Top 3 Components of a Good Paragraph

An essay comprises of a number of paragraphs, each dwelling on a specific idea, logically linked to the subsequent paragraphs.

We therefore need to know what is a paragraph. A paragraph comprises of a series of sentences, with a proper structure and unity, to communicate a specific idea.

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This may be one idea or a series of related ideas on the subject. Generally a new paragraph begins with a new idea. The first sentence of a paragraph, usually expresses the theme of the sentence and hence is called the ‘topic sentence’ .The other sentences support or amplify the idea in the topic sentence.

A good paragraph must have:

i. Unity

ii. Coherence And

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iii. Variety

i. Unity:

This basically is the central theme or idea of the paragraph .All the other sentences are logically connected to this central idea, thus giving unity to the entire passage. This makes it easy to comprehend. The presence of any irrelevant material that is not connected to the central idea jars the reader, for it violates the principal of unity. This principal of unity is very well illustrated in the following paragraph. (The word in italics represent the central idea)

‘Leadership, in general, means leadership in thought as well as in action. In the long run, leaders in thought may make the greater or lasting difference to the world. But, as Woodrow Wilson once said, “Those only are leaders of men, in the general eye, who lead in action. It is at their hands that new thought gets its translation into the crude language of deeds” Leaders in thought often invent in solitude and obscurity, leaving to later generations the tasks of imitation. Leaders in action have to be effective in their own time’

ii. Coherence:

This is a logical and meaningful arrangement of ideas in a paragraph, to effectively communicate the central idea. This arrangement can be in chronological order of their occurrence, or their importance. The sentences need to be connected with each other by.

1. Using transitional words and phrases to connect the sentences, so that they flow smoothly from one to the other and are coherent. Such transitional words are also called Linkers. They link the sense of one sentence to another, such as notwithstanding, however, nevertheless, in addition to, consequently, finally, lastly, indeed, as a result of, in spite of, in contrast to. Or

2. Using pronouns to link one sentence to another.

The use of transitional words and pronouns, to connect one sentence to another, en­sures smooth flow, thereby elucidating the composition.

The principle of coherence is well illustrated in the very next paragraph of the above composition.

‘An effective leader cannot be effective in isolation. He must act in response to the rhythms of his times. His genius must be adapted to the receptivity of the moment. A leader is useless without followers. “There goes the mob,” said the French politician hearing a clamour in the streets. “I am their leader. I must follow them.” Great leaders turn the inchoate emotions of the mob to purposes of their own.’

iii. Variety:

A composition can be made interesting by adding variety, which motivates the reader to read on. This can be done effectively by using both short and long sentences with appro­priate words, to forcefully bring out the central idea .Repetition of idea or words, make the composition monotonous and dull. The principal of variety is well illustrated in the subsequent paragraph of the above composition.

‘They seize the opportunities of their time. The hopes, fears, frustrations, crises and potentialities. They succeed when events have prepared the way for them, when the com­munity is waiting to be aroused, when they can provide the clarifying and organising ideas. Leadership ignites the circuit, between the individual and the mass and there by alters his­tory.

Leaders have been responsible for the most extravagant follies and most monstrous crimes that have beset suffering humanity. They have also been instrumental in such gains as humanity has made in individual freedom, religious and racial tolerance, social justice and respect for human rights.’

In the above example you would observe the following:

a. The central idea or the topic sentence (in italics) in the paragraph is logically supported by other sentences in the paragraph.

b. The specific idea of the first paragraph smoothly flows on to the next idea in the second and then the third paragraph.

Thus not only sentences in a paragraph should flow smoothly, but their transition to the next paragraph should also be smooth. This elucidates the composition making it in­stantly appealing.

How to Write a Paragraph?

To write a paragraph you should:

1. First identify the central theme (idea) that you want to communicate

2. Choose the topic sentence or the first sentence that effectively communicates the central idea

3. Arrange the other related ideas around the topic sentence logically

4. Lastly write out the paragraph following the above principles of unity , coher­ence and variety

Assignment:

Write a paragraph of about 60 words on the following:

i. Outbreak of monsoon

ii. Benefit of good health

iii. Describe a historical monument

iv. Importance of hobby

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