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THE FIVE-PARAGRAPH ESSAY

The use of this format is controversial. Proponents argue that it teaches students how to organise their thoughts clearly in writing; opponents characterize its structure as rigid and repetitive.

Introductory paragraph

The introductory paragraph should also include the thesis statement, a kind of mini-outline for the essay. This is where the writer grabs the reader’s attention. It tells the reader what the paper is about. The last sentence of this paragraph must also include a transitional “hook” which moves the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the essay.

Body – First paragraph

The first paragraph of the body should include the strongest argument, most significant example, cleverest illustration, or an obvious beginning point. The first sentence should contain the “reverse hook” which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the introductory paragraph. The subject for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This subject should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the second paragraph of the body.

Body – Second paragraph

The second paragraph of the body should include the second strongest argument, second most significant example, second cleverest illustration, or an obvious follow up the first paragraph in the body. The first sentence of this paragraph should contain the reverse hook, which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the first paragraph of the body. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the third paragraph of the body.

Body – Third paragraph

The third paragraph of the body should include the weakest argument, weakest example, weakest illustration, or an obvious follow up to the second paragraph in the body. The first sentence of this paragraph should contain the reverse hook, which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the second paragraph. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional concluding hook that signals the reader that this is the final major point being made in this essay. This hook also leads into the concluding paragraph.

Concluding paragraph

The fifth paragraph is the summary paragraph. It is important to restate the thesis and three supporting ideas in an original and powerful way as this is the last chance the writer has to convince the reader of the validity of the information presented.

This paragraph should include the following:

  1. An allusion to the pattern used in the introductory paragraph,
  2. A restatement of the thesis statement, using some of the original language or language that “echoes” the original language. (The restatement, however, must not be a duplicate thesis statement.)
  3. A summary of the three main points from the body of the essay.
  4. A final statement that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end. (This final statement may be a “call to action” in a persuasive essay.)
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