Matthew Walsh's EFL ESL website

Paragraph Structure #1
The topic sentence (thesis), the evidence, and the conclusion.

  Most of the students got a score of 2. I got a score of 3,  but Andy got a score of 6! Let's see why.
  You can see how Criterion graded your essay by looking at the different types of mistakes. There is a list when you click 'feedback analysis'. (see below)

  Most students did very well in 'Grammar', 'Usage', 'Mechanics', and 'Style.' In 'style' however, using the same word twice was seen as bad. We will talk about that next time.  Today, we will learn about 'Organization & Development', because that's where most of the mistakes were.
'Organization & Development' is about the structure of an essay.  The structure of a paragraph is very similar to the structure of the whole essay, so today we will look at this.

The Construction of a Paragraph
   There are three basic parts of a paragraph :

1)  Topic Sentence (Thesis)
2)  Evidence (Supporting Ideas)
3)  Conclusion

      1)  The topic sentence, says the main idea of the paragraph. In an essay this is called a 'thesis'.  It says your idea, or opinion. In English, the topic sentence is at or near the beginning. but in Japanese, it is usually near the end, so this may seem strange to you.
   By reading the topic sentence we already know what you are going to say, but we don't know your reasons yet. You cannot change your idea later in the paragraph. You say your main point in the topic sentence.

   2)  The evidence sentences have the reasons for your opinion in the topic sentence. You must give several reasons for your opinion ( at least 2 or 3 ). By reading the evidence, we will believe your opinion in the topic sentence. You will convince us.

          * Use labels to mark your evidence. Criterion can see these and they are normal in an essay like this. 
  Here are some examples:
    First of all, Firstly, In the first place, To start off with...
    Secondly, Another reason is that, Next...
    Finally, Lastly...

   3)   The conclusion says the idea of the topic sentence again. It usually expresses your opinion even stronger than the topic sentence does. It often declares something broader, or more widespread than your topic sentence. After we have read the evidence, we believe you, so now you can really make the point even stronger. The conclusion leaves an impression that we will never forget.

          *Use labels here too,
Here are some examples:
For these reasons, In conclusion...
  Let's try to write the essay again but this time make sure you have a topic sentence, supported by evidence, and a conclusion that is labeled.

Here is my example Can you see the parts and labels?


I really hate Natto.  < Topic Sentence

First of all, Natto smells terrible. The first time I smelled it I thought it was a stinky foot. Even now if I smell it, I think something must be rotten like food or a dead animal.  < Evidence #1

Secondly, Natto looks terrible. It looks slimey and sticky when you stir it up. It also looks something like moldy food that has been in the back of a refrigerator for a year at a single man's apartment. It does not look like something safe to put in your mouth!  < Evidence #2

Finally, Natto is very messy. It is stringy and sticks to everything it touches. For this reason it usually spills on the floor or leaves a stringy residue on the fingers or face of the person who eats it. The person goes around all day with Natto on his or her fingers and face and smells terrible. People around them, like the person's family, get angry because of the smell.  < Evidence #3

For these reasons, Natto is the worst food on the planet earth and should be banned from stores and made illegal to produce. < Conclusion

  *Separate the parts by leaving one blank line. ( topic - evidence ), ( evidence - next evidence ), ( last evidence - conclusion ). This makes the parts easier to see for Criterion, but we usually don't do this when we write on paper. Also don't forget to use those labels! They also make it easier for Criterion ( or a reader ) to identify the parts.

  *Don't use an online dictionary to find difficult words. If the word is difficult, you probably can't use it correctly (at first). Dictionaries are good for reading, not writing! Think of a simpler word.