Paragraph Unity and
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What is a Paragraph?
It's a group of sentences organized

around one central topic.
These sentences follow one clear path
through the topic, without detours.
Use these four elements to create
unified paragraphs that don't wander.
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Elements that make for

great paragraphs:
1. Unity
2. Order
3. Coherence
4. Completeness
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Element #1: Unity
Start with the topic sentence.

Every other sentence supports this one idea
with information that points back to it, or explains
The paragraph is unified around that one idea.
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Example: No Unity
The start of this paragraph is incorrect:
"Sunday is my favorite day, because I can
watch football with my dad. There are other
sports on other days to watch on TV."
The second sentence detours from the main
topic: how watching football with dad makes
Sunday your favorite day.
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Don't include unrelated details
Sentences like these don't relate to the main
idea in the topic sentence:
"There are other sports on other days to
watch on TV."
"Some days my dad doesn't make it home from
work until after I'm in bed."
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Example of Unity
This is a better start to the paragraph:
"Sunday is my favorite day, because I can
watch football with my dad. He spends the
whole day watching football on TV with me,
since he doesn't have to work that day."
The second sentence elaborates on the main
topic. This is a unified start.
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Element #2: Order
You can order your supporting sentences in
different ways:
1. by chronology: the order of events in time
2. by importance: the order of most to least
important, or least to most important
3. by logic: the order that makes the most
sense based on the topic
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Why is order important?
Random sentences cause confusion.
Without organization of your sentences, it's
hard to tell what your main idea is.
Order helps you make your point, and
helps the reader follow along from one idea to
the next one, until you prove your conclusion.
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What is the correct order of these sentences?
• And if I'm really late, I even miss the
school bus.
• If I forget to set my alarm, I get up late
and rush through everything.
• As a result, I often have to gulp my
• It's always much better if I remember to set
the alarm, so I have more time to get ready.
• I also might rush out and forget my books.
Can you see why order is important?
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Element #3: Coherence
This is how you make your writing
understandable to the reader.
You make your paragraph coherent by
connecting ideas to one another.
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Two Ways of Creating
1. Use transition words to create bridges
from one sentence to the next.
2. Be consistent in using verb tenses and
point of view.
This makes the paragraph work as a whole
unit, with everything working together.
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1. Types of Transition Words:
• words that show order:
first, second, third
• words showing spatial relationships:
above, below, beside
• words showing logical order:
furthermore, in fact, in addition
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2. Verb Tenses and Point of View:
Verb tenses should all be consistently present
tense, or consistently past tense.
"Sunday used to be [past] my favorite day,
because I could [past] watch football with my
dad. He spends [present] the whole day
watching football on TV with me, since he
doesn't have to [present] work that day."
This is not unified in tense!
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2. Verb Tenses and Point of View:
Point of View: write from the point of view of the
same person throughout the whole paragraph.
"Sunday is his favorite day, because he
can watch football with his dad. I have lunch
with my dad while we watch a game together."

Point of view changes from "he/his" to "I/my" in the
second sentence -- not good!
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Element #4: Completeness
For a complete paragraph, you need enough
information to support the main idea, or prove
your thesis.
If all sentences clearly and thoroughly support
the main idea, the paragraph is complete.
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Main parts of a Complete Paragraph
1. Topic sentence: an interesting subject and
its controlling idea
2. Supporting sentences: usually at least
three, to develop the main idea thoroughly
3. Concluding sentence: to summarize the
main idea and reinforce the topic sentence
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Sample Paragraph with all 4 Elements:
"Sunday is my favorite day because I spend the
day watching football with my dad. On Sunday,
unlike the other days of the week when he
works, my dad spends the whole day with me
watching football on TV. We even eat lunch
together while watching. The highlight of the
day is watching the Dolphins game. Dad and I
get so excited, we yell and cheer together. On
Sundays, I get to combine watching my favorite
sport and spending time with my favorite
person—what a great day!"
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The end.
More free PARAGRAPH WRITING resources:
the topic sentence
supporting details
the concluding sentence
types of paragraphs
Eight-week PARAGRAPH WRITING courses:
elementary school
middle school
high school
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