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Pert Writing : Cohesion: Does my Paragraph Flow?

Directed Learning: Cohesion

Does my paragraph flow?
In cohesive writing, ideas seem to flow from one sentence to the next. Making your ideas flow is not rocket science. It just takes realizing that your reader is more comfortable when you present familiar information before new information. We call this the OLD + NEW formula, and sentences in English usually follow this order; new ideas build on previously stated ideas. This creates flow.

Read the two paragraphs below. Which one flows better?

  1. Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The southern part of Costa Rica is characterized by dense rain forests, which contain some of the world’s most unusual wildlife. Hoping to get a bird’s eye view of these animals, tourists take zip lining tours through the top canopy of the rain forest. Located in Central America, it borders Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Some of the interesting creatures found in these forests include tree frogs, white-faced monkeys, and sloths.

  2. Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Located in Central America, it borders Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. The southern part of Costa Rica is characterized by dense rain forests, which contain some of the world’s most unusual wildlife. Some of the interesting creatures found in these forests include tree frogs, white-faced monkeys, and sloths. Hoping to get a bird’s eye view of these animals, tourists take zip lining tours through the top canopy of the rain forest.


Paragraph 2 flows better because it follows an OLD info + NEW info pattern. The first sentence introduces the topic of Costa Rica and its relation to the world. The second sentence tells its location in the world. The third sentence continues with more details on a specific part of Costa Rica (the southern part) that was mentioned in the second sentence and so on. The more closely related the topics between one sentence and the next are, the more the paragraph will flow.

When you want to introduce new information that hasn’t previously been mentioned, that is usually an indication that you need to start a new paragraph, or you need a transition word to tell the reader you are moving on to a new topic. For example, let’s say you want to add the following sentence to the paragraph above about Costa Rica’s exports: Costa Rica’s top three exports are bananas, pineapples, and coffee. You might want to add a transition sentence before it such as In addition to its natural beauty, Costa Rica’s arable land provides the country with its main sources of revenue. The top three exports are bananas, pineapples, and coffee.

Sentence structure/ Syntax

Directed Learning Activity: Cohesion

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