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The Basic Five-Paragraph Essay Structure

1. The Introductory Paragraph


The introductory paragraph should inform the reader of the essay's:
topic.
purpose.
main idea.

An introductory paragraph consists of three elements:

a hook sentence (hooks can be eye-catching statements, surprising statistics, quotations, general
truths, questions)
building sentences (building sentences explain the history of the topic, provide facts and
statistics on the topic, mention the current situation on the topic, mention attitudes or opinions on
the topic). Building sentences can be organized, for example, from general to more specific
information (also called the funnel introduction) or chronologically.
a thesis statement

Evaluate the following introductions. Are they good introductory paragraphs? How are they
organized? Identify the supporting sentences and the thesis statements. Do they make you want to
keep reading the essay?
a) U2 have always produced rhetorically powerful songs. From the spiritually driven "I Still Havent
Found What Im Looking For" to the blatantly sexual "If You Wear That Velvet Dress," audiences
have been persuaded to examine their religious doubts as well as to give in to their emotions.
Never a band content in sticking to one style, their music has evolved and taken many forms.
Their more recent songs show a level of complexity so far unsurpassed in music, drawing heavily
on the ambiguity of paradox in songs like "So Cruel" while evoking sensory overload with the aid
of the list structure in "Numb." But one of the most powerful songs dates back to their early
years, when their style was Senecan-like, seemingly simpler and more direct. "Sunday Bloody
Sunday" stands out as one of U2s finest songs because of its simple rhetoric, its excellent
melodic quality and the topic it deals with.
b) During the Great Depression of the 1930s, thousands of Americans lost their jobs and their homes
when farms and businesses failed and unemployment and poverty exploded. As a result, many
were set adrift to wander and to seek work in strange places. This rootlessness created a jarring
contrast to the ideal of the American Dream that so many Americans had been led to believe was
within everybodys reach: that if you work hard enough, you can create your own fortune, no
matter what. In his novel, Of Mice and Men, set in the 1930s, John Steinbeck portrays several of
these lonely, drifting characters who are struggling under the difficult times of the Great
Depression. Characters are skeptical of companionship and are reluctant to make connections to
any person or place. The novel illustrates the emotions, hopes, and disappointments of these

characters, who opt out of the belief in owning property and being a member of a community
because of the miseries that they suffer every day. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses the
emptiness of the ranchers lives to show the American Dream to be nothing more than a myth that
is impossible to achieve and he does this through character description.

2. The Body Paragraphs


A body paragraph should include:

A topic sentence- the first sentence of the body paragraph. States the main idea of the paragraph.
Consists of the topic + the controlling idea
Supporting sentences- provide the reasons, evidence and explanations
A concluding sentence- summarizes the reasons in the paragraphs and shows how the reasons
prove the writers position in the thesis.

Read the following body paragraph and identify the elements listed above:
Smoking causes a number of problems in restaurants. - A topic sentence
First, smoking can damage the health of people who work in restaurants. According to government
research, working for four hours in a restaurant that permits smoking is the same as smoking six
cigarettes. In addition, smoke can reduce customers enjoyment of visiting a restaurant. For example, if
smoke gets into peoples mouths, they are less sensitive to taste, and particles of smoke may overpower
delicate foods. For many people, the chance to eat delicious food is a reason for going to a restaurant, but
cigarette smoke often spoils that chance. - Supporting sentences
Therefore, a smoking ban in all restaurants would allow employees and customers to feel comfortable
because their health and ability to enjoy the experience would be better protected. - A concluding
sentence

3. The Concluding Paragraph


An effective concluding paragraph consists of three parts:

A restatement of the thesis topic and position.


A summary of the main ideas.
The writers final thought (this can be an opinion/judgment, a solution/recommendation, a
prediction/speculation.

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