Grammatical features of persuasive texts
For further information and examples grammatical features discussed to follow, including pronouns and other referring words, text connective, clauses and sentences, see A New Grammar Companion for Teachers by Beverly Derewianka
Cohesion refers to the grammar resources that enable relationships to be controlled and tracked through a text. They include pronouns and other referring words, text connectives and conjunctions.
Content description — cohesion
Understand how texts are made cohesive through the use of linking devices including pronoun reference and text connectives (Year 4, Language ACELA1491)
Source for content description above: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)
Pronouns and other referring words
These are the grammatical items that are used to avoid the constant repetition of nouns, for example:
- The councillors have voted to demolish Tahlia House despite protests from this community. They are clearly out of touch with our feelings. (personal pronouns)
- Green Parade would be a more suitable location for the proposed development. The units should be built there. (demonstrative)
- There are multiple reasons for retaining Tahlia House in its present state. These include … (demonstrative)
- The mayor is in favour of the proposal and the councillors have a similar view. (comparative)
- Australia’s rainforests are in danger. Such unique habitats … (substitution)
One way to teach students about how pronouns and other referring words are used appropriately in a text is to display a sample text on a whiteboard or overhead projector and, using different coloured highlighters, track the references. Students who are learning English as an additional language may require additional support in recognising the references, particularly less obvious ones, such as substitution.
Text connectives serve to guide the reader through a text by linking and making connections between sections of the text and signalling to the reader how the text is developing. They serve a number of purposes, such as:
- clarifying, for example, in other words, in fact, for example
- showing cause and effect, for example, therefore, for that reason, consequently
- indicating time, for example, then, meanwhile, finally
- sequencing ideas, for example, subsequently, at this point, briefly, to summarise
- adding information, for example, furthermore, likewise, too, apart from that
- expressing a condition or concession, for example, otherwise, however, in any case, despite this.
Unlike text connectives, which operate at a whole-text level, conjunctions can only operate within sentences to link clauses. Teaching students about how the different types of conjunctions operate in sentences is one way of assisting them to write clear and accurate sentences. There are two types of conjunctions, coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.
Coordinating conjunctions link two main or principal clauses, for example:
The building has significant historical value and it is an asset to the community. (The main clauses are in green.)
This sentence could have been written as two sentences, for instance:
The building has significant historical value. It is an asset to the community.
It could also have been correctly written as:
The building has significant historical value and is an asset to the community.
In this case the pronoun ‘it’ has been omitted because it is clear that both clauses provide information about ‘the building’. The omission of the pronoun in this case is known technically as ‘ellipsis’ and is an example of another aspect of cohesion.
Examples of coordinating conjunctions include: and, but, so, or, nor, yet.
Subordinating conjunctions initiate a dependent clause, that is, a clause which is dependent on the main clause for its meaning, for example:
The council passed the development application despite receiving complaints from the community. (Main clause in green, subordinate conjunction in bold, and the dependent clause is italicised).
This sentence could be rewritten as:
Despite receiving complaints from the community, the council passed the development application.
Writers and speakers will choose which clause to place at the beginning of the sentence depending on which part of the message they wish to emphasise. Note also, the use of the comma to separate the dependent clause from a main clause in this example.
Examples of subordinating conjunctions include: when, whenever, because, for, if, although, as, while, whereas, unless, before, after