5 Paragraph Essay Structure

The five paragraph essay structure is the simplest and most commonly used structure when it comes to writing essays. It is a simple and straight forward technique that makes the most complicated essay easy. The overall structure of a five paragraph essay is fairly simple. The first paragraph is an introduction that ends in a thesis. The three body paragraphs each cover one of three main points that you are trying to argue in your thesis. The final paragraph is a conclusion.

It starts off with an introductory paragraph that concisely gives the reader background knowledge needed to understand the content of the paper. The background information should be kept short and straight to the point. You should avoid starting with trite phrases such as “Since the beginning of time” if at all possible. Try to put some general and interesting information about your topic up front to draw your reader into the main part of your argument which will occur in the body of the paper.

Usually around the end of the introductory paragraph, the writer should include a thesis statement that emphasizes the main argument of the paper and what will be discussed in the following body paragraphs. Mostly, in the case of five paragraph essays, the thesis will have three parts for it, each part representing a topic for each of the three body paragraphs. In college, you should avoid thesis constructions that read like “In my paper I will prove…” and try to form more complex arguments, “White majority cultural misappropriation of other cultures’ artifacts objectifies both majority and minority culture because…”

In the following body paragraphs, the writer should provide a good argument for the overall topic and provide specific details that will help depict the argument. Each paragraph should start out with a topic sentence that tells the reader approximately what to expect in the paragraph, and should conclude with a transition to the next paragraph. In the case of especially long paragraphs, a brief summary can also occur as the last sentence. Each of your details should be supported by specific examples that usually come from outside sources and should be cited appropriately. These examples help prove to the reader that a writer’s argument is legit and debatable.

The final concluding paragraph should restate the thesis, but not directly. This paragraph serves to give the entire paper a sense of completeness, and merely restating the thesis will not do the job. Some teachers ask for a summary here, otherwise want you to point to an answer to the problem you are discussing in your essay. If you are talking about a historical event, pointing to what happened after it might work, and if you are talking about a current problem talking about the future is always a good choice.

There are many different kinds of five paragraph essays. There are the informative ones where the writer throws out three different topics to write about. Another type of essay is a compare and contrast essay, and when it is applied to the five paragraph format, it includes the introduction and the thesis, followed by body paragraphs, where the first talks about one topic, the next compares itself to the first topic, and the final contrasts the two points. Of course, there is a conclusion that sums up the entire paper. There are also cause and effect essays, where the introduction can include the cause, followed by the three body paragraphs that depict the different effects, or visa versa. In general, there are many ways of writing a five paragraph writing assignment, and it all depends on what the topic is.

In college writing you will sometimes be asked to write a five paragraph essay. However, many instructors actually want more from you than a simply five paragraph format. Always ask your teacher if you are not sure of what format they prefer.



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