Douglas Adams  
   Home  Listening/Speaking |  Grammar |  Reading |  Writing 


Activity links

Lesson Plans








abridged stories




essay skills

verb choice

end focus


Web Design

How To Center





created and maintained by
Douglas E. Adams

choosing good verbs | end focus | writing center | teacher center | home | activity center

Five Paragraph Essay Writing:

Choosing and narrowing a topic:

When choosing a topic for your essay you should be sure to a subject about which you can write a lot.

for example:
you might choose Sports as your broad topic. Sports covers a wide area of information so you now will want to narrow this topic a little. Perhaps you could narrow the topic to a specific type of sport: Soccer. Soccer is still a broad topic and would require an essay many pages long to cover it completely. Therefore we need to narrow our topic still more. Maybe we can talk about: The last World Cup Soccer Championship. This is much narrower than 'Sports' but still would require a long essay to discuss every aspect of the last World Cup championship. So, let's narrow the topic further and write about: The most valuable player on the French Team during the last World Cup championship... Now we have a suitably well narrowed topic about which we can probably write a five paragraph essay. In fact, we can even use this narrowed topic as our Topic Sentence.

The most valuable player on the French Team during the last World Cup championship was Mr. X.

Most English essays have four main sections:
  • Introduction(Intro)
  • Thesis Statement
  • Body
  • Conclusion

As the name implies, the introduction is the section of your essay which comes first.(this does not mean you have to write it first)Your introduction should:
  1. give readers some idea as to what your essay is about.(your topic)
  2. get your reader's attention...make them interested enough to want to read your essay.

Very often your intro will also have a Thesis Statement at its end. However, we'll talk more about this later.

So, how can we write an interesting introduction that will catch the reader's attention? There are four techniques that seem to work well and can be combined to make a good introduction. Let's look at another topic.
  • Use a question.
    Why should someone study in another country?

  • Use short story or example.
    Ex: a short story about an experience someone had living in another country

    People like stories, and will generally want to read on if your story is interesting. Keep in mind that your story doesn't have to be true. If you can't think of anything interesting that happened to someone you know, just make something up. No one will know.

  • Use facts or statistics.
    Every year approximately 360,000 international students come to the U.S. to learn English and/or pursue a degree.

    Keep in mind that if you use facts or statistics, you will need to paraphrase the information from a reliable source.

  • Use a quote.
    "Living abroad has changed my life in more ways than I ever could have imagined." explained Tian Yu, a Chinese student studying business at the University of Florida.

    Note, that a quote does not have to be a famous saying or proverb. Rather it can be as simple as a made up line from an imaginary student.

Writing a thesis statement:

The supporting details we wrote above can also be combined with the narrowed topic sentence to make a thesis statement A thesis statement is simply your narrowed topic sentence + your supporting details. It states your opinion/main idea and then gives some short reasons that support it.

for example:

People choose to live in another country because of x, y, and z.

The body is the main part of your essay and is also the longest section of your essay. Within the body is where you place the Supporting Details of your essay.

The most important thing to remember is that people should know that your essay is finished after they read the conclusion. There is no one best way to write a conclusion though. However, there are some forms that are commonly found in conclusions.

for example:
  1. Restate your thesis and main supports in a different way.
  2. or
  3. If you are writing an opinion essay, you can briefly show the opposite point-of-view from the opinion you argued while still showing that your opinion is the best. This shows that you understand both sides of an issue.
  4. or
  5. If you propose a problem in your essay, you could then propose a possible solution in the conclusion.

Creating supporting details:

Now that you have a good narrowed topic sentence it's time to think of some reasons/facts that support or explain your topic sentence.

for example:
In our narrowed topic sentence we said:
The most valuable player on the French Team during the last World Cup championship was Mr. X.
Q) What are some reasons why Mr. X was the most valuable player on the French team durring the last World Cup?
  1. He was a team leader.
  2. He demonstrated great athletic ability.
  3. He played even though he was injured.

Each of the three statements above support the opinion that Mr.X was the most valuable player. These are called supporting details. Furthermore, each of these statements can be used to make a thesis statement. They also can be expanded into 3 paragraphs that support your topic sentence. For a five paragraph essay you should have at least three supporting detail paragraphs.

Creating supporting detail paragraphs:

To make the body of our essay we need to expand the supporting details we wrote eariler into three separate paragraphs.
Q) How do we do this?
Take each of the supporting detail sentences and think of some information that explains them more completely.

for example:
  1. He was a team leader. (motivated his teammates, gave a lot of good advice, acted responsibly)
  2. He demonstrated great athletic ability. (scored 3 goals, practiced hard between games, when everyone else was tired and slowing down, he continued to give his best effort and work hard,)
  3. He played even though he was injured. (played with an injured knee, doctors told him it was risky, Mr. X stated that he played because his team needed him.)

We can now make three paragraphs out of the information above.

for example:

Mr.X was the most valuable player because he was a team leader. He motivated his teammates to play their best and not give up. Furthermore, he also gave them good advice to improve their performance. Finally, he also acted responsibly and advised the fans to act peacefully.

In addition to to being a team leader, Mr. X demonstrated great atheletic ability. He scored three goals in the last game and always practiced hard between games. Additionally, when everyone else was tired and slowing down, he continued to give his best effort and work hard. This resulted in his team's victory.

Not only did Mr. X demonstrate great atlethic ability; he also played even though he was injured. He played the last two games with an injured knee. The doctors told him it was risky to continue to play and that he could permanently damage his knee. However, Mr. X stated that he played because his team needed him.

*Notice that the first sentence in each supporting detail paragraph was a transition sentence. A transition sentence connects paragraphs together and makes your essay sound more smooth.

More to come...


page last modified: March 15, 2014

Top of Page Learn more about the Embry-Riddle Language Institute
Copyright © 2014 Tesltimes.com

Home | Search | Campus Map | Contact
Search maintained by Douglas Adams | Contact Us