Formal Links


A piece of language is said to be coherent (therefore discourse) if it has a discernible, unified meaning.

A piece of discourse is said to be cohesive if its components (ie. sentences/phrases/words) are bound together through linguistic and non-linguistic features to form a unified whole.

The linguistic features used to link one word/phrase/sentence to another are called formal links.

Some common formal links are:

Referring Expressions


Lexical chains




The most obvious example of formal link is third person pronouns

In a piece of language, cohesion is achieved by using these referring expressions that direct the hearer/reader to look elsewhere for their interpretation.

Reference expressions can be:





Endophoric references are linguistic references to something within the same text.

There are two types of endophoric references:

anaphoric references

cataphoric references

Anaphoric references refer back to another unit that was mentioned before.


Aiminaibee asked Thakuru to buy her a diamond ring.

Cataphoric references refer ahead to another unit that is mentioned later.


Waving at him happily, Thakuru saw Aiminaibee come out.

Exophoric references refer to entities outside the text, in the context of the utterance or speaker.


That is where Aiminaibee first saw the Foolhudhiguhandi.

(said while pointing to the place)

Repetition of a key term or phrase in the text helps to focus your ideas and to keep your reader/listener on track.


The problem with modern art is that it is not easily understood by most people. Modern art is deliberately abstract, and that means it often leaves the viewer wondering what she is looking at.

Lexical chains are also a form of repetition but without repeating the exact same phrase/word.

i.e. use different words that are lexically related (e.g. hypernyms)


Myths are an important part of a country’s heritage. Such traditional narratives are, in short, a set of beliefs that are a very real force in the lives of the people who tell them.

Cohesion is often achieved by substituting special words for ones that have already been used.

The most common substitutes used in English are




Each of these are used to substitute for a different type of clause

‘one’ is used to substitute for nouns / noun phrases:

I left the school and went to the one in Thuraakunu.

I left Hithadhoo secondary school and went to the Thuraakunu one.

I left the Hithadhoo secondary school with many students and went to the one with few students.

I left the Hithadhoo secondary school with few students and went to the Thuraakunu one with few students.

Verbs are substituted with ‘do’.

Since do is a verb (and an irregular one at that) is also has the forms does, did, done and doing.

I have not finished yet, when I do you can start.

I like coffee and so does he.

The word ‘so‘ is often used to substitute for a whole clause:

Thakuru: “We’ll be watching you close, smart guy.”

Haadi: “I hope so. You might learn something.”


Thakuru: “I think we have got rid of him for good.”

Aiminaibee: “You really think so?”

In certain contexts it is possible to leave out a word/phrase rather than repeat it.

This device is called ellipsis.

A child learns to speak almost ‘by chance’. He imitates his parents without knowing why < >.

Students continue to wear faded jeans to class even after being told not to < >.

Connectives are words/phrases used to indicate a specific connection between different parts of a text.

Various kinds of words and phrases can function as connectives:


It posed several problems for me, but it was all worthwhile.


It posed several problems for me; nevertheless, it was all worthwhile.


In spite of the severe problems it posed for me, it was all worthwhile.

There are 4 basic types of connectives:

Addition connectives (AC)

adds on to the idea presented before (also, and)

Opposition connectives (OC)

contrasts with the idea presented before (but, nevertheless )

Cause connectives (CC)

shows a causal connection with the ideas presented before (therefore, since)

Time connectives (TC)

shows a sequence or simultaneous actions (first, finally)

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By azu