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The Basic Five Paragraph Essay

Page history last edited by Jon Brammer 11 years, 6 months ago

In general, the most basic essay form has five or more paragraphs and presents the point of view of the writer on a given subject.


Paragraph 1

Introduction- In the first paragraph, usually three items are mentioned: 1) the text/idea (texts/ideas) being used, the positions available on those texts/ideas, and 3) the specific angle (thesis) that will be taken by you (the writer).


Paragraph 2

Developing Support- The next paragraph should be devoted to expanding one of the points mentioned in the introduction.  If support from the text is needed, then it should be introduced and cited appropriately.  Usually, the supporting paragraphs follow the same order as the points brought out in the introduction.  For example, if you write that an author named Smith uses images of water, birds, and the weather to show the mood of his book, then the supporting paragraphs often follow in the same order (water, then birds, then weather).


Paragraphs 3 and 4

Continuing Support- These passages should continue to flesh out the ideas that you brought up in your introduction.  They need to address the ideas that you think support your general thesis in the essay.


Paragraph 5

Conclusion- This paragraph is often the most important one in an essay.  The conclusion is the last thing the reader will read and remember.  Two main ideas should be placed in a concluding paragraph: 1) a summary of your thesis and how the evidence you present supports it, and 2) a solid ending thought that brings your point home to the reader.  It is not necessary to start this paragraph with “in conclusion”!  The reader will know you are ending if this paragraph is well written.  Also, when restating your main idea, try to choose language that is slightly different from the wording you used in your introduction.


Essay formats are very flexible, so don’t worry about sticking to exactly five paragraphs.  It is more important that you include the general concepts presented here and organize your essay writing appropriately.  Remember: this handout is only a place to start!  As you become more comfortable with your writing, you will learn when to leave these guidelines behind!


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