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The Structure of the Essay. (Explanation of Paragraphs, Introductory Hooks, Thesis Statements, Topic Sentences, Concluding Sentences, etc.). Paragraph Structure. A paragraph’s construction be similar to that of a whole essay. At its core a paragraph is a mini-essay.

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The structure of the essay

The Structure of the Essay

(Explanation of Paragraphs, Introductory Hooks, Thesis Statements, Topic Sentences, Concluding Sentences, etc.)

Paragraph structure
Paragraph Structure

  • A paragraph’s construction be similar to that of a whole essay.

    • At its core a paragraph is a mini-essay.

  • Our main focus when creating a paragraph is making a claim or making an argument about our specific topic.

  • In addition, we need to make sure that each paragraph contains only one idea.


Paragraph structure1

A paragraph should follow this structure outlined:

Sentence 1: Topic Sentence (Argument/ claim)

Sentence 2: Evidence to prove claim

Sentence 3&4: Explanation of evidence

Sentence 5: Concluding sentence

Paragraph Structure

1 the topic sentence
1. The Topic Sentence

  • A topic sentence should be a more specific version of your thesis statement.

  • It should make a claim that the paragraph will prove.

  • A strong topic sentence will contain:

    • Limited Subject: Must be specific enough to prove in one paragraph, yet significant enough to warrant proving.

    • Definite Attitude: Your feeling or impression that one has and wants to communicate or your argument concerning the subject

    • Specific direction: Explicit or implicit method of development to prove your attitude on the limited subject

1 the topic sentence1
1. The Topic Sentence

Identify the 3 criteria of these possible topic sentences.

My best friend has a subtle sense of humor.

Listening to records relaxes me.

Participating in the school musical consumes most of one’s after-school time.

1 the topic sentence2
1. The Topic Sentence

Complete these topic sentences by supplying a definite attitude in the form of an attitude word or phrase.

Travelling by bus requires…

Patience/ bravery.

The American teenager of today needs…

Living with the divorce of one’s parents is…

Working everyday after school can be…

1 the topic sentence3
1. The Topic Sentence

Complete the following topic sentences by supplying a limited subject.

____________ is an example of a life of dedicated service.

____________ was one of my most adventurous experiences.

____________ indicates the value of true friendship.

____________ makes me extremely nervous.

2 evidence
2. Evidence

  • Evidence can be any specific instance where the claim is demonstrated.

  • Evidence can be, but is not limited to:

    • Direct citations from a text

    • Paraphrase of a text or critic

    • Statistics

    • Small scene summary

3 4 explanation of evidence
3&4. Explanation of Evidence

  • This portion of your paragraph should clearly express HOW the evidence proves your claim.

  • Rule of thumb: For every sentence/line of evidence, you need twice as much explanation concerning how the evidence proves the claim.

5 concluding sentence
5. Concluding Sentence

  • Similar to the credits rolling after a movie, closing sentence should tell the reader that the paragraph is completed.

  • A strong topic sentence will contain:

    • Repeats subject

    • Repeats attitude

    • Gives completeness

    • Uses specific and colorful language

5 concluding sentence1
5. Concluding Sentence

Identify the 4 characteristics within the following examples of concluding sentences.

Since that accident, Sean has been a more cautious person.

Having completed the science project, Gail was able to breath a sigh of relief.

The impact of the automobile has clearly been revealed to our 20th century society.

5 concluding sentence2
5. Concluding Sentence

Try creating concluding sentences for the topic sentences we recently just created in our last activity.

Structure of the essay
Structure of the Essay

  • The essay is intended to work through the author’s thoughts on a subject to come to a conclusion on the topic.

  • The structure we will use is meant to best organize our thoughts logically.

  • No matter how long or short your essay/ paper becomes, it should maintain this basic structure.

Structure of the essay 1
Structure of the Essay (1)

Introductory Hook

Thesis Statement

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Restatement of Thesis

Bit of wit or area of further inquiry

The thesis statement
The Thesis Statement

  • A Thesis Statement should contain:

    • Limited Subject: Proper specificity for intended length of work

    • Definite Attitude: Arguable position on subject

    • Points of Development: Intended progression to validate claim

The thesis statement1
The Thesis Statement

Analyze the following thesis statements to determine the method or methods of development.

Just as the bud blossoms into the flower, the character of Henry Fleming in Red Badge of Courage develops and matures to the extent that he becomes a silent hero.

Student writing would be improved if more attention were paid to prewriting.

The thesis statement2
The Thesis Statement

Analyze the following thesis statements to determine the method or methods of development.

In Great Expectations, Pip grows from childhood to adulthood following the same stages we all do.

The liberal and conservative politicians are both needed for the development of a well-rounded political philosophy.

Structure of the essay 2
Structure of the Essay (2)


Thesis Statement

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Restatement of Thesis

Bit of wit or area of further inquiry

Introductory hooks
Introductory Hooks

Historical review


Surprising statement

Famous person



1 historical review
1. Historical review

Some topics are better understood if a brief historical review of the topic is presented to lead into the discussion of the moment.

Such topics might include "a biographical sketch of a war hero," "an upcoming execution of a convicted criminal," or "drugs and the younger generation."

Obviously there are many, many more topics that could be introduced by reviewing the history of the topic before the writer gets down to the actual focus of his paper. It is important that the historical review be brief so that it does not take over the paper.

Example 1
Example 1

“The victory brought pure elation and joy. It was May 1954, just days after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. At NAACP headquarters in New York the mood was euphoric. Telegrams of congratulations poured in from around the world; reporters and well-wishers crowded the halls.”

[After reaching back forty years ago to bring up the landmark Supreme Court decision that started school desegregation, this article discusses school segregation in the present time.]

2 anecdotal
2. Anecdotal

An anecdote is a little story. Everyone loves to listen to stories. Begin a paper by relating a small story that leads into the topic of your paper. Your story should be a small episode, not a full blown story with characters and plot and setting. If you do it right, your story will capture the reader's interest so that he or she will continue to read your paper. One caution: be sure that your story does not take over the paper. Remember, it is an introduction, not the paper.

Example 2
Example 2

“Mike Cantlon remembers coming across his first auction ten years ago while cruising the back roads of Wisconsin. He parked his car and wandered into the crowd, toward the auctioneer's singsong chant and wafting smell of barbecued sandwiches. Hours later, Cantlon emerged lugging a $22 beam drill-for constructing post-and-beam barns—and a passion for auctions that has clung like a cocklebur on an old saddle blanket. "It's an addiction," says Cantlon, a financial planner and one of the growing number of auction fanatics for whom Saturdays will never be the same.”

[This is an anecdote, a little story about one man and his first auction, that is the lead to an article about auctions. In this article the author explains what auctions are, how to spot bargains in auctions, what to protect yourself from at auctions, and other facts about auctions and the people who go to them.]

3 surprising statement
3. Surprising Statement

A surprising statement is a favorite introductory technique of professional writers. There are many ways a statement can surprise a reader. Sometimes the statement is surprising because it is disgusting. Sometimes it is joyful. Sometimes it is shocking. Sometimes it is surprising because of who said it. Professional writers have honed this technique to a fine edge. It is not used as much as the first two patterns, but it is used.

Example 3
Example 3

“Have a minute? Good. Because that may be all it takes to save the life of a child—your child. Accidents kill nearly 8000 children under age 15 each year. And for every fatality, 42 more children are admitted to hospitals for treatment. Yet such deaths and injuries can be avoided through these easy steps parents can take right now. You don't have a minute to lose.”

[This article begins with a surprising, even shocking, statistic, 8000 children die each year from accidents. The article then lists seven easy actions a person can take to help guard a child against accidents. These range from turning down the water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to putting firearms under lock and key.]

4 famous person
4. Famous Person

People like to know what celebrities say and do. Dropping the name of a famous person at the beginning of a paper usually gets the reader's attention. It may be something that person said or something he or she did that can be presented as an interest grabber. You may just mention the famous person's name to get the reader's interest. The famous person may be dead or alive. The famous person may be a good person like the Pope, or he or she may be a bad person like John Wilkes Booth. Of course, bringing up this person's name must be relevant to the topic. Even though the statement or action may not be readily relevant, a clever writer can convince the reader that it is relevant.

Example 4
Example 4

“The most widely read writer in America today is not Stephen King, Michael Chrichton or John Grisham. It's Margaret Milner Richardson, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, whose name appears on the "1040 Forms and Instructions" booklet. I doubt that Margaret wrote the entire 1040 pamphlet, but the annual introductory letter, "A Note from the Commissioner," bears her signature.”

[This is the first paragraph of an article about the lady named above. The author used the names of three famous, modern American writers to get a reader's interest. Notice that the first name on his list is a name that is probably more widely known than the other two. Stephen King has been around for some time now, and everyone, from teenagers to grandparents, know his name whether they have read his books or not.]

5 declarative
5. Declarative

This technique is quite commonly used, but it must be carefully used or the writer defeats his whole purpose of using one of these patterns, to get the reader's interest. In this pattern, the writer simply states straight out what the topic of his paper is going to be about. It is the technique that most student writers use with only modest success most of the time, but good professional writers use it too.

Example 5
Example 5

“In the College of Veterinary Medicine and Engineering, for example, nearly one-third of the teaching faculty may retire by the year 2004. In the College of Education, more than a third of the professors are 55 years old and older. The largest turnover for a single department is projected to be in geology. More than half of its faculty this year are in the age group that will retire at the millennium, says Ron Downey of K-State's Office of Institutional Research and Analysis. The graying of K-State's faculty is not unique. A Regents' report shows approximately 27 percent of the faculty at the six state universities will retire by the end of this decade, creating a shortage of senior faculty.”

[This is a straight forward introduction that gets right down to the topic of the aging of the faculty of Kansas State University. There are no historical reviews, no surprising statements, no anecdotes, no quotations from or about famous people. This is a discussion that leads to further discussion about the topic. The biggest difficulty about this type of introduction is that it can get boring. It is not likely to get the interest of anyone except those who are already interested in this subject. Use this pattern with caution.]

6 quotation
6. Quotation

A writer can begin their essay by using a famous quotation which relates to the topic. This quotation can be humorous or serious, yet the important part is to make sure to relate it to your topic.

Example 6
Example 6

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”


What topic might this essay discuss?


Transitions indicate relations, whether within a sentence, paragraph, or paper. They illustrate "relationships" between ideas, followed by words and phrases that can connect them.


4 transitional devices that help achieve coherence:

Repetition of key words

Use of synonyms

Use of pronouns

Use of transitional words and phrases

Transition examples2
Transition Examples

Addition: also, again, as well as, besides, coupled with, furthermore, in addition, likewise, moreover, similarly

Consequence: accordingly, as a result, consequently, for this reason, for this purpose, hence, otherwise, so then, subsequently, therefore, thus, thereupon, wherefore

Generalizing: as a rule, as usual, for the most part, generally, generally speaking, ordinarily, usually

Exemplifying: chiefly, especially, for instance, in particular, markedly, namely, particularly,  including, specifically, such as

Transition examples3
Transition Examples

Illustration: for example, for instance, for one thing, as an illustration, illustrated with, as an example, in this case

Emphasis: above all, chiefly, with attention to, especially, particularly, singularly

Similarity: comparatively, coupled with, correspondingly, identically, likewise, similar, moreover, together with

Exception: aside from, barring, besides, except, excepting, excluding, exclusive of, other than, outside of, save

Transition examples4
Transition Examples

Restatement: in essence, in other words, namely, that is, in short, in brief, to put it differently

Contrast and Comparison: contrast, conversely, instead, likewise, on one hand, on the other hand, on the contrary, rather, similarly, yet, but, however, still

Structure of the essay 3
Structure of the Essay (3)


Thesis Statement

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Topic Sentence

Concluding Sentence

Restatement ofThesis

Bit of wit or area of further inquiry


“So What?”- Your answer should make your essay useful or practical. (Extending or Applying)

There are 4 essential characteristics of a good conclusion:

Restates the Thesis statement

Gives completeness

Adds no new information

Uses key words to repeat major points