THE ABC’S OF PARAGRAPHS ENGLISH COMPOSITION YAMITH J.

FANDIÑO MA IN TEACHING

The topic sentence The sentence introduces an overall idea that you want to discuss later in the paragraph.

Suppose that you want to write a paragraph about the natural landmarks of your hometown. The first part of your paragraph might look like this:
My hometown is famous for several amazing natural features. First, it is noted for the Wheaton River, which is very wide and beautiful. Also, on the other side of the town is Wheaton Hill, which is unusual because it is very steep. Note how the first sentence, My hometown, Wheaton, is famous for several amazing geographical features, is the most general statement. This sentence is different from the two sentences that follow it, since the second and third sentences mention specific details about the town's geography, and are not general statements.

.Clouds are white. . Here are some examples of sentences that cannot be used as topic sentences.There are two reasons why some people like to buy cars with automatic transmission and two reasons why others like cars with manual transmission. and because it is built near an unusually steep hill called Wheaton Hill. Can you figure out why they are inappropriate? . A better topic sentence would be like the one mentioned above. and details should appear later in the paragraph. which is very wide. My hometown is famous for several amazing geographical features. Topic sentences are general. .My hometown is famous because it is located by Wheaton River.  The problem with sentence # 1 is that it contains too many details.

 Sentence # 2 is not appropriate as a topic sentence because it mentions two topics. The problem with sentence #3 is that it is too general. Paragraphs are usually about one main thing and so their topic sentences should also be about only one main thing. . We can rewrite sentences #2 and #3 in the following ways to make it better: . not just one.   . there are two reasons why some people like cars with manual transmission.There are two reasons why some people like to buy cars with automatic transmission. It is also very boring! Would you like to read a paragraph with this topic sentence? Most people would not.The shapes of clouds are determined by various factors. In a different paragraph.

 The supporting sentences My hometown. which is very wide and beautiful. At minimum. on the other side of the town is Wheaton Hill. you should have at least five to seven sentences in your paragraph." in this case. Also. which is unusual because it is very steep. the idea expressed in the topic sentence." or explain. First.  . which is very wide and beautiful) gives some explanation for the fact that Wheaton is a famous town. Of course. we can see that the third and fourth sentences also give some explanation for the fact that Wheaton is famous by giving other examples of "amazing natural features. The third amazing feature is the Big Old Tree. Wheaton. it is noted for the Wheaton River. is famous for several amazing natural features.  The second sentence (First. They "support. it is noted for the Wheaton River. paragraphs in English often have more than two supporting ideas. Wheaton Hill and The Big Old Tree The second and third sentences are called supporting sentences. This tree stands two hundred feet tall and is probably about six hundred years old. Similarly.

This tree stands two hundred feet tall and is probably about six hundred years old. These three landmarks are truly amazing and make my hometown a famous place. There are no trees around this hill. In the paragraph about Wheaton.  My hometown is famous for several amazing natural features. which is 175 feet wide. On either side of this river. but we do not know very much about them. In autumn the leaves of these trees fall and cover the riverbanks like golden snow. which is very wide and beautiful. on the other side of the town is Wheaton Hill. three natural landmarks are mentioned. it is noted for the Wheaton River. First. which is unusual because it is very steep. are many willow trees which have long branches that can move gracefully in the wind. you should include enough details in your paragraphs to help your reader understand exactly what you are writing about. Details in Paragraphs Whenever possible. because there are some firm rocks along the sides that can be used as stairs. Even though it is steep. so it stands clearly against the sky and can be seen from many miles away. . we could add a sentence or two about Wheaton river concerning HOW wide it is or WHY it is beautiful. climbing this hill is not dangerous. Also. For example. The third amazing feature is the Big Old Tree.

on the other side of the town is Wheaton Hill. Notice how the concluding sentence (These three landmarks are truly amazing and make my hometown a famous place) summarizes the information in the paragraph. but not exactly the same as. These three landmarks are truly amazing and make my hometown a famous place. First. The third amazing feature is the Big Old Tree. . Let's see how a concluding sentence (in bold font) might look in our sample paragraph about Wheaton: My hometown is famous for several amazing natural features. which is unusual because it is very steep. This is the concluding sentence. The concluding sentence In formal paragraphs you will see a sentence at the end of the paragraph which summarizes the information that has been presented. it is noted for the Wheaton River. You can think of a concluding sentence as a sort of topic sentence in reverse. Notice also how the concluding sentence is similar to. which is very wide and beautiful. Also. This tree stands two hundred feet tall and is probably about six hundred years old. the topic sentence.

Consider the paragraph that we saw before: My hometown is famous for several amazing natural features. These three landmarks are truly amazing and make my hometown a famous place. On either side of this river. which is very wide and beautiful. it is noted for the Wheaton River. Even though it is steep. First. The third amazing feature is the Big Old Tree. Literally. Second. which is 175 feet wide. With coherence. which is unusual because it is very steep. on the other side of the town is Wheaton Hill. Coherence and unity Coherence refers to a certain characteristic or aspect of writing. the reader has an easy time understanding the ideas that you wish to express. are many willow trees which have long branches that can move gracefully in the wind. There are no trees around this hill. because there are some firm rocks along the sides that can be used as stairs. so it stands clearly against the sky and can be seen from many miles away." Coherence in writing means that all the ideas in a paragraph flow smoothly from one sentence to the next sentence. . This tree stands two hundred feet tall and is probably about six hundred years old. In autumn the leaves of these trees fall and cover the riverbanks like golden snow. the word means "to stick together. climbing this hill is not dangerous.

such as those appearing in the phrases "these trees" and "this hill"? We can call these minor connectors. Major connectors help organize the main parts of your paragraph. . Second. (2) a part about Wheaton Hill. First. Another way of saying this is that this paragraph has three main points which are indicated by the major connectors. Major Connectors Do you see how the words in bold help guide the reader? For example. Minor connectors provide coherence to a paragraph by connecting sentences within each of the main parts of your paragraph. when you write about your main points.  Minor Connectors What about the other words in bold. Using such major connectors is an important way of providing coherence in a paragraph. That is. This paragraph has three main parts: (1) a part about the Wheaton River. consider the words. and The third amazing feature. We can call these words major connectors. you can use minor connectors to link your details to each main point. and (3) a part about the Big Old Tree.

The Gemini project was intended to find out whether two people could work in the weightless environment of space.S." was a major goal of the Gemini program. The Mercury project tested rockets with the new Mercury space capsule. Can you identify the main points? Each of the U. connected to it by a tether. manned space exploration projects had specific major goals. was intended to test spacecraft and skills so that people could actually fly to the Moon and land on it. . or "space docking. astronauts physically linked two spacecraft together. Gemini astronauts took "spacewalks. Some astronauts flew two spacecraft extremely close together. The Mercury project was designed to test whether or not human beings could survive and function in outer space. Now. Gemini astronauts tried out new flying skills. look at this paragraph. with three astronauts. which could hold one person. Performing scientific experiments on the lunar surface and collecting rocks for study on Earth were goals. Linking." On some Gemini flights. this procedure was called "rendezvous." They floated outside their spacecraft in a spacesuit. The Apollo project.

" That is. As another example. or "space docking. the Apollo project. which could hold one person. with three astronauts. the Gemini project was intended to find out whether two people could work in the weightless environment of space. Other goals included performing scientific experiments on the lunar surface and collecting rocks for study on Earth. Gemini astronauts also tried out new flying skills." On some Gemini flights. some astronauts flew two spacecraft extremely close together. Was this paragraph a little confusing to read? Now consider the same paragraph with a few changes: Each of the U. For example." was a major goal of the Gemini program. astronauts physically linked two spacecraft together. In addition. the Mercury project was designed to test whether or not human beings could survive and function in outer space. . they floated outside their spacecraft in a spacesuit. this procedure was called "rendezvous. connected to it by a tether. Finally. manned space exploration projects had specific major goals. the Mercury project tested rockets with the new Mercury space capsule. One way of doing this was by having Gemini astronauts take "spacewalks. For example. This linking.S. had the goal of testing spacecraft and skills so that people could actually fly to the Moon and land on it.

As another example. . depending on the meaning of the sentences.The second group of minor connectors consists of That is.  . Do you see which of the connectors above are major and which are minor? The major ones are For example in the second sentence. . Notice that this last minor connector is the same as the major connector at the beginning of the paragraph. and also the phrase For example. However. There is only one minor connector in this first group. (In the paragraph above. the function of each is different.The first group of minor connectors provides coherence for the first main point (the Mercury program). we can divide them into three groups: . In addition. which introduces the third and last main point (the Apollo moon program). all of the major connectors are underlined.The third group of minor connectors in this particular paragraph also has one member. and the word Finally. also. which begins the second main point (the Gemini program). which is Other goals included.) As for the minor connectors. which introduces the first supporting point (the Mercury program).

" That is. and (sometimes) the concluding sentence -. The cosmonaut to do this was Alexei Leonov. astronaut Ed White. Finally.are all telling the reader about ONE main topic. with three cosmonauts.the topic. Paragraph unity Unity is a very important characteristic of good paragraph writing. Leonov's spacewalk was followed by that of U. connected to it by a tether. For example. If your paragraph contains a sentence or some sentences that are NOT related to the main topic. he floated in a spacesuit outside his Voshkhod spacecraft.  .S. the detail sentences. then we say that the paragraph "lacks unity. Several weeks later. For another example. which is similar to the paragraph that we have studied above. That is. Paragraph unity means that one paragraph is about ONLY ONE main topic. the Vostok project was designed to test whether or not human beings could survive and function in outer space. the Voshkhod project was intended to find out whether people could work in the weightless environment of space. had goals of testing spacecraft and spaceflight skills so that people could fly long missions in Earth orbit. all the sentences -. One Voshkhod cosmonaut experimented with weightlessness by taking a "spacewalk." or that the sentence is "off-topic." Look at the following paragraph. the Soyuz project. supporting sentences. Does it have perfect unity? Try to find the sentence that is off-topic: Each of the Russian manned space exploration projects had specific major goals.

with three cosmonauts." That is. Leonov's spacewalk was followed by that of U. That is.S. One Voshkhod cosmonaut experimented with weightlessness by taking a "spacewalk. In order to improve the paragraph. Finally. For another example. he floated in a spacesuit outside his Voshkhod spacecraft. the Soyuz project. . Leonov's spacewalk was followed by that of U. Several weeks later. all the sentences are all telling the reader about ONE main topic. The sentence (Several weeks later. we should omit this sentence. it is an "off-topic" sentence. Paragraph unity Paragraph unity means that one paragraph is about ONLY ONE main topic. astronaut Ed White) does not have anything to do with the major goals of the various Russian space projects.S. Does it have perfect unity? Try to find the sentence that is off-topic: Each of the Russian manned space exploration projects had specific major goals. the Voshkhod project was intended to find out whether people could work in the weightless environment of space. That is. even though it is historically accurate.  Look at the following paragraph. The cosmonaut to do this was Alexei Leonov. For example. had goals of testing spacecraft and spaceflight skills so that people could fly long missions in Earth orbit. the Vostok project was designed to test whether or not human beings could survive and function in outer space. which is similar to the paragraph that we have studied above. connected to it by a tether. astronaut Ed White.

crickets sang. something rustled in the leaves right outside the window. And light: At home he can read in bed by the glow of the streetlight. He lay in the dark listening. He heard his wife.  . He felt for the flashlight beside his bunk. if composed correctly. the paragraph will feature much more action than depiction. and the huge silence of the night seemed to come inside the camper. Something felt wrong. the nights are filled with the busy. He found where his pants were hanging and. It was the darkest dark he had ever seen. It was then he decided to pack up and move to a motel. Types of paragraphs: Narration Paragraph Narration paragraphs are most distinctively used in fiction. It was gone. consequently. Outside. sequential order and chronology. tree-frogs chirruped. something woke Charles Hanson up. And much too dark. Then. Wanda. whatever. At home in New Jersey. Across the distant forest floated two muffled hoots from a barred owl. hold her breath. You always have the comforting knowledge that other people are all around you. as he felt the pockets for a box of matches. As such. climax and resolution. too. she was awake.m. There are many descriptive elements included into the body of a narration paragraph but. comforting sounds of traffic. setting. stifling them. inches from his face. Example: Around 2 a. was outside in the darkness also breathed. they will contain all necessary components of action development: protagonist. It was too quiet. Writing a narration paragraph requires. obstacle. goal. Even starlight failed to penetrate the 80-foot canopy of trees the camper was parked beneath. It was too quiet.

this kind of a paragraph is used as a component of other types. Exposition Paragraph Often times. It can contain elements of comparison and contrast or cause and effect writing . The following words can help you to compare and contrast: Similarities Differences Is similar to Both Also Too As well On the other hand However But In contrast Differs from While Unlike . It’s created in order to clarify or explain a problem or a phenomenon. Writing exposition paragraphs requires strict focus on evidence and objective language.both facilitate accurate exposition of its subject-matter.

"Several times a month. hundreds of visitors suffer each year. . Not that there was anything wrong with the park: The hikers camped next to them loved the wild isolation of it. according to Florida park rangers. But it just wasn't the kind of place the couple from New Jersey had in mind when they decided to camp out on this trip through Florida. they might have stayed in a place thy loved. If they had known about the different kinds of parks in Florida." Those people picked the wrong kind of park to visit. "people get scared and leave the park in the middle of the night." ranger Rod Torres of O'Leno State Park said.The following words can help you express cause and effect: Cause Because Since As a result of Is due to Effect Therefore Thus Consequently Hence It follows that If… then  Example: This family was a victim of a problem they could have avoided-a problem that.

and. forests. a park is a place to go for outdoor recreation-to swim. To make things more complicated. or property. play tennis. "is defined as" Example: A pest is defined as any animal or plant that damages crops. forests.      . To write a definition paragraph. not all of them are called "parks." and even the ones called "parks" come in several varieties. ranging from acres of RVs ringed around recreation halls. 2. Definition Paragraph Definition paragraphs are used in order to explain the meaning. in some places take rides in miniature trains or swish down a waterslide. walk the dog. "is a kind of" Example: A pest is a kind of animal or plant that damages crops. Florida has a rich variety of parks. origin and function of things. because there are so many kinds of parks. hike. writers should concentrate on the role of its subject in the context of the whole essay and list comparisons as well as examples accordingly. The following words can help you to write a good definition paragraph: 1. paddle your canoe. picnic. Basically. to impenetrable mangrove wilderness. or property. camp. Example: "Park" is difficult to define in Florida. They are used both in academic writing and in fiction.

linguistic (using vocabulary to show contrast). Classification Paragraph Writing a classification paragraph takes a slightly varied approach. It should rely on both defining and comparing. Classification can be performed on multiple levels – semantic (comparing different meanings of things). The following words can help you to write a good classification paragraph: Is a kind of Is a part of Can be divided into Is a type of Belongs to Falls under Fits into Is grouped with Is related to Is associated with . Writers should classify the subject of the paragraph in a specific context providing comparisons to corresponding ideas. and more.

O'Leno is the park to visit. Lloyd Beach is the place to go. At night. But if you want to stand at the edge of civilization and look across time into an older natural world. jam boxes. Lloyd Beach State Recreation Area. Lloyd Beach is busy with fishermen till well past midnight. By contrast. umbrellas. you have to be careful to step over the picnic baskets. You can walk a few yards in O'Leno and pass beyond every sign of human civilization. Where O'Leno gives you so much quiet you can hear the leaves whispering. . and browning bodies. When you walk at Lloyd Beach. is dominated by the oily bodies of sunworshippers who crowd into it every summer weekend. O'Leno wraps itself with the silence of crickets and owls. near Fort Lauderdale. If you want to fish near town. Lloyd Beach is a place of boisterous activity. or dive into the busy bustle of an urban beach. Classification Paragraph Example: Forest and river dominate O'Leno State Park.

Writers should assume the role of readers whose idea of the described events is. rather than sensations (adverbs and adjectives). and render the represented reality chronologically. constructed by the paragraph content. clear. The following words can help you to write a good description paragraph: Properties Size Color measurement Length Width Analogy Is like Resembles Location In/on/at Below / under Shape purpose Mass/weight Speed Above / over North/south /east/west . Description Paragraph Preferably. in entirety. description paragraphs should concentrate on action (verbs). Description paragraphs should be detailed.

After appearing intermittently in scattered sinkholes. walls of dense river swamp rise before you. you find 65 campsites. . In the midst of this lovely setting. tree-lined pool. expanses of longleaf pinelands stretch across rolling hills. Farther from the river. sudden sinkholes open in the woodlands-rich with cool ferns and mosses. shaded woods of a beautiful hardwood forest. A diving platform marks a good place to swim in the soft. the river rises three miles downstream in a big boil. and a pavilion for group meetings. Description Paragraph Example: O'Leno is a good example of a state park in Florida. 18 rustic cabins. then continues on to meet the Suwannee and the sea. Surrounded by the tall. stands of cypress mirror themselves in the still waters. the Santa Fe River disappears in a large. slowly swirling. and canoeing up this dark river is like traveling backwards in time in the direction of original Florida. cool waters of the Santa Fe. Nearby.

at last. non-descriptive vocabulary. Order First. Before. It should be written in chronological order which accounts for subsequent actions. Process Analysis Paragraph It usually takes the form of a how-to paragraph which guides readers through a process or action to be performed. In the beginning. It’s very concise and uses formal. finally. then. The following words can help you to write a good process analysis paragraph. subsequently Time Recently Previously When After . next Finally. second.

. lift one of the poles.Finally. pull its guyrope tight and peg the guyrope down. though it is easier with two. Here's how: . Process analysis paragraph Example: When you find the park you are looking for. . Prop up the awning with the two remaining poles and secure them with guyropes.Next. .Lift the pole on the opposite side of the tent in the same way. snAP Test. so that the pole is held up by the guyrope and the pegs on opposing sides of the tent bottom. .Place a pole near each of the pegs. yet almost impossible with three or more. and anything that might pierce the bottom of the tent. . Now you are ready to move in. To form an awning. unroll the front flAP Test. you will need to make camp.After you have all four poles in place. .First.Assemble the two remaining tent poles in a similar manner. Thread each pole through the two loops leading toward the top of the tent. While holding the pole up. but this time. . clear a 9 by 9 foot area of snags. Unfold the tent so that the corners of the waterproof bottom form a square. limbs. fit it into the upper end of the standing pole before securing its guywire. Together all four external tent-poles (they are held together by shock cords to ake sure you get the pieces matched up). Peg down the corners of the bottom. One person can set up the FamilyProof Tent.

They should be devoid of descriptive content and. plan ahead. and what they are like. instead. The following words can help you to write a good persuasive paragraph: Point of view In my opinion I think that I consider Personal opinion Like/dislike feel hope I believe  Example: Before you go camping in Florida. Persuasion Paragraph Persuasion paragraphs require exhortatory and dynamic language. They are aimed at persuading others into taking a particular action or adopting certain point of view. Get good information on what to expect. This can make all the difference in the quality of your vacation. and what your options are. Find out what parks are available. and don't wind up on a concrete RV pad when you really want the forest primeval. rely on the imperative mode. Don't wind up in the wilds when you want to be near Disney World. .

4. . Find the main idea of your paragraph or essay. Think carefully about what you are going to write.  6. How to write a paragraph Prewriting Steps 1. Open your notebook. Ask yourself: What question am I going to answer in this paragraph or essay? How can I best answer this question? 2. Choose the most important point you are going to present. Look for and write down facts that will help you to answer your question. 3. Ask yourself: What else do I want to say about this topic? Why should people be interested in this topic? 5. Collect facts related to your paragraph or essay topic. Write down your own ideas. Organize your facts and ideas in a way that develops your main idea. Write out your answers to the above questions.

Check your grammar. Focus on the main idea of your paragraph. Write the topic sentence. 5. Write clear and simple sentences to express your meaning. 4. Style and organization 1. 7. Read your essay again. 6. . 4. 3. 3. Check that all your sentences focus on the main idea. Make sure your paragraph has a topic sentence. 2. See if your subjects and verbs agree with each other. 2. Check the verb tenses of each sentence. Make sure that each sentence makes sense. Make sure each sentence has a subject. See if your paragraph is interesting.Open word processor. 4. Check your spelling. Make sure you have a closing sentence.  Editing Paragraphs Grammar and spelling 1. 3. 2. and closing sentence. 5. Writing Steps 1. Make sure your supporting sentences focus on the main idea. supporting sentences.

Make a paper copy of your paragraph. or classmates. Ask them for hints on how to improve your writing. . 2. Publishing Three Steps: 1. 3. Show your work to your teacher. tutor.

suite101.actden.cfm/seven_types_of_p aragraphs http://www2.ed.ed.html Seven types of paragraphs: different body essay kinds http://academicwriting.com/writ_den/tips/paragrap/index.html http://lrs.REFERENCES Basic paragraph structure and coherence and unity http://lrs.edu/students/fwalters/para.uiuc.actden.com/writ_den/tips/paragrap/index.uiuc.htm How to write paragraphs http://www2.edu/students/fwalters/para.htm .com/article.

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