Explicit vs. Implicit Logical Relations

So far we have assumed that logical connections between ideas in writing are made explicit through the use of conjunctions. Sometimes, however, the relation may be implicit. In the following example, the ‘cause’ relation is made explicit in the conjunction because in (a), but remains implicit in (b).

  • Physical activity is beneficial because it keeps you fit.
  • Physical activity is beneficial. It keeps you fit.

In (b) the conjunction is omitted and the reader must infer the causal relationship in (b), ie. being fit is beneficial and we get fit by doing physical exercise.

Sometimes the reader can easily work out the relationship between the ideas from the context or their background knowledge. On the other hand, it is sometimes necessary to make the direction of your argument clear.

For example, the texts below basically present the ‘same’ information, but there is a difference in the effect of the two versions. Read them and then click on the column heading to see how conjunctions are used:

Click column headings to bring up highlights and additional info box below

Little conjunction between sentences and clauses Explicit conjunction between sentences and clauses

Philip saw the Armada in the light of a great crusade to eradicate heresy and impose his Catholic peace on Christendom. The Pope, Sixtus VI, united with him providing the spiritual blessing and financial support. Philip's goal was to restore Catholicism in England.

Mattingly points out all of Europe watched the battle in the Channel closely. The outcome determined the fates of not just England, Scotland, France, and the Netherlands but all of Christendom. The Armada began not just as a physical battle. It was also an ideological war — a battle of ideas.

Philip saw the Armada in the light of a great crusade to eradicate heresy and impose his Catholic peace on Christendom. As a result, the Pope, Sixtus VI, united with him providing the spiritual blessing and financial support. That is, Philip's goal was to restore Catholicism in England.

As Mattingly points out all of Europe watched the battle in the Channel closely because the outcome would determine the fates of not just England, Scotland, France and the Netherlands, but all of Christendom. The Armada, therefore, began not just as a physical battle but as an ideological war — a battle of ideas.

In summary:

Use more implicit conjunction Use more explicit conjunction
  • when you feel it is safe to leave your reasoning or argument for the reader to infer
  • when you feel explicit conjunction may distract the reader's attention away from other parts of the argument where the logical relation needs to be emphasised
  • when you are writing descriptively
  • when you want to make your reasoning or argument very clear to the reader
  • where different logical relations are possible and there is a chance of misinterpretation
  • when you are writing analytically or persuasively


Exercise 1

Insert conjunctions in the following text wherever you think they are needed. You should try to avoid a purely descriptive text.

Traditional print publishing involves problems which are easily transferred across to online forms of communication. Methods for critically evaluating traditional resources are of considerable value in devising strategies for gauging the accuracy, reliability and authority of online sources. Some traditional evaluative skills may need to be applied more rigorously to web resources. Human error has always been possible in traditional print publishing. Errors can be easily and quickly fixed with online information, they are still more prevalent than in print form. Self-publishing opportunities are greater online. Fewer gate-keeping controls exist. Unreliable research, inconsistency, bias and extreme opinions tend to proliferate.