Literary Stylistics:
Workshop Notes no. 18(a)

Referential Cohesion


Halliday defines REFERENCE as a participant or circumstantial element introduced at one place in the text, which is either taken as a reference point for something that follows, or as a basis for comparison. There are three ways by which referential cohesion can be realised:

1) Through Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns may be DETERMINATIVE:




singular: he, him, she, her   feminine she, her
plural they, them   masculine he, him
    neuter it, they, them





singular: his, her, hers, its   feminine: her, hers
plural: their, theirs   masculine: his
    neuter: its, their, theirs

2) Through Demonstratives

Demonstratives can be SPECIFIC or NON-SPECIFIC:




near: this/these this/these here (now)   no clear indication of nearness or remoteness it, the
remote: that/those that/those there (then)  

3) Through Comparatives


Identity  Similarity  Difference
same as, equal to, identical to, identically, just as, as, etc. similar to, similarly, additional to, additionally, such as, likewise, etc. other than, different from/than/to, otherwise, else, differently, etc.


< > =
more than, bigger than, better than, greater, more so, fewer than, fewer, less than, further than, so, so as, as much as


Analysis of Referential Cohesion & Some Important Terms

In referential cohesion, one is not only interested on whether these items exist in the text, but also on whether they refer forward or backward to items within the text or outside the text, or whether it is self-referential or its reference is understood, given the contexts.

(a) Anaphora or Cataphora

'Backwards' or 'Forwards'

A personal pronoun, demonstrative or comparative that refers to an item whose more detailed or precise description
Is given earlier in the text: ANAPHORA
Is given later in the text: CATAPHORA

(b) Endophora or Exophora

'Inside' or 'Outside'

If a personal pronoun, demonstrative or comparative refers to an item whose more detailed or precise description
Is given within the text: ENDOPHORA
Is given outside the text: EXOPHORA

(c) Homophora

You may encounter some problems however, in relation to a reference item which does not clearly or strictly speaking, refer to earlier or later items within the text nor to entities outside the text. Given the text, such an item appears to be understood or self-referential, given one's cultural knowledge or knowledge of the world. It is known as a homophora.

Next Available Workshop Notes

Previous Workshop Notes

Back to Main Page: EL3221.


Last revised: 14 May 2017