What is a Paragraph?
A paragraph is number of sentences which must be related to a single topic/central idea. Paragraphs are an essential part of almost every piece of writing. This is because paragraphs show a reader where the subdivisions of an essay begin and end, and thus help the reader to see the organization of the essay and grasp its main points. Furthermore; paragraphs can contain different kinds of information. A paragraph can contain a series of brief examples or a single long illustration of a general point. It might describe a place, character, or process, narrate a series of events, compare or contrast two or more things, classify items into categories, or describe causes and effects.
Chatacteristic of a Paragraph:
Regardless of the kind of information they contain, all the body paragraphs share certain characteristics. One of the most important of these is a topic sentence. A well-organized paragraph supports or develops a single controlling idea, which is expressed in a sentence called the topic sentence. A topic sentence has several important functions: it substantiates or supports an essay’s thesis statement; it unifies the content of a paragraph and directs the order of the sentences, and it advises the reader on the subject in discussion and how the paragraph will discuss it. Readers (examiners) generally look at the first few sentences in a paragraph to determine the subject and perspective of the paragraph. That is why it is often best to put the topic sentence at the very beginning of the paragraph. The vast majority of your paragraphs, however, should have a topic sentence.
Paragraph writing: Essential for success in FPSC
In simple words, a paragraph is a combination of 6-8 sentences about a single idea. According to FPSC Examiners’ Report, the key reason for failure is that most students do not know how to write a paragraph/paragraph structure. The practice of writing paragraphs is essential to make writing effective. Paragraphs help to break up large chunks of text and make the content easier for readers to digest. They guide the reader through arguments by focusing on one main idea or goal. However, knowing how to write a good and well-structured paragraph can be a little tricky. This is divided into two types:
- Unusual Paragraphs (Introduction, Conclusion and Transitional)
- Usual/Body Paragraphs
An Unusual paragraph is the beginning or end of an essay which consists of 12-16 sentences, usually ten percent of the whole essay, and provides the complete summary and this is called unusual paragraph because it never follows the rules of 6-8 sentences and concept of
It does the same job for an essay as the topic and concluding sentences do for a paragraph. In a paragraph, the topic sentence tells the reader what the subject of the paragraph will be and how it will be developed. In an essay unusual paragraphs introduce and conclude the topic. There are three parts of unusual paragraphs: the opening statement (three general sentences – means background of the topic – and three specific sentences -illustration/explanation of the topic -), twelve supporting sentences (in the form of primary and secondary statements for Descriptive Essay or your and opponents’ stance in Argumentative Essay) and the thesis statement (brief of the whole essay in one sentence that leads the examiners mostly to the form of plan or stance.)
There are many ways to write unusual paragraphs, but it is necessary to include each of the three parts. Furthermore, it has two types:
An introduction serves as a map of the essay, outlining to your reader the main arguments and points which you prove and develop in your essay. Introductions begin with an orientation in the form of a brief general statement (story, quotation or background information) that leads the reader to the topic showing how the specific topic relates to bigger issues and concept. There are three parts of an introduction: the opening statement which can be further divided in general and specific statements (three general sentences – means background of the topic – and three specific sentences -illustration/explanation of the topic -), twelve supporting sentences (in the form of primary and secondary statements for Descriptive Essay or your and opponents’ stance in Argumentative Essay) and the thesis statement (brief of the whole essay in one or two sentences that leads the examiners mostly to the form of plan or stance). There are many ways to write an introduction, but it is necessary to include each of the three parts. This always ends by thesis statement, which is your concise response to the essay question, then an outline of the argument presented in the essay. Its parts/component scan be categorized in the following way;
Structure of an Introduction of Descriptive Essay
- Opening Statements (6 sentences)
- General statement: Ideally two to three sentences to introduce the topic in the form of the background of the topic, story or quotation.
- Specific statement: This portion defines the topic.
- Additional Statements (10-12 sentences)
- Primary Statements: This portion of the essay describes the points which have been asked by your examiner. For example if the essay topic is Global Warming: Its Causes and Consequences, your primary headings are causes and consequences which can never be missed; however, the solutions can be left as it has not been asked by the examiner.
- Secondary Statements: This is the portion of an essay which has not been asked by the examiner categorically but if you add and that seems relevant you get more marks as this always makes an essay more comprehensive. For example, if the essay topic is Global Warming: Its Causes and Consequences, your primary headings are causes and consequences but the addition of solutions will make the essay more comprehensive and the same will help the students to meet the required length that is 2500-3000 words.
- Thesis Statement (1 sentence). The thesis statement of an essay acts as a brief and explicit guide for your reader. It is a one or two sentence summary of the plans that you are trying to make in your essay and acts as a summary of the whole essay.
An Introduction on: Has Democracy Failed to Deliver in Pakistan?(Specimen)
It is not too long ago when humanity learned to live in groups and developed principles to govern themselves. Even the earliest communities demonstrated the practice of choosing a leader from among them to follow. This simple idea evolved into an array of complex systems of governance and leadership.
Democracy, the most widely accepted system can be defined in the famous words of Abraham Lincoln as “Government of the people, by the people and for the people.” The core idea behind democracy is the will of the people and its key ingredients include the provision of basic needs to masses, free and fair elections, protection of basic human rights, freedom of speech, rule of law, women empowerment and independence of the judicial system.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, it has had a cheered history of democracy since it came into existence, from which it can be deduced that democracy has failed to deliver in Pakistan. A major piece of evidence is that the majority of her population does not have access to clean water and food. The country is still unable to conduct free and fair elections due to widespread interference and rigging observed by everyone. Democratic governments have compromised on the supremacy of the constitution many times which is against the very essence of democracy.
However military intervention alone cannot be blamed as the state institutions have failed to deliver even under civilian rule. They have been involved in many evils that include the menace of corruption and nepotism that have infiltrated the social fabric of society. Rule of law is missing from many parts of the country that rejects democracy and gives rise to many conflicts in the shape of sectarianism and terrorism. Lack of a strong judiciary also handicaps the democratic process and results in many instances of human rights abuse all over the country.
Opponent’s Stance and Antithesis to Opponent’s Stance:
On the other hand, those who disagree with the failure of democracy, argue that many of the problems faced today are much deeper rooted and date back even before the creation of Pakistan. Therefore democracy cannot be entirely blamed in Pakistan where it is still ever young
Hence, it can be deduced that in Pakistan, democracy has failed to deliver the prosperity it promises.
The body of the essay is essentially the specific detail of the topic. Several paragraphs will explain the topic that you are discussing. The usual/body paragraphs will prove or disprove the hypothesis in Argumentative Essay or provide the specific detail of different aspects in Descriptive Essays.
Technique for writing a Usual Paragraph:
There will be many citations, references and pieces of information which will lead the reader to understand what the topic is about. The body must be relevant to the subject, with clear and concise thoughts. Jargon or very technical terms should be explained so that the reader/examiner does not become confused. You may not attempt to make the paper meet the required length by using fluff – repeating sentences or details in several different
Components of a Paragraph:
In a very simple way, body/usual paragraphs are a combination of 6-8 sentences on some single topic or idea. You may not add more than one idea in one paragraph. It must have following components:
1. Topic sentence
Topic Sentence or a Focus Sentence is the most important sentence in a paragraph. The topic sentence helps to organize the paragraph by summarizing the information in
Components of a Topic Sentence:
In brief; it is very first sentence or a catch line of a paragraph which determines the direction of the paragraph. It must have following three essential parts:
- Discourse markers of structure (firstly, secondly, thirdly and lastly or to start with, in addition, furthermore and finally)
- New idea/Central idea (Every point of your outline is basically a new central idea)
- Topic of the essay (This forces you to remain strict on the topic of your essay)
2. Development/Supporting Sentences
A typical body/usual paragraph starts with topic sentence/controlling idea or claims which are then explained, developed, or supported with evidence. All usual/body paragraphs start with a topic sentence. A topic sentence, central idea or claim controls the rest of the paragraph; the body of a paragraph explains, develops or supports with evidence the topic sentence’s main idea or claim and this is called development. This development is also useful for readers because they guide them through sometimes
- Topic sentence (1 sentence)
- Supporting sentences (4-6 sentences) define, describe and link the central idea of the topic sentence.
- Justification (1 Sentence) prove the description or stance in the form of quotations, sayings, references, examples, facts, figures, arguments and compare and contrast to prove topic sentences claim
- Conclusion sentence (1 Sentence) conclude the paragraphs
Structure of Body Paragraph Topic: National Integration
Firstly, it is quality education which can fasten national integration in a society and country (Topic Sentence).
It equips an individual with knowledge, awareness
As Sir Syed has rightly said,” Educate, educate and educate, cure the roots and the tree will flourish” (Justification). Moreover; an educated person is always a great source of inspiration for others and he can convert anti-state elements to work for national building (Supporting Sentences). Hence, quality education is an effective tool to strengthen national integration (Concluding Sentences).
Coherence is the connection or connectivity that readers or listeners perceive in a written or oral text. In a paragraph, Coherence is the technique of making words, phrases, and sentences move smoothly and logically from one to the other. In other words, the ideas should be so interwoven and glued together that the reader is able to see the consistent relationship between them.
It is obvious that if a paragraph is not unified, does not have a logical order, and does not have a consistent point of view, the reader is unlikely to grasp the point of the paragraph.
How to achieve Coherence?
There are many devices and techniques that will help you achieve coherence. In general, the coherence devices are helpful for making your communication clear for the reader. Use of discourse markers/ transitional words and phrases, repetition of keywords and phrases, pronouns, reference, and parallel sentence structure are useful techniques to achieve coherence. In short; it is an attachment and connectivity among ideas, sentences
Logical Coherence (among ideas):
The appropriate order of your ideas is determined by various factors and you can arrange your ideas, sub ideas and their examples in a variety of ways, including: chronological order (by time – good for narration), space order (by location – good for description), emphatic order (from the least important point to the most important), problem-solution order, from specific to general, or from general to specific. In addition, irrelevant ideas and repetition of the same ideas always irritate your examiners because they destroy coherence in your essay. Further, this will make your essay less effective. Most of the time students write irrelevant ideas and repeat content in order to achieve the required length (2500-3000 words).
How to determine appropriate order of ideas?
The appropriate order of your ideas is determined by various factors and you can arrange your ideas, sub ideas and their examples in a variety of ways, including: chronological order (by time – good for narration), space order (by location – good for description), emphatic order (from the least important point to the most important), problem-solution order, from specific to general, or from general to specific. In addition, irrelevant ideas and repetition of the same ideas always irritate your examiners because they destroy coherence in your essay. Further, this will make your essay less effective. It is also noticed that most of the time students write irrelevant ideas and repeat content in order to achieve the required length (2500-3000 words).
Verbal Coherence (sentences and paragraphs):
The basic purpose of coherence in writing is that all of your sentences and ideas should be logically related and connected to each other. It is accomplished by having your sentences in logical order as well as by showing the relationship of sentences to one another. If you are reading an essay and you find it confusing, and it doesn’t seem to make much sense or is hard to follow, the writer is most likely having a problem with coherence. Logical order is accomplished in several ways: having a clear thesis statement for the whole essay, having
Discourse Marker/Connectors/Transitional Devices:
One of the most common methods of establishing coherence in a paragraph is the use of transitional words and phrases. These devices indicate to the reader the specific relationship between what was said and what will be said. They are used to create coherence among sentences and paragraphs.
Synonyms and Variation in Words:
Synonyms are words that have essentially the same meaning, and they provide some variety in your word choice, helping the reader to stay focused on the idea being discussed.
Use of Pronoun:
The word that replaces noun is called pronoun. This, that, these, those, he, she, it, they and you are useful pronouns for referring back to something previously mentioned.
Transitional Paragraph (Join different paragraphs of body):
A short paragraph in an essay that announces a shift from one section or heading to another is known as a transitional paragraph. This is most commonly used to summarize the ideas of one part of a text in preparation for the beginning of another part. The advantage of the transitional paragraph is that it connects different subparts of an essay which is essential for coherence. Further, it also serves as a reminder of the key points you have made so that your reader can keep these points in mind while approaching to other part of your essay. It consists of one or two sentences.
A sentence or two in your text that contains the focus/summary of your essay in the form of plan or stance that tells your reader what the essay is going to be about. Many writers think that thesis statement works as an umbrella: everything that you carry along in your essay has to fit under this umbrella, and if you try to take on packages that don’t fit, you will either have to get a bigger umbrella or something’s going to get wet. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of first paragraph. Usually it appears as the last sentence of an introduction. Furthermore; this summarizes the whole essay in one sentence in order to lead the examiners, in the form of plan or a stance, about organization of an essay.
This is a key characteristic for effective paragraph/essay writing. The concept of unity in paragraph/essay writing means that one paragraph must discuss only one idea. It means that all the sentences – the topic, supporting sentences, the detail sentences, justification and the concluding sentence – should tell the reader about one topic and the writer must not deviate from the topic. If your paragraph contains a sentence or some sentences that are not related to the main topic, then it can be stated that the paragraph lacks unity, or that the sentence is off-topic. In short, this is singleness of ideas and one idea must be presented in one sentence and one paragraph. In addition, there must not be any kind of deviation from your topic of the essay and topic sentence of the paragraph.
Each paragraph in a text contains a main idea which is related to the other major points presented in the text, this must lead to others. Organization and concentration on a single topic are essential for effective paragraph/essay writing. The main or controlling idea in a paragraph is generally contained in a topic statement, often at the beginning of a paragraph. Although this is the most typical paragraph pattern, topic statements may be placed in any position in a paragraph or in more than one sentence. The topic statement contributes to establishing a meaningful pattern to the various pieces of information conveyed within the paragraph. It is usually helpful to present generalizations about the topic before the specific information.
Why Organization is necessary?
Although many paragraphs contain a single generalization which contains the main or controlling idea, in some cases paragraphs, contain generalizations of different levels. Moreover, the level of generality of a particular statement depends on the context. The appropriate order of your ideas is determined by various factors and you can arrange your ideas, sub ideas and their examples in a variety of ways, including: chronological order (by time good for narration), space order (by location – good for description), emphatic order (from the least important point to the most important), problem-solution order, from specific to general, or from general to specific. In short,
6. Concluding Sentence
A concluding sentence is used to signal that your paragraph is coming to an end. Writing a concluding sentence can be more difficult than you realize. A concluding sentence should be a summary of the previous discussion and not include any new information. The reader should be able to identify the key points in a text by reading the concluding sentence. This always concludes the discussion that started with the topic sentence. Concluding sentences have three crucial roles in paragraph writing:
- Summarizing the points you have made.
- Repeating words or phrases (or synonyms for them) from the topic sentence.
- Using linking words that indicate that conclusions are being drawn, for example, in short, therefore, thus, resulting etc.
It has following requirements:
- Concluding discourse markers
- Central idea
- Repetition of the topic of the essay
Conclusion of the Essay
The conclusion is important, yet often left out by most of the students which always becomes a cause of failure. The basic purpose of conclusion is to summarize the whole essay in one continuous paragraph. In CSS/PMS essay, it is common to bring a summary of conclusions or recommendations forward to the start of the essay so that examiners need not read the whole if they do not wish. This section might also be called an abstract, synopsis or executive summary. Furthermore, a conclusion plays a special role in the essay as a good conclusion should again identify your topic, provide essential context, and indicate your particular focus in the essay. It also needs to engage your readers’ interest by providing optimistic pictures of the issue. A strong conclusion will provide a sense of closure to the essay while placing your concepts again in a some what wider context.
Structure of Conclusion of Descriptive Essay
- Concluding Discourse Marker
- Opening Statements (6 sentences)
- General statement.
- Specific statement
- Additional Statements (10-12 sentences)
- Primary Statements
- Secondary Statements
- Thesis Statement (1 sentence)
Structure of Conclusion of an Argumentative Essay
- Concluding Discourse Marker
- Opening Statements (6 sentences)
- General statement
- Specific statement
- Additional Statements (10-12 sentences)
- Your stance
- Opponent stance
- Thesis statement (1 sentence)
Time Management (3 Hours/ 180 Minutes)
Every productive work requires some kind of planning. Essay writing is a creative process; hence it requires planning as well. This process involves at least five distinct steps: selection of topic, prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing.
Selection of topic (10 Minutes)
Pre writing stage: Brainstorming and outline (45 Minutes)
Drafting stage (1 Hours and 40 Minutes)
Post drafting stage (25 Minutes)
For more notes on how to write an essay click here.
For complete sample essays click here.