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Levels of Coherence

Don't you love it when a plan comes together? Coherence in writing comes in three levels of coherence, and when you achieve coherence at each level, the plan comes together. The "plan" is a body paragraph or short answer in this case. Prepare for a dip into the realm of rhetoric and relevance. 

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Levels of Coherence

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Don't you love it when a plan comes together? Coherence in writing comes in three levels of coherence, and when you achieve coherence at each level, the plan comes together. The "plan" is a body paragraph or short answer in this case. Prepare for a dip into the realm of rhetoric and relevance.

Meaning of Levels of Coherence in Writing

One of your aims when writing a short answer or essay is coherence.

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

Coherence in writing operates at multiple levels, from the macro level to the micro level, from the paragraph down to each sentence.

To achieve complete coherence, you need to achieve coherence inside each sentence, between sentences, and between paragraphs.

Each level of coherence requires a different set of skills. However, mastering these skills is worthwhile.

Importance of Coherence in Writing

You might have the best idea in the world, but what is that idea worth if no one can understand it? Coherence creates understanding, which is why coherence is critical in your writing.

Readers must understand your thesis, arguments, evidence, and conclusion. If you cannot link your ideas together in a readable, logical fashion, you cannot make your point to your reader.

Coherence and Persuasive Ability

If you want to persuade somebody, they should understand your argument from start to finish. If that someone doesn't understand each point along the way, then your argument may not persuade them.

Coherence helps you persuade because it establishes a clear line of reasoning.

Coherence and Explaining an Idea

If you are trying to explain a topic to somebody, you want them to understand it. Take your thesis, for example. If your thesis is unusual or detailed, you need to explain it well so that the reader can follow along. Otherwise, any time you spend on coming up with your thesis is wasted, because it won't have the desired effect.

Coherence helps you explain an idea because it simplifies your idea.

Coherence and Showing Your Understanding

Finally, you may want your reader to know that you understand a passage or a problem. The more clear and concise your answer is, the better you demonstrate your level of understanding.

Coherence helps you show your understanding because it demonstrates you are not confused.

With all that said, what does it take to achieve coherence at all three levels?

Levels of coherence. A gold cup. StudySmarter.

Go for the sweep and achieve coherence at three levels.

Levels of Coherence Types

As you know, there are three levels of coherence. Here is an overview of each level, from the micro to the macro. If you can put together all the pieces, you have what it takes to achieve coherence in your essays and short answers.

Coherence within Sentences

The most micro level of coherence in writing is coherence within sentences.

Coherence within sentences is achieved when a sentence flows naturally and accurately.

Coherence within sentences deals with spelling, word use, word efficiency, and punctuation. Mastering these categories will help individual sentences read coherently.

Coherence Between Sentences

The next step up in coherence is coherence between sentences.

Coherence between sentences is achieved when sentences connect naturally and logically.

Coherence between sentences helps to connect your reader to your argument. To achieve coherence between sentences, you want strong transitions that explain, support, and start new ideas. Additionally, you can use sentence structure and word placement to achieve coherence between sentences.

Transitions are words and phrases that connect one thought to another. These literary tools can signal a transition to a new section (i.e., from the body of text to the conclusion), a new paragraph, or a new thought or idea within a single paragraph. Some examples of transition words are, additionally, also, therefore, especially, clearly, finally, besides and so on.

Coherence within Paragraphs

Finally, the most macro level of coherence in writing is coherence within paragraphs.

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

For the sake of levels of coherence, the paragraph is the largest chunk of prose writing you must focus on. A body paragraph is a collection of sentences that support your thesis or claim.

Coherence within paragraphs focuses on connecting the claim to your argument and evidence. To write a coherent paragraph, keep your thesis, the total paragraph length, and your outline in mind.

Levels of coherence. Evidence. StudySmarter.A good paragraph contains evidence that comes from a trustworthy source.

Examples of Levels of Coherence

Interestingly, the best way to arrange the levels of coherence in the writing process is not macro to micro or micro to macro. It's a mixture of the two.

Here is the best order to follow to achieve coherence in your essay or short answer.

  1. Coherence within paragraphs

  2. Coherence within sentences

  3. Coherence between sentences

All the levels of coherence work together to create coherency throughout your writing.

You start with coherence within a paragraph because this is the outlining phase. It's here you plan out your logic, your argument, and your evidence.

You continue with coherence within a sentence because you begin your paragraph with a single, coherent sentence. Additionally, each sentence you add should be coherent.

Finally, you achieve coherence by mastering coherence between sentences. With the knowledge of your paragraph in one hand and great writing skills in the other, you piece together your paragraph sentence by sentence until you reach the desired result.

Coherence Within a Paragraph Example

The following is an example of achieving coherence using all the levels of coherence. It exemplifies how you grow an idea into a great short answer.

To start your paragraph, you first must consider your claim (or thesis) and your argument. Say this is your claim.

The passage is a coming-of-age story.

Now you need to create an argument to support this thesis. This argument is the core of your body paragraph. Here's an argument you might use.

The young protagonist learns a lesson about winning and losing.

Finally, you need to provide at least one piece of evidence to support your argument. Here are three pieces of evidence to support the above argument.

The protagonist cheats playing a board game (paragraph 2).

The protagonist loses a friend by cheating (paragraph 3).

The protagonist explains how they never cheated a friend again (paragraph 4).

This paragraph will present your argument in a coherent manner that your audience should be able to follow. Now that you understand how your paragraph will be cohesive at the macro level, it's time to start writing an individual paragraph.

Coherence Within a Sentence Example

It's time to take your argument and make it into a great opening sentence.

A great sentence will have a few key things:

  1. Good spelling.

  2. Correct wording. E.g., don't use "their" for "there."

  3. Good word economy. In other words, don't repeat yourself or use too many words.

  4. Use good punctuation and grammar.

A great introductory sentence will have a few more specific hallmarks:

  1. Introduce the topic.
  2. Establish credibility.
  3. Catch the audience's attention.
  4. Present main idea.
The introductory sentence may not have space for all of these things, and it's not important to touch on every one of these right away, so choose what is best given your situation.

Here's a great opening sentence that captures the argument of your body paragraph. It obeys all the rules needed for a coherent sentence.

This passage is a coming-of-age story about a young boy who learns that keeping a friend is more important than winning a game.

As you build your paragraph or short answer, you will continue to use these four skills to craft coherent sentences.

Coherence between Sentences Example

You need to blend your evidence into your argument now. To do that, use transitions to explain how your evidence supports your argument. You want to be smooth and logical. Don't be too fancy!

This passage is a coming-of-age story about a young boy who learns that keeping a friend is more important than winning a game. In paragraph two, at the beginning of the short story, the boy values winning over anything else. He says to himself, "I hate losing. Anything is better than that sinking feeling of defeat."

To succeed in making their argument, the writer needs to establish the protagonist's "growth." Thus, following the argument with a description of the protagonist early on is logical. By establishing the boy's original attitude, the writer creates a starting point to demonstrate his change over time.

Levels of coherence. A boy. StudySmarter.You are almost there in achieving coherence!

Final Product Example

Following the outline, the rules for coherent sentences, and the logic between sentences, here is how a coherent short answer might turn out.

This passage is a coming-of-age story about a young boy who learns that keeping a friend is more important than winning a game. In paragraph two, at the beginning of the short story, the boy values winning over anything else. He says to himself, "I hate losing. Anything is better than that sinking feeling of defeat." It turns out that winning does not taste so sweet, however. The boy wins the game in paragraph three, but his friend is through with him. "I hope you're happy," his friend tells him as he leaves. The ending is subtle, although you can tell that the boy has learned something as he walks down the street. In paragraph four, he kicks a stone down the road like in paragraph one. However, in paragraph one, the boy got angry when he missed the kick into the gutter, while in paragraph four, he is not happy when he makes the kick. This change in interaction mirrors the change in his heart. Small successes don't mean anything if you fail to succeed when it counts.

This example is a single-paragraph essay that provides an argument for a claim. Bear in mind, though, that not all paragraphs are like this. Many will be body paragraphs in longer essays, and you can even achieve paragraph coherence in creative stories! This is just one example of coherence within a paragraph. You must apply the rules of coherence to your situation.

Levels of Coherence - Key Takeaways

  • Coherence in writing operates at multiple levels, from the macro level to the micro level, from the paragraph down to each sentence.
  • To achieve complete coherence, you need to achieve coherence at the sentence level, at the level between sentences, and at the paragraph level.
  • Coherence creates understanding, which is why coherence is critical in your writing.
  • In a paragraph, begin with your argument and follow it with your evidence.
  • To achieve coherence, your sentences need good spelling, word usage, word economy, punctuation, and grammar.

Frequently Asked Questions about Levels of Coherence

The levels of coherence in writing operate at multiple levels, from the macro level to the micro level. There is coherence within a paragraph, coherence between sentences, and coherence within a sentence. 

To achieve complete coherence, you need to achieve coherence at the sentence level, at the level between sentences, and at the paragraph level.

All the levels of coherence work together to create coherency throughout your writing. So, work through each level from the macro to the micro to use the levels of coherence.

The difference between coherence within a sentence and coherence between sentences is that coherence between sentences is achieved when sentences connect naturally and logically. Coherence within sentences is achieved when a sentence flows naturally and accurately.

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

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

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

_____ is achieved when sentences connect naturally and logically.

Coherence helps people _____ your arguments.

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