A paragraph is a unit of written discourse (may be spoken discourse also). It may be self-contained i.e. complete in itself or may be used as part of a longer discourse such as an essay or other assignments.
The main idea of a the well-written paragraph is usually expressed in one sentence. This is called the topic sentence. Then the idea is developed sentence by sentence. It is usually made up of a number of logically connected sentences written on one single topic.
Each sentence of a paragraph should be closely related to the topic, and the paragraph should have a good structure with a beginning, middle and end.
What are the characteristics of a paragraph?
An effective paragraph, according to Donald et al (1978) should have 3 major Characteristics.
It develops one idea only, called the controlling idea or thesis statement. It should have sufficient details to support the controlling idea. It should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, that is, it requires a topic sentence, a body to develop the topic sentence and a conclusion.
The beginning or topic sentence introduces the topic or the subject of the paragraph. The middle or body develops and provides support to the topic or thesis statement. The conclusion or end sums up and reaches a conclusion about the topic/subject.
A paragraph is a group of sentences about one topic. There are three parts of a paragraph. Their position is sequential. These are:
- The Introduction
- The Middle
- The Conclusion
Introduction/Topic Sentence: The introduction of a paragraph contains an introductory sentence. It is called a topic sentence. Generally a paragraph begins with it. The topic sentence introduces your topic.
How to write topic sentence
- State the topic clearly so that the reader can understand what you are going to write about.
- Your topic sentence should be attractive.
A good topic sentence introduces the topic to be developed in a paragraph. It controls or limits the focus of the paragraph, and once the focus is mentioned, there is no scope to go outside it. Anything outside its scope will be redundant or unnecessary.
On the other hand, if the paragraph does not sufficiently support the topic statement that proves another weakness of a paragraph.
Remember that although the topic sentence usually comes at the beginning of a paragraph, it may sometimes come at the end or even in the middle of the paragraph. Sometimes the main idea of a paragraph can be so obvious that it need not be stated explicitly.
The middle: The middle of a paragraph contains supporting Ideas. Here you narrate, explain and thus support what you said in the introduction. It should contain the details of your description.
To write the middle:
1. Narrate everything you want to write about your topic.
2. If needed, classify your ideas.
3. Put them clearly one after another and make a link between them.
The conclusion: It is the last part of your paragraph. Here you make a final say about your topic. To write a conclusion - avoid repetition and sum up your ideas.