Thematic Paragraphs and Sentences: Writing Guides: Writing Services: Indiana University Bloomington (2023)

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Thematic paragraphs and phrases

A paragraph is an organized and coherent series of sentences, all related to a single topic. Almost any text longer than a few sentences should be broken down into paragraphs. This is because paragraphs show the reader where an essay's subdivisions begin and end, and therefore help the reader see the essay's organization and understand its main points.

Paragraphs can contain many different types of information. A paragraph can contain a series of short examples or a single long illustration of a general point. They can describe a place, character or process; tell a series of facts; compare or contrast two or more things; sort articles into categories; or describe causes and effects. Regardless of the type of information they contain, all paragraphs have certain characteristics in common. One of the most important is a theme sentence.


A well-organized paragraph supports or develops a single controlling idea, expressed in a sentence called a topic sentence. A topic sentence has several important functions: it confirms or supports the thesis statement of an essay; unifies the content of a paragraph and guides the order of sentences; and informs the reader of the topic being discussed and how the paragraph will address it. Readers often look at the first few sentences of a paragraph to determine the topic and perspective of the paragraph. That's why it's often best to place the topic sentence right at the beginning of the paragraph. However, in some cases it is more effective to precede the subject sentence with another sentence, such as a sentence that links the current paragraph to the previous one or provides background information.

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While most paragraphs should have a topic sentence, there are some situations where a paragraph doesn't need a topic sentence. For example, you can omit a topic sentence in a paragraph that narrates a series of events, if a paragraph continues an idea you introduced (with a topic sentence) in the previous paragraph, or if all the sentences and details in a paragraph are related clearly - perhaps indirectly - to one main point. However, the vast majority of paragraphs should have a topic sentence.


Most essay paragraphs have a three-part structure: introduction, body, and conclusion. You can see this structure in the paragraphs, regardless of whether they tell, describe, compare, contrast, or analyze information. Each part of the paragraph plays an important role in conveying your meaning to your reader.

introduction: the first section of a paragraph; You should include the subject sentence and any other sentences at the beginning of the paragraph that provide background information or provide a transition.

Body: follows the introduction; discusses the main idea using facts, arguments, analysis, examples and other information.

Conclusion: the last section; summarizes the connections between the information discussed in the body of the paragraph and the central idea of ​​the paragraph.

The following paragraph illustrates this organizational pattern. In this paragraph, the topic sentence and closing sentence (in CAPITAL LETTERS) help the reader remember the main point of the paragraph.

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SCIENTISTS HAVE LEARNED TO SUPPLEMENT SIGHT IN VARIOUS WAYS. In front of the small pupil of the put, on Mount Palomar, a large monocle with a diameter of 200 inches, and with it he sees 2,000 times further into the depths of space.the lookthrough a small pair of lenses, placed like a microscope in a drop of water or blood, and magnifying it up to 2,000x, the creatures that live there, many of whom are among man's most dangerous enemies.Ö, if we want to see distant events on Earth,they useSome of the electromagnetic waves previously wasted on transmitting television images are recreated as light by shooting tiny crystals containing electrons at a screen in a vacuum.or they can bringLong ago and distant events like color films, the arrangement of silver atoms and color absorbing molecules to force light waves into the patterns of primordial reality.Öif we want to see the center of a steel foundry or the chest of a wounded child,you sentinformation into a penetrating short-wavelength X-ray beam and then converts it back into images that we can see on a screen or photograph. THEREFORE ALMOST EVERY TYPE OF ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION THAT HAS BEEN DETECTED WAS USED TO ENHANCE SENSES IN SOME WAY.

George Harrison, "The Faith and the Scientist"


In a coherent paragraph, each sentence is clearly connected to the topic sentence or main idea, but there's more to coherence. When a paragraph is coherent, each sentence flows seamlessly into the next, with no apparent breaks or breaks. A coherent paragraph also highlights the connections between old and new information so that the structure of the ideas or arguments is clear to the reader.

In addition to the fluent sentence flow, the coherence of a paragraph can also be traced back to its length. For example, if you have written a very long paragraph that fills a double-spaced page, you should carefully consider whether to start a new paragraph where the original paragraph deviated from its main idea. On the other hand, if a paragraph is very short (maybe just a sentence or two), you may need to develop your main idea more fully or combine it with another paragraph.

Other techniques you can use to create consistency in paragraphs are described below.

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Repeat keywords or phrases.Be consistent in the way you refer to it, especially in sections where you define or identify an important idea or theory. This consistency and repetition will hold the paragraph together and help your reader understand your definition or description.

Create parallel structures.Parallel structures are created by forming two or more phrases or sentences that have the same grammatical structure and use the same parts of speech. By creating parallel structures, you make your sentences clearer and easier to read. Repeating a pattern over a series of consecutive sentences also helps the reader see the connections between ideas. In the previous paragraph about scientists and the sense of sight, several parallel sentences were built into the body of the paragraph. The parallel structures (which werestressed) help the reader see that the paragraph is organized as a series of examples for a general statement.

Be consistent in location, time, and count.Consistency in angle, time, and count is a subtle but important aspect of consistency. For example, moving from the more personal “you” to the impersonal “one,” from the past to the present, or from “a man” to “she” makes your paragraph less coherent. Such inconsistencies can also confuse your reader and make it harder to follow your reasoning.

Use transitional words or phrases between sentences and between paragraphs.Transitional phrases emphasize relationships between ideas, helping readers follow your train of thought or making connections that they might otherwise miss or misunderstand. The following paragraph shows how carefully chosen transitions (in CAPITAL LETTERS) lead the reader smoothly from the introduction to the end of the paragraph.

I wouldn't deny that the tiny, flat-topped head of the big-bodied "Stegosaurus" harbors a tiny brain from our subjective heavyweight perspective, BUT I do want to say that we shouldn't expect more from the beast. First, large animals have relatively smaller brains than related small animals. The correlation of brain size with body size between related animals (all reptiles, all mammals, FOR EXAMPLE) is remarkably regular. As we go from small to large animals, from mice to elephants, or from small lizards to Komodo dragons, brain size increases BUT not as fast as body size. IN OTHER WORDS, bodies grow faster than brains, AND large animals have low brain-to-body weight ratios. In fact, brains only grow about two-thirds faster than bodies. Since we have no reason to believe that large animals are consistently dumber than their smaller cousins, we must conclude that large animals require relatively less brains to function than do smaller animals. If we don't recognize this relationship, we are likely to underestimate the spiritual power of very large animals, especially dinosaurs.

Stephen Jay Gould, "Were Dinosaurs Stupid?"

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(modified by Diana Hacker,A writer's reference book)

To view the total:
again, and also, besides, equally important, first (second, etc.), besides, in addition, in the first place, besides, then, too
To give examples:
for example, for example, actually, specifically, that is, to illustrate
also, in the same way, in the same way
Point out:
although, and yet, at the same time, but, in spite of, although, however, on the contrary, despite, however, on the contrary, however
In summary or in conclusion:
in summary, in conclusion, i.e. in summary, in summary, in summary
To view the time:
after, after, during, as soon as, finally, before, during, before, finally, before, immediately, after, meanwhile, soon, since, soon, afterwards, then, after, until, when, during
To view the location or address:
above, below, beyond, near, elsewhere, beyond, here, near, ahead, to the left (north, etc.)
To specify a logical relationship:
therefore, as a result, because, therefore, therefore, if, otherwise, because, therefore, therefore, therefore

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