cohesion & coherence

23 Feb

Cohesion and Coherence of the Students Texts and Its Implication for Teaching Writing of Text Types in English

Arif Suryo Priyatmojo

Semarang State University


a. Objectives

b. Design

c. Setting

d. Participants

e. Main outcome measures

f. Results

g. Conclusions

The objective of the research is to find out cohesion and coherence of the students texts


Writing is one of the four skills in English considered as the most difficult skill compared to other skills, namely speaking, listening and reading by most students, even teachers. It is because writing requires the students to meet some conditions by which they can write well. Teaching writing of English as foreign language in the foreign language classroom is a challenging job to do. There are many cases in which both teachers and students have difficulties in producing good compositions. We, English teachers, have objectives in teaching writing in order that the students can write compositions well. Being able to write well in English means that the students are literate. Literacy means that the students can use their language for communicative purposes (Paltridge, 2001:4).

The product of writing is a text eventhough a text can be both in spoken and written forms (Halliday, 1976:1). A text is not only characterized by its size or length. To distinguish the difference between a text and non-text, we have to see whether the text has texture or not. The texture is the properties of a text. It can be achieved by cohesive ties which depends upon lexical and grammatical relationship that allow sentence sequences to be understood as connected discourese rather than as autonomous sentences (Witte & Faigley, 2008). Meanwhile, the cohesive ties is not sufficient to create a coherent text (Stotsky, 1983) cited in Wang (2007: 164). A text should be coherent too. Coherence is very crucial for a student in that he/ she can organize the text into a coherent whole. The writer needs to keep his/ her readers well informed about where he/ she is and where he/ she is going (Butt et al., 1995: 90). Coherence plays an important role in making a text read well. A coherent text consists of interrelated clauses which move smoothly one for another.

From the significance of the writing, I was inspired and interested to conduct a research which investigate the cohesion and coherence of the students’ texts with my own reasons. Firstly, it is very important to analyze the cohesion and coherence of the students’ texts. Then, the research finding is used to improve the quality of teaching writing. The last reason is to improve the students’ competence in writing good texts. It is due to the fact that the teaching of English as foreign language is based on genre-based approach in which the students are supposed to produce texts.

Questions to Discuss

In order to reach the objective of this research systematically, the problem of the discussion can be stated as follow:

1.  How cohesive is the students’ texts?

2.  How coherent is the students’ texts?

3. What is the implication of the study for teaching writing?

Review of Related Literature

Text and Language Teaching

There are some requirements that we need in order to make sense of the texts. We need to understand the grammar and vocabulary used in constructing the sentences which make up each text. However, we need something else because grammar is not the only thing that accounts for the cohesion of the text. Grammatical sentences alone will not ensure that the text itself make sense. We need to know how the sentences relate to each other. For example, we should know ways of ensuring that those sequence of sentences are texts or not.

A speaker or writer of language can distinguish the differences between a text and a non-text. A text must have texture (Eggins, 1994:85).  Texture is what holds the sentences of a text together to make them unity. In binding texts, it needs ties. Martin (2001: 37) states that tie is the relationship between an item and the item it presupposed in a text. It is also called a cohesive tie. There are five types of cohesive ties: reference, substitution, elipsis, conjunction and lexical cohesion. These five cohesive ties produce cohesion. Halliday and Hasan (1976:4) define that cohesion is as relations of meaning that exist within the text, and that defines it as a text. Cohesion is a semantic relation between an element in the text and some other elements that are crucial to the interpretation of it.

From the elaboration above, it is very clear that text is not bound with the length of itself, but it refers to any linguistic unit.


Cohesion is the resources within language that provide continuity in a text, over and above that is provided by clause structure and clause complexes. Halliday and Hasan (1976) in Coulthard (1974) claims that cohesion is formed by the formal ties, which bind one sentence to another. There are five headings of cohesion based on Halliday and Hasan (1976). They are reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunctin and lexical cohesion.

1. Reference

Reference is one kind of cohesive ties in texture. Reference refers to how the speaker or writer introduces participants and then keeps track of them once they are in the text (Eggins, 1994:95). Its elements establish semantic relationship between them, in which one of the elements provides the other with the meaning.  According to Halliday and Hasan (1976) there are two basic types of reference.





(to preceding text) 


(to following text) 


Table 2.1 Types of reference

There are several lingusitic items which can create reference cohesion. Halliday and Hasan (1976: 37-39) devide reference cohesion into personal reference; demonstrative reference and definite article; and comparative reference.

Personal reference is reference by means of function in the speech situation through the category of person. Nunan (1993: 23) states that personal reference items are expressed through pronouns and determiners. They serve to identify individuals and objects that are named at some other point in the text. It relates to Halliday and Hasan (1976: 48) that the third person is only herently cohesive, in that a third person form typically refers anaphorically to a preceding item in the text. First and second person forms do not normally refer to the text at all; their referents are defined by the speech roles of speaker and hearer.

Semantics category Existential Possessive
Grammatical function Head modifier
Class Noun Determiner

Speaker (only)

I me Mine My
Addressee(s), with/without other person.  






Speaker and other person(s) We, us Ours Our
Other person, male He, him His His
Other person female She, her Hers Her
Other person; object They ,them Theirs Their
Object; passage of text It (its) Its
Generalized person One One’s

Table 2.2 Types of personal reference

Source: Halliday and Hasan (1976:38)

The followings is one example of personal reference


(1). Mr. John is an English teacher. All of his students like him very much.

The word his and him in the second sentence refer to Mr. John. The word his is a personal reference which refers to the third person singular. The certain person that is Mr. John is followed by its pronoun, so that it is called as anaphoric reference that is the implicit encoding device follows its reference.

Demonstrative reference is reference by means of location, on scale of proximity. It is essentially a form of verbal pointing. The speaker identifies the referent by locating it on a scale of proximity. The system is as follows.

Neutral The


near                                              near:                    far: 

far (not near)



singular              this                      that 

plural                 these                   those



place                  here                    there 

time                   now                    then

Table 2.3 Types of demonstrative reference

Source: Halliday and Hasan (1976: 57)

These demonstratives occur extensively with anaphoric function in all varieties of English. The demonstratives have some relevance to cohesion, in that they partially determine the use of these items in endophoric (textual) reference.

(2). My family got frightened when we saw an accident in our trip. That was the most terrifying accident I’ve ever seen.

(3). While my parents were having lunch, my brothers and I walked around to see some lions and elephants. Those are my brothers’ favorites animals.

(4). I spent my holiday in my uncle’s house in Bali. I do like staying there.

The word that in example (2) is demonstrative reference which demonstrates the first sentence. Then, the word those in example (3) refers to some lions and elephans. Finally, the word there in example (4) refers to my uncle’s house in Bali. These can also be called as anaphoric references. It is because they presuppose some items in the previous sentences. The demonstrative reference is also called locational reference (Eggins, 1994: 98). It does not involve the identification of a participant in a text (a person or thing), but the identification of a location in time or space. Locational referents to nearby time or space (e.g. here, now, these days, at the moment, above, below) are frequently retrieved exophorically, while locational items refering to distant time or space (e.g. there, then) are often endophorically retrieved.

Comparative reference is indirect reference by means of identity or similiarity. With comparative reference, the identity of the presumed item is retrieved not because it has already been mentioned (or will be mentioned) in the text, but because an item with which it is being compared has been mentioned (Eggins, 1994: 98). The system is as follows (Halliday, 1976:76):

2.4 Types of comparative reference

Source: Halliday & Hasan (1976:76)

(5). The most tragic accident that I have ever seen was the accident happened last year.

The phrase the most tragic accident in the above sentence is comparative reference (in superlative degree). Any comparison includes as least two things that are being compared and any comparative attached to one entity or concept thus implies the existence of the other entity or concept. Thompson (1996: 151) explains that comparison happens not only in the text but also out of context (situational). It is called exophoric reference. Nevertheles, references which have contribution to the integration of the texts considered cohesive.

2. Substitution

A substitution is the replacement of a word (group) or sentences segment by a “dummy” word. The reader can fill in the correct element based on the preceding sentences (Rankema, 1993: 37). Substitution is replacement of language element into others in a bigger composition in order to get clearer difference, or to explain some certain language elements. It is an item or items replaced by another item or items. There is a distinction between substitution and reference in which subtitution is a realization in the wording rather than in the meaning. Substitution is a relation between linguistic items such as words and phrases in the level of lexicogrammar (Halliday and Hassan, 1976: 89). It resembles reference in being potentially anaphoric and constituate a link between parts of a text. They also explain that since substitution is a grammatical relation, a relation in the wording rather than in the meaning, the different types of substitution are defined grammatically rather than semantically. There are three types of substitution: nominal, verbal and clausal substitution. The followings are the examples of each.

(1). There are some new tourism resorts in Indonesia. These ones’ve become the most attracting places to visit.

From the sentence above, we can see that the word ones is substitution of new tourism resorts. This substitution is considered as nominal substitution.

(2). John          : Bill says you went to Bali last week.

Brown       : So did you!

The clause did is substitution because the complete sentence actually you went to Bali. The word did is presupposed by certain verb went. It belongs to verbal substitution.

(3). Smith        : Are father and mother going to have vacation to East Java?

Brown       : I think so

In the sentence above, the word so presupposes the whole clause Father and mother are going to have vacation to East Java. The word so above belongs to clause substitution.

3. Ellipsis

Ellipsis is the omission of a word or part of a sentence. It occurs when some essential structural elements are omitted from a sentence or clause and can only be recovered by refering to an element in the preceding text (Nunan, 1993: 25). Accoding to Halliday and Hasan (1976: 144) ellipses occur when something that is structurally necessary is left unsaid, there is a sense of incompleteness associated with it. The information is understood, but not stated. Like substitution, ellipsis is a relation within the text and in the great majority of instances the pressuposed item is present in the preceding text. Ellispsis is also normally anaphoric relation in the level of words and structures. The difference between substitution and ellipsis is that in the former a substitution counter occurs in the slot and the pressuposed item is replaced, whereas in ellipsis the slot is empty. It is often called as substitution by zero. Like the substitution, there are also three kinds of ellipsis: nominal, verbal and clausal ellipsis.

Nominal ellipsis means the omission of a noun Head, for example:

(1)    My father likes to go to a crowded tourism place, but I like a peaceful.

In the second sentence the word tourism place is not mentioned after the word a peaceful. However, any competent English speaker can easily retrieve the meaning of a peaceful as a peaceful tourism place. Then, the adjective a peaceful functions as Head.

Verbal ellipsis involves the omission of the verb Head while the auxiliary element remains explicit. For example:

(2). John     : Have you been to Bali?

Brown  : Yes, I have

The complete response must be Yes, I have been to Bali. In the dialogue, the speaker does not use long response. It is clearly understood that the speaker does not want to confuse to his/ her interlocutor.

Clausal ellipsis represents the omission of a part or whole clause. For example:

(3). John     : Who will go shopping today?

Brown  : Mom

In that example, the whole clause is omitted. The complete response should be Mom will go shopping today. In the spoken language the speaker does not need to use the complete clause when answering questions introduced by a question word.

4. Conjunction

One explanation to the concept of conjunction comes from Baker (1992). He asserts that conjunction is a relationship which indicates how the subsequent sentence or clause should be linked to the preceding or the following sentence or clause by using cohesive ties which relate a sentence, a clause or a paragraph to each other. Further he explains that:

Conjunction signals the way the writer wants the reader to relate what is about to be said to what has been said before. Conjunction expresses one of a small number of general relations. The main relations are … additive (and, or, also, in addition, furthermore, besides, similiarly, likewise, by contrast, for instance), adversative (but, yet, however, instead, on the other hand, nevertheless, at any rate, as a matter of fact), causal (so, cosequently, for, because, under the circumstances, for this reason), temporal (then, next, finally, after that, on another occasion, in conclusion, an hour later, at last), and continuative (now, of course, well, anyway, surely, after all) (Baker, 1992: 191).

The following are the examples of each type of conjunction:

(1). My family likes to spend holliday by visiting some places and they also like to go fishing in the sea.

The word and and also in the above sentence are conjunctions which connect the first and the second clause. Here and and also signal the presentation of additional information. These conjunctions are additive.

(2). It was raining very hard yesterday. However, my classmates went to the exhibition.

(3)        I am afraid I’ll be home late tonight. Nevertheless, I won’t have to go in until late tomorrow.

The relationships signalled by however and nevertheless are adversative because the information in the second sentence of each text moderates or qualifies the information in the first.

(4). Chinese tea is becoming increasingly popular in restaurants, and even in coffee shops. This is because there is belief that tea has several health-giving properties.

In this type of conjunction, the relationship is one of cause and consequence. Here, the word because signals the causal and effect relation. The first sentence shows the effect and the second is as the cause.

(5). I went over to my friend’s house and I said ‘We’ll go for a walk’. And we went far away and I said ‘I don’t know our way home. And then we kept on walking and we were very hungry. After that we saw a village and we went to talk to them and we said ‘We’re hungry’. Then, they gave us some food and we thanked them and we went walking off. And then we stopped and sat down. And then we saw a giant and I sreamed ‘Cooee’.

(source Butt et al. 1994: 94)

Temporal relationship exist when the events in a text are related in terms of the timing of their occurrance. Here the temporal conjunction and then, then and after that.

(6). When my father said that we would end our vacation, I felt so sad, after all I could understand that it was not good time to stay any longer in case of bad weather.

There is continuation in the above sentence. It uses after all to signal the continuative matter.

5. Lexical Cohesive Device

The types of cohesion we have discussed so far all involve grammatical resource/ items (conjunction, reference items, substitutes items) and grammatical structure. Cohesion also operates within the lexical zone of lexicogrammar by choosing of lexical items. Lexical cohesive devices refer to the role played by the selection of vocabulary in organizing relation within a text (Baker, 1992: 202). It does not deal with grammatical and semantic connection but with the connection based on the words used. Meanwhile, Nunan (1993: 28) says that lexical cohesion occurs when two words in a text are semantically related in some way. They are related in terms of their meaning. There are two kinds of lexical cohesion: reiteration and collocation.

In general reiteration is devided into five types. They are repetition, synonym, hyponym, metonym and antonym. Repetition is a word or words which has been stated, and then it is repeated again. We can tie sentences or paragraphs together by repeating certain key words from one sentence to the next or one paragraph to the next. It is in the case of the clearness of the main idea of the writing (Kilborn and Kriesi, 1995).

Synonym is the relationship between two words which have the same meaning. Hyponym is defined as a sense relation between words (sometimes longer phrases) such that the meaning of one word (or phrase) is included in the meaning of the other (Hurford & Heasley, 1983). It is a semantic relation between specific and general meaning, between general class and its sub-classes. The item referring to the general class is called super-ordinate and those referring to its sub-classes are called hyponym. Antonym is an opposite in meaning while metonym is a term used to describe a part-whole relationshiop between lexical items.

The second type of lexical cohesion, collocation, deals with the relationship between words on the basis of the fact that these often occur in the same surrounding (Rankema, 1993: 39-40).

The followings are examples of each type of lexical cohesion.

(1). A conference will be held on national environmental policy. At this conference the issue of sanitation will play an important role.

In the sentences above the word conference occurs twice as the indication that they are repeated.

(2). A conference will be held on national environmental policy. This environmental symposium will be primarily a conference dealing with water.

In the first sentence, the word conference is repeated in the second sentence with its synonym symposium

(3). My father went to a furniture exhibition last night. He wanted to buy an antique table.

Furniture is the superordinate word for the word table as its subordinate.

(4). At its six-month checkup, the brakes have to be repaired. In general, however, the car is in good condition.

Brake is as the part of car as the whole

(5). The front rows are available for old men and women. Young boys and girls are seated in the back rows.

Here, the word old is the opposite of young.


Coherence means to hold together. It means that texts have the right order with the clear process. In addition to unity, coherence plays an important role in making a text read well. A coherent text consists of interrelated sentences which move smoothly one for another.

A writer needs to inform well about his/her composition. He needs to give clear information what the text is about. The readers need to know about the topic and the content about the text produced by the writers. Cohesion itself does not guarantee that the text read well. The writer needs to organize them in a good way. To organize any text to be coherent, the writers need to keep their readers well informed about what they are and where they are going (Butt et al. 1995: 90). Based on the Introduction to Functional Grammar, there are grammatical resources to signpost the way through clauses, clause complexes and paragraph, from beginning to the end of a text. According to Butt et al. (1995: 90), the first signpost must be at the beginning of a text, paragraph or clause. It tells the readers what the writer has in mind as a starting point. The writers use the first position in the clause to signal their readers what the message is about. In An Introduction to Functional Grammar (1994: 38), Halliday terms the signpost as theme and the rest of the clause rheme.

1. Theme and Rheme

Theme and Rheme are two terms which represent the way in which information is distributed in a sentence. The definition of theme given by Halliday (1985: 38) is that theme is given information serving as “the point of departure” of a message. The given information is the information which has already been mentioned somewhere in the text, or it is shared or mutual knowledge from the immediate context. In other words, theme typically contains familiar, old or given information. It must include the whole of the first item in the experiential meanings. This experiential meanings can be participant, process and circumstance.

Theme provides the settings for the remainder of the sentence (Rheme). Rheme is the remainder of the message in a clause in which theme is developed. The rheme contains unfamiliar or new information (Eggins, 1994: 275). New information is knowledge that a writer assumes the reader does not know, but needs to have in order to follow the progression of the argument. The boundary between theme and rheme is simple: Theme is the first element occurring in a clause; the remainder clause is rheme. The identification criteria for the rheme are simply everything that is not the theme is the rheme.

a. Topical Theme

Eggins (1994, 276) states that an element of the clause to which a transitivity function (Actor, Behaver, Senser or Circumstance) can be assigned occurs in the first position in a clause, we describe it as a topical theme. An important principle is that every clause must contain one topical theme. After we have identified topical theme, the rest must be the rheme.

I have been in Bali three times
Theme Rheme
In Jakarta my colleagues and I spent our holiday
Circ. Loc
Theme Rheme
Infants cry and fuss for a mean of 1 ¾ hr/ day at age 2 weeks
Theme Rheme

(Source: Eggins, 1994: 277)

b. Textual Theme

The writers often use experiential meanings with a group or phrase, the function of which is to connect the message to the previous text. In this case the writers create a coherent text where the connections between the message are well signposted. Conjunctions are more likely to occur at the beginning of clauses and they must be considered thematic. Eggins (1994, 281) states that textual themes are elements which do not express any interpersoal or experiential, but they have important cohesive work in relating clause to its context. She also points out that there are two main types of textual elements. They are continuity adjuncts and conjunctive adjuncts.

The followings are examples of each clause preceded by textual theme which connects its experiential meaning to the meanings of neighbouring clauses:

And They went on their journey
But I was still happy
Nevertheles all students enjoyed the trip
And so the teacher gave some assignment
Textual Topical  



The conjunctions are and, but, nevertheless, and so. They are thematic because they are used at the beginning of a clause to signpost the developmant of the text.

c. Interpersonal Theme

Interpersonal themes are used when the writers begin clauses with interpersonal meanings indicating the kind of interaction. Butt et al. (1995: 94) defines the categories of interpersonal thems into finite in interrogative clause, initial vocatives, mood and common adjunct.

The following examples have an interpersonal theme combined with a topical theme:

May We have some butter for the royal slice of bread?
Assuredly Madam We will grant for your request
Could the team have beaten the grand finalists?
Probably They Could
Interpersonal Topical  



2. Thematic Progression

Thematic progression refers to the way the writers organise the texts. It can be achieved by picking up or repeating a meaning from a preceding theme or rheme. Eggins (1994: 302) states that the way the writers organize their composition/ texts is very important in case of its contribution that theme makes to the cohesion and coherence with how thematic elements succeed each other. He also elaborates three kinds of text development: theme re-iteration, the zig-zag pattern and the multiple-theme pattern.

a. Theme re-iteation/ Constant theme

It is regarded as the simplest pattern of text development since one basic way is to keep to a text focussed. It is simply to re-iterate an element. Repetition is considered as an effective means of creating a coherent text. Having the same participant made theme on a regular basis provides the text with a clear focus (Eggins, 1994: 303). Nevertheless, this kind of text development in  which the theme never varies will not only be boring to read, but will indicate a text is going no where. The following is the example of constant/ reiteration thematic pattern.

Theme                        Rheme

My friends and I         went to Jakarta last holiday

We                               visited some places there

We                               also spent our holiday by visiting Ancol and Dufan

My friends and I         were very happy

Table 2.5: Theme and rheme: A reiteration/constant theme

(based on Butt, 1995:99)

Theme 1                                  Rheme 1

Theme 2                                  Rheme 2

Theme 3                                  Rheme 3

Theme 4                                  Rheme 4

Figure 2.1: Thematic Progression: Theme reiteration/constant theme.

b. A zigzag/linear theme pattern.

Another thematic development is recognized as linear theme pattern/ a zig-zag pattern. In this thematic development, an element which is introduced in the rheme in the first clause gets promoted to become the theme of the second clause.

Theme                                             Rheme

On Saturday night                          my friends and I went to Lawang Sewu

It                                                     is well-known as the living place for ghost

Table 2.6: Theme and rheme: A zigzag/linear theme pattern

(based on Butt, 1995:99)

Theme 1                     Rheme 1

Theme 2                     Rheme 2

Figure 2.2: Thematic Progression: A zigzag/linear theme pattern

c. A multiple theme/split rheme pattern

The development of the texts may also include re-iteration and zig-zag pattern. It is called multiple theme. In this pattern, the Theme of one clause introduces a number of different pieces of information, each of which is then picked up and made Theme in subsequent clauses (Eggins, 1994: 304).

Theme                             Rheme

On Saturday,                   my colleague and I went to Jakarta.

We                                   stayed at Ibis Hotel

It                                      had lots of rooms and restaurants

The rooms                        consisted of economical and luxuries even president

suit class

The restaurants                offered many kinds of menus from different countries

Table 2.7: Theme and rheme: A multiple theme/split rheme pattern

(based on Butt, 1995:100)

Clause1 T1                        R1

On Saturday          my … Jakarta

Clause2 T2                         R2

We                         stayed … Hotel

Clause3 T3                         R3

It                            had … restaurants

Clause4 T4                         R4

The room                consisted … class

Clause5 T5                         R5

The restaurants       offered … countries

Figure 2.3: Thematic progression: A multiple theme/split rheme pattern

Findings and the Discussion of the Research

The object of the study is one of the students’ texts, recount. Based on the purposive sampling, I took fifteen out of forty texts in one class that once I was teaching there. The texts that became the object of the study were good in grammar and they had interesting topics. They were taken from the test of writing a recount text conducted on the first semester in the academic year 2009/2010.

This study mainly focuses on the analysis of cohesion and coherence of a text produced by the students. According to Halliday and Hasan (1976), to analyze cohesion of a text the unit of analysis is sentence.  Meanwhile, the coherence of a text can be achieved by analyzing its clause (Butt, 1995).

The primary data of the study are the students’ recount texts. The primary data were taken from the students’ recount texts when they had a writing test conducted in August, 2009. The procedure of data collection are as follow:

(1)     Collecting the students’ recount texts in which fifteen of them would be the objects of the study.

(2)     Typing the students’ texts by arranging the number of sentences the students produced. It was done in order it would be easier to analyse the texts.

(3)     The data of the study are analysed by focusing on cohesive devices, the way the students organized their texts and the thematic progression the students mostly used.

After the data of the study were collected, they were analyzed by using the following steps:

(1)     The students’ recount texts were analyzed in terms of cohesive devices used. Cohesive devices were identified and classified in the appropriate headings on the cohesive analysis sheet. The coding form captures the following data:

(i)          Index-serial number of each sentence in ascending order.

(ii)        Total number of ties in every sentence.

(iii)    The referent (or the presupposed item) of the particular cohesive item, (cohesive items without referents are to be ended but not included in the frequency count).

(iv)    The distance between the cohesive item and the referent, indicated by o for an immediate tie, M for mediated, N for remote/ non-mediated and C for cataphoric.

(v)        The direction

(2)     After that, the texts were analyzed in terms of theme and rheme

(3)     The next step is that the texts were analyzed in term of thematic progression

(4)     After the texts were analyzed in terms of cohesion by analyzing cohesive devices and coherence by analyzing thematic progression, the last step was to interpret for each text produced by the students.


Table 4.1 Cohesive devices used by the students

No Kinds of cohesive devices Number Percentage
1 Reference Personal reference 437 58.11%
Demonstrative reference & definite article 54 7.18%
Comparative reference 7 0.93%
2 Conjunction Additive conjunction 8 1.06%
Adversative conjunction 10 1.33%
Causal conjunction 5 0.66
Temporal conjunction 56 7.45%
3 Lexical Repetition 167 22.21%
Synonym 5 0.66%
Superordinate 1 0.13%
4 Ellipsis 2 0.27%
5 Substitution
Total 752 100%

In table 4.1, it can be seen that there are four cohesive devices mostly used by the students. They are personal reference, repetition, temporal conjunction and demonstrative reference. It can also be seen that the students tended to use personal references in their texts with the occurance of 437 times. Then it is followed by repetition with 167 occurrences and temporal conjunction with 56 occurrences and demonstrative reference with 54 occurrences. There is only one kind of cohesive device which the students never used. It is substitution. The students also rarely used ellipsis in the texts. The use of ellipsis and substitution is difficult for most students. It is because they need to know about the way how to use it grammatically. Furthermore, the two cohesive ties are mostly used in the context of spoken language such as in dialogues. Halliday (1994, 337) also argues that the use of ellipsis and substitution is the prominent characteristic of spoken language. The students also have difficulty in employing substitution and ellipsis since they are realization of grammatical relation in the level of lexicogrammar. They are considered more confusing rather than reference, lexical and conjunction.

Table 4.2 Thematic progression produced by the students



Students’ Texts
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Constants 6 13 12 12 18 9 10 13 16 5 10 14 15 14 15
Zig-zag 5 3 8 2 8 11 6 3 4 5 4 2 4 6 8
Multiple 4 5 8 1 7 3 7 1 2 4 9 5
Total of clause  






























From the table above, it can be drawn up that the students mostly employed thematic progression pattern in the form of constant or reiteration. Constant thematic pattern is the way a writer repeats the theme from the previous theme directly. The theme produced by the students mostly were the repetition of pronoun (I, she, he, it, they, we). The students find it easier to use pronoun in their writing by repeating one clause to another at the beginning of the clause. Then, the second thematic progression pattern used by the students in their texts is  zig-zag/ cross-referential thematic progression. It means that the students put the rheme as the new theme in the subsequent clause. Finally, the last pattern used by the students is in the form of multiple thematic progression. Furthermore, the number is not as many as constant and zig-zag patterns. So, the result is that the students did not improve their texts well. From the elaboration and the given table above, the numbers of clauses and thematic progression patterns are not balanced. It means that there are many clauses which are not related to one another. The students often introduced some new themes at the beginning of the clause without any relation with other clauses and they break the well signposted progression of the text. It can be concluded that most of the recount texts produced by the students are not coherent.


To create cohesion of the texts, there are three cohesive devices that most of the students employed; personal pronoun, repetition and temporal conjunctions. It indicates that the students have created recount texts in a good structure since personal reference and temporal conjunction are the lxicogrammatical features a recount text.

It can be found from the students’ recount texts, the cohesive device that is the most frequently used is personal reference. It occurs 437 times or 58.11 %. The second occurrence is repetition with 167 times or 22.21 %. The third is temporal conjunction with 56 occurrences or 7.45 %. Then, adversative conjunction occurs 10 times or 1.33 %. Next, additive conjunction occurs 8 times or 1.06 %. The next device which occurs is comparative reference with 7 times or 0.93 %. Then, the occurrences of causal conjunction and synonym are 5 times each or 0.66 %. Ellipsis also occurs 2 times or 0.27 %. The last device which exists and becomes the fewest number is superordinate. It only occurs once or 0.13%. Those numbers are based on the total cohesive devices found in the texts.

Then, from all ties between presupposing items and pressuposed items, it can be seen that most of them are in the form of anaphoric and cataphoric ways. Furthermore, the relations are mostly those of anaphoric relation. The function of anaphoric and cataphoric relation is to create cohesion in the text and also to create the meaning of the text. The distance of the presuppositions that exist between ties in the texts are varied such as immedite, mediated and non-mediated ties. On the one hand, the students can produce cohesion of the texts. On the other hand, there are  also some intervening sentences that occur in some texts. They could be found in texts 5, 6, 11 and 15. This intervening sentences can make the texts less cohesive. Furthermore, most of the texts produced by the students are cohesive.

Moreover, it can also be found that most of the students developed their texts by employing reiteration or constant thematic progression pattern. The second pattern employed is zig-zag pattern. The least is multiple thematic progression pattern. Based on the analysis of the way students developed the text in thematic progression, it can be seen that most of the texts are not coherent. There are many occurrences of unrelated clauses in the texts which are not related to the previous themes or rhemes. They appear as new themes in the clauses, but they break the signposted progression of the text. It means that the students failed to create unified clauses which are related one another from the begining to end. As a result most of the texts are not coherent.

One implication of the present study is that if cohesion and coherence are better taught. At present, cohesion and coherence are taught, explicitly or implicitly, either through exercises, classroom instructions or comment to students’ texts. This research will also contribute to students in the process of teaching writing because it gives the view to the students to write a cohesive and coherent text. The teachers will improve the strategies in teaching writing based on the weaknesses of the students. Small exercises to produce a cohesive and coherent text can be started by producing short paragraphs, essays and texts.


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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in Discourse Studies


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