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Coherence within Paragraphs

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Coherence within Paragraphs

Paragraphs are like little stories all their own. A paragraph is just big enough to have a nuanced flavor, purpose, and personality, which means quite a bit goes into making one. A critical aspect of this is being sure that your paragraph makes sense. Considering a paragraph's moving parts, writing one can present a writer with unique problems.

Meaning of Coherence Within Paragraphs

There are two parts to "coherence within paragraphs."

Something is coherent if it is easy and natural to follow.

"Within" means that this discussion pertains to coherence inside a single paragraph more so than between paragraphs.

Coherence within a paragraph is achieved when a paragraph flows naturally and logically.

Paragraphs are vital parts of prose, a form of writing defined by the use of sentences and paragraphs. Stories, as well as essays, are considered prose.

Poetry is not prose, as it uses stanzas and lines.

Importance of Coherent Paragraphs in Writing

Coherency within paragraphs is important regardless of the genre or situation. If a paragraph isn't coherent, someone can't understand its purpose.

The focus here is on essays, though. Essay paragraphs need strong coherence because all your paragraphs link together to support your thesis. Imagine it like a chain, with your paragraphs as links in the chain. If you break one link, then your essay as a whole won't connect.

Coherence between paragraphs. Chains linking. StudySmarter.Make your chain of ideas strong. Flaticon.

If your paragraph isn't coherent, it breaks that link in the chain. In an essay, you ultimately want someone to understand and agree with your purpose.

Writing a Coherent Paragraph

Before learning how to write a coherent paragraph, you should understand the big picture when creating a coherent paragraph.

Remember the chain from earlier? Well, you are the one hand-linking that chain, which means you can't lose sight of it or where it began.

Your essay begins with your thesis, and each paragraph links back to that thesis. So when writing your paragraph, double-check, "Does this paragraph support my thesis? Is this paragraph off-track? Does this paragraph make sense?"

A coherent paragraph is one your reader understands, so if your reader doesn't understand how your paragraph links back to where you started, you have a problem.

2. Keep the Total Length of Your Paragraph in Mind

Before you ever get to writing your paragraph, know the minimum and maximum length of that paragraph.

At a minimum, when writing an essay, a paragraph should be three sentences. A small paragraph like this would contain a brief argument, some evidence, or act as a significant transition.

At maximum, when writing an essay, a paragraph should be half a page double-spaced. This is not a hard and fast rule, as it is certainly possible to write long, cohesive paragraphs. However, if your paragraph is any bigger than half a page, it might go off-track. Readers could start to lose track of your arguments.

Paragraph breaks are like big breaths. If you don't allow someone to take a big breath, they are liable to get dizzy at the amount of information!

3. Keep Your Outline in Mind

You know you need to link your paragraph back to the thesis. However, you also need to consider the previous paragraph and the next paragraph. Achieve this by referring to your outline. Ensure that your paragraph is doing its job alongside the other paragraphs, or else you will break that "chain" of links.

Follow your outline as best you can! It's the whole point of writing an outline in the first place. An outline is a blueprint for your logic.

Steps to Writing a Coherent Paragraph

Keep in mind there are infinite ways to create a paragraph, and some paragraphs differ drastically. A paragraph in a story is immensely different from a paragraph in your essay, and even paragraphs in your essay will differ. For instance, your body paragraphs will be structurally different from your introductory and concluding paragraphs. Even body paragraphs will vary based on need. That said, the following steps will help you craft a coherent body paragraph for your essay, which you can then use as a reference point for other kinds of paragraphs.

Step One

Start your body paragraph with your argument.

An argument is a reason to believe a given claim.

Usually, your claim is your thesis statement, which you will have written in your introduction. Here's a sample claim.

Many characters in the story dislike Magbie for "snooping around," but Magbie is actually the story's hero for that very reason. Magbie, the maid, who keeps tabs on the murderer Marco, is pivotal in bringing him to justice.

To back up this claim, you would provide arguments. The following arguments are fictional, from a fictional story.

Characters dislike Magbie for "snooping around."

No one else keeps tabs on Marco throughout the story.

Keeping tabs on Marco helps bring about his downfall.

These arguments would each take up a paragraph (or so) of your essay. They directly support your claim and help to prove that your perspective is accurate.

You want to start your paragraph with the argument because it is the next logical step for your reader. You may need to use a transition to help guide your reader into your argument.

Coherence within paragraphs. A maid smiles. StudySmarter.An argument connects your claim to your evidence. Flaticon.

Step Two

Your paragraph has led off with its argument. However, an argument needs evidence the way a claim needs arguments. The second step to creating a coherent paragraph is to link your evidence to your argument.

Say this is your paragraph's argument.

Keeping tabs on Marco helps bring about his downfall.

You would then include some evidence to support this. Here are two pieces of sample evidence.

On page 131, Magbie finds the cigarette case that Lindsay later tests positive for Marco's fingerprints.

On page 250, Magbie sees Marco in the hall when the butler is away. Lindsay uses this to deduce that Marco broke into the darkroom to destroy the photographs under development.

As you link your evidence to your arguments, you should keep two words in your head: clear and logical. To be "clear," you should be brief and use easy-to-understand words. To be "logical," explain yourself and how all the parts of your arguments link together. At the end of your paragraph, you might reinforce your argument by tying it back to the thesis.

A coherent paragraph is coherent to anyone following along, so explain your logic as if the reader doesn't understand the subject.

Step Three

You complete your paragraph when you complete your thought. This usually happens once you have linked your evidence to your arguments.

Step three is reading over your paragraph and editing it. Editing is a fantastic tool for creating coherence within paragraphs because you can read your logic at full speed. It takes much longer to write a paragraph than to read it, so it's good to be sure that your logic isn't too slow or too fast based on a person's reading speed.

Checking for mistakes is like checking for cracks in your chain link before moving on. If your last link is cracked, you only dig yourself a hole by moving on to the next link. One faulty link can destroy the coherence of your essay.

Remember, you want your paragraphs to sound natural, so check for that when checking for coherency within paragraphs.

One integral part of completing your thought is to use transitions to link your sentences and ideas together. Transitions are a major element of coherence between sentences, and you should come prepared to use them. Here's how you might link your argument to your first piece of evidence using the transition "for instance."

Keeping tabs on Marco helps bring about his downfall. For instance, on page 131, Magbie finds the cigarette case that Lindsay later tests positive for Marco's fingerprints.

Although a paragraph comprises sentences, "coherency within sentences" differs from "coherency within paragraphs." Coherence within a sentence is coherence inside the sentence. Coherence within a paragraph is the coherence of those sentences put together. You should study up on all levels of coherence to achieve the best results!

Coherence in Paragraph Example

Here is an example of a coherent paragraph. This is how your final product might look after completing all the steps necessary to make a great paragraph!

Additionally, by keeping tabs on Marco, Magbie helps to bring about his downfall. For instance, on page 131, Magbie finds the cigarette case that Lindsay later tests positive for Marco's fingerprints. The prosecution uses these fingerprints to help convict Marco. Magbie's snooping helps Lindsay another time, too. On page 250, Magbie sees Marco in the hall outside the darkroom when the butler is away. Learning this from Magbie, Lindsay correctly deduces that Marco destroyed the photographs under development inside. So although the characters chide Magbie for snooping around, they need her. Magbie's ability to break the rules makes her this story's unsung hero.

This example begins with a transition (in pink) from another paragraph and the argument (in blue).

Additionally, by keeping tabs on Marco, Magbie helps to bring about his downfall.

Next, the writer links two pieces of evidence to the argument. To achieve coherence, the writer keeps the reader on track with transitions like "too" and "although."

Finally, the writer reminds the reader of the thesis.

So although the characters chide Magbie for snooping around, they actually need her. Magbie's ability to break the rules makes her this story's unsung hero.

This isn't strictly necessary, but it helps to emphasize the claim. Overall, this paragraph achieves coherence because it naturally and logically carries through the writer's claim.

Coherence within Paragraphs - Key takeaways

  • Coherence within a paragraph is achieved when a paragraph flows naturally and logically.
  • Paragraphs are part of prose, not poetry.
  • Coherency within paragraphs is important regardless of the genre or situation. If a paragraph isn't coherent, someone can't understand its purpose.
  • To create coherency within your paragraph, keep in mind your thesis, your essay's total length, and your outline.
  • When writing a body paragraph for your argument, remember that your argument links your thesis to your evidence.

Frequently Asked Questions about Coherence within Paragraphs

A paragraph that flows naturally and logically.

To create coherency within your paragraph, keep in mind your thesis, your essay's total length, and your outline.

"Additionally, by keeping tabs on Marco, Magbie helps to bring about his downfall. For instance, on page 131, Magbie finds the cigarette case that Lindsay later tests positive for Marco's fingerprints. The prosecution uses these fingerprints to help convict Marco. Magbie's snooping helps Linday another time, too. On page 250, Magbie sees Marco in the hall outside the darkroom when the butler is away. Learning this from Magbie, Lindsay correctly deduces that Marco destroyed the photographs under development inside. So although the characters chide Magbie for snooping around, really they need her. Magbie's ability to break the rules makes her this story's unsung hero."

Coherence within a sentence is coherence inside the sentence. Coherence within a paragraph is the coherence of those sentences put together.

Final Coherence within Paragraphs Quiz

Question

What is a paragraph?

Show answer

Answer

A paragraph is a collection of sentences separated from other paragraphs by line breaks.

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Question

What is coherence within a paragraph?

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Answer

Coherence within a paragraph is achieved when a paragraph flows naturally and logically.

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Question

Paragraphs are a vital part of _____.

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Answer

Prose

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Question

What are some things written in prose?

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Answer

Stories and essays.

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Question

"Coherence within paragraphs is more important to some writing genres than others."

True or false?

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Answer

False. Coherency within paragraphs is important regardless of the genre or situation. If a paragraph isn't coherent, someone can't understand its purpose. 

Show question

Question

Why do essays need coherence within paragraphs?

Show answer

Answer

Essay paragraphs need strong coherence because all your paragraphs link together to support your thesis. Imagine it like a chain, with your paragraphs as links in the chain. If you break one link, then your essay as a whole won't work. 

Show question

Question

"Your paragraphs should link back to your thesis."

True or false?

Show answer

Answer

True. Your essay begins with your thesis, and each paragraph links back to that thesis. So when writing your paragraph, double-check, "Does this paragraph support my thesis? Is this paragraph off-track? Does this paragraph make sense?"

Show question

Question

What is the minimum length of a paragraph?

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Answer

3 sentences

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Question

What is the maximum length for a paragraph?

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Answer

½ page, double-spaced

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Question

To make sure your paragraph is coherent with the previous and next paragraphs, refer to your _____.

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Answer

Outline

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Question

Begin your body paragraph with an _____.

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Answer

Argument

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Question

In terms of your paragraphs, an argument links what to what?

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Answer

It links your thesis to your evidence.

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Question

Does an argument need evidence to support it?

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Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

Which pair of words should you remember when creating coherence within paragraphs?

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Answer

Clear and logical.

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Question

How does editing help create coherence within paragraphs?

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Answer

 Editing is a fantastic tool for creating coherence within paragraphs because you can read your logic at full speed. It takes much longer to write a paragraph than to read it, so it's good to be sure that your logic isn't too slow or too fast based on a person's reading speed.

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