Characteristics of a Good Paragraph

A good paragraph should have three major structural parts as what have been clearly stated by Oshima and Hogue (1983:3) as follows:

  1. Topic Sentence

Topic sentence is sentence which states the main idea of the paragraph. Topic sentence not only states the topic of the paragraph but also controls or limits the topic so that it can be discussed completely in the space of single paragraph. Topic sentence, therefore, can be further divided into two:

–  Topic Idea

Topic idea states the topic of the paragraph

–  Controlling Idea

Controlling idea limits the topic

      2. Supporting Sentences

Supporting Sentences are sentences that develop topic sentence or main idea. They explain the topic sentence by giving reasons, examples, facts, and statistics, quotations, etc.

3. Concluding Sentence

Concluding Sentence is a sentence in which the writer concludes the paragraph in order to give the reader with important points to note.

Instead of having these three major structural parts, a good paragraph should also possess two additional elements:

  • Unity

Unity means that all of the supporting sentences develop or discuss the main idea stated in the topic sentence of the paragraph.

  • Coherence

Coherence means that the paragraph is easy to read and understand because supporting sentences are organized in logical order and the use of appropriate transition signals.

In summary, a well-written paragraph contains five elements: a topic sentence, supporting sentences, a concluding sentence, unity and coherence. In this module, you will study and practice each of these elements.

Exercise: Can you mention the characteristics of a good paragraph?


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