Paragraph Structure

1 January 2017

Good paragraph construction depends mainly on a) thinking through each idea so that you develop it logically and clearly, and b) then guiding the reader through your thought processes by using appropriate joining expressions. This means making the sentences fit together properly. Most paragraphs are composed of three parts. I. Introduction: gives background information or provides a transition; should include the topic sentence (expresses the main idea to be developed within the paragraph)

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Look at the topic sentences below and discuss what kinds of information you would expect to follow. 1) The government of the United States of America consists of three main branches. 2) The world-wide increase in road transport is a serious threat to the natural environment. 3) Deforestation has a direct effect on food supplies. 4) There is a mistaken idea that, because of pocket calculators, children no longer need to learn how to do basic arithmetic.  A topic sentence should be neither too general nor too specific.

If it is too general, the reader cannot tell exactly what the paragraph is going to discuss. If it is too specific, the writer may not have anything left to write about in the rest of the paragraph. Examples: – American food is terrible (too general) – American food is tasteless and greasy because Americans use too many canned, frozen, and prepackaged foods and because everything is fried in oil or butter (too specific) – American food is tasteless and greasy (good) 2.

Do not include too many unrelated ideas in your topic sentence; if you do, your paragraph will not be unified. II. Body: follows the introduction; discusses the idea using facts, arguments, analysis, examples and other information The sentences within a paragraph need to be connected to each other in such a way that they form a unified whole.

In front of the tiny pupil of the eye they put, on Mount Palomar, a great monocle 200 inches in diameter, and with it see 2000 times farther into the depths of space. Or they look through a small pair of lenses arranged as a microscope into a drop of water or blood, and magnify by as much as 2000 diameters the living creatures there, many of which are among man’s most dangerous enemies. Or, if we want to see distant happenings on earth, they use some of the previously wasted electromagnetic waves to carry television images which they re-create as light by whipping tiny crystals on a screen with electrons in a vacuum.

Or they can bring happenings of long ago and far away as colored motion pictures, by arranging silver atoms and color-absorbing molecules to force light waves into the patterns of original reality. Or if we want to see into the center of a steel casting or the chest of an injured child, they send the information on a beam of penetrating short-wave X rays, and then convert it back into images we can see on a screen or photograph.

Put the sentences below in correct order to make a paragraph. a. Later on, people began to write on pieces of leather, which were rolled into scrolls. b. In the earliest times, people carved or painted messages on rocks. c. In the Middle Ages, heavy paper called parchment was used for writing; books were laboriously copied by hand. d. With the invention of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century, the modern printing industry was born. e. Some form of written communication has been used throughout the centuries. . For one thing, individual I. Q. scores vary considerably.

Many experts also question whether I. Q. Scores are related to intelligence. 3. Furthermore, most psychologists agree that intelligence tests are biased in favour of middle-class children. 4. The validity of standardized intelligence tests is being seriously questioned by educators and psychologists. 5. In fact, motivation seems to be just as important as intelligence in determining a person’s ability to learn. The two following paragraphs have been taken from a draft of students’ essays.

Each is concerned with whether or not the arts (theatre, painting, etc. should be subsidised. 3. Somchart’s paragraph When it comes to the arts, there is a clear case for subsidy. The arts have nothing to do with making money. They exist in order to express certain essential truths about human beings by means of new kinds of poetry, music, painting and so on. However, these new kinds of art may not be popular, and thus there may be little support by the general public for them, and so artists cannot rely on selling their work to provide them with an income.

In fact, history shows that many artists have not been properly appreciated while they were alive. For example, Mozart, whose works are so popular nowadays, lived close to poverty for most of his life. 4. Alphonse’s paragraph There are no grounds for subsidising the arts. The arts are not like food, education or health, which are part of the basic necessities of life, and which should therefore be subsidised if necessary. On the contrary, most of us live our lives quite happily without paying any attention to the arts.

They appeal only to a small minority and are a luxury, rather than an essential. Furthermore, those who value the arts can usually afford to pay the costs involved. The large corporations that buy the paintings of artists such as Van Gogh for millions of dollars are a case in point. The sentences within a paragraph need to be connected to each other. Look at both paragraphs and identify the words and phrases these two students use to connect their sentences together. Compare your solution with other students.

How successful do you feel each student was in “knitting” their ideas together? Each paragraph usually ends with a sentence that paraphrases the main idea of the paragraph. This sentence also often leads the reader on to the next paragraph. Look at the six sentences that follow. Which do you feel would best complete Somchart’s and Alphonse’s paragraphs? i. In order to ensure their survival, thus, it is essential for the arts to be subsidised. ii. Companies which are capable of making such large payments should do much more to sponsor the arts. iii.

If he had been subsidised, Mozart would not have been so poor. iv. In addition, if the arts are subsidised, then they are also likely to be controlled by the government. v. Only essentials which cannot otherwise be paid for should be subsidised, and the arts should therefore be left to pay their own way. vi. When the arts have to make money, they are no longer fulfilling their true purpose, but instead become a branch of commerce. Take one of the sentences in the exercise above and write a paragraph which conforms to the criteria for a good paragraph.

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