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Body Paragraphs

Writing Paragraphs of Importance

2001 by Ruth Luman

References

Body Paragraphs
Purpose
The body paragraphs in your essay support the main idea in your thesis statement by breaking it down into smaller ideas or subtopics. Ideas in your paragraphs should relate back to the thesis statement.
Essay Introduction & Thesis Statement Body Paragraph 1 _____________ Body Paragraph 2 _____________ Body Paragraph 3 _____________ Body Paragraph 4 _____________ Body Paragraph 5 _____________

Body Paragraphs
Form
Most paragraphs contain between five to ten sentences. The first line of a paragraph is usually indented (begin a few spaces to the right of the margin) to show that there is a new paragraph.
indent ________________________ . ____________________. _____________________. _________________________. ____________________________. ____________________. ______________________. ______________________________.

Key Features
Body paragraphs should should contain some of the following features

A Topic Sentence Supporting Sentences A Concluding Sentence Unity

Topic Sentences
Definition
Every paragraph should have a topic sentence. This is the most important sentence because it expresses the main idea of the paragraph.

Example
Topic Sentence
Topic Sentence: states the main idea of the paragraph.

Body Paragraph

An important factor in learning a foreign language has to do with the concept of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. When we do something for the fun of it or because we enjoy it, that is called intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is when we do something for the purpose of receiving some kind of external reward such as money, time off from work, etc. Many education experts believe that intrinsic motivation is more powerful when it comes to helping students retain what theyve learned. The question and challenge for teachers today is, How can we help our students become intrinsically motivated in what we are teaching?

Topic Sentence Essentials


Complete Sentence

There are several things you need to remember when writing topic sentences. The first is that topic sentences are always complete sentences.

Example
Not a complete sentence

Strategies of learning English.

There are many strategies that you can use to help you learn a new language.

Example
Not a complete sentence

The Day of the Dead.

The Day of the Dead is a special holiday in Mexico when people can get together to remember deceased loved ones.

Topic Sentence Essentials


Two Parts
A topic sentence contains the topic of the paragraph and a controlling idea. The controlling idea limits the topic to something very specific.

Example
This sentence does not contain a controlling idea. This is not a good topic sentence, because it does not limit the topic to make it more specific.

Topic Sentence

Companies need to develop more efficient forms of energy.

Topic Sentence Companies should develop more efficient forms of energy such as solar heating panels.
Controlling Idea: limits the ideas in the paragraph and makes the sentence more specific.

Topic: names the main idea

Example #2
Topic and Controlling Idea
Topic: names the main idea or general subject of the paragraph

Topic Sentence One of the most serious problems in todays inner-city public schools is overcrowded classrooms.

Controlling Idea: makes a specific comment about the subject. Tells the reader what the paragraph will say about the main topic.

Example #2
Topic and Controlling Idea
Topic: names the main idea or general subject of the paragraph

Topic Sentence One of the most serious problems in todays inner-city public schools is the low percentage of trained teachers.

Controlling Idea: makes a specific comment about the subject. Tells the reader what the paragraph will say about the main topic.

Be Careful!
Make sure that your topic sentence does not contain too many controlling ideas.

Example
There are too many controlling ideas to be covered in one paragraph. A good topic sentence should be limited to one controlling idea.

Topic Sentence The advent of the Internet has benefited society through improved communication, access to information, and streamlined commerce.

Topic Sentence The advent of the Internet has benefited society through improved communication.
Most topic sentences contain only one controlling idea.

Supporting Sentences
Definition
Every paragraph has sentences that relate to the ideas in the topic sentence. These sentences are called supporting sentences. Look at the supporting sentences on the next page to see how the writer provided more information on the subject in the topic sentence.

Supporting Sentences
Topic Sentence An important factor in learning a foreign language has to do with the concept of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.


When we do something for the fun of it or because we enjoy it, that is called intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is when we do something for the purpose of receiving some kind of external reward such as money, time off from work, etc. Many education experts believe that intrinsic motivation is more powerful when it comes to helping students retain what theyve learned. Supporting Sentences

Concluding Sentence
Definition and Purpose
A concluding sentence is the last sentence in a paragraph. A conclusion can remind the reader of the main points of a paragraph and/or leave the reader with something to think about in relation to the topic. Look at the next page to see how the writer used a concluding sentence.

Concluding Sentence
Body Paragraph

An important factor in learning a foreign language has to do with the concept of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. When we do something for the fun of it or because we enjoy it, that is called intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is when we do something for the purpose of receiving some kind of external reward such as money, time off from work, etc. Many education experts believe that intrinsic motivation is more powerful when it comes to helping students retain what theyve learned. The question and challenge for teachers today is, How can we help our students become intrinsically motivated in what we are teaching?
This concluding sentence tries to leave a final thought with the reader by asking a question.

Concluding Sentence
Useful Expressions
It is sometimes helpful to have a concluding expression in your last sentence to signal the end of your paragraph. Some common expressions used in concluding sentences are listed below. As we can see, In summary, As a result, These examples show that Finally, Consequently,

Unity
Definition

Good paragraphs have unity. That means that each sentence in the paragraph is related to the topic sentence. Unified paragraphs also discuss only one main idea.

Find the sentences that are off topic or do not relate to the topic sentence. Topic
Sentence Body Paragraph

One of the recent status symbols for many American business people is the palm pilot. Palm pilots are small electronic devices that help people organize information such as dates for meetings, short notes, and addresses of contacts. Fax machines are also very popular among office workers. With palm pilots, a person can input information at any time and any place. Many business people also have cellular phones so that they can make phone calls from just about anywhere. When a person returns to the office from a business trip, he/she wont have to spend hours organizing notes or addresses, because the palm pilot already has that information. All that person has to do now is hook up the palm pilot to a personal computer, and voila! All the information from meetings is efficiently organized on the hard drive of the personal computer!
These sentences do not relate to the topic sentence in the paragraph. This paragraph does not have unity.

Practice Exercise
Now, you are ready to practice what youve learned. Click on the button below to go back to Unit C. Do the Interactive Exercise and print and complete the worksheet for Practice Exercise Two.

References


PowerPoint Presentation by Ruth Luman: Modesto Junior College.

This project incorporates portions of copyrighted works. These items are included under the fair use exemption of the U.S. Copyright Law and have been prepared according to the educational fair use guidelines. They are restricted from further use.