Coherence and Dealing with the Coronavirus

August 2, 2020joelleva

This article will firstly discuss coherence, which is a key discourse feature that is especially important for your study of formal language (Area of Study 2), and will then address the elephant in the room, which is the current pandemic caused by the Novel Coronavirus.


Firstly, I will discuss coherence. Understanding coherence will not only help you analyse texts but will also help to improve the standard of your writing. Essentially, coherence is how clear something is and how all the ideas withing the text relate to each other. Cohesion is slightly different and is the specific language features that connect and bind the text together. Please do not confuse these two ideas (which some students do). This article will not go into a lot of detail about cohesion, although it is worth noting that cohesion is one of the main features of coherence. The other main features are consistency, conventions, logical ordering, inference, and, formatting. All these features help to make a text easier to understand and follow, which is what makes a text coherent. Obviously, coherence can be addressed when discussing both written and spoken texts, although it is more significant when discussing written texts.

Formatting: How a text is organised and structured can help to make it coherent and easier to follow. Key features of formatting that assist with coherence include bolding, underlining, the use of headings and subheadings, dot points, capitalisation, and numbers. These features help to set the text up in a way that is clear and easy to follow, thereby making it coherent (look at specific texts and you should be able to ascertain how the formatting helps or hinders coherence).

Conventions: The expected presentation of a text. If readers know what to expect from the text before they know the exact contents, they can deal with it efficiently and quickly. For example, a doctor’s referral adheres to certain conventions that mean medical receptionists can quickly file and process the referral, knowing exactly where to find the information they need.

Consistency: Coherent texts stay relevant to the topic(s) and do not randomly jump around from one idea to another.

Logical ordering: Coherent texts are ordered in a logical way, which shows a rational train of thought, thus making them easy to follow. When discussing logical ordering, remember to explain how the ordering is logical. For example, a text ordered chronologically is generally ordered logically.

Inference: Unlike other features, inference is not something that it is in the text. Texts do not use inference, they rely upon it to be interpreted in a particular way. Texts can enable a reader to use their external knowledge to infer meaning. For example, a person may infer that a person’s relationship has broken down if a text says, “the person was wearing a ring, and then the next time I saw them, their hand was bare.”


To demonstrate how coherence plays a role in making texts easier to follow, I will use a recipe for how to boil an egg.



  1. Heat water
  2. Place egg in water
  3. Wait until water boils
  4. Wait 2 minutes
  5. Remove egg

The above is coherent as is ordered logically, formatted clearly, remains consistent, and adheres to the conventions of a recipe.


  1. Heat water
  2. Remove egg
  3. Wait until water boils
  4. Wait 2 minutes
  5. Place egg in water

Although the text is ordered correctly in terms of its numbers, the illogical ordering of the numbers and steps makes this text hard follow. Additionally, a recipe that has the numbers in the right order (1-5), but has the steps in the wrong spot is illogically ordered and is also hard to follow (thus making it incoherent)

  1. Heat water
  2. Place egg in water
  3. Wait until octopus boils
  4. Wait 2 minutes
  5. Remove egg

The above is clearly inconsistent and is impossible to follow as an octopus has just appeared out of nowhere.


Further, I feel it is necessary that I quickly discuss the current situation that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused. Before I discuss this, I should quickly point out that I am not a doctor or an infectious disease expert, and I have no training or education in these areas.

It is inevitable that at some point, your education will be exclusively online at some point this year. Consequently, your learning will be a lot more self-driven, so you will need to be more disciplined and diligent to ensure that you do not fall behind. Find a space at home that you will be able to study without distractions such as your phone and social media and do what you can to try and keep a sense of normality to your education.

This situation is continually evolving, and we do not know the full impact that it will have on the school year, so keep working and ensure that you just do the best that you can. Remember that everybody is in the same boat, and that through your teachers and tutors, there is support out there for you.

Anyway, I am sorry for how long this article is, but I hope that it proved to be helpful for you. Stay safe, stay well, and stay home.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: Discussing Discourse Particles and Their Importance in Conversations, Topic and Floor Management in Conversations and Strategies for Success in English Language

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