Coherence

Imagine that the bulleted pair of sentences below begins a paragraph:

  • Two adjacent sentences are coherent when there’s a “logical connection” between them.
  • I just ate a banana.

What do they have in common? The first one’s about coherence and is written in third person; the second one’s about an eaten banana and is in first person. There’s no logical connection between them, so they are not coherent.

Coherence is a paragraph’s wheels. A paragraph lacking coherence will never “roll along” smoothly.

Are the next two bulleted sentences coherent?

  • Two adjacent sentences are coherent when there’s a “logical connection” between them.
  • One way to effect coherence is by repeating a word or idea.

One reason why the above two sentences are coherent is because of the repetition of two different forms of “cohere”: coherent and coherence.

Is the repetition of a word, in itself, sufficient to effect coherence? If you answered “yes,” consider the next pair of sentences.

  • The boy walked his dog.
  • The old man likes to walk every day.

The sentences share a form of “walk,” yet they could easily be discrete events with the subjects complete strangers. The boy could live in London, the man in Minneapolis.

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