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Academic Writing for University Essays: Writing the Body Paragraph

A. Body Paragraph

1. General Definition

- A Unit of text on the page

- defined by indentation or blank lines

- common across genres of writing

2. Definition in academic writing

- A single idea, focused on a single topic

- it is not based on the length

- Paragraph divisions indicate the sequence of thought

- Tend to be longer than in informal writing

3. Purpose of the body paragraph

- To support the essay's main claims by presenting distinct pieces of evidence

- 3 paragraphs = 3 main pieces of evidence

- Linear structure

- Beginning, middle, and end

- Chain of paragraphs

- Paragraphs: links in the chain/ in the argument

4. Types of Body Paragraphs

- Expository paragraph

- Meaning to Describe, explain, and analyze

- Most common type

5. Signposting paragraphs

- Tell the reader about the essay's structure

B. Body Paragraph Structure

1. Sections

- Opening sentence (s)

- Background information/context - a 'topic frame' (optional)

- State the topic of the paragraph - a 'topic sentence' (essential)

-Supporting sentences (body)

- Explore the topic in more detail

- Provide supporting evidence (e.g. examples, facts)

- Concluding sentence (optional)

- final remark

2. Topic Frame and Topic Statement

- Two opening sentences

The sentence in green is a topic frame, and the one in blue is a topic statement

- One opening sentence with two functions

(providing context/ background information-green, and stating the paragraph topic-blue)

- Paragraph containing one opening sentence with one function: stating the paragraph topic

3. Supporting Sentences

- Provide reasons, support, discussion, explanation, and details

- if the opening sentence has three reasons, the supporting provides the details.

- So the structure of the above paragraph:

- Topic sentences (states the topic of the paragraph)

- Reason

- Explanation of the reason

- Reason

- Explanation of the reason

- Reason

- Explanation of the reason

- Concluding sentence (final remark)

- Connectives

- Additional point (also, in addition)

- Change in direction (however, nevertheless)

- Consequence (Therefore, As such)

- Restatement (in other words, that is)

4. Concluding Sentence

- Optional

- General remark (more general than supporting sentences)

Another example by Doctor Sheane (

He made a body paragraph using a similar structure, key point (topic sentence), evidence (supporting paragraph), critical analysis (supporting paragraph) --> explanation, and relate it to the key point/question (concluding sentence).

5. Additional

- Diagram

- Active subheading (for instance: Feedforward is used for rapid movement)

C. Topic Sentence

1. Definition

- The topic sentence introduces the topic of the paragraph

- defines the scope of the paragraph

- First (or second sentence -> you have background sentence) in paragraph

2. Why use topic sentences?

- Clarity

- more easily see paragraph topics

- More easily follow the essay's overall argument

3. Topic sentences relate to the Thesis Statement

- Topic sentences function at the essay-level too

4. Common problems with topic sentence

a. Do not announce the topic

b. Inappropriate topic sentence

Topic sentence does not reflect the content of the paragraph

The first sentence is not related to the rest

c. Absent topic sentence

The lack of topic sentences makes it less clear and it feels disorganized.

In the example, the paragraph begins with the first benefit. Readers might think the next paragraph will explain the first benefit yet it mentions the second and the third benefit sequentially.

adding topic sentence below making the paragraph clearer

D. Second Sentence

1. Two Logical functions of the second sentence

- Directly begin the body of the paragraph

- Present supporting evidence

- Narrow/define the topic of the paragraph further

2. Application

which of the sentences is appropriate to be the second sentence?

E. Common Problem with Paragraphs

1. Lack of Unity

- Multiple ideas

- Not clear which idea is the main idea

- Not sufficiently clear how the ideas relate to each other

- May be too long (e.g. half a page, single-spaced)

- May lack focus/contain more than one topic

2. Main Idea is Underdeveloped

- Idea introduced but not discussed

- Lack of examples, explanations, and evidence

- May be too short (e.g. 1-2 sentences)

3. Example of problematic Paragraph

Have more than one idea and the main idea is underdeveloped

Revised paragraph -> focuses only on one idea

F. Cohesion Between Paragraphs

1. Definition of Cohesion

Grammatical and lexical links between parts of the essay give the essay its overall unity.

2. Why Build Cohesion Between Paragraphs

- Text flow/readability

- Clear structure/organization

- Strength of argument

3. How to Create Cohesion Between Paragraphs

- Opening sentence

- Concluding sentence (sometimes)

- Signposting (especially in a longer essay)

4. Complex Opening Sentence

- What is a complex sentence?

- Subordinate clause (s) + simple clause

- With regard to the role of English fluency, it is of central importance...

- Subordinate clause not grammatically complete on its own

- Connects to previous ideas

5. Examples of Complex Opening Sentences

6. Subordinating expressions

- Transition to an additional point

- With regard to

- As for

- In addition

- Change in direction

- Despite

- Although

- Even though

7. Conjunctions (in front of) and subordinate clauses

8. Concluding sentences

9. Signposting


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