit together. In other words, they create cohesion. Some examples of cohesive devices are:
- Determiners indicate if a noun is known or unknown, and they help us show which particular thing we are talking about. Some examples of determiners are: the, a/an, this, those, my, your, some, and every. Choosing the right determiner helps us to show exactly what we mean: ‘some spiders are venomous’ is very different to ‘that spider is venomous’, especially if the spider happens to be in your bathroom.
- Pronouns are used in place of a noun that has already been mentioned. They avoid unnecessary repetition. For example, ‘Liz was hungry so she made a sandwich’.
- Conjunctions are words that link two words or phrases together, such as but, and, or because. A conjunction might be used to express time (for example, ‘I went to play football after I’d finished dinner’) or cause (‘I asked him to move so I could see the sign’).
- Adverbs are words that describe or give more detail about a verb (for example, ‘kindly’). An adverb might express time (for example, ‘I’ll do my homework later’), place (‘the car pulled up outside’), or cause (‘Lucy walked quickly to her seat’).
- Adverbials are words or phrases used, like adverbs, to describe or add more information to a verb or clause. Adverbs are often used as adverbials, (for example, ‘he walked slowly’) but many other types of words and phrases can be used this way, including preposition phrases (‘the day after tomorrow’) and subordinate clauses (‘when we’ve finished’).
- Ellipsis is where a word or phrase can be left out because is expected and predictable. We might write ‘I wanted the red jumper, not the blue one’ rather than ‘I wanted the red jumper, because I did not want the blue one’. Some of the words are left out without changing the meaning of sentence.
Your child will think about all of these things in their writing with the aim of making their work as clear as possible. In a story, they might start a new paragraph with ‘earlier that day,’ to show that there is a flashback, or ‘meanwhile, in another part of the kingdom,’ to show that the action has moved elsewhere. In persuasive writing, they may use adverbials, such as ‘on the other hand’, to show they are thinking about different sides of an argument.
As a parent, the most important thing to do is to encourage your child to think about what they are writing, whether it makes sense, and whether it conveys their meaning.