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Free Grammar HelpParagraphs

After sentences, paragraphs are the next order of organization of communication. The paragraph is a collection of sentences conveying a complete meaning. Usually a paragraph is more than three or four sentences long. Frequently, in high school essays, paragraphs are expected to be 6 to 8 sentences long; however, in complex university and college essays or professional journal articles, a paragraph may take up most of a page. It depends on the depth and complexity of the logic rather than simply any formula.

The paragraph is the smallest division of the logic of an essay. It should always be possible to sum up a paragraph in a single sentence. This sentence would be very close to your topic sentence. A paragraph might be based on a single point in your outline. Each sentence in the paragraph should be tied to the topic sentence, which is the sentence telling the reader the main idea in the paragraph. Below is a chart with some discussion of the structure of a paragraph.

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Each paragraph must have a topic sentence. This is the sentence that ties the whole paragraph together. The topic sentence points the reader toward where you are going next. It also helps you, as the writer, to start thinking about what comes next.

Each of the examples provides an opportunity to write any number of sentences expounding on the main idea. When the topic sentence tells us that there are many reasons, then the rest of the paragraph should set out these ideas. When the topic sentence gives us a general statement, the rest of the paragraph should follow up with specific examples of what the topic sentence was talking about.

"There are many reasons to..."

"Snorkeling can expose you to a whole new world."

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in."

There are many reasons to pursue education on-line.

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Paragraph Transitions

A paragraph might begin with reference to the preceding paragraph. These are called paragraph transitions and are very important for clear writing.

"Another aspect of..."

A paragraph might start a whole new topic. But it's still good to use a transition that links back to the previous paragraph.

"Despite the (information in the preceding paragraph) several other aspects should be noted."

Paragraph Content

Paragraphs are often centred around a quote or some particular point in the work being discussed.

Confucius recognized that men were moved by their emotions. He said "I have yet to meet the man who is as fond of virtue as he is of beauty in women." (Analects, B9, 18) Here we see a sense of humor, as well as an awareness of human weakness.

Each of sentences in the body of the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

Confucius showed great insight into human behavior. He said "Being fond of courage while detesting great poverty will lead men to unruly behavior." (Analects, B8, 10) This statement could be said to predict the excesses of the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. In both cases, one of the main motivating factors was the poverty of the people of those countries. And in both cases, great violence, or unruly behavior occurred.

Paragraph Conclusions

Paragraphs should conclude with a sentence which closes the discussion. This either foreshadows (transitions to) the discussion to come in the next paragraph or completes the discussion in the current one.

The thoughts of Confucius are still relevant today.

Essentially a paragraph should consist of:

1 topic sentence

several body sentences

1 summary sentence

If you keep this in mind when writing, and especially proofreading, you will find your essays flow much better.