Structure of reading passages

Reading passages can be organized in various ways. Understanding how a text is structured will help you move around it easier. Signal words are also helpful as they link ideas together, show a change of ideas, a continuation of the same thoughts etc.

1) A chronological account of an event (e.g. the history of computers) is arranged in time order.

Signal words: Firstly, in the beginning, secondly, thirdly, at last, finally
before, during, at that time, while, since, meanwhile, after, later

2) Problem/solution reading passages (e.g. traffic in a city) present a problem and how it can be solved.

Signal words: situation, difficulty, trouble, crisis, dilemma, issue, problem, controversy, debate

3) A passage on similar/different ideas (e.g. domestic and wild animals) points out a main idea about two things that are similar or different, then provides details about this.

Signal words for similarity: also, in the same way, as, like, in common, similarly
Signal words for difference: although, however, but, yet, instead, unlike, different from, in contrast, contrary, on the other hand

4) A list of similar ideas that have supporting arguments (e.g. measures to reduce unemployment).

Signal words: a few, several, numerous, many, a variety of, for example, for instance, first, second, last, in addition, besides

5) Cause/effect shows how one event causes another one (e.g. the results of global warming)

Signal words: creates, causes, makes, leads to, produces, gives rise to, contributes to, results in/from, brings about, is due to, follows, comes from, is a consequence of
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