English Literature » Literary Devices » Simple Paragraph

Simple Paragraph

Definition of Simple Paragraph

A paragraph contains a group of sentences intertwined with each other to discuss, or debate, or explain a central idea. It conventionally begins with an indented line. A beginner writer or a student usually starts writing a paragraph having seven sentences, while some professors of composition advise beginners to start with nine sentences, and some others ask them to start with eleven sentences. Some, however, teach all three paragraph types step by step.

Elements of a Simple Paragraph

A simple paragraph is comprised of three major components. The first sentence, which is often a declarative sentence, is called the “topic sentence.” It introduces the topic of the paragraph, setting its tone and mood. The next few sentences elaborate, explain, and exemplify the topic introduced in it. These sentences also provide supporting details for the explanation or examples. The final sentence is the concluding sentence, which wraps up the topic discussed in the paragraph.

Difference Between a Simple Paragraph and Body Paragraph of an Essay

A simple paragraph is the first element taught in writing. It is an independent entity, without any connection to any other topic, thought or idea. It exists on its own. However, a body paragraph is part of an organized essay where several thoughts on a topic are discussed, and the body paragraph discusses one of them mentioned in the thesis statement of the essay. It has no ending sentence, as it connects the thought with the next paragraph.

Examples of General Paragraphs in Literature

Example #1:  Politics and English Language (by George Orwell)

“The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find — this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify — that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.”

Although this is a body paragraph, it can exist on its own. As this a typical example from literature, there are more sentences than a general student-written paragraph has.

Example #2: The Theory of Knowledge (by Bertrand Russell)

“The question how knowledge should be defined is perhaps the most important and difficult of the three with which we shall deal. This may seem surprising: at first sight it might be thought that knowledge might be defined as belief which is in agreement with the facts. The trouble is that no one knows what a belief is, no one knows what a fact is, and no one knows what sort of agreement between them would make a belief true. Let us begin with belief.”

This is another example of a good paragraph. It has also discussed a single point that is knowledge and then elaborated it further. It has just four sentences, but they are quite long to make it a unified whole.

Example #3: The Olive Tree (by Aldous Huxley)

“With clarity and definition is associated a certain physical spareness. Most of the great deciduous trees of England give one the impression, at any rate in summer, of being rather obese. In Scandinavian mythology Embla, the elm, was the first woman. Those who have lived much with old elm trees—and I spent a good part of my boyhood under their ponderous shade—will agree that the Scandinavians were men of insight. There is in effect something blowsily female about those vast trees that brood with all their bulging masses of foliage above the meadows of the home counties. In winter they are giant skeletons; and for a moment in the early spring a cloud of transparent emerald vapor floats in the air; but by June they have settled down to an enormous middle age.”

This is a very good example of a typical paragraph Aldous Huxley wrote for his essay “The Olive Tree.” It has more sentences than a common paragraph has but it can exist on its own.

Function of Simple Paragraph

A paragraph is the smallest writing piece that can exist on its own. It discusses a complete thought or idea or point. It tells readers in an organized way about the thing that it discusses, describes or defines. For students, a paragraph is a first step to composition before writing a complete essay.

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