Grammatical Devices of Cohesion Analysis in Texts of High School English: A Case Study on PUZZLES IN GEOGRAPHY


校园英语·下旬 2020年5期

In this paper, the grammatical devices of cohesion are analyzed. The chosen text PUZZLES IN GEOGRAPHY is taken from New Senior English for China Students Book 5. It clarifies how four countries formed the UK and gives a brief introduction of England and London. (refer to Appendix for full text).

Introduced in the course, cohesion is complementary to coherence andrefers to the linking relationships that are explicitlyexpressed in the surface structure of the text. The devices of cohesion are reference, substitution & ellipsis, conjunction, theme-rheme and tense & aspect.

According to the different directions of arrows above, its easy to conclude that there are anaphoric references(backward-pointing) and cataphoric references(forward-pointing), with the former making up the majority in this text. As an indicator of how a discourse is constructed, anaphoric reference is achieved through pronouns referring back to the items previously appeared in the text, which is beneficial to achieve the conciseness of a text. Besides, three types of grammatical reference can be found.For example, there are many pronominal references by personal pronouns such as it and they.

Secondly, it is about the substitution & ellipsis. With an item replaced by something else,substitution is helpful to make sentences more concise. There is an examplesin the sixth line of the fourth paragraph.“two” means “two football teams”, avoiding the repetition of such a long phrase.

Thirdly, it is about the conjunctions. In the text, these conjunctions are easily found,“For example”“First, next, finally”, “However, so, but, although”, etc. As adverbial connectors, these conjunctions have the function of binding ideas, clauses and segments of discourse into cohesive sequences. “Conjunctions are important cohesive device for discourse construction.”(Halliday&Hasan,1976).AccordingtoHalliday and Hasan,conjunctions are rather  different from other cohesive devices.A conjunction specifies the connection between whatisfollowing and what has gone before. In the text,“for example” shows that the author prepares to prove and explain more about the fact about four countries having different institutions with the use of examples.“however, so, but, although” denotes the logic relationships between sentences and paragraphs in this text, take “however” for example, its used to show that the southern Irelands unwillingness contrast to other countries. “First, next, finally” shows the time order of four countries making up the United Kingdom.

As for the thematic progression, progression with derived themes appeared in the fifth paragraph. “Thematic progression denotes the strategies available to writers for linking the themes and rhemes in a clause to those of surrounding clauses.”(Thomas Hawes, 2015) As the fifth line of the last second paragraph in the text shows, the themes of the clauses all derive from the general notion in the first sentence, which mainly help explains the relationships between clauses and realizes the coherence of the texts.

The last aspect analyzed is the tense and aspect. In this text, the major tense is the present tense, except the second paragraph about the and descriptions of invaders. Past tense are usually used when giving historical account of England. Present tense are most used to talk about the current situation of England and the authors personal opinion.

In conclusion, the devices of cohesion are indispensable in any text, which deserve teachersattention. In China, many high schoolstudents compositionsalways apply templates mechanically, lackingcohesion andcoherence.“Teachers should learn to help improve students awareness of discourse cohesion and enhance the coherence of writings by teaching cohesion theory to students in the class.”(Karadeniz, 2017) In addition to explanation of theory, the training of cohesive devices to students is also necessary. Teachers should guide students to do applied exercises about how they should use conjunctive elements in a sentence, between sentences and between paragraphs.


[1]Halliday, M. A. K. & Hasan, R. Cohesion in English[J]. London: Longman Group, 1976.

[2]Hawes, Thomas. Thematic progression in the writing of students and professionals.Ampersand[OL]. Vol. 2. 93-100. 10.1016/j.amper, 2015,06,002.

[3]Karadeniz, A. Cohesion andCoherencein Written Texts of Students of Faculty ofEducation[J]. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 2017,5(2):93-99.



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