Types of Cohesive Devices

Cohesive devices are sometimes called linking words, linkers, connectors, discourse markers, or transitional words.

Cohesive Devices are words or phrases that show the relationship between paragraphs or sections of a text or speech.

Cohesive devices are words like ‘For example, ‘In conclusion, ‘however‘ and ‘moreover‘.

In this post, you will learn more about the different types of cohesive devices and how to use them in sentences correctly

Examples of Cohesive Devices

Let’s look at these two examples below:

  1. Netflix has many movies and shows and it is only $9.
  2. The Christmas tree is natural but it is expensive.

As we can see in the sentences above, and it is used to add something to the previous statement,

In the second sentence, we can see how something positive and negative is said about Christmas. We know that because the word but is used to contrast ideas.

What are some Types of Cohesive Devices?

There are many examples of cohesive devices, they can be grouped according to their function.

If you want to show similarity, you can use cohesive devices such as:


If you want to introduce an item in a series, you can use:

First Then
In the first placeIn addition
In the second placeFinally

If you need to compare, you can use cohesive devices such as:

But However
NeverthelessBy comparison
MeanwhileIn contrast

For emphasizing, you can use cohesive devices such as:

In factCertainly
Without any doubtDefinitely

If you need a full list of cohesive devices, have a look at my Full List of Cohesive Devices by Category 

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.

  1. Grammatical cohesion is based on structural content.
  2. lexical cohesion is based on lexical content and background knowledge

Methods of Cohesion with Examples

These are methods of cohesion, their definitions, and examples:

#1 Anaphoric Reference

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

For example:

‘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 References

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

For example:

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

#3 Exophoric Reference

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

For Example

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

#4 Tense Agreement

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

Linkers refer to words or phrases that describe the relationship between ideas in the text


“And, but, therefore, first of all”

#6 Substitution

Substitution or Ellipsis refers to replacing 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 the repetition of ‘go out’. Instead of repeating ‘finish our essays’ ‘our essays’ is dropped from the sentence”

How to Improve

You can’t simply study a long list of cohesive devices and then hope you can use them correctly the next time you have to write an essay.

Also, you can’t look at just one example sentence and hope to learn everything you need to know about that word.

  • Reading is the number one way to learn new words. Good writers read a lot. Pick a topic you are interested in and read a little every day. Note down any cohesive devices and how they are used in each sentence.
  • Check the meaning and grammar of each new cohesive device you find during reading on sites like the Cambridge Online Dictionary

Manuel Campos, English Professor

Manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of EnglishPost.org, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English