Writing Academic Paragraphs – Part 2


An academic paragraph is made up of three parts - the topic sentence, the body (supporting sentences), and a concluding sentence.

In a previous post, I talked about how to write an effective topic sentence.

I want to discuss the body of the paragraph in this post. The supporting sentences in the body of the paragraph support the topic sentence. The supporting sentences must be directly related to, and directly support, the idea or opinion that is expressed by the topic sentence.

The purpose of the supporting sentences is to offer support, offer evidence, offer reasons in order to persuade your reader to agree with the opinion or idea in your topic sentence.

Let's say, for example, that your topic sentence is:

New York is a wonderful place to visit.

With that sentence as your topic sentence, you can make a list of ideas - in this case, a list of ideas directly related to how it is wonderful to visit New York. You can start by writing some informal ideas on a piece of paper at first - ideas that you could use to support your topic sentence. Here, you're just listing ideas, not writing complete sentences.
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Broadway
  • restaurants and hotels
  • museums
  • Central Park
  • Empire State Building
  • neighborhoods
Next, from your list of ideas, you'll want to decide on three main points for your three main supporting sentences. To do this, you might want to combine two or more ideas from your list, or you might want to look at one of your ideas and take a smaller, more specific idea from it.

Now you are ready to write your three supporting sentences.

For the topic sentence about New York, my three supporting sentences might be:

New York is a wonderful place to visit. First, many tourists enjoy visiting the Statue of Liberty, which is an important historical site. Second, there are many wonderful shows that one can see on Broadway. Finally, New York has an excellent variety of restaurants that you cannot find in other cities.


Your turn: Write a topic sentence about the city where you live. Then write three supporting sentences about your topic sentence.

Learn how to add details to your supporting sentences in this post. I then discuss the concluding sentence in Part 3.

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Matthew Huseby, M.A.
My Language Success LLC

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