Difference Between Cohesion and Coherence

Cohesion vs Coherence

Cohesion and coherence are linguistic qualities that are desirable in a text and as such considered important for all students trying to master a language. It is not just the awareness of these qualities but also their use in a text that makes for an important skill for students learning a language. There are many who think that cohesion and coherence are synonyms and can be used interchangeably. However, this is not the case, and there are subtle differences despite similarities that will be talked about in this article.


All language tools, which are used to provide links and help in connecting one part of the sentence, are important in achieving cohesion in the text. It is difficult to define cohesion but one can visualize it as small sentences adding up to make for a meaningful text as is the case with many different pieces fitting together to make for a jigsaw puzzle. For a writer, it is better to start with text that the reader is already familiar with to make a piece cohesive. This can also be done with the last few words in a sentence setting up the next few words at the start of the next sentence.

In short, the links that stick different sentences and make the text meaningful can be thought of as cohesion in the text. Establishing connections between sentences, sections, and even paragraphs using synonyms, verb tenses, time references etc. is what brings cohesion in a text. Cohesion can be thought of as glue sticking different parts of furniture so that it takes the shape the writer wants it to give.


Coherence is a quality of a piece of text that makes it meaningful in the minds of the readers. We find a person incoherent if he is under the influence of alcohol and not able to speak out in terms of meaningful sentences. When the text begins to make sense on the whole, it is said to be coherent. If the readers can follow and understand a text easily, it obviously has coherence. Rather than the text appearing linked together perfectly, it is the overall impression of the text that appears to be smooth and clear.

What is the difference between Cohesion and Coherence?

• If different sentences in a text are linked properly, it is said to be cohesive.

• If a text appears to make sense to a reader, it is said to be coherent.

• A cohesive text can appear as incoherent to the reader making it clear that the two properties of a text are not the same.

• Coherence is a property decided by the reader whereas cohesion is a property of the text achieved by the writer making use of different tools like synonyms, verb tenses, time references etc.

• Cohesion can be measured and verified through rules of grammar and semantics though measuring coherence is rather difficult.