Compiled by B.Jolamanova
A paragraph is a basic unit of organization in writing in which a group of related sentences develops one main idea. Such sentences are usually linked by logical connectives. A paragraph can be as short as one sentence or as long as ten sentences. The paragraph should be long enough to develop the main idea clearly. A paragraph may stand by itself (i.e. to answer a test question). A paragraph may also be one part of a longer price of writing such as a chapter of a book or an essay.
A paragraph has three major structural parts: 1) a topic sentence, 2) supporting sentences, and 3) a concluding sentence.
1) The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. It names the topic of the paragraph and limits it to one or two specific areas called the controlling idea. Notice how the topic sentence of the model states both the topic and the controlling idea:
Topic Controlling idea Gold, a precious metal, is prized for two important characteristics.
The topic sentence is usually the first, the most important and the most general statement in the paragraph. The following is an example of a general statement that could serve a topic sentence: The Arabic origin of many English words is not always obvious.
2) Supporting sentences develop the topic sentence. That is, they explain the topic sentence by giving reasons, examples, facts, statistics, and quotations. Some of the supporting sentences that explain the topic sentence about gold are: First of all, gold has a lustrous beauty that is resistant to corrosion. The most recent use of gold is in astronauts’ suits.
3) The concluding sentence signals the end of the paragraph and sums up the important points to remember: In conclusion, gold is treasured not only for its beauty but also for its utility. The concluding sentence is not absolutely necessary; in fact, a concluding sentence is not necessary for every paragraph in a multi-paragraph essay. However, it is helpful for the reader in single paragraphs, especially long ones. A concluding sentence serves three purposes: It signals the end of paragraph.
It summarizes the main points of the paragraph.
It gives a final comment on the topic and leaves the reader with the most important ideas to think about.
3. PARAGRAPHS TYPES
Descriptive paragraphs (explaining how someone or something looks or feels). The topic sentence names the object. The supporting sentences may describe its place, size, shape, colour, functions, appearance feelings caused, etc. The concluding sentence may sum up the general impression/feelings caused by the described object.
Process paragraphs (explaining how something is done) The topic sentence names the process and its importance, purpose. The supporting sentences describe the steps/stages you follow when performing the process. The concluding sentence may contain evaluation of the process.
Opinion paragraphs – an opinion is an idea or belief about a particular subject. Usually opinions are supported by facts. The topic sentence presents the opinion, the supporting sentences present the arguments in favour of the opinion. The concluding sentence reinforces the opinion stated in the topic sentence.
Comparison/contrast (advantages/disadvantages) paragraphs. To compare means to show the similarities between some objects. To contrast means to find differences between objects.
Problem/solution paragraphs explain a problem and then propose a solution/solutions to the it. Usually requires more than one paragraph.
5. STAGES OF PARAGRAPH WRITING
Step 1: Assessing the Assignment. The first step is to know the topic and purpose of the assignment.
Step 2: Generating Ideas. There are many ways to do this; two of the most effective are brainstorming and free writing.
Step 3: Organizing Your Ideas. One way to organize your ideas is a topic outline. You first have to decide what the main idea of the paragraph is. Then you need to consider which points to include in order to support your main point.
Step 4: Writing the First Draft. Once you have your ideas generated and an organizational pattern to follow, you can write your first draft.
Step 5: Rewriting. Rewriting is a critical part of the writing process and consists of two separate processes: revising and editing. Revise the content. You may start revising as soon as you finish writing, or, better yet, set your paragraph aside for awhile and go back to it later. Edit the language. The other aspect of rewriting is editing. When you edit, you check to make sure the spelling, capitalization, punctuation, vocabulary, and grammar are correct.
A Good Start
My first day of school was more good than bad. One of the good memories of that day was my teacher Mrs. Grant. She was very nice and seemed to understand why all the children were a little scared. Another good part of that day was when Mrs. Grant had us all be quiet and listen to the sound of the crayons while we were coloring. I was surprised that it was such a loud noise. The last good memory that I have of that day is finding the chocolate kiss in my lunch bag. It made me remember that my mom loved me. I also have a few memories of being frightened. My mom was sick and couldn’t take me to school. I didn’t want to leave her alone, but my dad insisted that we go to school. Also, my dad was late picking me up, and I cried. However, looking back, I was glad to be in my new adventure at school.
Reading and Thinking in English. Oxford University Press 1985 Zemach D. E., Rumisek L.A. Academic Writing. MacMillan 2003 Jordan R.R, Nelson K. Academic Writing. 1992
Help with paragraphs: Writing a paragraph. McMillan Publishers Limited, 2004. Retrieved August 22, 2010 from http://www.skyline-english.com/PDFs/Writing/SK004C_lesson1.pdf http://ohhs.ohsd.net/~mkilmer/9th%20Grade%20Copies/WRITING%20EXCITING%20PARAGRAPHS.pdf M. Kilmer. Writing Exciting paragraphs. 9-th grade copies. http://elpweb.com/materials/wp-content/uploads/2006/03/Writing_3_Activity_1.pdf;
Exercise 1. Insert the missing words:
A paragraph is a basic unit of organization in writing in which a group of _____(1) sentences develops one main idea. Such sentences are usually linked by ____(2) connectives. A paragraph can be as short as ___(3) sentence or as long as ___(4) sentences. The paragraph should be long enough to develop the ____(5) clearly. A paragraph may stand ___(6) or be one part of a longer price of writing such as a /n ____(7). A paragraph has ___(8) major structural parts: 1) a ____(9) sentence, 2) _____(10) sentences, and 3) a ____ sentence.
Exercise 2. Identify the main features of a paragraph
Exercise 3. Use these tips to help you write clear paragraphs in all types of text.
• Include 1 lots of ideas / one main idea per paragraph.
• Paragraphs 2 can / can’t have a different number of sentences, but avoid paragraphs with just one or two sentences. • Each body paragraph in a text should be of similar /different length. • Each paragraph needs a “topic sentence” – a sentence that gives the main idea of the paragraph. This usually comes at the beginning / end of the paragraph. • “Supporting sentences change / develop the main idea from the topic sentence. They give details, examples or explanations.
• A “concluding sentence” marks the 6 beginning /end of the paragraph.
Exercise 4. Write a topic sentence for each of these paragraphs.
1) The summer had been extremely hot and dry. Many brushfires had broken out. People were told not to water their lawns or wash their cars. People responded by using less water and being careful about how they used water. Everyone realized the new rules were in the best interest of everyone. 2) Nancy read everything she could find about nursing. She spent hours in the library learning about first aid. When the call came for summer volunteers at the hospital, she was the first to sign up. She was determined to prepare herself as best she could for what she hoped would be her career.
3) There are many parks to enjoy. Museums and aquariums have interesting exhibits. Large stores and malls have a great selection of things to buy. Many large cities also have major sports teams to watch.
Exercise 5. Choose the best topic sentence and concluding sentence for the two paragraphs below (Two sentences are extra.)
1. Many aspects of human communication are nonverbal.
2. Thanks very much for your letter.
3. So, body language in all its forms is a powerful tool for communication. 4. Call me and let me know what’s happening.
5. However, be careful not to offend people with gestures.
6. I have some news for you!
Paragraph 1… I’ve just started a new job in a travel agency. I work with a great team of people and I get to travel all the time. It’s just a blast! I also met a cute guy last week. He works for the same company, but in a different division. I can’t believe my luck. I hope life with you is as good. …
Paragraph 2 … If you look at a group of people, notice how they use their hands, face and whole body to express how they feel. Gestures can have international meaning. Think about how you would express “Hi” or “Bye”, “Be quiet!”, “Fantastic!” or “Good job!” It’s surprising how many other nationalities use the same.
Exercise 6. Read the paragraphs and present their structure graphically.
1. Plants can be classified according to their ability to move. The first group consists of those plants which use their roots to move. The second group consists of plants which are unable to move. Examples of the former are plants A and D. Examples of the latter are plants B and C.
Exercise 7. Write a paragraph based on the given diagram:
Exercise 8. Identify the following statements as a
1 Topic Sentence
2 Supporting Sentence 1, 2
3 Detail 1, 2, 3
And reconstruct the original paragraph.
___B Another bad habit he has is walking through the house with his muddy boots. ___A He will walk right across a freshly washed floor.
___C That would not be so bad if he didn’t leave them lying all over the house.
___D He loves to chew on toothpicks
___E My brother has some disgusting and inconsiderate habits. ___F If my brother lived alone, he could be the slob that he is without anyone else caring, but since he lives with other people, it would help if he showed a little more consideration for his family!
___G Sometimes they even get stuck in the carpet.
___H He will take his boots off and leave them in the middle of the floor for everyone to trip over.
Exercise 9. Write a paragraph of 7 sentences based on the information provided below ( The first one has been done for you). Use connectives. After you have finished, check your writing with a partner. “Milk Hall” is a café and antique shop in Kamakura…
1. Bad point: sometimes very crowded
2. Style: old-fashioned dark interior with wooden furniture
3. Other: live jazz music once a month
4. Cost lunch: 1,000 yen
5. “Milk Hall”: café and antique shop
6. Location: near Komachi Dori,5 minutes walk from Kamakura Station 7. Good points: good coffee &delicious cheesecake!
Exercise 10. Say what is good/bad about the paragraph:
It is well known that cats are more intelligent than dogs. For example, 3 out of every 4 motorists die of heart disease before they are 50. Another example is the commonly observed ability of dolphins to understand human speech. In conclusion I'd like to emphasize that whereas girls learn mathematics quickly, boys learn mathematics equally quickly.
Exercise 11. Reconstruct the paragraph of which each sentence may be a part.