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  • Writer's pictureAnqi Teng

Paragraph Coherence

Paragraph coherence is the act of making the words, phrases and sentences flow smoothly and with sound logic. The ideas are correctly interwoven, allowing the reader to avoid confusion when trying to make sense of the writer's "point".

The best essay is a well glued one

What makes a paragraph coherent?

1. Effective Transitional Vocabulary

2. Avoiding Illogical Shifts in Focus

3. Maintaining Consistent Tense

4. Maintaining Consistent Pronouns

1. Effective Transitional Vocabulary

Transitional words lead one idea on to another. Words such as and, also and furthermore add onto the previous idea. Transition words such as therefore, thus and hence prepares the reader for a point the writer is about to make based on previously given information. There are many other transition words that will be discussed in another post.

Misuse of transition vocabulary will lead to sentences that don't convey what you actually mean.


The sky is without a cloud and the birds have come out to sing.


The sky is without a cloud thus the birds have come out to sing.

The two sentences are very different in meaning. The second sentence implies that the sky being cloudless is a direct pre-requisite for birds to sing. If this was not the intended message, then a case of miscommunication is created.

2. Avoiding Illogical Shifts in Focus

A shift in focus is when there is a change in the main idea of discussion. Think about your conversations with your friends. There will be many different moments where a focus shift will occur and usually by the end what you are discussing varies greatly from what you started off with.

An essay should not be like a conversation. A conversation is allowed to have shifts in focus because there is immediate feedback and request for clarification if there is any confusion. An essay does not give this luxury. This is why all forms of unnecessary changes in topic needs to be cut out.

Have you ever written a paragraph and decide to add an interesting tidbit that you thought the reader should know without evaluating its true necessity in your paragraph? Please stop. Don't get too attached to your interesting tidbits and insights that don't relate to your argument. No one cares.

3. Maintaining Consistent Tense

Such a simple concept, so difficult to master. Tenses deserve their own post. Consistent tense is like cleaning a house. You only notice it when it's not being done. So do it. No one likes a dirty house and no one likes reading inconsistent tenses.

4. Maintaining Consistent Pronouns

Many people think that pronouns are easy to use. I think pronouns are pretty easy to use. Would you say we're wrong about how we think about pronouns?

The above series of sentences are a bit atrocious in terms of pronoun usage. It's not so much that readers won't understand the message, but the brain is programmed to notice change. And change in pronouns will disrupt your reader's flow which in turn breaks your paragraph coherence.

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