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Understanding Paragraphs and Topic Sentences

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					Understanding Paragraphs
  and Topic Sentences




 Worth Weller
The Paragraph…
           • Stephen
             King
             maintains
             that the
             paragraph
             is the basic
             unit of
             writing
The Paragraph…
     • “I would argue that the
       paragraph, not the
       sentence, is the basic
       unit of writing—
     • the place where
       coherence begins and
       words stand a chance
       of becoming more than
       mere words.”
What is a paragraph?
• A
  paragraph
  is a
  collection
  of related
  sentences
  dealing
  with a
  single
  topic.
       Effective paragraphs
• To be as effective as possible, a
  paragraph should contain each of the
  following:
• Unity
• a Topic Sentence,
• and Adequate Development.
                    Unity
• The entire paragraph
  should concern itself
  with a single focus.
• If it begins with one
  focus or major point
  of discussion, it
  should not end with
  another or wander         http://www.greenville.k12.sc.us/taylorse



  within different ideas.
         The Topic Sentence
• A topic sentence is a
  sentence that indicates
  in a general way what
  idea or thesis the
  paragraph is going to
  deal with.
• It comes at the
  beginning of the
  paragraph.
                            coe.jmu.edu/learningtoolbox/ibc.html
        The Topic Sentence…
•   Needs to be:
•   Clear
•   Specific
•   Well focused

                   http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/oaa/act/ACTtransformreasons.htm
                  Formula
• A topic sentence = a   • Example:
  limited topic + a      • The fear that
  specific feeling or      Americans feel
  thought or assertion     (limited topic) comes
  about that topic         partly from the
                           uncertainty related
                           to this attack (a
                           specific thought about
                           the topic)
      Paragraph Development
• Use examples and
  illustrations
• Cite data (facts,
  statistics, evidence,
  details)
                                http://www.greenville.k12.sc.us/taylorse

• Examine testimony
  (what other people      • Use an anecdote or
  say such as quotes        story
  and paraphrases)        • Define terms in the
                            paragraph
    Paragraph Development
                                             • Compare and
                                               contrast…
                                             • or evaluate causes and
                                               reasons…
                                             • or examine effects and
                                               consequences…
                                             • or analyze the topic…
www.emporia.edu/writinglab/paragraphs.html
                                             • or describe the topic..
                                             • or offer a chronology of
                                               an event.
  Maintaining Your Own Voice
• Make sure all the      • Use your sources
  topic sentences are      ONLY to support your
  your own words and       points (not to make
  your own thoughts        them)
• Do NOT quote your      • Make sure all
  sources to make your     paragraphs begin with
  points                   your own words,
                           thoughts and feelings
                    Summary
• Put only one main idea      • Develop each topic
  per paragraph.                thoroughly, with
• Aim for three to five         transitional elements and
  sentences per paragraph.      a sentence that “rounds
• Make sure each                off” the paragraph.
  paragraph starts with the   • Include on each page
  point you want to make in
  that paragraph (the topic     about three paragraphs.
  sentence)                   • Look at your paper to
                                check for “balanced”
                                paragraphs

				
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posted:9/21/2011
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