5 Paragraph Essay Structure

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5 Paragraph Essay Structure

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraph One
  • Body Paragraph Two
  • Body Paragraph Three
  • Conclusion

Thesis Statements

  • Definition:
    • A single declarative sentence that expresses what you want your readers to understand; the controlling idea of your essay and road map for your paper
    • Directly answers the prompt
    • Makes a claim that others could refute
    • Last sentence of your introduction (for now…)

Introductions and Thesis Statements

  • At least three mature sentences
  • Introduces the basic idea or general concept of the essay
  • Creates interest (the hook)
  • Ends with a thesis statement (controlling idea of the paper)
  • Think of your introduction as a funnel. It starts with a broad, general overview of the topic before narrowing down to your specific thesis.

Thesis Example

  • You can’t use this couple, but here’s an example of a thesis for your Famous Couples Essay
  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ relationship failed due to the massive age difference, the Church of Scientology, and the pressure of being a celebrity couple.
  • I will have three body paragraphs focused on…
  • 1.) The massive age difference
  • 2.) The Church of Scientology
  • 3.) The pressure of being a celebrity couple

Introductory Hooks

  • Draws in the reader
  • Tone should match the essay (serious, humorous, etc.)
  • Introduces the topic you will be talking about
  • Possibility: Start with a quote from one of your researched sources or give a brief background overview of the topic.
  • **DO NOT start your essay with a rhetorical question!
    • Has there ever been a time when . . .
    • Have you ever wondered . . .
    • What would you do if . . .

Writing Body Paragraphs

  • Body paragraphs should follow this basic outline:
  • 1.) Topic Sentence – shows the main idea of the paragraph
  • 2.) Concrete Detail (evidence) – facts/data, quotes, examples
  • 3.) Commentary (analysis) – your analysis, explanation, or interpretation of your CD.
  • 4.) Concluding/Transition Sentence – wraps up the main idea of the paragraph, or leads the reader into the idea of the next paragraph
  • Hmmm, look a little familiar to something we just discussed?

TS, CD, CM, CS—Now What?

  • We will use a combination (or “ratio”) of 1:2. That is, for every 1 CD, you will have 2 CMs.
  • A combination of CDs and CMs is called a chunk.
  • This will be important in research when you are bringing in multiple pieces of evidence for one topic.

For Example…

  • A student should attempt at least one Pre-AP course in 9th grade because colleges want to see that their applicants are striving to take challenging classes. According to College Board, “studies have shown that the rigor of a student's high school curriculum is the single best predictor of success in college” (College Board). Even if a student is struggling in a Pre-AP course, it is important for teenagers to push themselves to work harder, to manage their time, and to learn how to study. These are skills that will pay off tremendously in college. Colleges are looking for students who they know will be good additions to their campus, and Pre-AP classes are just the proof these universities need to predict student success.


  • A good paragraph will use strong transition words. These are words or phrases that help readers connect your ideas.
  • Example transitions:
  • For example,
  • For instance,
  • Consequently,
  • Thus,
  • As a result,
  • Because of this,
  • In summary,
  • Hence,
  • Therefore,

Academic Language

  • No “You” EVER!!!!!! (Unless it’s in a quote)
  • No first person – (“I think…” “We learn…” “The story teaches us…”)
  • No contractions (can’t, don’t, etc), slang, casual or conversational language
  • No rhetorical questions
  • Here are a list of a few words/phrases that make your English teacher cringe:
  • kinda gonna cuz
  • wanna back in the day now a days

Referencing your Evidence: Long Works/Short Works

  • Italics if the work is long (novels, plays, epic poems, albums, movie titles)
  • “Quotes” if the work is short (poems, short stories, articles, song titles)
    • Odyssey
    • Odyssey  (or Odyssey if handwritten)
    • The Lost Boys of Sudan
    • “The Lost Boys of Sudan” 

Expository Writing

  • Expository writing is writing with the purpose to inform, explain, describe, or define the author's subject to the reader.
  • Common Organizational Patterns:
  • -Compare/Contrast – explain how 2+ more things are alike/ different -Cause/Effect - identifies one more causes and the resulting effects
  • -Definitiondescribes characteristics, features or examples
  • -Problem/Solution – the writer addresses a problem and possible ways to fix it

Understanding Expository Prompts

  • STAAR Expository Prompts consist of 3 parts:
  • 1. Read
  • 2. Think
  • 3. Write
  • The “Read” will introduce the basic concept of the prompt.
  • The “Think” is intended to get your “gears turning” and help you generate ideas.
  • The “Write” will present you with your specific task.


  • Read the information in the box below:
  • Some high schools in Orlando, Florida are separating boys and the girls from one another during the school day. They have now created “Girls Only” and “Boys Only” campuses. The Orlando school district, along with many parents in the area, feels that this drastic change will greatly benefit the teenagers of this community. 
  • Think about the advantages and disadvantages of being at a school with no peers of the opposite sex.
  • Write an essay presenting the advantages or disadvantages of attending a same gender school.
  • Be sure to —
  • clearly state your thesis
  • organize and develop your ideas effectively
  • choose your words carefully
  • edit your writing for grammar, mechanics, and spelling

More Sample Expository Prompts

  • Everyone has rules they must follow. What are the most important rules at your school and why are they important?
  • Explain whether people should be more concerned about others than about themselves.
  • Describe how one technological innovation has impacted society.
  • Explain whether using a cell phone while driving should be legal or illegal.
  • You have a new foreign exchange student in your class. Describe the purpose and possible uses of a backpack to this student.

Guidelines for Websites

  • Websites that are .gov, .org, or .edu will always be reliable.
  • If it is a .com, look at who is sponsoring the website. Ex, foxnews.com, cnn.com, or people.com are very reliable, but perezhilton.com – ehhh – not so much.
  • Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, About.com, etc. are unacceptable.
  • If in doubt, ASK!!!
  • Remember: Databases already have the citation created for you. If not using a database, use www.easybib.com to create your works cited entries.
  • "First Lady Will Lead US Delegation to 2012 Olympics." Fox News. FOX News Network,
  • 13 Mar. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. .

3 Ways to incorporate evidence

  • Blended quotes
  • * using words that are not your own
  • * taking lines word for word from the source
  • * remember to keep quotes short (what are the most important elements)
  • Sample: In March the White House released news that Michelle Obama would “lead the official U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games” (First).

3 Ways to incorporate evidence

  • 2. Paraphrasing
  • * expressing someone’s ideas in your own
  • language
  • * requires you to use entirely your own language
  • * you must alter the sentence structure of the
  • original piece
  • Sample: The White House recently announced that Michelle Obama will continue to carry on an Olympic tradition started by Hillary Clinton in 1994 by leading the U.S. delegation at the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies. She is also using this opportunity to continue to promote her Let’s Move fitness initiative for children (First).

3 Ways to incorporate evidence

  • 3. Summarizing
  • * takes the main idea from a large passage
  • * condenses that idea using your own words
  • * shorter than a paraphrase
  • Sample: The White House recently announced that First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the U.S. delegation of athletes at the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies (First).

Internal Documentation

  • Internal documentation is located at the end of a sentence where researched information is presented, not the end of the paragraph.
  • It is also called parenthetical citation (because the information is in parenthesis!)
  • The period of the sentence follows the last parenthesis.
  • You will use a signal word/phrase from the Works Cited citation (usually the author’s last name or the first word of the article title).
  • If citing a book, you must include the page number as well as the author’s last name.

Internal Documentation Practice

  • What would be my parenthetical citation for each of the following sources?
  • "Pair of Bald Eagles Thwart Chicago's Plan for Outdoor Shooting Range." Fox News. FOX News Network, 13 Mar. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. .
  • Scolforo, Mark. "Judge Denies Sandusky Bid for More Particulars." News from The Associated Press. Houston Chronicle, 13 Mar. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. .
  • Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print.
  • *A Quote used from page 112
  • (Pair)
  • (Scolforo)
  • (Beah 112)

Works Cited

  • It is the last page of your essay (it is on a page by itself)
  • It should be titled Works Cited at the top center
  • Sources should be listed in alphabetical order by the first word of the citation.
  • The page should be double spaced.
  • Use hanging indents (indent the second line or more of each citation)
  • No numbers or bullets
  • Citations for databases are located at the bottom of the article
  • For websites, go to www.easybib.com and copy the URL address to generate the citation.

Sample Works Cited

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