Thornton Township High Schools District 205

Preparing all District 205 Students to be Competitive Leaders in our Global Society

 The Five Paragraph Essay

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     The five paragraph essay follows a defined format. The first paragraph introduces us to the thesis of the essay and directs us to the three main supporting subtopics. The second through fourth paragraphs are all similar in format. They individually restate the subtopics, and are developed by giving supporting information. The fifth and last paragraph restates the main thesis idea and reminds the reader of the three main supporting ideas that were developed. All of these paragraphs are important.

     The introductory paragraph is the place in which the writer introduces the reader to the topic. It is important to make this a clear and limited statement. This is where the writer grabs the reader's attention. Because of its purpose, it is often the first sentence of the paragraph. It is followed by three subtopics that develop the thesis. Between this paragraph and all paragraphs of the essay, there needs to be some kind of a transition word, phrase, or sentence.

     Next, the body of the essay contains paragraphs two through four. They are all similarly constructed. Their topic sentences are restatements, often in original form, of the three supporting ideas presented in the first paragraph. The subtopic of each of the body paragraphs is again supported by three or more supporting sentences. These cement, in the reader's mind, the relevancy and relationship of each of the subtopics to the thesis statement.

     Finally, the fifth paragraph is the summary paragraph. It is important to restate the thesis and three supporting ideas in an original and powerful manner as this is the last chance the writer has to convince the reader of the validity of the information presented. Because the purposes of the first and fifth paragraph are so similar that some writers construct them at the same time. They will edit them, as necessary, as they do with each and every part of the essay.

     It is important to reiterate that each of the paragraphs is joined together by a transition word, phrase or sentence. Transitions help the reader to follow the flow of the logic and sequencing. All of the essay types follow this basic transition format. However, there is more latitude with the narrative essay because of its nature.

     To put it more visually, the structure model has been color coded and looks like this:

Introductory Paragraph

General Topic Sentence

  1. Subtopic One
  2. Subtopic Two
  3. Subtopic Three
Transition
 
 

First Supporting Paragraph

Restate Subtopic One

  1. First Supporting Detail or Example
  2. Second Supporting Detail or Example
  3. Third Supporting Detail or Example
Transition
 
 

Second Supporting Paragraph

Restate Subtopic Two

  1. First Supporting Detail or Example
  2. Second Supporting Detail or Example
  3. Third Supporting Detail or Example
Transition
 
 

Third Supporting Paragraph

Restate Subtopic Three

  1. First Supporting Detail or Example
  2. Second Supporting Detail or Example
  3. Third Supporting Detail or Example
Transition
 
 

Closing or Summary Paragraph

Synthesis of main topic

  1. Synthesis of Subtopic One
  2. Synthesis of Subtopic Two
  3. Synthesis of Subtopic Three
 
 
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Expository Essay

      Expository essays require that the the writer give information, explain the topic or define something. To accomplish that, they are best developed by the use of facts and statistical information, cause and effect relationships, or examples. Since they are factual, they are written without emotion and usually written in the third person. That means that the use of the pronoun "I" is not usually found within the essay.

     Expository essays also have a distinct format.

  • The thesis statement must be defined and narrow enough to be supported within the essay.
  • Each supporting paragraph must have a distinct controlling topic and all other sentences must factually relate directly to it. The transition words or phrases are important as they help the reader follow along and reinforce the logic.
  • Finally, the conclusion paragraph should originally restate the thesis and the main supporting ideas. Finish with the a statement that reinforces your position in a meaningful and memorable way.
  • Never introduce new material in the conclusion.
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Persuasive Essay

     Persuasive writing attempts to convince the reader that the point of view or course of action recommended by the writer is valid. To accomplish this, the writer must develop a limited topic which is well defined and debatable, that is has more than one side. It is important that the author understand other sides of the position so that the strongest information to counter the others can be presented. In the essay, only one side of the issue is presented.

     Like all kinds of five paragraph essays, there is a specific format to be followed.

  • The topic sentence cannot be a fact as facts cannot be debated. It should be a statement of position. That position must be clear and direct. This statement directs the readers to follow along with your logic towards the specific stated conclusion that you want them to support. Do not make it personal so do not use personal pronouns. Make it definitive.
  • Then, in the same introductory paragraph, state the three best reasons that you have to support your position as the remainder of the opening paragraph. These reasons become the topics of each of the three supporting paragraphs. Again, be sure they are able to be supported with additional separate facts.
  • In the body of the essay, the writer uses specific evidence, examples, and statistics and not broad generalizations or personal opinions to persuade the reader that the stated position is a valid one. Each topic sentence for the support paragraphs have been introduced in the beginning paragraph. Each additional sentence must closely relate to the topic and the sentence that came before it. This way, the logic of the argument is easy to follow.
  • Be sure to use adequate transitions between paragraphs as they make it easy for the reader to follow the logic of the presentation.
  • As one closes the essay, it is most important to to clearly redefine the topic and restate the most compelling evidence cited in original form. Remember, this is the last chance to remind the reader and convince him/her to accept the writer's position.
  • Do not introduce new material in the conclusion.

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