Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 13. Number3.  September 2022                                             Pp.555- 574

Full Paper PDF 

Usage of Grammatical Cohesive Devices in Paragraph Writing among Foundation-Year
Medical Students at a University in Saudi Arabia

Abdul Qadeer
Faculty of Languages and Linguistics
Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Faculty of Languages and Translation,
King Khalid University, Al-Fara’a Campus, Abha, Saudi Arabia

Ung T’chiang Chow*
Faculty of Languages and Linguistics
Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
*Corresponding Author:


Received:06/14/2022         Accepted:09/17/2022                 Published:09/28/2022


Before entering a medical college, Saudi pre-medical freshmen study a Foundation-Year English language course for their English language enhancement. Writing is one of the language skills taught in English language courses at the Foundation-Year level. This study investigates Foundation-Year medical students’ difficulties using cohesive grammatical devices for paragraph writing. The study attaches considerable significance to exploring the pre-medical freshmen’s problems using cohesive grammatical devices while writing paragraphs in English. The sample of sixty-seven student-written paragraphs was chosen randomly from the Foundation-Year medical students. The paragraphs were analyzed to determine students’ difficulties using cohesive grammatical devices. A qualitative research approach was carried out, and Halliday and Hasan’s (1976) framework was adopted for analyzing cohesive devices, i.e., reference, conjunction, ellipsis, and substitution. The findings showed that Saudi pre-medical students at the Foundation-Year level could not use cohesive grammatical devices effectively. The study recommended a need to introduce an appropriate writing skill module in the Foundation-Year English courses and improve the teaching strategies to overcome the students’ deficiencies in writing paragraphs.
Keywords: Coherence, Cohesion, Cohesive devices, Conjunction, References, Ellipsis, Substitution, paragraph writing

Cite as:  Abdul Qadeer, A., & Chow, U. T. (2022). Usage of Grammatical Cohesive Devices in Paragraph Writing among Foundation-Year Medical Students at a University in Saudi Arabia. Arab World English Journal, 13 (3) .555- 574.



Abdul Rahman, Z. A. A. (2013). The use of cohesive devices in descriptive writing by Omani student-teachers. Sage Open3(4),

Ahmed, A. H. (2010). Students’ problems with cohesion and Coherence in EFL essay writing in Egypt: Different perspectives. Literacy Information and Computer Education Journal, 1(4), 211-221.

Othman, A. K. A. (2019). Investigation of Grammatical Cohesive Devices Errors Made by Saudi EFL Students in Written Paragraphs: A Case Study of the University of Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. European Scientific Journal, ESJ15(2), 1.

Aldera (2016). Cohesion in Written Discourse: A Case Study of Arab EFL Students (July 26, 2016). Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) (2), June,2016,

Al- Jarf, R. (2001). Processing of Cohesive Devices by EFL Arab College Students. Foreign  Language Annals,  34(2), 141-150.

Almutairi, N. (2017). Discourse Analysis of Cohesive Devices in Saudi Student’s Writing. World Journal of Educational Research, 4, 516. 10.22158/wjer.v4n4p516.

Al- Zubeiry (2020). Coherence Problems in the English Writings of Saudi University Students. Journal of Ummul Qura’a University for Language Sciences and Literature,(pp. 409-431)

Apse, V., & Farneste, M. (2018). Improving the Use of Linking Words in Tertiary Level Essays.    Rural Environment. Education. Personality, Doi:10.22616/REEP.2018.003.

Barzanji, A. (2016). Identifying the Most Common Errors in Saudi University Students’ Writing: Does the Prompt Matter? (Unpublished Master’s thesis). University of Central Florida Orlando, Florida

Connor, U. (1984). A study of cohesion and Coherence in English as a second language students’ writing. Papers in Linguistics, 17(3), 301-316.

Cook, J., Firestone. M., & Betts. L. (2021) How to Understand and Write an Effective Paragraph, Study. Available at com Updated on 09.02.2021

Cox, B. E., Shanahan, T., & Sulzby, E. (1990). Good and poor elementary readers’ use of cohesion in writing. Reading Research Quarterly, 25(1), 47–65.

Corder, S. P. (1974). Error analysis, interlanguage, and second language acquisition. Language teaching8(4), 201-218.

Enkvist, N.E. (1990). Seven problems in the study of Coherence and interpretability. In U. Connor & A.M. Johns (Eds.), Coherence in writing: Research and pedagogical perspectives (pp. 9-28). Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Ferris, D. R. (1994). Lexical and Syntactic Features of ESL Writing Students at Different Levels of L2 Proficiency. TESOL Quarterly, 28(2), 414–420.

Gersbacher, M. A., Varner, K. R., & Faust, M. (1990). Investigating differences in general comprehension skills. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 16(3), 430-445.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Hasan, R. (1976). Cohesion in English. London, England: Longman.

Hogue, A. (2008). Organization, First Steps in academic writing (2nd ed.) Pearson Education, Ten Bank Street, White Plains, NY 10606

Jin, W. (2000, September). A quantitative study of cohesion in Chinese graduate students’ writing: Variations across genres and proficiency levels. Paper presented at the Symposium on Second Language Writing at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Khalil, A. (1989). A study of cohesion and Coherence in Arab EFL college students’ writing system17(3), 359-371.

Masadeh, T. S. (2019). Cohesion and Coherence in the writings of Saudi undergraduates majoring in English. Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities5(3), 200-208.

Normant N. (2002). Quantitative and qualitative analysis of textural cohesion in African American students writing in narrative, argumentative, and expository modes. CLA Journal, 46(1), 1-98.

Nunan, D. (1999). Second Language Teaching and Learning. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers.

Reynolds, D. W. (2001). Language in the balance: Lexical repetition as a function of a topic, cultural background, and writing development. Language Learning, 51(3), 437-476.

Savage. A., & Shafeil. M. (2006). Effective Academic Writing: the paragraph. Oxford University Press

Salkie, R. (1995). Text and discourse analysis. New York, NY: Routledge

Van Schalkwyk, B., & Van der Walt, E. (2009). Acquiring literacy: A case of first-year extended degree program students. South African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 27(2), 189-201.

Witte, S. P., & Faigley, L. (1981). Coherence, cohesion, and writing quality. College Composition and Communication, 32(4), 189-204.

Zheng, Y. (1999). Providing the students with effective feedback in the writing process. Teaching English in China, 36(2), 427-431. doi:10.4304/jltr.4.2.427-431

Received: 06/14/2022
Accepted: 09/17/2022 
Published: 09/28/2022      

Abdul Qadeer is a lecturer in English at the Faculty of Languages and Translation, King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia. He did his M.A in English literature from the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan, and his M.Ed. from the University of Karachi, Pakistan. Currently, he is pursuing his  Ph.D. at the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ORCID ID:

Daniel Chow Ung T’chiang (PhD) is the Deputy Dean of Research and Development at the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University of Malaya. His areas of interest include English for Specific Purposes and Critical Genre Analysis. He is currently involved in research projects on Professional Discourses and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Daniel is the Treasurer of the Malaysian Association of Applied Linguistics (MAAL), an affiliate of the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA). ORCID ID: