Discourse & Discourse Structure (revised)


For ‘A’ Level purposes, discourse can be said to be any language use by a social group on a given occasion.  It is the ‘putting of thought into language’.  Note that the ‘discourse’ (and ‘text’) applies to both written and spoken modes.


This term refers to the ways that discourse is organised into coherent wholes.  The structure gives cohesion.

You will be acquainted with a huge variety of discourse structures: they are the means by which text producers create text cohesion.  Discourse structures include:

Lists/instructions e.g. recipes; self-assembly furniture

Speeches, advertisements e.g. presenting a problem then providing a solution.

Persuasive writing e.g. moving from presenting, and dismissing counter-arguments to your own argument,  before presenting your viewpoint.  (This process in ‘how to sell’ books is known as removing objections before moving in to close the sale.)

Logical argument e.g. (1) syllogism and e.g. (2) presenting Reason 1, then Reason 2, moving to an Intermediate Conclusion, perhaps adding a Reason 4, and finally the Main Conclusion.

GCSE literature essays: e.g. PEA paragraphs (Point, Evidence, Analysis)

Narrative structure in novels might include such elements as: chronology; parallel plots; flashback; different narrative voices.


These are ‘linguistic signposts’.  They fulfil a variety of functions such as:

Addition e.g. also, too, as well, moreover

Consequence e.g. so, as a result, consequently, thus

Comparison and contrast e.g. just as, similarly, in contrast, unlike

Temporal e.g. later, then, next, afterwards

Enumeration e.g. first, finally.

Summative e.g. To conclude, all things considered, at the end of the day, on the whole

 See my main Language Notes webpage


Michael Goldberg’s site page: Now unavailable.

The English Biz Glossary of Linguistics is a very useful site which explains complicated matters clearly.

i love english language’ is a well informed, anonymous blog, giving clearly explained synopses of theories and terminology:


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