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How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay

By ashlicardona Apr 15, 2013 2176 Words
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I. How to Recognize Plagiarism1
Overview
In order to avoid plagiarism, you must give credit when

You use another person's ideas, opinions, or theories.
You use facts, statistics, graphics, drawings, music, etc., or any other type of information that does not comprise common knowledge.
You use quotations from another person's spoken or written word. You paraphrase another person's spoken or written word.

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Begin the writing process by stating your ideas; then go back to the author's origina l work. Use quotation marks and credit the source (author) when you copy exact wording. Use your own words (paraphrase) instead of copying directly when possible. Even when you paraphrase another author's writings, you must give credit to that author. If the form of citation and reference are not correct, the attribution to the original author is likely to be incomplete. Therefore, improper use of style can result in plagiarism. Get a style manual and use it.

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II. Formula for an Essay
Basically, the writing expected of students in college is of one type that can be used for all disciplines. This handout generally focuses on the basic, "formulaic" nature of the college level essay and its components.

THIS IS THE PROCESS & ITS PRODUCTS:
1. BRAINSTORM:

Write down whatever comes to mind about the
topic.

2. A.A.: AUDIENCE ATTRACTOR:

This is the first sentence of the opening paragraph
which catches the reader's attention, an attentiongetting sentence.

3. BACKGROUND SENTENCES:

These are the sentences that provide background
information about the subject and act to narrow
the focus, thereby introducing the thesis.

4. THESIS:

This is the sentence that expresses the main idea
of the paper.
**A thesis may change as the essay matures.**

5. PROOF SENTENCES (2-3 sentences): Proof sentences support and prove the validity of the thesis. (It helps to use a
proof sentence as the opening sentence in
each body paragraph. In each paragraph,
a minimum of four sentences should be
written supporting the topic sentence.)
EXAMPLE:
SAMPLE TOPIC:

The value of a college education.

BRAINSTORMING:
better job

enrichment
more pay

wider outlook

AUDIENCE ATTRACTOR:

higher self-esteem

People all over the world yearn for an education.

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BACKGROUND:
1. In the past, many individuals did not have access to an education. 2. History reveals many were forced to perform low-income, manual labor while others reaped the benefits of life.

THESIS:

Today, a person needs a college education in order to be financially successful in a technologically advanced world.

PROOF/SUPPORT SENTENCES:

The writer may compose 2-3 proof sentences
depending on whether the essay is to be 4 or 5
paragraphs. The model used here includes 2
proof sentences for a 4 paragraph essay.

1. Education is a prerequisite for certain high-paying jobs. 2. In addition, advanced technology, like computers, makes college level training essential.

NOTE:

Thesis and proof/support sentences can be combined into a single thesis statement which advances the main idea and sketches the arrangement of the proof/support of that thesis. EXAMPLE: Today, a person needs a college education even to start certain high-paying jobs and to be able to use advanced technology in the workplace.

OPENING PARAGRAPH:
A.A.: People all over the world yearn for an education. BACKGROUND: In the past, many individuals did not have access to an education. History reveals many were forced to perform low-income, manual labor while others reaped the benefits of life. THESIS: Today, a person needs a college education in order to be financially successful in a technologically advanced world. PROOF (SUPPORT) SENTENCES: Education is a prerequisite for certain high-paying jobs. In addition, advanced technology, like computers, makes college level training essential.

**PROOF SENTENCES CAN BE PLACED BEFORE OR AFTER THE THESIS.**

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FIRST BODY PARAGRAPH:
FIRST PROOF SENTENCE REWRITTEN:
The pay scale for certain jobs is
based on how much education the employee has. (Now, add four or more sentences to support this idea.)

SECOND BODY PARAGRAPH:
SECOND PROOF SENTENCE REWRITTEN: Because of computers, sophisticated communications systems, and other technological advances, a general education may not be enough for some of today's jobs. (Again, add four or more sentences to support this idea.)

CONCLUSION:
The conclusion can be the thesis rewritten and the proof sentences rewritten. Stating one's opinion adds a personal touch. In the conclusion one should never introduce new material. A conclusion usually summarizes or re-emphasizes what has already been discussed in the paper.

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III. Writing the Five Paragraph Essay
INTRODUCTION
Motivator, an attention grabbing sentence:
Children have many things to learn and to
adjust to as they grow up including the
awareness of the parts of their bodies.
Thesis (Main Idea):

Children often do humorous things.

Blueprint:

They are often humorous in learning to
speak, in discovering that all objects do
not have human characteristics, and in
attempting to imitate others.

Often, the thesis and blueprint can be combined into a single thesis sentence which advances a main idea and sketches the arrangement of the details which support that main idea (thesis).
BODY (SUPPORT & DEVELOPMENT)
FIRST CENTRAL PARAGRAPH
Topic Sentence:
Specific Support:

Children are often humorous in learning to speak.
My daughter Betsy, mistook "old tomato" for "ultimatum."

SECOND CENTRAL PARAGRAPH
Topic Sentence:
Specific Support:
Specific Support:
Specific Support:

Children "humanize" the objects around them.
A psychologist says children blame balls and chairs as though the things were conscious.
When I was a child, I thought the sun was out to get me.
Betsy ordered her shoes to climb the stairs.

THIRD CENTRAL PARAGRAPH
Topic Sentence:
Specific Support:
Specific Support:

Children attempt to imitate what they see.
They dress like their parents.
My daughter imitated a tantrum a visiting child threw.
CONCLUSION

Reworded Thesis:
Clincher

Children are funny creatures to watch.
(A reminder of the motivator which states that children have a lot of learning and adjusting to do.)

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IV. Writing the One Paragraph Essay
A PARAGRAPH is a group of sentences that are combined to make a point. Sentences must be tied together in a relationship that gives meaning to the whole. Every ONE-PARAGRAPH ESSAY must contain three main parts:

--main idea (topic sentence)
--support for the main idea
--closing that feels like an ending
MAIN IDEA
can be proved

is worth discussing

A MAIN IDEA must have a topic and offer an opinion about the topic. It must be provable, maybe in more than one way. It must be something worth discussing. TOPIC
My first grade teacher

OPINION
influenced my career choice.

A sentence that states only a subject, or topic, cannot be a main idea. WITHOUT AN OPINIONATED STATEMENT, there is nothing to PROVE OR ARGUE, nothing worth discussing.
NOT A MAIN IDEA
My first grade teacher was old.
A MAIN IDEA without a TOPIC and an OPINION makes a poor foundation for an ESSAY.

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A NOTE ON PERSONAL AND IMPERSONAL WRITING

Some main ideas and some essays are about people and events in our own lives. They are derived from the writer's personal experiences. The writer is prominently featured in this kind of writing.
PERSONAL MAIN IDEA-"My first grade teacher influenced my career choice." Other MAIN IDEAS do not deal directly with the writer. They are about people, things, and ideas that the writer is thinking about, but they have not necessarily been experienced by the writer personally.

IMPERSONAL MAIN IDEA -"Cold weather was the cause of the Challenger disaster."

SUPPORTING THE MAIN IDEA
The main idea states what the writer believes to be true. Once the writer has stated a main idea, he or she must prove that the main idea is plausible. This is done with SUPPORTING IDEAS. Without supporting ideas, there is no paragraph; there is only a statement of the writer's view or merely his or her opinion. SUPPORTING EVIDENCE can be of many types, including any or all of the following:

physical descriptions
stories (narrative)
examples
comparisons
discussion or analysis of cause and effect
discussion or analysis of a process
definitions
division of a group into smaller ones
statistical evidence
quotations from authorities
logical and reasonable arguments
THE CLOSING OR CONCLUSION
Every one-paragraph essay has an effective closing, something that makes the reader feel that the writer is finished. It might be one of the following:
--a summary or restatement of the main idea
--a conclusion that can be drawn from the proof stated
--the repetition of a key phrase from the beginning of the work --a particularly effective supporting detail that feels like an ending

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V. Writing a Good Three Point Thesis
A thesis is:
1. The basic stand you take.
2. Your opinion on a subject.
3. The point you make.
4. The controlling idea.
5. The directing statement of your paper.
PERSUADE THE READER THAT YOUR THESIS IS VALID.
GENERAL SUBJECT:
Education
LIMITED SUBJECT:
Professor X
THESIS STATEMENT:
Professor X is an incompetent teacher.
(Your purpose is to back up the statement, to persuade the reader). A THESIS IS NOT A TITLE.OR AN ANNOUNCEMENT.
TITLE:

The Fad of Divorce

THESIS STATEMENT:

Too many people get divorced for trivial reasons.

ANNOUNCEMENT:

My subject is the incompetence of Professor X.

THESIS STATEMENT:

Professor X is an incompetent teacher.

A THESIS IS NOT A STATEMENT OF ABSOLUTE FACT.
A good thesis is restricted. A thesis limits or restricts your subject. A thesis keeps the paper from wandering over too great a territory. The more restricted the thesis, the better the chances are for supporting it fully.

A GOOD THESIS IS UNIFIED.
It expresses ONE MAJOR IDEA about its subject. A good thesis may sometimes include a secondary idea if it is strictly subordinated to the major one, but without that subordination the writer will have too many ideas to handle.

A GOOD THESIS IS SPECIFIC.
A GOOD THREE POINT THESIS STATEMENT:
Professor X is an incompetent teacher because he grades unfairly, gives tests on materials not covered in his courses, and enjoys threatening students with failing grades.

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VI. Writing a Good Conclusion






The conclusion brings the essay to completion and gives the reader a sense of closure. The conclusion is memorable – the writer saves something interesting for the end. The conclusion reminds readers of the thesis or restates it in different words. The conclusion provides a brief but well-worded analysis of the point of the paper. The conclusion ends with a distinctive sentence: it may be a short sentence; it may be an especially well-worded or thoughtful sentence; it may be an image that stays with the readers.

Concluding Strategies:
End by reflecting on the importance or implications of your thesis. End with a call to action. James Baldwin calls for an end to the injustices of racism in his conclusion to Notes of a Native Son: “One must never, in one's own life, accept these injustices as commonplace but must fight them with all one's strength.” (102) End with a hook. Refer back to an idea, image, or question with which you began your essay. This gives your readers a satisfying sense of closure like a circle coming round. If, for example, you start an essay with a brief story about your mother’s kindness, you can refer back to her kindness in your conclusion. Brian Courtney uses a hook from his title “Freedom from Choice” when he uses the word “choose” twice in his conclusion.

End with a vivid image or picture that reinforces your thesis and helps readers feel what you mean.
End with a quotation that reinforces your thesis in a memorable way. End with a question that leaves readers pondering the significance of your essay. In her essay “Television and Free Time,” Marie Winn argues that television programs what a child experiences. Her last sentence is, “When, then, is he going to live his real life?” (Winn 155) End by offering a solution to a problem your essay concerns. End by striking a note of reasonable hope that a problem or an issue will get better. End with a prediction that logically follows from your thesis and evidence.

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Conclusions to Avoid:




Avoid the one-sentence or very short conclusion. Like the one-sentence introduction, the one-sentence conclusion suggests there may be something wrong with the structure of your paper. The conclusion has a real purpose. It is the place where you should evaluate your evidence. In your conclusion you should tell your reader what the evidence means-what insights you draw from your paper.

Avoid merely summarizing your paper or restating your thesis. The summary ending is a cliché that is so overused it seems amateurish.
Avoid using an overused phrase, such as “In conclusion” or “To sum up.” Try to be original. Avoid drawing attention to yourself instead of drawing attention to your point: “Now that I have reached the end of this time-consuming paper…”

Avoid raising any new or irrelevant subjects in the conclusion.

By using effective titles, introductions, and conclusions, you will engage your audience more fully-you will help them pay attention to your thesis and supporting evidence.

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