Unit 4: Lexical patterns

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should:

  • understand what collocation is
  • be able to identify cohesion
  • be able to evaluate coherence
  • have practised identifying collocations, cohesion and coherence

Activity 1: Collocation


Some words co-occur together. Some words do not. Words that have a higher chance of co-occurring are said to collocate. Collocation is a statistical measure of whether the words tend to co-occur.

Work with a partner. Decide which of the following show collocation. Be prepared to explain your choices.

  1. black and pink
  2. black and white
  3. white and black
  4. black eye
  5. glass eye
  6. sit on a chair
  7. sit on a table
  8. slip on a banana skin
  9. slip on a potato

Activity 2: Cohesion


Cohesion describes the linking within a sentence or a text. Cohesion can be grammatical, e.g. though pronouns. Cohesion can be lexical, e.g. through synonyms.

Identify the cohesive devices (i.e. instances of cohesion) in the following paragraph, taken from Campus life, a webpage of our university.

The University of Aizu is located in a suburb of Aizu-Wakamatsu City, a castle town with a population of 120,000. Surrounded by rural fields, this University is situated in a splendid environment of abundant green. Many University students reside in Aizu-Wakamatsu City while they are students. It is not a large city, and bicycles are a convenient means of transportation.

Activity 3: Coherence


Coherence refers to the connection between the sequences of utterances or chunks of text. If a text is coherent, it is possible to follow the logical flow of the text. If the text is incoherent, a mistake may have been made or the text is non-sensical.

Work with a partner. Decide which of the following show coherence.

  1. The cow jumped over the moon.
  2. Tom saw a sheep on the sea.
  3. The dog ran down the street with a bone in its mouth.
  4. The US dollar dropped sharply against the Japanese yen.
  5. He got the top score and so he failed the course.
  6. I said bye to the trouble and strife and saucepan lids, and then got in my jam jar.

Activity 4: Collocations

Watch and listen to this explanation of collocation and learn some common collocations (8 min 21 sec).

Activity 5: Cohesion and coherence

Watch and listen to this explanation of how to develop cohesion and coherence in essays (7 min 47 sec).

Knowledge and application

Activity 6: Identifying lexical patterns

Identify the collocation, cohesion and coherence within this description of a chart, both of which were sourced from the British Council website. Submit a pdf with your analysis via ELMS.


The first chart illustrates the percentage of the population who owned a smartphone from 2011 to 2016, and the second breaks the percentages down by age for 2011 and 2016.

Overall, smartphone ownership increased during the six-year period. In general, the younger people were, the more likely they were to own a smartphone. However, the most significant increases in smartphone ownership between 2011 and 2016 came from people aged 45 to 54, from 46% to 84%; from those in the 55 to 64 category, from 9% to 59%; and from those aged 65 to 74, from 5% to 50%.

The percentage of people who owned a smartphone rose steadily, starting at around 35% in 2011 and reaching about 77% by 2016. People aged 16 to 24 represented the greatest percentage of smartphone ownership in both 2011 and 2016. 75% of people aged 25 to 34 and 72% of those aged 35 to 44 owned a smartphone in 2011, rising to 88% and 86% respectively by 2016.

Although almost nobody in the 75+ age category owned a smartphone in 2011, 15% of this group owned smartphones in 2016.


Make sure you can explain the following in simple English:

  1. collocation
  2. cohesion
  3. coherence

Running count: 55 of 71 pattern-related concepts covered so far.