Writing a Paragraph

A paragraph is a group of sentences dealing with one topic. The first line of the paragraph is usually indented to show that it is the beginning of a new paragraph. The paragraph should have three components: a topic sentence to indicate the subject that will be developed, sufficient evidence to prove the topic sentence, and a concluding sentence.

There are three kinds of paragraphs.

  • Expository
  • Narrative
  • Descriptive

Expository paragraph

An expository paragraph is one in which the writer develops his topic sentence. A topic sentence is the point that the writer wants to make in his paragraph. For example, the writer’s topic sentence could be All Canadian citizens should exercise their right to vote in a federal election. In this case, the paragraph must present evidence to show why all Canadian citizens should exercise their right to vote.

The paragraph structure should be (1) topic sentence (thesis statement), (2) evidence (details, statistics, definitions, comparison or contrast, quotes, examples, or a combination), and (3) concluding sentence. There should be sufficient evidence to prove the topic sentence, so the length of the paragraph will depend on your topic sentence.

All Canadian citizens should exercise their right to vote in a federal election. Unless they cast their ballots, they cannot complain about the policies of the elected government. Quite often the vocal minority, not the silent majority, will decide which political party wins an election. Seats can be won or lost on a single vote, so every vote counts. Unfortunately, the voter turnout is declining each year since 1988, when 75 percent of eligible voters participated. In the last federal election in 2008, only 60 percent of the voters participated. In this situation the elected government does not necessarily represent the majority of Canadians. Unless all Canadian citizens exercise their right to vote, Canada could lose the democracy for which so many lives have been sacrificed on the battlefields of Europe.

Narrative paragraph

A narrative paragraph relates a sequence of events in the order in which they happened.

The youth knew he should not enter the abandoned house. He had been warned about the dangers of derelict houses, but he could not resist the temptation. Glancing around to make sure that no one was watching him, he slipped through the doorway. He climbed the darkened, creaky stairs and opened a door off the corridor. Inside, it took his eyes a while to adjust to the darkness. As the objects in the room came into focus, he felt a cold shiver run down his spine, his hair began to rise on his head and his heart beat wildly as he panicked and turned quickly to exit the room. Too late, he heard the door slam behind him.

Descriptive paragraph

A descriptive paragraph is one in which the writer describes something, such as a scene, a building, or a person. The writer will use vivid details to describe the thing or person that he saw, so that the reader will be able to recreate that image in his mind.

On the back of the old, worn corduroy love seat was flung a red plaid shirt, the kind worn by a lumberjack. To the left of this shirt were two opened boxes of crackers tilted on their side with crumbs scattered over the stained cushion. On the armrest lay a pair of Bermuda shorts to dry from the adjacent rusty hot water radiator. A crumpled army blanket doubled as a pillow during the day. On the laminate floor in front of a coffee table strewn with empty beer bottles were old pizza crusts, dirty socks in balls, and empty pizza boxes. This was truly a university student's room.

A paragraph must have unity and coherence to be effective.

Unity

For a paragraph to have unity, it must deal with only one topic. If, for example, the paragraph is dealing with capital punishment acting as a deterrent to crime, it should deal only with evidence to show how it will act as a deterrent.

Note the sentence which destroys the unity of the following paragraph.

Anyone can learn to put more punch into his paragraphs. This may be done by using descriptive phrases to create vividness for the reader. The model paragraph that the teacher read to the class had vivid description. Secondly, the writer could use a wide and varied range of transitional devices to make his paragraph coherent and to make his sentences flow smoothly together. The writer could also use various methods of development, such as supplying details and examples, to create emphasis. Finally, the writer should create unity throughout the paragraph by making his sentences relate to the topic sentence. By following these points the writer should be able to create an effective paragraph.

Coherence

A paragraph has coherence if all the sentences run together smoothly. That is, the idea in one sentence should be linked to the idea in the second sentence so that the ideas flow together.

There are a number of transitional devices you can use in a sentence to create coherence in a paragraph.

RelationshipTransitional word
Space Nearby, next to, here, around the corner, to the right
Contrast However, on the other hand, otherwise, whereas, but, although
Compare Similarly, in the same way
Addition Furthermore, also, in addition, moreover, likewise, too
Time Finally, meanwhile, suddenly, previously, afterward
Cause and effect Consequently, therefore, hence, because, as a result
Example For example, that is, for instance, to illustrate
Summary In conclusion, finally, consequently, in other words
Paragraph without connectives
Anyone can learn to put more punch into his paragraphs. This may be done by using descriptive phrases to create vividness for the reader. The writer could use a wide and varied range of transitional devices to make his paragraph coherent and to make his sentences flow smoothly together. The writer could use various methods of development, such as supplying details and examples, to create emphasis. The writer should create unity throughout the paragraph by making his sentences relate to the topic sentence. By following these points the writer should be able to create an effective paragraph.
Paragraph with connectives
Anyone can learn to put more punch into his paragraphs. This may be done by using descriptive phrases to create vividness for the reader. Secondly, the writer could use a wide and varied range of transitional devices to make his paragraph coherent and to make his sentences flow smoothly together. The writer could also use various methods of development, such as supplying details and examples, to create emphasis. Finally, the writer should create unity throughout the paragraph by making his sentences relate to the topic sentence. By following these points the writer should be able to create an effective paragraph.

Model paragraph analysis

Topic sentence Anyone can learn to put more punch into his paragraphs.
Evidence This may be done by using descriptive phrases to create vividness for the reader.
Secondly, the writer could use a wide and varied range of transitional devices to make his paragraph coherent and to make his sentences flow smoothly together.
The writer could also use various methods of development, such as supplying details and examples, to create emphasis.
Finally, the writer should create unity throughout the paragraph by making his sentences relate to the topic sentence.
Concluding sentence By following these points the writer should be able to create an effective paragraph.
Unity Paragraph deals with one idea only.
Transitional devices (words) used to create coherence This may be done…
Secondly, the writer could use…
The writer could also use…
Finally, the writer should…
By following these points…

Summary

  • Choose your key word(s) for your paragraph.
  • Write your topic sentence.
  • Decide the methods you will use to develop the paragraph.
  • Write your concluding sentence.
  • Check your paragraph for unity.
  • Check your paragraph for coherence.

Sentence variety in your paragraph

Your paragraph will be more effective if you use variety in your sentences.