Paragraphs and Paragraphing: Tools for Perfect Writing




A composition that contains an idea or the ideas in chronological order is called a paragraph. Paragraphing is the way paragraphs are created.

Examining Paragraphs


If you think of a paragraph as a ‘composition in miniature’, you are right. The reason is that it comprises all the components of a composition from the topic sentence to the main ideas, and ends in a summary or closing statement. Here, the paragraphs are classified into two segments: Consider the first segment below.

Organizing Paragraphs

Introductory Developmental Transitional Concluding
Paragraphs Paragraphs Paragraphs Paragraphs


Introductory Paragraphs:

A paragraph which introduces the content of the essay and prepares the reader for what should follow is an introductory paragraph.

It always tells the reader what to expect in the passage and informs him/her what the passage contains. In writing an essay/letter, an introductory paragraph is mandatory and it should be one paragraph. Consider the following example:

I write this letter with humility and sense of commitment to intimate you about incessant blackout in my area.

The paragraph above is an introductory paragraph in a letter to a person in the office. You should note that the variable incessant blackout contained in the paragraph is meant to prepare the ground for the actual content of the letter.

In the introductory paragraph, the reader will have foreknowledge of what will be discussed in the body of the letter.

Developmental Paragraphs

The kind of paragraph evolving or developing a line of thought and is used to clarify or support the main ideas is a developmental paragraph.

The reason is that a developmental paragraph includes other groups/segments of paragraphs such as explanatory paragraph, defining paragraph, narrative paragraph and descriptive paragraph. They will be discussed under the second segments.

Transitional Paragraphs

A paragraph which prepares for a transition from what has already been discussed to what shall subsequently be discussed or shifted from one point to another is a transitional paragraph. This paragraph is aimed at summarising what has been said earlier while dropping hints about what to expect in the latter paragraphs. Consider the example below.

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There are three points to discuss. One of the causes of examination malpractice is student’s lackadaisical attitude. The second cause is parental neglect. Another point …

The first sentence: there are three points to discuss summarises the information discussed in the earlier sections of the essay/letter. The last sentence: another point is… shows the speaker’s readiness to give new information. Therefore, the whole paragraph helps the reader to sequentially move from one point to another without losing the line of discussion.

Concluding Paragraphs

A paragraph that summarises all the points that have been made in other paragraphs or sections is called a concluding paragraph. Here, the author/writer can restate his or her main idea or his or her standpoint to make a list of all the points discussed. Let’s also examine the illustration below.

In conclusion, there is a need for educational authorities, teachers, concerned parents, governments and students to join hands in stamping out this evil act from our society. All those who are involved should face the wrath of the law. If this step is taken, there will be undoubtedly a stop to examination malpractices in our society.

The paragraph summarises all the points that have been made in other paragraphs and the writer restates his or her main idea or his or her standpoint by making a list of all the points discussed.

Developmental Paragraphs

Explanatory Defining

Narrative Descriptive

Explanatory Paragraphs:

In developing paragraphs, there is a particular paragraph that mainly explains ideas. Such a paragraph is an explanatory paragraph which focuses on the presentation of facts and provides more elaborate information on the topic sentence. Look at the example below.

First, student’s negligence about their studies causes mass failure in examinations. Most of the students prefer playing games like table tennis, football, ludo or watching films to reading their books. Even, those who do not have opportunity of playing games or watching films prefer sitting idle to reading their books.

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The topic sentence student’s negligence about their studies causes mass failure in examinations in the paragraph aboveis elaborated to the extent that the reader will be able to identify/recognise the communicative intention of the writer. That is, more information is given about the topic sentence.

Defining Paragraphs

In writing an essay, a certain concept may need to be defined. So, a type of paragraph which provides an explanation of a concept or a word and gives illustrations or simplifies the definition of a word is called a defining paragraph. For example, certain concepts like ‘examination malpractices’, ‘secret cultism’; ‘civilian and military governments’, etc. must be defined with relevant illustrations. Adefining paragraph comes immediately after an introductory paragraph. Examine the illustration below.

Examination malpractice is defined as the bad practices andmisconducts during examinations. It can take the following forms: copying relevant materials during examinations, impersonation, illegal transfer/exchange of papers, furtive glances, abetting students to cheat in the examination hall, selling live questions to students and so on.

Narrative Paragraphs

A paragraph, which tells a story or recounts the events, introduces ideas and calls the reader attention to what is to be explained is called a narrative paragraph. It usually uses the language that arouses and sustains reader’s curiosity and excitement. Examine the example below.

Once upon a time, there was a king in the village of Agunpopo. He was a devout and pious Christian, generous and honest man and led by the fear of God.

In the example above, it is easier to follow the notion of sequence of event as the narrator paints the picture of ‘a king’ for the reader.

Descriptive Paragraphs

A paragraph that provides descriptive details or gives a picture of an event, an emotion, a thing, a place, a person, etc. is known as a descriptive paragraph. It also provides graphic or visual information by which an object or a place can be identified, checked, measured and verified. Look at the following example:

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MrBalarabe who was the chairman of Koko Group is a man of integrity. He was of average size and 10 feet tall. His head was a round globe with big ears flapping like wings. He was dark skinned and was a stammerer. He held a PhD in Mathematics.

In the paragraph above, MrBalarabe was described in terms of size, colour, qualification and genetics.


Examine paragraphs.

Discuss the following segments of paragraphs with examples:

(a) Organisation of paragraphs (first segment)

(b) Developmental paragraphs (second segment)

Author: Deola Adelakun

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