Expressions, Grammar

COHESIVE DEVICES: expressões para escrever textos

Existe uma palavra que mete medo em muitos alunos: Redação! Em inglês, não seria diferente, criar textos (compositions) também não é obra fácil nesse idioma…

A primeira coisa que deve-se entender para melhorar a escrita é conhecer os elementos que unem as frases, chamados de Cohesive devices. Tais termos servem para unir ideias e sentenças, para não deixar o texto sem nexo – sem pé nem cabeça – e também evitar algumas repetições de palavras.

Também chamados de linking words, linkers, connectors, discourse markers or transitional words, os elementos coesivos são um dos conteúdos mais  confusos e mal utizados na parte escrita dos exames de proficiência. São nada mais do que expressões como ‘For example‘, ‘In conclusion‘, ‘however‘ ou ‘moreover‘.

Togetherwith coherence, cohesion provides 25% of your marks in both parts of the Writing test. However, most students have not been taught how to use them effectively. COhesive devices dizem ao leitor what we are doing in a sentence and help to guide them through our writing. They signal to the reader what the relationships are between the different clauses, sentences and paragraphs.

Observe os exemplos a seguir:

  • The public transport in this city is unreliable and it’s cheap.
  • The public transport in this city is unreliable but it’s cheap.

The first sentence tells the reader that ‘it’s cheap’ is simply being added to the previous information, however, the second sentence tells the reader that they are giving a contrasting opinion to the first part of the sentence by using the word ‘but’.

In other words, the second sentence is saying ‘it’s unreliable (which is bad) but the good thing about it is it’s cheap, so I don’t mind using it.’ Simply using the word ‘but’ conveys that whole message without needing to literally say it.

The biggest mistakes many students make is to use cohesive devices in nearly every sentence. If you look at the IELTS Writing Marking Criteria it states that a Band 7 ‘uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although there may be so………. It is stated for Band 5 that ‘makes inadequate, inaccurate or over use of cohesive devices‘. In my experience, most students get a Band 5 in this category for this reason. They think that using them as much as possible will get them a high mark, but don’t consider the meaning and how each of them should be used in a sentence.

Band 8 and 9 students tend to only use cohesive devices when necessary and they use them appropriately and effectively i.e. correct meaning and grammar. In fact, many students have criticised Band 9 answers because ‘they don’t have enough discourse markers’.

Meaning and Grammar
The next problem students have is learning long lists of cohesive devices and not learning the meaning of each word or how it should be used in a sentence. If you use the wrong word it confuses the reader and this lowers your mark for both coherence and grammar. It is better to use no word than use a word incorrectly.

In a 250 word essay you might give 2-3 examples at the most, so why would you learn 10 different ways to give an example? You only have one conclusion, so it seems like a waste of time to learn 5 different ways to do this.

Learn just the words you need and learn them 100%. By 100% I mean that you know exactly what that word means, when it should be used in a sentence and how it should be used in a sentence. Until you know all of this 100%, don’t use it.

Finally, don’t try to use very complicated words and expressions, if you are not already comfortable with the simple terms. Being able to use ‘and‘ or ‘but‘ effectively is much better than trying to use more complicated words incorrectly. Again, look at some academic texts or good IELTS sample answers; simple words are used more often than not.

How to Improve
You can’t simply learn a long list of words and then hope you can use these correctly in an essay. That would be like Ronaldo telling you how he scores so many goals and thinking you can do the same thing by just listening to him.

Reading is the number one way to learn new words. Good writers read a lot, it’s that simple. Pick a topic you are interested in and read a little every day. 20 minutes is enough. Note down any cohesive devices and how they are used in each sentence.
Check the meaning and grammar of each word on sites like the British Council or BBC. You will find lots of explanations there and example sentences.
Practice using these and then have your writing checked by an experienced IELTS teacher.
If you do the following, you will slowly learn how to use cohesive devices effectively. I wish there was a faster way, but like most things in life, hard work and practice is the best and only solution.

Para ajudar você a aprender alguns Cohesive devices, colocamos

Once upon a time, One day, At the beginning, When it all began, When it all started
Firstly, secondly, thirdly, in due time, as long as, as soon as, just in time, at the moment, in good time, in the meantimein a moment, in ages, whenever, now that, instantly, without delay, Suddenly, all of a sudden, at the present time, from time to time, sooner or later, at the same time, as soon as
In the end, finally, When it all ended, After all of that, After everything that had happened, Once and for all, At the end of the day
And, also, as well, in addition, besides, above all
However, but, although, on the other hand, despite, in spite of, even though, though, whereas
Such as, for example, like, for instance, as follows
similarly, equally, likewise, in the same way
Also, furthermore, moreover, above all, not only… but also
So, therefore, as a result, because of this, consequently, thus, hence, in that case
Otherwise, in other words, then, in that case
In conclusion, to sum up, in brief, to sum up, therefore, to summarise
Firstly, secondly, thirdly, lastly, next, after, to start with, to finish
Obviously, clearly, naturally, of course, naturally, surely, after all


Example of a story

As soon as I woke up, I realised that it was the most important day of my life. I had been preparing for this day for as long as I can remember. We had studied all year for our final exam and we knew that when it was over, we would be qualified doctors. I couldn’t wait because it had been my dream since I was a kid. My parents would be so proud and they were planning a party for when I got my results. As I had studies so hard I knew I would pass without a problem. My plan was to finish the exam and then go clubbing with some friends. It was going to be a night to remember.

What are Cohesive Devices?

Cohesive devices, sometimes called linking words, linkers, connectors, discourse markers or transitional words  and these are words or phrases that show the relationship between paragraphs or sections of a text or speech.

What are some examples of Cohesive Devices?

There are many examples of cohesive devices, they can be grouped by category. If you want so show similarity, you can use; and, also, too, similarly, equally, identically, equally  and important.

If you want to introduce an item in a series, you can use first, in the first place, secondly, then, in addition, finally and last.

What are the Different Types of Cohesion?

Cohesion is the grammatical and lexical linking within a text or sentence that holds a text together and gives it meaning. There are two main types of Cohesion, grammatical cohesion and lexical cohesion.

Methods of Cohesion with Examples

1. Anaphoric reference means that a word in a text refers back to other ideas in the text for its meaning.

‘I went out with Jo on Sunday. She looked awful.’ ´She` clearly refers to Jo, there is no need to repeat her name.

2. Cataphoric reference means that a word in a text refers to another later in the text and you need to look forward to understand

‘When he arrived, John noticed that the door was open’.

3. Exophoric reference  refers to an idea outside the text. This is a reference to world knowledge shared by the reader

Example: The Prime Minister responded quickly to the threat. Here we are expected to know who the Prime Minister is”

4. Tense agreement refers to the way that writers use tenses to make a text hang together


“She knew then that he… ‘had found her letter’ is a logical ending to the sentence. We are not surprised to see past perfect after simple past in a narrative sentence.”

5. Linkers refers  to words or phrases that describe the relationship between ideas in the text“: Andrew, but, therefore, first of all”

6. Substitution or Ellipsis refers to eplacing words, or leaving them out– this is how writers reduce repetition in a text


“Now we’re finishing our essays. I know you want to go out, but before you can do that, please finish. ‘do that’ avoids a repetition of ‘go out’. Instead of repeating ‘finish our essays’ ‘our essays’ is dropped from the sentence.

Cohesive-Devices Cohesive Devices


ADDITION = and, also, furthermore, too, what is more



COMPARISON = also, equally, compared with, similar


QUALIFYING =  but, however, unless, although, except

HIGHLIGHTING = in particular, particularly, mainly, above all, especially

TRANSITION = Concerned, as far as … is, with reference to, turning to, with regard to



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