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Topic sentences in an essay
What Are Topic Sentences?
November 13, 2019
Transitioning between sentences
How to Use Transitions in an Essay
December 2, 2019
Writing paragraph for essay!

Struggling to figure out how to write a paragraph for an essay?

Paragraphs are the fundamental element of any form of academic writing. However, an essay is slightly different from other types of assignments because it allows authors to express their views on any given topic freely.

The paragraphs in the main body of an essay are where you develop the central argument. While the sequence, length, and number of paragraphs can vary depending on the type and topic of the essay you are writing, each paragraph needs to be relevant, coherent, and cohesive.

  • Relevance – Each paragraph must relate to the overall purpose and focus of the paper.
  • Coherence – The structure of the paragraph and organisation of the sentences should be clear and logical.
  • Cohesiveness – Every sentence of the paragraph should relate to the main point.

Essentially, the body of your essay is where you present the central point. Each body paragraph in an essay will be expected to provide one key idea which needs to be supported by relevant evidence, examples, and academic sources.

How to Structure Paragraphs?

To understand how to structure paragraphs in an essay's body, we will first take a look at the TEECL technique. TEECL stands for Topic sentence, Explanation, Evidence, Comment, and Link. Together, these elements form a paragraph that will be well organised and relate to your essay paper's theme and focus.

Also Read: How to Organise an Essay

Write a Topic Sentence

A topic sentence is the first sentence of each paragraph, and it gives readers insight into the central claim or idea.  If you have developed an essay outline or plan, you could already have a rough idea of what you intend to discuss in each paragraph of the essay.

However, if you don’t have an essay outline, you might want to use topic sentences to introduce each paragraph’s key idea or argument.

One important thing that needs to be considered when writing a topic sentence is to make sure that it is specific enough, so you don’t need several paragraphs to cover the point and general enough to expand it into a paragraph.

Here is an example of a topic sentence starting a new paragraph;

While Donald Trump was always looked upon as a popular and successful businessman in the United States, he had to invest heavily in time, resources, and finances to gain acceptance as the country's leading politician.

The above topic sentence;

  • Uses a transition word
  • Clearly identifies the focus of the paragraph (the coming of age of Donald Trump, the politician)
  • This relates to the central argument of the essay.
  • Provides sufficient space for supporting evidence and critical evaluation.

Provide Explanation

Next, you will need to explain in detail what you meant by the first sentence. For example, you could explain why and how this point relates to the central theme of your essay.

The political support Donald Trump managed to acquire through his influence, money and sheer dedication was of utmost importance because he needed that to taken seriously and become a leading political candidate.

The above sentence expands on the topic sentence and provides details of how Donald Trump managed to gain wider acceptance in the political arena.

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Provide Evidence

Once you have provided sufficient details pertaining to the central point of the paragraph with the help of a topic sentence and the explanation sentence (s), you will be expected to provide supporting evidence and examples.

The type of evidence and examples you can provide to support your main argument depends on your academic level, the topic of the essay and the academic subject you are studying.

However, in general, your evidence can be presented in the form of any of the following qualitative or quantitative sources;

In 2013, Trump was a featured CPAC speaker (Moody & Chris, 2013). In the speech, he railed against illegal immigration while seeming to encourage immigration from Europe, bemoaned Obama's "unprecedented media protection", advised against harming Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and suggested that the government "take" Iraq's oil and use the proceeds to pay a million dollars each to families of dead soldiers. He spent over $1 million that year to research a possible 2016 candidacy. (Madison & Lucy, 2013).

Comment on the Evidence

You will be expected to take into consideration the weaknesses and strengths of the examples and evidence you provided.

The argument you presented in the topic sentence and the explanation sentence (s) would need to be clearly supported by the evidence and examples.

If the evidence does not relate to the point made in the topic sentence it will neither endorse nor reject the claim.

The early struggles in the political career of Donald Trump were indicative of the fact that Mr. Trump had no political background and so he had to work hard to get people behind him.

The above sentence adds weight to the evidence by highlighting a specific fact which brought about a significant change in people’s attitude towards how they looked at Donald Trump as a politician.

Now you can repeat steps 3 and 4 multiple times until you have successfully put your point across.

However, with the passage of time, political players in the Republican party, as well as the general public in the United States, began to appreciate the contribution Trump could make to the system particularly when he pursued sizable income tax cuts, deregulation, increased military spending, rollbacks of federal health-care protections, and the appointment of conservative judges consistent with conservative (Republican Party) policies (PBS News Hour, 2019). Change in policies is exactly what people of America needed in that moment of time.

The above evidence confirms that over time people began to realise the importance of what Donald Trump was campaigning for. The explanation of the evidence claims that it worked in Trump’s favour because it was also what the people wanted.

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Establish the Link

You can conclude the paragraph by establishing a link between the topic sentences, evidence, and explanation sentences to demonstrate how the paragraph relates to the overall argument of your essay.

The example paragraph we have used in this article provides evidence and assessment towards Donald Trump’s recognition as the leader of the world’s most powerful country.

Donald Trump had to campaign for almost two decades before political players and the public of the USA started to perceive him as a genuine contender for the presidential nomination.

The last sentence of the paragraphs brings to light the end result of the story.

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Reread

It will always help read through the whole of the paragraph to ensure it flows logically and naturally from one sentence to the next and takes the shape of one coherent and meaningful paragraph.

While Donald Trump was always looked upon as a popular and successful businessman in the United States, he had to invest heavily in time, resources, and finances to gain acceptance as the country's leading politician. The political support Donald Trump managed to acquire through his influence, money, and sheer dedication was of utmost importance because he absolutely needed it to become a leading political candidate.

In 2013, in a speech, he railed against illegal immigration while seeming to encourage immigration from Europe, bemoaned Obama's "unprecedented media protection," advised against harming Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and suggested that the government "take" Iraq's oil and use the proceeds to pay a million dollars each to families of dead soldiers. He spent over $1 million that year to research a possible 2016 candidacy. (Madison & Lucy, 2013).

The early struggles in the political career of Donald Trump were indicative of the fact that he had no political background, and so he had to work hard to get people behind him. However, over time, political players in the Republican party, as well as the general public in the United States, began to appreciate the contribution Trump could make to the system, particularly when he pursued sizable income tax cuts, deregulation, increased military spending, rollbacks of federal health-care protections, and the appointment of conservative judges consistent with conservative (Republican Party) policies (PBS News Hour, 2019).

Change in policies is exactly what the people of America needed at that moment. Donald Trump had to campaign for almost two decades before political players. The USA's public started to perceive him as a genuine contender for the presidential nomination Moody & Chris, 2013.

However, not all the paragraphs in your essay may follow this pattern. Depending on the topic of the essay and your aims, you might want to;

  • Include several different examples and evidence that have at least one common point.
  • Use just one piece of evidence, i.e. academic journal, and explain it in detail in the paragraph.
  • Improve the reader’s understanding by breaking down an idea or classification into several parts.

The relevance, coherence, and cohesiveness approach applies to all paragraphs in an essay. However, the introduction and conclusion paragraphs will take a very different form at the end of it all.

When to Start a New Paragraph

Whenever you identify a new central issue, argument, or idea, you should consider starting a new paragraph. To make sure the new paragraph incorporates all elements of the TEECL technique, here are some questions that you should ask yourself;

  • Do all sentences in the new paragraph are an expansion of the topic sentence?
  • Are all sentences logically related to the point you are making?
  • Have you provided sufficient supporting evidence and examples to validate the point made in the topic sentence?
  • Does each of the pieces of evidence you provided make sense as to why it was included?
  • Does the paragraph end with a conclusive statement to wrap it all up?

It is important to recognize that the sentences of a paragraph are not independent units. Rather, they combine to build up a larger argument that flows naturally from one point to another.

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Alaxendra Bets

Bets completed her degree in English Literature in 2014. She has been working as a professional editor and writer with Research Prospect since then. Bets loves to help students improve their learning.

Alaxendra Bets
Alaxendra Bets
Bets completed her degree in English Literature in 2014. She has been working as a professional editor and writer with Research Prospect since then. Bets loves to help students improve their learning.
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