The Paragraph

Except for specialized paragraphs like introductions and conclusions, paragraphs are clusters of information supporting the essay's main point or advancing the action of the story. Aim for paragraphs that are clearly focused, unified, well developed, organized, and coherent. A paragraph should be organized around a main point. The point should be clear to the reader, and all sentences in the paragraph should relate to it.

A topic sentence, a one-sentence summary of the paragraph's main point, acts as a signpost pointing in two directions: backward toward the thesis of the essay and forward toward the body of the paragraph" (Rules for Writers 39).


Paragraphs Across the Grade Levels

English I
Students will be able to construct a multi-paragraph paper, with three body paragraphs. Each paragraph will contain a clear topic sentence and one dominant idea.

English II
Students will be able to construct a five paragraph, thesis-based essay, containing three body paragraphs. Each paragraph will contain a clear topic sentence and one dominant idea that supports the thesis statement.

English III
Students will be able to construct a multi-paragraph (5+), thesis-based essay, containing at least three body paragraphs. Each paragraph will contain a clear topic sentence with one dominant idea divided into sub-topics that support the thesis statement.

English IV
Students will be able to construct a multi-paragraph (5+), thesis-based essay, containing at least three body paragraphs. Each paragraph will contain a clear topic sentence with one dominant idea divided by clear and sophisticated transitions into sub-topics that support the thesis statement.

Paragraph Types

Narrative paragraphs relate events in chronological order. In a first-person narrative, the writer is telling his own story, using first-person pronouns (I, me, my, mine, we, us, our). A third-person narrative is a story that the writer tells about another person or persons, using third-person pronouns (he, she, they, his, her, him, them).

Descriptive paragraphs attempt to paint a picture with words by appealing to the senses. Information is arranged in a logical order.

Explanatory paragraphs tell what, where, how, why. To support a topic sentence, this paragraph states or interprets facts, gives directions, or provides reasons.

Persuasive paragraphs express the writer's opinion and contain specific details and information to influence the reader to adopt an idea or take action.