One of the most popular and widely taught essay writing
formats is the five-paragraph-essay. This beginners essay writing structure is a great outline for conveying ideas in a logical, organized manner. It begins with an introduction
, followed up by three body or support paragraphs, and ends with a conclusion. Proper comprehension of each section is vital as each plays an important role in the construction of a fully developed and well-formatted essay.
Students and writers alike often encounter a bit of trouble when it comes to forming an introduction. Though introductions differ based on writing style and subject there are some key characteristics general to all of them. For instance, its good to do the following in each introduction:
(a) captivate the audience with a compelling 'hook' statement
(b) provide a brief background on the subject to be discussed
(c) keep the reader's interest by relaying why the topic is important
(d) provide a clear and concise thesis statement to explain to the audience what issues will be examined in the paper.
* Keep in mind that this list is not inclusive and introductions may include other important elements as well. Likewise you may choose to delay your thesis statement until you reach another point in the paper where you feel that it is more relevant and effective.
The introduction is also-though it doesn't have to be-an area of the paper that includes a detail of your main ideas and objectives. These details may be considered a thesis statement. And a well-crafted thesis statement
is a big part of writing and should be treated with tremendous care and attention. So why all the fuss?
Thesis statements and why they are so important
Both authors and readers can benefit from thesis statements as they provide the main focal point or objective of an essay and act as a guide through all addressed points and topics. As the author or preparer of a work its necessary that you develop a thesis statement to keep your discussions and analysis consistent, logical and relevant to the evidence that supports it. Often times your thesis statement will also change after further research is conducted. This is a good sign and indicates that your thesis truly reflects what your paper accomplishes rather than what you wished or hoped it would accomplish.
As a reader the thesis statement prepares you for the remainder of the work and provides you with a brief snapshot of what will be covered or discussed throughout the paper. For readers that are also evaluators, such as professors, the thesis statement is also somewhat of a measuring stick to gauge whether or not you successfully accomplished your goals and objectives.
Support / Body Paragraphs
In the five-paragraph or hamburger essay, the support or body section would be considered the 'meat' of the sandwich. It comprises the main supportive evidences and statements that will define, illustrate, or examine your main idea. Overall, there are many things to consider when developing support paragraphs. One of the most important issues to examine is the form and function of your support paragraphs; the section below details methods of forming adequate and sufficient paragraphs.
A paragraph is similar to a paper in that it should have a topic sentence, support sentences and a concluding sentence. Though this is by no means the only way to formulate a paragraph it is somewhat of a guidepost to keep your structure in order. Many popular formation techniques are available to help students and beginning writers alike develop strong and efficient paragraphs. Two of these techniques are the SEE and TRI methods.
S - statement: First, clearly state the main idea of your paragraph. *For example; 'Cookies and potato chips are popular snack foods for teens.'
E - extension: Second, provide an extension of the first sentence by restating or explaining it. *For example; 'Teens often turn to quick, tasty foods when hungry.'
E - elaborate: Third, provide more details regarding the previous sentences. *For example; 'Foods generally marketed to teens require little preparation and include unhealthy additives to enhance flavor and appearance.'
This technique is very simple and straightforward and can definitely help anyway who finds themselves stuck and unable to get through their first draft. The other method, TRI likewise fulfills the similar purpose.
T - topic sentence: First, state the main idea or key sentence.
R - restate: Second, restate the topic sentence in a more colorful or varied way.
I - illustrate: Lastly, illustrate the main idea by providing precise examples and illustrations.
This technique differs from the first in that, rather than simply providing more details on the topic, it also provides specific examples. Examples are crucial to the proficiency of any essay. Interesting and realistic examples allow the reader to quickly connect to your topics and ideas as well as visualize the points that are being addressed. For instance, in using the above examples of teens and foods, an illustration such as a static may be very helpful. For example, 'At least 70% of western teens choose to eat snacks that are high in saturated fats.'
Topical and functional paragraphs
Another good distinction to make is between that of topical and functional paragraphs. The paragraphs that we have been discussing thus far can be considered topical paragraphs simply because in general they consist of a topic sentence or main idea. A functional paragraph, in contrast, is a paragraph that may be placed strategically in an essay to either maintain a reader's interest, provide a transition to another topic or idea, initiate dialogue, or to show some emphasis on a major aspect or point.
As with introductions, conclusions can sometimes be difficult to construct. This task can be lightened significantly by simply identifying the common traits involved in conclusion writing. A conclusion may include some or all of the following elements (a) provide a final statement on the subject (b) restate the thesis or main idea (c) invite the reader to ponder on a specific issue or concept, or call them to act on a particular notion (d) state or identify an area to investigate for further research or study. Its preferable for a conclusion to not initiate any brand new ideas or concepts as well as only restate the main idea alone. To provide a good balance of information its best to combine (craft-fully) one or more of these elements when forming your conclusion.
Why the five-paragraph-essay?
Many teachers and instructors actually prefer other forms of writing over the five-paragraph-essay. This is for several reasons. One is that they feel it is only appropriate for certain age groups and not, for example, appropriate for college courses. Additionally they may feel that it restricts students from properly exploring and developing their arguments. To some extent, all of these points are valid.
To address these problems a student can simply use the five-paragraph-essay structure as a starting point only and then add additional paragraphs as the need arises. The other option is to only apply the format to certain topics and subject matters where a student feels that it is appropriate and suitable.