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THE PARAGRAPH: HOME

WRITING A PARAGRAPH

Paragraphs are a group of sentences that work together to make a point. Learning to write strong paragraphs will help you stay on track during your drafting and revision stages. Good paragraphs also assist your readers in understanding a piece of writing. 

Many students think of paragraphs in terms of length: a paragraph is a group of at least five sentences, etc. Actually, being clear (coherence) and sticking to one idea (unity) are the characteristics that make a strong paragraph.

COMPONENTS OF A PARAGRAPH

Every paragraph in a paper should have: 

  1. Topic sentence: states the main idea. Usually either the first or second sentence in a paragraph. 
  2. The Body: Supports (shows, explains, or proves) the main point. It usually contains three or more support sentence, which presents facts and details that develop the main point.
  3. Concluding Sentence: reminds reader of the main point and may make an observation

ELEMENTS OF A PARAGRAPH

There are a few key elements that every paragraph should contain. The four elements are: unity, a topic sentencecoherence, and adequate development.

 

Unity - The entire paragraph should concern itself with a single focus. If it begins with one focus or major point of discussion, it should not end with another or wander within different ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topic Sentence - A topic sentence is a sentence that indicates in a general way what idea or thesis the paragraph is going to deal with. Regardless of whether you include an explicit topic sentence or not, you should be able to easily summarize what the paragraph is about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coherence - Coherence is the trait that makes the paragraph easily understandable to a reader. You can help create coherence in your paragraphs by creating logical bridges and verbal bridges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adequate Development - The topic (introduced by the topic sentence) should be discussed fully and adequately. This varies from paragraph to paragraph, depending on the author's purpose, but writers should be wary of paragraphs that only have two or three sentences. It's a pretty good bet that the paragraph is not fully developed if it is that short.

 

 

 

 

 

CHECK YOUR WORK

Some methods to make sure your paragraph is well-developed:

  • Use examples and illustrations 
  • Cite data (facts, statistics, evidence, details, and others) 
  • Examine testimony (what other people say such as quotes and paraphrases) 
  • Use an anecdote or story 
  • Define terms in the paragraph 
  • Compare and contrast 
  • Evaluate causes and reasons 
  • Examine effects and consequences 
  • Analyze the topic 
  • Describe the topic 
  • Offer a chronology of an event (time segments)

Source for guide:

Purdue University Writing Lab and Purdue Online Writing Lab. (2015). “On Paragraphs.” Purdue Online Writing Lab. Retrieved: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/606/1/

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TRANSITIONS

A transition is a word or phrase used to signal the relationships among ideas in an essay and to join the various parts of an essay together. Writers use transitions to relate ideas within sentences, between sentences, and between paragraphs. Following is a list of transitional expressions categorized according to their functions. 

  • and
  • again
  • too
  • also 
  • in addition
  • further
  • furthermore
  • moreover
  • besides
  • therefore
  • consequently
  • thus
  • accordingly
  • as a result
  • hence
  • then
  • so
  • similarly
  • likewise
  • by comparison
  • to be sure
  • granted
  • of course
  • it is true
  • to tell the truth
  • certainly
  • with the exception of
  • even though
  • naturally
  • but, however
  • in contrast
  • on the other hand
  • yet
  • nevertheless,
  • after all
  • in spite of
  • for example
  • for instance
  • Elsewhere
  • here
  • above
  • below
  • farther on
  • there
  • beyond
  • nearby
  • opposite to
  • around
  • that is
  • as I have said
  • in other words
  • in simpler terms
  • to put it differently
  • simply stated
  • first
  • second
  • third
  • next
  • finally
  • in conclusion
  • to conclude
  • to summarize
  • in brief
  • in short
  • afterward
  • later
  • earlier
  • subsequently
  • at the same time
  • simultaneously
  • immediately
  • this time
  • until now
  • before
  • meanwhile
  • shortly
  • soon
  • currently
  • when
  • lately
  • in the meantime
  • formerly 

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