Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. identify  the parts of a paragraph
  2. develop an idea into a paragraph

The Paragraph

When we write an essay, an article,  a letter, or a chapter of a book, we sometimes  speak of more things  than one. Sometimes,  too, we speak of more than one aspect of the same thing.  A device called the paragraph enables us to make clear to ourselves and our readers when we start to speak, either of a new thing  or of a new aspect of the thing  already being discussed. Therefore, we can say the paragraph is a group of sentences about one idea.

The paragraph may also be defined  as the divisions  of a continuous  passage of writing:  an essay, an article,  a letter.

 What do we do in a paragraph?

 When we write, we may state an idea in a sentence. If, as a friend  of Betty‟s, Ann is writing about Betty, one of the things  she will like to write about her is what she likes to do. „What she likes to do‟ is therefore one idea or point Ann will develop about Betty. Let us use questions and answers to illustrate  this:

QUESTION:   What does Betty like to do? 

ANS:              Betty likes to write poems.

QUESTION:   When does Betty write poems?

 ANS:             Betty writes poems when she is sad. 

QUESTION:   When did she last do this?

ANS:              Last night.

QUESTION:   Can you give an example  of what Betty writes?

 ANS:              Recently,  she wrote a poem on how a single  word can hurt. She wrote it when her classmate called her a village  girl.

In the dialogue  above, we asked Ann and she told us what Betty liked to do: write poems. When we write, we must explain  our ideas too. Betty also gave an example of one of the things  that made her sad enough  to make her write a poem. This was when a classmate called her a village girl.  The example makes the idea even clearer.

We will put all these sentences together in a group. This group of sentences will be called a paragraph. Here is the paragraph we will get when we put Ann‟s  answers to the questions together:

Betty likes to write poems. She writes poems, especially when she becomes sad. For example, recently, one of her classmates called her a village girl. This made her very sad. Then she wrote a poem. The poem says how a single word can hurt very much. It is likely that Betty will never forget this event .

Elements of a paragraph

The first answer in the question and answer session says what the whole paragraph is about:

“Betty likes to write poems.” This is the kind of sentence that is called a topic sentence.

 Now the specific idea about Betty that is being discussed is: What Betty likes to do. If we turn this into a question,  we will have: What does Betty like to do? The answer will be: Betty likes to write poems. This is the process that should give you the topic sentence.

 Now, let us try creating  a few topic sentences.

 Let us assume that we are writing  about Betty. Apart from what Betty likes to do, what other things  will you like to say about Betty? Let us pause and write down a few of the things  we will like to say about Betty.

 Here are some of the other ideas you will have put down:

1.   Betty‟s  school

2.   Betty‟s  parents

3.   Betty‟s  best friend

4.   The game Betty likes

5.   Betty‟s  physical appearance

 Now, make a sentence to state each of these ideas. Perhaps the first one will be:

 Betty‟s  school is called Shalom Local Authority  School.

 Now, create your sentences for the four other ideas.

 When you have your topic sentence in place, the other sentences will explain  this idea. How will the other sentences explain  this idea?

When we explain,  we answer questions that begin with what, who, when, where, why, how, whose, which, about the idea.

 Let us take the first idea for an example.  That idea was: What Betty likes to do. The topic sentence was: Betty likes to write poems.

 Now, we could ask ourselves: When does Betty write her poems?

 The answer isShe writes poems when she is sad. We can also ask: Why does she write poems?

As we ask questions like these and we answer them, we will be developing  our idea (our paragraph) by explaining.

 We can develop our idea (our paragraph) further  by giving  examples. Let us look at our sample paragraph again:

Betty likes to write poems. She writes poems, especially when she becomes sad. For example, recently, one of her classmates called her a village girl. This made her very sad. Then she wrote a poem. The poem says how a single word can hurt very much. It is likely that Betty will never forget this event .

The third sentence of the paragraph begins with “for example”.  An example is given  here. This is one common way to give an example.  An example will make to idea being discussed  clearer. It is helping  to develop our idea more.

 Let us try to develop the idea of Betty‟s  school further  here. We shall begin with our topic sentence:

Betty‟s  school is called Shalom Roman Catholic School. It is in Toinjole  town near Amasaman.  It is the school you find  on your right as you enter the village  from Amasaman  on the Accra to Kumasi highway.  Shalom R.C. is the oldest school in the town. Many parents send their children to Shalom R.C. because almost all students of the school pass their WASSSC Examinations  with credit and gain admission  into universities  of their choice.

 Let us try to identify  the questions  that we have answered to explain  the topic: Betty’s school is called Shalom Roman Catholic School.

 We have answered the question: Where can we find Betty’s school?

 In fact, we have given  two answers to this question.

 We have also answered the question: Why did Betty choose this school?

 What other questions can we ask about Betty‟s  school? Write down three other questions that you will like to ask about Betty‟s  school.

You see, by asking and answering  questions on one particular  idea, we can develop a good paragraph.

 Now, let us look at the two main forms of a paragraph.

 Two main forms of a paragraph

 One way by which we identify  a paragraph is the indentation.  The first word of the first line of the paragraph is written  slightly  farther away from the left margin  of the page than the first words of the succeeding  lines in the paragraph.

 The paragraph above will look like this:

 Betty likes to write poems. She writes poems, especially when she becomes sad. For example, recently, one of her classmates called her a village girl. This made her very sad. Then she wrote a poem. The poem says how a single word can hurt very much. It is likely that Betty will never forget this event .

 Another way of indicating  a new paragraph is by leaving  space between one paragraph and another. This is called the block paragraphing  style.

The paragraph will look like this:

Betty likes to write poems. She writes poems, especially when she becomes sad. For example, recently, one of her classmates called her a village girl. This made her very sad. Then she wrote a poem. The poem says how a single word can hurt very much. It is likely that Betty will never forget this event.

 If you use this kind of paragraphing  style,  you will need to leave a line between one paragraph and the next one when you write in your exercise book. This will make clear distinctions  among the paragraphs.

Why we write in paragraphs

There are two main reasons for writing  in paragraphs:

First, the paragraph indicates  that a group of sentences is being written  about the same idea. Second, the idea of a paragraph limits  what we say in a paragraph and helps us to stick to one particular point.

Summary

 In this session,  we have learnt that:

  1. when we write, we need to state the idea we wish to discuss, explain  it, and then, give examples to make the idea even clearer.
  2. we use a group of sentences to discuss one idea in a paragraph.
  3. the paragraph helps us to focus on one idea at a time.
  4. we use the indentation or space to indicate  a new paragraph.

CONTENT CONSULTANTS 

Author

Prosper Kwesi Agordjor, M.Phil.

Peer Reviewers 

John Tetteh Agor, Ph.D. Modestus Fosu, Ph.D.

William Foli Garr, (Rev.) M.Phil.