The Elements of a Paragraph

A paragraph is a group of related sentences which develops one main idea or one main topic. A good paragraph has five basic elements: a topic, a topic sentence, supporting sentences, unity and coherence, A topic is what the paragraph is about or what the paragraph discusses. This topic is usually expressed in a topic sentence.

Thus, a topic sentence announces what you are going to write. A good topic sentence has a focused controlling idea which limits or controls and announces the aspect of the topic you are going to write, Supporting sentences develop what you state about your topic in the controlling idea. A focused controlling idea in the topic sentence helps you produce supporting sentences which are relevant with the controlling idea.

Supporting sentences that are all relevant with the controlling idea in the topic sentence produce a unified paragraph. A unified paragraph discusses only one main idea stated in the topic sentence, or more specifically in the controlling idea. Besides being unified, a good paragraph should also be coherent. A paragraph is coherent if the movement from one sentence to the next is logical and smooth. The following paragraph checklist help you check your paragraph to see if your paragraph is already good.

Paragraph checklist
Topic sentence

  1. Does your topic sentence have a controlling idea? ____

  2. Is the controlling idea already focused? ____

Supporting sentences

Do all of the supporting sentences directly support ____
the controlling idea in the topic sentence? Coherence

  1. Do you apply key noun repetition and pronouns appropriately?____

  2. Do you use transition signals appropriately? ____

  3. Are all of your sentences arranged logically? ____

The Narrative Paragraph

Narrative paragraph is a paragraph about a story or series of events organized by time order. In other words, when you write a narrative paragraph, it means that you write a story. And a good narrative paragraph has three important qualities. First, it tells a series of events or actions. Second, the events are organized chronologically or by time sequence. And the last, it shows the writer’s point or purpose.

Narration is more often about past story, but sometimes it is also about repeated present story. In this module, the first is referred to as past narration and the second as present narration. Past and present narration have several similarities and differ mainly in when the story takes place. Therefore, in writing both present and past narration, you need to keep yourself aware with your choice of verb tenses.

To achieve coherence in your narration, you should make use of appropriate time expressions to show clearly to your readers the relationship among the events in your story. Besides, your skill in choosing appropriate tenses is also very important for this purpose.

Last but not least, make yourself sure that you keep in your mind your point or purpose of writing. It will help you achieve unity in your paragraph by telling you which ideas to include and to exclude.


Description of A Place

In descriptive writing, actually you are painting a picture with words. The topic sentence for a descriptive paragraph should give the topic (the place you are describing) and the controlling idea (the dominant impression, idea, or attitude). In descriptive writing, therefore, you need to support the dominant impression with descriptive details. Descriptive details are concrete and specific. They are word that appeals to one of our five senses – sight, smell, touch, taste, or hearing. Always strive to make details specific as vague descriptions suggest that your thought is vague and imprecise. Moreover, specific details makes writing more interesting.

In descriptive writing it is often important for reader to be able to “see” in their mind the place being described. To help readers see the place, you must organize the supporting details in your description according to space. In spatial organization, you first describe ion part of the place, then move on to describe another part of the place, and so on. Thus, you show the relationship of things to each other in space and guide the reader through space.

Description of a Person

In describing a person, you could describe the physical appearance, the behavior, or both. At this point, the discussion is restricted to physical appearance, since for the most part the principle of organization is spatial. You can describe a person’s appearance in many ways. You can describe the person’s clothes, manner of walking, color and style of hair, facial appearance, body shape, and expression. You can also describe the person’s way of talking. Just what you select depends on the topic and the purpose.

Remember, you are the painter with words so you want your description to be clear, coherent – logically arranged. A strong controlling idea and more descriptive details make the description more interesting. When describing a person, you are not obliged to describe every single details about the person’s appearance. Sometimes it is better to focus on one or two outstanding features that convey something about the person’s character. Such a description gives the reader the general impression about the person.


Specific Details as Support

In expository writing, the writer is trying to prove the point he is making by providing the reader with supports. Good proof is factual detail.

Factual details are facts and information that explain the main idea and make it specific. They provide answers to the questions who, what, why, when, where, and how. Factual details make the main idea believable to the reader and thus provide effective support. Therefore, a writer must test each detail to see whether or not it will prove the controlling idea. Not only should support be specific; it should be relevant as well. Remember, all of the details in a paragraph must support the controlling idea of the topic sentence and all the sentences in the paragraph should relate to the controlling idea in order to make the paragraph unified.

Examples and Illustrations as Support

When you use examples and illustrations to support your point (controlling idea):

  1. Make sure that your examples or illustration really support your point.

  2. Introduce them with appropriate transition signals. Three common transitions are for example, for instance, and e.g. (from Latin exempli gratia, for example).

Organization of Examples and Details

These are the important points you should have learned from this unit:

  1. When a paragraph contains several details and examples, it is necessary to consider the order of their presentation. In the expository paragraph, there is no prescribed or set pattern of organization to follow; the ordering depends upon the subject and often upon the author’s logic. However, there are some common patterns that might be considered guidelines: order of importance, order of familiarity, and chronological order.

  2. Each method of organization has special words and expressions

Resourse : The Book title Advanced Writing



  1. well i think, the students of english education program can understand what are explained in the blog above. as we learn language which is not only as a means of communication, we must learn the language in detail information in order to share aour ideas and feelings through written or spoken media.

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