WRITING BETTER PARAGRAPHS
What is a paragraph?
A paragraph can be divided into three different sections. The first section is the topic sentence which is usually at the beginning of the paragraph, the body and the closing.
The Topic Sentence
This topic sentence tells you what the paragraph is going to be about, and how it relates to the subject of the essay and the previous paragraph.
Body sentences support the topic of the paragraph. There are supporting details and elaboration in these sentences.
This sentence completes the idea expressed in the paragraph. It should also set up a connection to the next paragraph.
1. A good paragraph has only one main idea and one or two supporting details.
First and foremost, I would buy a house for my parents, preferably a bungalow, in a quiet town. I would equip the house with the latest technology so that it would be a smart home. My mother would have a state-of-the-art kitchen as she loves cooking. There would also be a robot to clean and vacuum the house. I will certainly make sure that my family is comfortably settled in this house.
The main idea of the sentence is ‘buying a house for my parents’ and I go on to describe in detail what the house would be like.
2. How to elaborate or add supporting details?
To support a topic sentence, consider some of these possible ways:
• Add examples
• Supply further details or explanation
• Tell a story that illustrates the point you're making
• Discuss a process
• Compare and contrast
Most word processing software gives you several options for printing. You can print a copy or several copies of the same document with different fonts. Besides that, you can also print a range of pages. What is more, you can even preview a document before printing it out. You can finally say goodbye to the good old typewriter.
Topic sentence: word processing software – several options for printing.
Body sentences (Supporting details): print a copy, several copies, different fonts, a range of pages, preview.
Note that I have given examples and explanation to support my main idea.
Closing sentence: I end the paragraph by implying that now that you have the software, you can say goodbye to the typewriter.
3. Choice of words
i. Do not use tired words like ‘beautiful’ or ‘nice’. Use: magnificent, breathtaking, inspiring, fantastic, and so on.
i. Do not pepper your essay with words that are superfluous. If a sentence means the same thing with a word taken out, take it out. Using extra words and phrases which do not add anything to what you are saying will imply to the examiner that you are running out of things to say.
Do not write:
Ever since Mr Tan came into my class, he transformed it, changing it so that it was altogether different from what it has been like before.
Mr Tan transformed my class. (Here, give examples of how he did it.)
ii. Do not use words or phrases that are either unheard of or too bombastic.
Chin Yit, a student from Pahang wrote to ask whether using ‘beatiful words’ will gain her more marks. She had taken these words from a thesaurus. Her teacher is right. She will not gain more marks as she is testing the examiner and boring her readers.
Example: propitious (favourable), ebullient(cheerful),affray(scuffle,fight), edacious.