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Video:How to Structure a Five Paragraph Essay

with Jacob Taxis

The five paragraph essay is one of the more common types of paper you'll have to write in school. This video from About.com will give you some tips for writing a great five paragraph essay.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Structure a Five Paragraph Essay

Hi, I'm Jacob Taxis for About.com. In this video, you will learn how to structure a five paragraph essay. 

Structure of a Five Paragraph Essay

A five paragraph essay is a standard literary format that is used by a writer to support a claim or argument he or she wishes to make. The paper is constructed around this particular claim or thesis. Its simple structure is as follows: one introductory paragraph, three supporting paragraphs, and one concluding paragraph.  

Introductory Paragraph of a Five Paragraph Essay

First, the introductory paragraph. A compelling introductory paragraph grabs the interest of the reader and presents the argument that you wish to make. It is also very important to briefly address how you will go about making that argument. The claim is presented in the form of a thesis statement, which acts as a road-map for your paper. The thesis statement should be just that: a clearly stated argument or claim that will be defended or supported within the essay.

Example Introductory Paragraph

For example, if I'm writing a paper about the actual existence of the hairy, mythical creature known as Sasquatch, a compelling thesis statement might be the following: "Due to the prevalence of unexplainable footprints, the mounting number of eyewitness accounts, and intriguing references about man-like beasts in ancient myth, belief in the existence of a small population of Sasquatches is warranted." In short, a good introductory paragraph will be creative, concise, and confident. The reader will know exactly what you are taking a stand on and how you will back it up. 

Supporting Paragraphs in a Five Paragraph Essay

Next, the supporting paragraphs. These three supporting paragraphs are often referred to as the body of the essay. If your thesis is the road-map of your paper, the supporting paragraphs are the journey itself. Here, we are moving directly into the landscape that the thesis statement told us about. The major goal of the body is this: to back up the thesis statement with clear, solid evidence. Each supporting paragraph within the body seeks to do just that. 

Beginning Each Supporting Paragraph

First, each of the three paragraphs within the body should have a main emphasis. This can be presented in one brief sentence at the beginning of each paragraph. This is a way of organizing your evidence. After presenting this statement, the reader knows where I'm headed. The reader is invited to follow the structure and can easily do so, regardless of whether he or she thinks my argument is a solid one.

Examples of Evidence in Supporting Paragraphs

The remaining task in each paragraph is to provide actual examples of evidence. In the case of my Sasquatch essay, it is very important that I provide evidence that suggests preserved footprints have actually been found – where they were discovered, how they were reported, and exactly how I found this information. In your supporting paragraphs, it is crucial that you always give credit to the exact sources that provided you with evidence and information. If you don't, you're doing one of two things: you're committing plagiarism – something you definitely want to avoid; or you're making claims that cannot be backed up with evidence.  

Concluding Paragraph in Five Paragraph Essay

Finally, the concluding paragraph. The concluding paragraph clarifies the opening claim once again. A good concluding paragraph will briefly summarize the main points that were previously addressed in your supporting paragraphs. This ties everything together, and allows the reader to reflect on the overall shape and scope of your argument. You can be confident that, if applied correctly and creatively, the five paragraph essay structure will greatly assist you in asserting your claim. 

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