Originating from the ancient Greek term paragraphe meaning ‘marked passage’, a paragraph is a group of sentences that introduces, presents, develops and winds up one main idea on a topic. The idea in a paragraph should be one, and the different types of structural devices should help it come out clearly. As with all other language skills, paragraph writing can be used for functional and creative purposes.
Parts of a Paragraph
Broadly, a paragraph can be divided into three major parts.
- topic sentence/introducer
- supporting details/developer
- the concluding sentence/terminator
The first sentence introduces the central idea of the passage. It is, therefore, the topic sentence or the introducer in the passage. The purpose of the topic sentence is to emphasize the passage’s main idea. It is not generally suggested or practised to keep the topic sentence hidden under the debris of other details. The topic sentence provides the core idea(s) throughout the paragraph like an underlying thread. It guides the readers and lets them know what it is all about.
It performs two primary functions.
- Structural -it describes the shape of the argument
- Interpretive -it offers the conclusion, reaction or feeling
The structural topic sentence guides the readers to anticipate and move with the rest of the paragraph. Structural topic sentences will help one follow the argument easily if the ideas are linked. An interpretive topic sentence, on the other hand, allows the writer to express their interpretation of the data freely and tries to convince the reader simultaneously.
Since structural and interpretive topic sentences introduce the passage’s main idea or central argument, they are known as introducers. Usually, at the beginning of the passage, introducers serve as a signpost to the central idea of the entire passage.
The sentences that aim to fulfil the promises made by the introducers are called developers. Just as the function of introducers is to introduce and certainly place the central idea in a passage, developers’ job is to substantiate, augment and authenticate the claims made by the introducers.
The third category of sentences is known as terminators. The purpose of terminators in a paragraph is to wind up the discussion in a fulfilling and psychologically satisfying manner to the reader. Though coming at the end of a paragraph, the importance of terminators in a paragraph can never be underestimated. They leave the reader with the final impression of the crux of the entire paragraph.
Types of Paragraph
Depending on the purpose and style, paragraphs are of various types.
A narrative paragraph deals with the main event, adventure, scene or incident. It is usually written in chronological order. A narrative paragraph aims to involve the reader emotionally. An excellent way to structure a narrative paragraph is to write an arresting topic sentence, outline the course of events and then come up with a fascinating conclusion. The use of dialogue will make the narration more vivid to the readers. The conversation can be made realistic using fragments, slang, interjections and other common speech patterns.
A descriptive paragraph reveals a subject through vivid and carefully selected details. The purpose of descriptive writing is sensory -to make the reader see, feel and hear the person, place or thing being described. Show me, don’t tell me is the motto of descriptive writing. Descriptive paragraphs are engaging in the sense that they charge your imagination. Descriptions may be objective or subjective, depending on the writer’s approach to the theme.
A persuasive paragraph aims to bring the reader to the writer’s point of view. The components of a persuasive paragraph are the topic sentence that puts forward your idea, the elaboration and validation of the same in supporting sentences and a concluding sentence that reinforces your opinion.
An expository paragraph gives information. It seeks to explain, illuminate or expose. It elaborates on a theme, proves a theory or demonstrates how something happens. This process is also known as exemplification. An expository paragraph is more analytically structured than the other types of paragraphs. Linking words such as first, second, and finally are common in expository writing.