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Home » Module 3 Unit 5: Writing cohesively » Vocabulary choices - page 1/4
Unit 1: Planning your essayUnit 2: Structuring paragraphsUnit 3: Introductions & conclusionsUnit 4: Writing persuasivelyUnit 5: Writing cohesively

Vocabulary choices

This section shows you how your vocabulary choices can build meaning in your writing and make the progression of ideas clear.

The words you use can also help to carry meaning through your text so that the relationships between all the ideas and information in it are very clear to the reader.

By choosing words which restate or reinforce meanings that are already in your text, you can keep a smooth flow of ideas as well as a cohesive progression within your text.

Using word choices to build links between ideas in a text can be achieved with:


Repetition can entail repeating the word exactly as it is or repeating the word in another grammatical form.

Example 1

The research produced some startling conclusions. These conclusions demonstrated the need for more rigorous testing.

In these sentences, the word conclusions is a noun.

Example 2

The research produced some ambiguous findings. The ambiguity of these findings has sparked international controversy over the testing methods used.

In these sentences, the word changes from its adjectival form ambiguous to its noun form ambiguity. The writer could also have chosen other related word forms e.g. ambiguously (adverb).


Synonyms are words or phrases that carry the same or a similar meaning. They can be used to restate the meaning contained in a previous idea. 

Example 1

HIV AIDS is a disease which affects the immune system. Until recently, this condition was little understood.

In the context of these sentences, disease and condition are close enough synonyms for the progression of ideas in the text to be understood.

Example 2

The way in which money is currently allocated for research encourages poor quality research submissions. This funding mechanism is in urgent need of overhaul.

The two underlined sections are near synonyms. The synonym funding mechanism is used to compress and paraphrase the information in Sentence 1.

For more information on paraphrasing, go to Module 2, Unit 3: Quoting and Paraphrasing.

Opposites (antonyms)

Words or phrases which have the opposite meaning can also help to carry the meaning of a text forward because they are simply another aspect of the same basic concept.


The mental well-being of these children is equally important. Unhappiness and instability impact significantly on their chances of long-term survival.

In these sentences, both unhappiness and instability are near antonyms for mental well-being.  Both relate to the same general concept of mental health. Both therefore help to carry the ideas through the text.


Dividing objects or ideas into categories and sub-categories shows the reader how they are related to each other within a hierarchical structure. There are two main ways in which ideas and objects can be hierarchically related to each other.

1. Part-to-whole-relationships

In these types of relationship, one object or idea is a sub-category of a larger object or idea.


The majority of percussion instruments entered Western orchestras and the orchestral repertoire in the late 19th century.

In this example, percussion instruments are a sub-category (part) of an orchestra.

2. Part-to-part relationships

In these types of relationships, one object or idea is in the same relationship to the whole as another object or idea.


Although drums of various kinds had long been a feature of Western orchestral music, mallet percussion instruments were only present from the mid-1800s onwards.

In this sentence, drums and mallet percussion instruments (instruments which are struck by mallets) have equal conceptual status. They are both sub-categories of percussion instruments.

Two issues to be aware of when using synonyms