This really is a classic five-paragraph essay introduction.

This really is a classic five-paragraph essay introduction.

But Alex’s professor doesn’t like it. She underlines the initial two sentences, and she writes, “This is just too general. Get to the true point.” She underlines the third and sentences that are fourth and she writes, “You’re just restating the question I asked. What’s your point?” She underlines the sentence that is final after which writes when you look at the margin, “What’s your thesis?” because the past sentence in the paragraph only lists topics. It doesn’t make a quarrel.

Is Alex’s professor just a grouch? Well, no—she is trying to instruct this student that college writing isn’t about following a formula (the model that is five-paragraph, it is about making a quarrel. Her first sentence is general, the way in which she learned a essay that is five-paragraph start. But through the professor’s perspective, it is much too general—so general, in reality, so it’s completely outside of the assignment: she didn’t ask students to define civil war. The 3rd and fourth sentences say, in a lot of words, “I am comparing and contrasting the reasons why the North additionally the South fought the Civil War”—as the professor says, they just restate the prompt, without giving just one hint about where this student’s paper is certainly going. The sentence that is final which should make a quarrel, only lists topics; it does not start to explore how or why something happened.

You can guess what Alex will write next if you’ve seen a lot of five-paragraph essays. Her body that is first paragraph begin, “We can easily see some of the different factors why the North and South fought the Civil War by taking a look at the economy.” Exactly what will the professor say about this? She might ask, “What differences can we come across? What the main economy will you be talking about? How come the distinctions exist? Exactly why are they important?” After three such body paragraphs, the student might write a conclusion that says much exactly the same thing as her introduction, in slightly different words. Alex’s professor might already respond, “You’ve said this!”

What could Alex do differently? Let’s start over. This time around, Alex does not start out with a notion that is preconceived of to prepare her essay. Rather than three “points,” she decides that she will brainstorm until she pops up with a main argument, or thesis, that answers the question “Why did the North and South fight the Civil War?” Then she will regulate how to organize her draft by thinking about the argument’s parts and just how they can fit together.

After doing a bit of brainstorming and reading the Writing Center’s handout on thesis statements, Alex thinks about a main argument, or thesis statement:

    Both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against oppression and tyranny, but Northerners dedicated to the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their rights to property and self-government.

Then Alex writes her introduction. But rather of beginning with a general statement about civil wars, she gives us the ideas we have to know to be able to understand all of the parts of her argument:

    The United States broke away from England in response to British tyranny and oppression, so opposition to tyranny and a belief in individual freedom and liberty were important values in the republic that is young. But in the century that is nineteenth slavery made Northerners and Southerners see these values in very different ways. By 1860, the conflict of these values broke out into a war that is civil nearly tore the nation apart. For the reason that war, both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, but Northerners centered on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their rights to property and self-government.

Every sentence in Alex’s introduction that is new your reader along the road to her thesis statement in an unbroken chain of ideas.

Now Alex turns to organization. You’ll find more about the thinking process she passes through in our handout on organization, but here you will find the basics: first, she decides, she’ll write a paragraph that gives background; she’ll explain how opposition to tyranny and a belief in individual liberty came to be such important values in the United States. Then she’ll write another background paragraph for which she shows the way the conflict over slavery developed as time passes. Then she’ll have separate paragraphs about Northerners and Southerners, explaining in detail—and evidence that is giving claims about each group’s reasons behind going to war.

Keep in mind that Alex now has four body paragraphs. She could have had three or two or seven; what’s important is that she allowed her argument to tell her just how many paragraphs she need to have and how to match them together. Furthermore, her body paragraphs don’t all“points that are discuss” like “the economy” and “politics”—two of them give background, as well as the other two explain Northerners’ and Southerners’ views in more detail.

Finally, having followed her sketch outline and written her paper, Alex turns to writing a conclusion. From our handout on conclusions, she understands that a “that’s my story and I’m adhering to it” conclusion does not move her ideas forward. Applying the strategies she finds in the handout, she decides that she will use her conclusion to explain why the paper she’s just written Full Report really matters—perhaps by pointing out that the fissures inside our society that the Civil War opened are, quite often, still causing trouble today.

Can it be ever OK to publish a five-paragraph essay?

Yes. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where somebody expects you to definitely make sense of a large body of information at that moment and write a well-organized, persuasive essay—in fifty minutes or less? Seems like an essay exam situation, right? When time is short additionally the pressure is on, falling back from the good old fashioned essay that is five-paragraph help you save some time provide you with confidence. A five-paragraph essay may also work as the framework for a short speech. Try not to get into the trap, however, of creating a” that is“listing statement when your instructor expects a disagreement; when making plans for your body paragraphs, think about three the different parts of a disagreement, rather than three “points” to go over. On the other hand, most professors recognize the constraints of writing blue-book essays, and a “listing” thesis is probably much better than no thesis after all.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing the original type of this handout. This is simply not a comprehensive listing of resources regarding the handout’s topic, and then we encourage one to do your own personal research to get the latest publications on this topic. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your personal reference list, you are using as it may not match the citation style. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

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