A terrific, short video on cohesion in paragraphs that we watched in class Wednesday.
Here are two versions of the same paragraph, one with explicit transitions and one with what the instructor calls “cohesive connectors”:
One reason that northern Canada is sparsely populated is because of its bitterly cold climate. For example, in the summer, northern parts of the country can receive snowfalls, and in the winter it can be as cold as -60C. Another reason for not living in the area is that the daylight hours in the winter are severely limited.
One reason that northern Canada is sparsely populated is because of its bitterly cold climate. Weather extremes range from the odd summer snowstorm to -60C temperatures during the long winter nights. Daylight, or the lack of it, is another reason people don’t live there.
Two comments. The Chalk ‘n Talk instructor seems to regard the first paragraph as an example of something not to do. I disagree. There is nothing wrong with the first paragraph; it is crystal clear, and it hangs together. It is cohesive.
Just about everyone in class seemed to like the second paragraph better, and I probably do, too. But you should never hesitate to use explicit transitions like “for example” and “another reason” in your writing. Such expressions are tremendously useful and not to be scorned. They keep your reader on track.
One more observation. Here, again, are Martha Kolln‘s three methods of achieving paragraph cohesion:
- The subject of all or most sentences in the paragraph is the same.
- In each two-sentence pair, information included in the predicate of the 1st sentence becomes the subject of the 2nd sentence. Usually this means that something in the end of Sentence 1 becomes the beginning of Sentence 2.
- In paragraphs of description, a list of details follows the topic sentence.
The second paragraph above uses a variant of number 2.
The words “bitterly cold climate” at the end of Sentence 1 become the closely related concept “weather extremes” in the subject of Sentence 2. Then “nights,” at the end of Sentence 2, becomes the closely related concept “daylight” in the subject of sentence 3. The links are logical and easy to follow.
• Sentence Cohesion — excerpt from Rhetorical Grammar
• Kolln, Martha J. Rhetorical Grammar:
..Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects.
• Coherent paragraphs & the bride on her wedding day