Chapter 1-2: Relationships Between Supporting Ideas
Second language students are often asked to summarize texts or to identify the structure of media. If this media contains a main claim, there are usually supporting ideas to support it. Students may be called upon to “describe the relationships” between these supporting ideas. This section aims to alleviate some of the confusion students encounter when asked to perform this task by discussing the primary types of relationships that exist between supporting ideas.
Consequence or Effect Relationships
These relationships answer the questions “why did it happen,” “what happened,” or “what will happen” as a result of a another supporting idea. For example, a document might claim that Canada’s dollar was dropping at an alarming rate. After this idea, the author might follow up with another idea: Canada had no choice but to invest in the oil industry. The author could even go further with a third idea and state that: as a result, Canada polluted the planet and caused climate change.
Consequence or effect relationships can be recognized when the author uses connectives such as “accordingly,” “as a result,” “consequently,” “hence,” “therefore,” “thus,” etc.
These relationships occur when one supporting idea “depends on” another one. Continuing with our previous example, an author might claim that the oil industry could make some “fast money” for Canada. After this idea, the author might follow up on it with another idea: the success of the oil industry would be dependant upon the United States buying into the concept—they would have to approve the construction of an oil pipeline.
These types of relationships can be recognized when the author uses connector words such as “assuming that,” “if,” “provided that,” etc.
This relationship occurs when the author wishes to provide an example of something that was just discussed. To continue with the earlier example, an author might claim that many countries have witnessed quick returns on their investment in the oil industry. After this idea, the author might follow up on it with another one: both Argentina and Brazil managed to pay back the investment they made in this industry in under five years.
These types of relationships can be recognized when the author uses connector words such as “including,” “for example,” “for instance,” “such as,” etc.
Two ideas may be connected through similarity. That is, an author may wish to “add-on” to something that he or she stated. For example, a document that claims that Canada’s natural resources industry is booming might wish to discuss the “easy money” that can be made with the oil industry as a supporting idea. After this idea, they may “add” another idea: Canada’s forestry industry is a renewable resource that can also be “exploited for years to come.”
These types of relationships can be recognized when the author enumerates items (e.g. First, Secondly, Thirdly…), or when they use connector words such as “also,” “additionally,” “furthermore,” etc.
Good… and more good.
This relationship is the opposite of the supplemental relationship. Here, the author wishes to compare a supporting idea against a contrasting position. To continue with the same example, a document might claim that Canada’s natural resources industry is booming because of the “easy money” that can be made with the oil industry as one supporting idea. After this idea, they may “contrast” this idea: this industry pollutes the planet and leads to climate change.
These types of relationships can be recognized when the author uses connectors such as “but,” “whereas,” “however,” “instead,” “in contrast,” etc.
Good versus evil.
This relationship answers the question “why” to a previous supporting idea. To continue with the same example, a document might claim that it makes sense to make quick money with the oil industry and pollute the planet. After this idea, the author might follow up on it with another one: the rationale here is that Canada will become so wealthy that it will be able to invest in research methods that will solve the climate change crisis on a global level.
These types of relationships can be recognized when the author uses connectors such as “because,” “so that,” and “since.”
These relationships make a direct connection related to time between supporting ideas. Continuing with the previous example, an author might state that Canada’s forestry industry was damaged due to taxes and tariffs imposed on it by other countries. After this idea, the author might follow up by adding that “at the same time,” Canada’s oil industry was damaged because of global concern about climate change. This is an example of simultaneity.
However, ideas do not have to be concurrent. They can occur “before” or “after,” too. For example, our author might write that the Canadian dollar dropped. This might be followed up with another idea: it was only “after” this moment that companies began looking for better ways to exploit the oil industry.
These types of relationships can be recognized when the author uses connectives related to time, such as “before,” “after,” “while,” etc.
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