Writing Skills: The Paragraph
Hi welcome again. I’m Adam today’s lesson is about the paragraph it’s a writing lesson and I want to show people what a paragraph is and how to construct one what to do what not to do so you can write very clear very tight paragraphs this is especially important for IELTS TOEFL SAT students but everybody has to follow the exact same rules.
Now before I even begin I must say that I’m talking mostly about academic writing or even business writing creative writing like novels or short stories anything fiction you can do anything you want only always remember somebody has to read what you wrote so it has to be clear but academic essays for example certain rules you have to follow you have to be very careful about them so let’s begin in terms of like the actual way a paragraph looks you have to indent or skip a line so let me just make sure you understand what an indent is this is an indent the first line a little bit pushed in or you can make sure you skip a line between paragraphs but don’t do both if you skip a line don’t indent . That’s the main thing now that’s in terms of the way it looks in terms of content and this is I can’t stress this enough very important one central idea in one paragraph.
I’ve seen many people I’ve seen many essays where you start a paragraph talking about one thing and then you go off on a tangent to talk about something completely unrelated so for example if you start a paragraph and you’re talking about apples continue to talk about apples if you go to oranges that’s maybe because you’re still talking about fruit but if you start with apples go to oranges go to bananas and then end up with monkeys in space there’s a bit of a problem the reader has no idea what you’re talking about one paragraph one central idea now make sure that you tell the reader what this central idea is this is your thesis statement.
It’s a very general sentence all it does is introduce the topic of the paragraph nothing else all the details come after so speaking of details we’ll talk about details in detail but all other ideas all the other sentences all your sentences with the details must directly relate back to the main idea so let’s say here is your thesis statement very general every sentence after must relate back to that thesis statement you can’t go off to another idea everything must support this must talk about the same topic very important how long should your paragraph be technically a paragraph could be one sentence but in an academic essay that rarely happens but it could be any length you want as long as you’re still on that one topic as long as you still have things to write and things to say about that topic say it if you have four sentences fine if you have ten sentences also again for IELTS TOEFL SAT students for five sentences should be your limit you can’t be too long because you don’t have time and you’re going to start from making mistakes.
So now the details very important to have lots of details why is this topic important to your overall idea of your essay not only tell me what is the topic what is the thesis statement of the paragraph make sure you explain to me why this is important to the general idea of the essay give me reasons now why is it important and then reasons why you think what you’re saying supports this idea examples always use examples because give me the reasons is examples make me see exactly what you’re trying to say very easy for me to understand what you’re trying to now in terms of flow in terms of the way the reader can approach the paragraph you have to have bridges what is what it bridges mean basically when you have one idea in this sentence you must connect it to the next sentence you must connect it to the next sentence every sentence must have a link to the next sentence this creates flow makes it much easier to read and understand and it keeps you on the one topic now key terms if you’re talking about something specific and you have to use a key term use it as many times as you need to otherwise avoid repetition try not to use the same word more than once in one paragraph for example if you’re using the word moreover in the paragraph don’t use in it don’t use moreover again use in addition to use furthermore another etc.
Try to avoid using one word more than once especially in the same paragraph but sometimes you’ll get word like for example you’re writing an essay about parents not many words you can replace for parents so if you have say parents so be it do that once in a while mom and dad mother and father but you don’t have like mother and father three words parents one word shorter is better so keep that in mind at the end of your paragraph when you’re coming to the end if this is part of your body means there’s another paragraph coming leave me some sort of bridge to the next paragraph or if you can’t do that then just conclude the paragraph make sure it’s a very clear statement that this idea is finished I’m done talking about this idea and then start your next paragraph with some bridge to the previous one so one paragraph connects to the next paragraph same idea with flow sentence connects to sentence paragraph connects to paragraphs now of course the easiest way to understand all this is to look at an actual paragraph and see all these points in it.
So let’s do that don’t be scared this is a paragraph first before we do anything let me read it to you so in case you can’t see it clearly great changes require a powerful hand to guide them and push them forward governments have the power and influence of the law to support them moreover they have access to means with which to enforce the law and punish offenders individuals and corporations that pollute our air and waters will not stop doing so as long as they can profit from this action and do not fear consequences a steel producer for instance will not cease dumping waste in a nearby river if it does not affect its bottom line taxing this company on the other hand might make it change its ways its way of doing business yet it is this very question of costs that limits anyone but the government to act against pollution here’s my paragraph first of all let me back up a little bit my essay what is my essay about general topic pollution what is the question who is responsible to fix it I say government is responsible to fix it I suggested three reasons in my introduction power cost credibility this is my first body paragraph I listed three reasons power cost credibility.
My first paragraph will also be my first reason mentioned I mentioned power in my introduction I will talk about power in my first paragraph so first of all I have my indent I prefer indent some people prefer spacing but to be honest figure out what style guide your professor or your company or whoever is asking you to use there is MLA APA Chicago Manual of style each of them will tell you how to do this to indent or to leave a line etc capitalization style guides are actually very good source of learning English very boring books but very useful books oh sorry let me just mention also owl oh WL at Purdue is a very good website lots of information to help you with writing so I have my indent now great changes require a powerful hand to guide them and push them forward have I said anything here no all I did was talk about change because that’s what my general topic of the essay is and power.
Because that’s my first focus I’m going to talk about the power very very general governments have the power and influence of the law so now here we go ahead with let go powerful and I’m still talking about power I’m connecting the two sentences next I introduce a new idea the law much more specific where does their power come from it comes from the law influence of the law to support them moreover now I’m not going to a new idea I’m adding to this idea that I just mentioned they have access to means means ways of doing things with wheat with which to enforce the law so here again another idea in force means put into effect make sure that it actually happens enforce the law and punish offenders so they have the power of the law with this power they can enforce and punish everything I’m connecting everything to everything offenders.
Now here I’m talking about offenders individuals and corporations that pollute these are the offenders so one senators flows into the next sentence into the next sentence pollute our air and waters will not stop doing so as long as they can profit so here’s the my next idea they will not stop polluting because we’re still talking about pollution they will not as long as they can profit as long as they’re making money why do people pollute because it pays to pollute action and do not fear consequences so they don’t fear punishment and the law doesn’t scare the and again we’re still talking about pollution a steel producer for instance I’m introducing an example if you can introduce a real example like a the name of the steel company even better but I don’t want to offend anyone I’m keeping it a little bit more general the steel producer will not cease now before Oh here’s the word stump I don’t want to use the word stop again why because I have other words I have the word cease cease means stop vocabulary variety very important well not cease dumping means throwing in or throwing away waste in a nearby river waste pollution I’m still on the same topic if it does not affect its bottom line now I’m not sure if everybody knows what bottom line is but bottom line basically means profit I’m still connecting the ideas using different words taxing this company so taxing is a form of punishment for companies especially taxing this company on the other hand so now I’m giving the other side of the situation might make it change its way of doing business again what is business.
Business is all about making money costs yet it is this very question of costs and I’m connecting it works right to business that limits anyone but the government to act against pollution I bring it right back to government acting against pollution this is my overall thesis governments must act to stop pollution right so remember the paragraph everything must connect to itself but the paragraph must connect to the essay to the whole idea now what else did I do here I introduced the topic of costs what is my next paragraph going to be remember I had three reasons for thinking government must act power cost credibility my next paragraph is cost I’ve already introduced this idea of Korea started the bridge in the next paragraph I will end the bridge get into my new topic costs and power are two different ideas one paragraph power one paragraph cost one paragraph credibility and then of course your conclusion. So you have all these things everything connects sentence variety make sure that you’re sticking to one topic make sure you’re preparing the reader for the next topic and make sure that everything connects to the overall idea of the essay.