But Alex’s professor doesn’t want it. She underlines the initial two sentences, and she writes, “This is too general. Get to the point.” She underlines the third and sentences that are fourth and she writes, “You’re just restating the question I asked. What’s your point?” She underlines the final sentence, and then writes within the margin, “What’s your thesis?” because the final sentence in the paragraph only lists topics. It does not make a quarrel.
Is Alex’s professor just a grouch? Well, no—she is wanting to instruct this student that college writing isn’t about following a formula (the five-paragraph model), it is about making an argument. Her first sentence is general, just how she learned a essay that is five-paragraph start. But from the professor’s perspective, it’s far too general—so general, in reality, that it’s completely outside of the assignment: she didn’t ask students to define civil war. The third and fourth sentences say, in a lot of words, “I am comparing and contrasting reasons why customwritings the North in addition to South fought the Civil War”—as the professor says, they just restate the prompt, without giving just one hint about where this student’s paper is going. The sentence that is final that should make a quarrel, only lists topics; it doesn’t commence to explore how or why something happened.
You can guess what Alex will write next if you’ve seen a lot of five-paragraph essays. Her body that is first paragraph begin, “We can see a number of the different reasons why the North and South fought the Civil War by studying the economy.” Exactly what will the professor say about that? She may ask, “What differences can we come across? What the main economy have you been talking about? Why do the distinctions exist? What makes they important?” After three such body paragraphs, the student might write a conclusion that says much the same thing as her introduction, in slightly different words. Alex’s professor might already respond, “You’ve said this!”
What could Alex do differently? Let’s start over. This time around, Alex doesn’t start with a preconceived notion of how to organize her essay. As opposed to three “points,that she will brainstorm until she comes up with a main argument, or thesis, that answers the question “Why did the North and South fight the Civil War?” Then she will decide how to organize her draft by thinking about the argument’s parts and how they fit together” she decides.
After doing some brainstorming and reading the Writing Center’s handout on thesis statements, Alex thinks about a argument that is main or thesis statement:
- Both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against oppression and tyranny, but Northerners focused on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their rights to property and self-government.
Then Alex writes her introduction. But alternatively of beginning with a statement that is general civil wars, she gives us the ideas we must know in order to understand all of the parts of her argument:
- The United States broke away from England in response to British tyranny and oppression, so opposition to tyranny and a belief in individual freedom and liberty were important values in the republic that is young. But in the century that is nineteenth slavery made Northerners and Southerners see these values in very different ways. By 1860, the conflict over these values broke out into a war that is civil nearly tore the country apart. Both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, but Northerners focused on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their rights to property and self-government in that war.
Every sentence in Alex’s introduction that is new the reader along the way to her thesis statement in an unbroken chain of ideas.
Now Alex turns to organization. You’ll find more about the thinking process she passes through in our handout on organization, but here you will find the basics: first, she decides, she’ll write a paragraph that gives background; she’ll explain how opposition to tyranny and a belief in individual liberty came into existence such important values in the United States. Then she’ll write another background paragraph in which she shows how the conflict over slavery developed as time passes. Then she’ll have separate paragraphs about Northerners and Southerners, explaining in detail—and giving evidence for—her claims about each group’s known reasons for likely to war.
Observe that Alex now has four body paragraphs. She might have had three or two or seven; what’s important is her argument to tell her how many paragraphs she should have and how to fit them together that she allowed. Furthermore, her body paragraphs don’t all discuss “points,” like “the economy” and “politics”—two of them give background, therefore the other two explain Northerners’ and Southerners’ views in more detail.
Finally, having followed her sketch outline and written her paper, Alex turns to writing a conclusion. From our handout on conclusions, she knows that a “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it” conclusion doesn’t move her ideas forward. Applying the strategies she finds into the handout, she decides that she can use her conclusion to explain why the paper she’s just written really matters—perhaps by pointing out that the fissures inside our society that the Civil War opened are, most of the time, still causing trouble today.
Is it ever OK to publish a essay that is five-paragraph?
Yes. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where somebody expects you to definitely sound right of a body that is large of on the spot and write a well-organized, persuasive essay—in fifty minutes or less? Seems like an essay exam situation, right? When time is short plus the pressure is on, falling back on the good old five-paragraph essay can help you save time and offer you confidence. A five-paragraph essay might also act as the framework for a speech that is short. Do not fall under the trap, however, of creating a “listing” thesis statement when your instructor expects a quarrel; when planning your body paragraphs, think about three the different parts of an argument, in place of three “points” to discuss. On the other side hand, most professors recognize the constraints of writing blue-book essays, and a “listing” thesis is probably a lot better than no thesis at all.
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