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Clear Instructions as to How to Write Paragraphs

Paragraphs are made up of a number of sentences that express one key idea. A paragraph can either stand alone or be a section of a larger entity e.g. an essay. Paragraphs start with a topic sentence, which is just one sentence used to introduce a paragraph’s topic. A topic sentence can be likened to a mini thesis sentence/statement. The writer should make a claim or assertion of some type in a topic sentence. Topic sentences are the unifying element within a paragraph. Any claim made in a topic sentence has to be described, expanded upon or somehow proved in the remainder of the paragraph. In paragraphs the main point is further developed by every sentence that follows the topic one. A paragraph should be focused on a single idea and devoid of information that is irrelevant. Each individual sentence should contribute to the overall paragraph by explaining the topic sentence and providing examples supporting it. To decide if a paragraph is well constructed, the writer should ask themselves what key idea or point they are trying to make in the topic sentence is. Then they should determine whether each sentence relates to that idea and supports it.

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A new paragraph indicates to readers that the writer is introducing a new idea or point.

Developing a paragraph: Any sentences that follow the topic sentence have to develop the main idea. Do not forget that every sentence should relate to the topic and not digress into another subject matter.

A paragraph’s last (concluding) sentence: When writing paragraphs, a concluding sentence is very important and generally reiterates the point or idea set forth in the opening (topic) sentence.

The structure of a paragraph: In most essays, paragraphs are structured or made up of three parts, which are

  1. an introduction,
  2. a body
  3. a conclusion.

This structure applies to any type of essay e.g., an analysis, compare and contrast, descriptive or narrative essay. Each structural part in a paragraph has a crucial role in terms of how the meaning is communicated to readers.

  • The introduction. This is the first part of the paragraph and contains the topic sentence and any additional sentences that have transitional words or phrases and convey any relevant background information.
  • The body. This section comes after the introduction and expands on the main idea with analysis, arguments, examples, factual information and any other relevant data.
  • The conclusion: This is the last part of a paragraph and it sums up any information that connects the main idea in the topic sentence to the supporting information provided in the body of the paragraph.

Creating Coherence

Every sentence in a paragraph should be clearly connected with the main idea or topic sentence. Additionally, each one should flow seamlessly into the following one without noticeable disruption. A coherent paragraph also emphasizes the links between old and new data or information. Cohesion also guarantees that arguments and/or ideas are structured clearly what gives readers a proper understanding of what the paragraph is about. (The coherence in a paragraph can also depend on the length. If, for example, a paragraph is long i.e. a double-spaced page, it should be carefully checked to determine whether a fresh paragraph is required in case it strays from the main idea. Similarly, the main idea in a short paragraph may need additional development or it may need to be merged with some other paragraph).

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Other Coherence-Building Techniques:

Repetition of key phrases/words: This is especially the case with the paragraphs where an important theory or idea is put forward – refer to these in a consistent manner. Repetition and consistency can have a binding effect and help readers understand any descriptions and definitions. Creation of parallel structures: These occur or can be created by building two sentences or phrases (or more than two) with the same parts of speech or grammar structure. The role of parallel structures is to make sentences more legible. Additionally, a similar pattern in a series of sentences can make the link between points/ideas clearer for the reader. Addition of transitional phrases or words between paragraphs and sentences: It helps link ideas and enable readers to follow the writer’s train of thought and/or see links that otherwise they could misunderstand or miss entirely.

Useful Transitional Words/Phrases

To add something:

Also, and, additionally, in addition, again, too, besides, firstly (secondly, thirdly, etc.), just as importantly, next, furthermore, further, moreover.

To provide examples:

For instance, for example, specifically, in fact, to illustrate, that is.

For comparison:

Similarly, in a similar manner to, likewise, also.

For contrasting:

At the same time, and yet, though, even though, although, however, in spite of, despite, nonetheless, still, by contrast, yet, on the other hand, contrary to.

In conclusion or for summary purposes:

All in all, in conclusion, in other words, in short, in summary, on the whole, that is, therefore, to sum up

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Showing time:

as long as, as, afterwards, after, at last, as soon as, before, earlier, during, formerly, finally, meantime/meanwhile, later, immediately, since, subsequently, shortly, while, when, next, until, thereafter.

To demonstrate direction or place:

above, nearby, close by, beyond, below, here, opposite, further on, elsewhere, to the right (left, north, south, east, west).

Logical relationship indicators:

as a result of, accordingly, because, thus, therefore, hence, since, for this reason, consequently, otherwise, then, if, so.

The above are only guidelines rather than rigid rules. As your writing experience grows, you will know when it is acceptable to digress or stick to guidelines.


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