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5 Paragraph Essay

Updated on July 15, 2009

Essay Structure

An essay is a short literary composition written on a particular subject. It depicts an idea, concept or an argument and provides evidence that supports that idea, concept or argument. It is required to be written by students from primary school through high school to university to develop creative writing skills in them and to demonstrate understanding of a particular subject (Fleming, n.d).

Whether the purpose of the essay is to inform or to persuade, a standard essay is structured in five paragraphs: one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs and one concluding paragraph. Although the number of the body paragraphs may be more than three, it is the basic structure of an essay.

Introductory Paragraph

The first paragraph of an essay is called the introductory paragraph. This paragraph should state the central idea and outline of the essay. It helps the reader to know what the essay will discuss and the order of ideas. It includes the statement of purpose or thesis statement. A thesis statement is a single sentence which describes the main idea and organizational pattern of the essay. It is very important because it tells the reader what exactly you have to say about the topic and in what order (Wagner, 2002). A thesis statement is generally located at the end of the introductory paragraph.

The first sentence of the introductory paragraph may begin with "The Hook", a question, quote or an exclamation, its purpose is to attract the readers' attention and have them interested in the essay (Scott, 2008). If the essay is about the author or a person, it may introduce them in the first paragraph.

Body Paragraphs

The body of the essay includes three paragraphs. The body paragraphs explain in detail the main ideas provided in the introductory paragraph in a sequence. Each paragraph focuses on a single idea and provides supporting evidence.

The first paragraph should start with a transitional sentence connecting with the introductory paragraph. It includes details about the first strongest idea, fact or argument mentioned in the first paragraph showing a direct relation with the thesis statement. The paragraph concludes with a connecting sentence to the second main idea which is explained in the second body paragraph.

The second paragraph, like the first one, should start with a transition that connects it with the first paragraph. It gives details about the second strongest idea mentioned in the thesis statement. It should end with a connecting sentence to the third idea or argument which is exposed in the third body paragraph.

The third paragraph should include the third idea given in the thesis statement. The first sentence should connect with the last transitional sentence of the second paragraph. It usually contains the weakest argument while the first and second identify the strongest point in the thesis statement. The paragraph should end with a concluding sentence which connects it to the last concluding paragraph.

Concluding Paragraph

The concluding paragraph should state the summary of the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph and all the three main ideas and supporting evidence in the body paragraphs. This paragraph is the last chance of convincing the reader therefore it should display a persuasive and professional style. In conclusion, writer may make a suggestion to the readers, make a call to take action, or answer a question from the introductory paragraph. The approach to writing concluding paragraphs should be similar to that of introductory paragraph (Johnson, 2005).


Fleming, G. (n,d). How to Write a Five Paragraph Essay. Retrieved June 20, 2009,


Wagner, E.N. (2002). Express Yourself – Writing Skills for High School. New York,NY: Learning Express, LLC.

Scott, R. (2008). How to Write a Five Paragraph Essay. Retrieved June 21, 2009,


Johnson, J. (2005). 5-Paragraph Essay. Retrieved June 21, 2009, from


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