Doctorate Students Writing/Speaking Class Week 5 “Writing Support Paragraphs” “Topic Sentences” “Supporting Sentences” The Format of a 5-paragraph Essay Introductory paragraph Supporting paragraph #1 Supporting paragraph #2 Supporting paragraph #3 Concluding paragraph “Supporting” This word supporting is used to show that these paragraphs are supporting or proving the main idea of the purpose statement. Therefore all of the supporting paragraphs are directly related to the purpose statement. What is a supporting paragraph? A supporting paragraph is a group of related sentences that develops one main idea. This type of paragraph is made up of three kinds of sentences that develop the writer’s opinion, or feeling about a subject. These sentences are: (1) Topic sentence (2) Supporting sentences (3) The concluding sentence. Today our focus is on writing good paragraphs using these three types of sentences. Why are paragraphs important? Most papers will be about a certain topic that will have several different ideas. For example, the topic “Chinese is the most difficult language in the world”, has several different ideas that I want to write about: 1. Chinese has 4 tones, 2. Chinese characters 3. Chinese idioms. The purpose of a paragraph then is to separate the different ideas in a paper. So each of these different ideas will have its own paragraph. Writing a good support paragraph The first thing you must do when writing a support paragraph is to first write a good topic sentence. It will be the most important sentence in the entire paragraph. Topic Sentence A topic sentence is very similar to a purpose statement. The main goal of a purpose statement is to tell the reader what the main topic and idea of the entire essay is going to be about. The goal of a topic sentence is to tell the reader what the topic and main idea of each paragraph is going to be. Topic Sentence Just like a purpose statement, a topic sentence will contain a main idea. After the topic sentence has been written correctly it will be clear to the reader what the paragraph will be about. The topic sentence will answer a question that the reader can ask (what, why, how). The answer to the question is what is written in the rest of the paragraph. Exercise Exercise: I will list a number of topic sentences and I want you to determine what the main idea of that paragraph will be. 1. There are several advantages to growing up in a small town. The rest of the paragraph will answer the question— “What are the advantages?” Topic Sentence Exercise 2. People can avoid computer viruses by taking certain precautions. What precautions can people take? 3. Fixing a flat tire on a bicycle is easy if you follow these steps. What are the steps? 4. Effective leadership requires specific qualities that anyone can develop. What are the qualities? Topic Sentence In general, the English structure of writing is to tell readers what you will be writing about in a paragraph before you begin to write about it. Thus, the common practice in writing a paragraph is to begin with the topic sentence and to follow it with supporting sentences. By using this method the reader can more easily identify the main point that the writer is making. 5 Things You Should Know 1. There is only one purpose statement in an essay. 2. There can be many topic sentences depending on how many paragraphs you have. 3. Topic sentences must be complete sentences, they are not written like headlines. 4. The purpose statement is usually the last sentence of the introduction while the topic sentence is usually the first sentence of each supporting paragraph. 5. Good topic sentences should not be facts that everyone already knows and believes. Poor Example: “Exercise is good for you.” Topic Sentences To get a better understanding of topic sentences we are going to look at an example of a 5-paragraph essay. Look at the article “Children and Video Games” on your handout. Do not read the entire article. Instead first read the purpose statement which is in Bold at the end of the introduction. Then read each of the three topic sentences which are underlined. Do you see how the topic sentences are related to the purpose statement? (previous slide) Topic Sentence Exercises We are now going to take some time to practice writing good topic sentences. We will be using the handout that I have given to each of you. Topic Sentence Examples 1. Love is such a wonderful thing that I believe it is necessary for everyone to love and be loved in order to have a joyful life. 2. Exercising outside several times a week can greatly lessen the stress of most people. Topic Sentence Examples 3.The Internet, which is widely used among university students, has enhanced the ability for students to do research. 4.As a basketball player, Yao Ming has done a great job of introducing Chinese culture to the United States. Topic Sentences—Exercise # 2 Now we are going to do exercise # 2 on your handout. Read through the following paragraphs and write an appropriate topic sentence for each one. These paragraphs do not have a topic sentence. Exercise # 2--Examples 1. Opening a savings bank account for a young child and giving them some money each month to deposit in this account can be a very helpful thing. 2. Miami is one of the best places in the United States to take a vacation. 3. Throughout different periods of his life, Paul has had different types of hobbies. Support Sentences Today we have talked about the Topic Sentence which is usually the first sentence in a paragraph. Again it is identical to a purpose statement except it is the main idea for only one or more paragraphs, not the entire essay. The next part of a paragraph is made up of support sentences. Support Sentences Definition: Supporting sentences are sentences that directly relate to the topic sentence and help to answer the question asked by the main idea. Supporting Sentences develop the topic sentence by giving specific details about the topic. Paragraph Structure Topic Sentence Supporting Sentence Supporting Sentence Supporting Sentence… (Concluding Sentence) Different Types of Support Sentences 1. Facts-information that is easy to verify -Yao Ming is a great basketball player. -BNU is the top-ranked teaching university in China. 2. Examples- these must be related to your main idea -Chinese has many idioms, for example, I still remember the first time I heard the idiom 马马虎虎。 3. Physical Description-describe how something looks, smells, tastes, sounds, feels -Beijing can be as hot as a sauna in the summer. 4. Personal Experience-stories or events from your own life -I remember when I first learned to ride a bicycle and how difficult it was. The Importance of Unity It is important that all of your support sentences are directly related to the topic sentence. One way to help you do this is to change your topic sentence into a question and see if all the supporting sentences help to answer this question. Example: “Students should develop the habit of exercising at least once a week.” -The question would be: “Why should they develop this habit?” The following support sentences should all be related to this question you have asked. Analyzing the Support Sentences There are several reasons why many American women wait until they are 30 years old or older to have their first baby. Some women have good jobs and want to continue their careers. Many American women want to have two children. Other women don’t want the responsibility of having children until they are older. Still others are waiting until they are financially secure before they start a family. Analyzing the Support Sentences The packaging of many products can be very wasteful. Often the package is twice as big as the product. Packaging is used to protect things that are breakable. Many food items, for example, have several layers of extra packaging. Most of these extra layers are absolutely useless. Analyzing the Support Sentences Running has many positive effects on the body. First of all, it increases the efficiency of the heart and lungs. Running also helps the body develop greater physical endurance, however it is true that many people prefer swimming. Finally, it helps the body become more mechanically efficient. Support Sentences Exercise Look at the handout for Support Sentences. We are going to do Exercise # 1. Exercise # 1 in the handout: First read the paragraph and cross out the sentences that do not belong. The topic is about Mozart. There are many things we could write about him, but the main idea is related to his accomplishments and why they are remarkable even today. Remember that each sentence should be related to this main idea. Revised Mozart Paragraph Mozart’s accomplishments in music seem remarkable even today. First, he began composing music at the age of five and his first concert tour of Europe was at the age of six. On his first tour he played harpsichord, organ, and violin. He also published numerous compositions before reaching adolescence. Mozart composed over six hundred musical compositions. His most notable works are his operas, symphonies, quartets, and piano concertos. Supporting Sentences—Exercise # 2 Now we are going to do exercise # 2. Write at least four different supporting sentences for the two topic sentences on your handout. Exercise # 2 example paragraph Having a part-time job can benefit students in many ways. When I was a student I found that my part time job helped me learn more about my own strengths and weaknesses. A part time job can also give students valuable experience in learning how to interact with different types of people. Another advantage is that they can give a student an opportunity to interact with society. One of the most important benefits though is that it allows the student to earn money and be more independent. If we have time… To end the class today I want to give you several minutes to read through the essay “Children and video games”. In groups of 2-3 summarize what the author is trying to communicate in this essay.