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Paragraph Form: Definition, Types & Examples

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Mary Firestone

Learn about the paragraph form and how to construct a paragraph. Find out how the paragraph form is similar to the essay form, then take a quiz to test your new skills.

We also recommend watching How to Structure Paragraphs in an Essay and Structuring Paragraphs and Sentences: Tips and Tricks

Definition

A paragraph is a brief piece of writing that's around seven to ten sentences long. It has a topic sentence and supporting sentences that all relate closely to the topic sentence. The paragraph form refers to its overall structure, which is a group of sentences focusing on a single topic.

What Goes In a Paragraph?

There are three main parts of a paragraph:

  • Topic sentence - it has the main idea
  • Supporting sentences - details that relate to and support the topic sentence
  • Concluding sentence - a brief reflection or statement about the main idea

The topic sentence is usually the first sentence, but it can appear at any point in the paragraph. The main thing is to be sure you have a topic sentence, because it gives your paragraph its focus, similar to a thesis statement in an essay.

Here's an example of an 8-sentence paragraph:

Weather in Wisconsin has been especially fierce lately. (topic sentence) 'Midwestern weather can be violent,' a local weather man said. (supporting sentence) 'We have to be prepared.'(supporting sentence) It all began this week on Tuesday afternoon, when the skies darkened and a tornado swept through the St. Croix River Valley. (supporting sentence) Wednesday evening another tornado dropped down on the suburbs of Milwaukee. (supporting sentence) Then on Thursday evening, River Falls experienced a torrential rain that flooded the streets. (supporting sentence) Green Bay also received five inches of rain in three hours. (supporting sentence) Many are wondering what Wisconsin city will be next. (concluding sentence)

Note that all the supporting sentences relate directly to weather in Wisconsin, which is the paragraph's main idea. The examples in the supporting sentences are recent and fierce, which further support the claim in the topic sentence. The concluding sentence shows how people are thinking about all of these weather events.

How to Create Your Own Paragraph

  • Begin with your main idea. You might have to spend some time narrowing your topic down first. For example, if your topic is social media, your main idea might end up being 'Facebook addiction.'
  • Next, do some brainstorming to form your supporting sentences. For example, your supporting details about Facebook addiction might begin with all the hours wasted online. How has Facebook had an impact on people you know? List the good and the bad for starters.
  • Form a topic sentence, and sketch out a few supporting sentences based on your brainstorming. As long as you remain focused on your topic sentence, you'll be on your way to creating a solid paragraph.
  • Write a conclusion that provides new insight, or one that transitions smoothly to the next paragraph if you're writing an essay.

Paragraph and Essay Forms

The 5-paragraph essay is a common assignment in freshman composition courses. It's made up of an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. Its form is similar to the paragraph form, with the introduction stating the thesis (like the topic sentence), the body paragraphs that add evidence to support the thesis (like the supporting sentences) and a concluding paragraph that reflects on the thesis and supports (like the concluding sentence).

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