This is certainly a vintage five-paragraph essay introduction.

This is certainly a vintage five-paragraph essay introduction.

But Alex’s professor doesn’t like it. She underlines the very first two sentences, and she writes, “This is just too general. Get to the true point.” She underlines the next and fourth sentences, and she writes, “You’re just restating the question I asked. What’s your point?” She underlines the sentence that is final after which writes when you look at the margin, “What’s your thesis?” because the past sentence in the paragraph only lists topics. It doesn’t make an argument.

Is Alex’s professor just a grouch? Well, no—she is wanting to show this student that college writing isn’t about following a formula (the model that is five-paragraph, it is about making an argument. Her first sentence is general, the way she learned a five-paragraph essay should start. But from the professor’s perspective, it’s way too general—so general, in fact, she didn’t ask students to define civil war that it’s completely outside of the assignment. The 3rd and fourth sentences say, in so many words, they just restate the prompt, without giving a single hint about where this student’s paper is going“ I am comparing and contrasting the reasons why the North and the South fought the Civil War”—as the professor says. The final sentence, that should make an argument, only lists topics; it does not commence to explore how or why something happened.

If you’ve seen lots of five-paragraph essays, it is possible to guess what Alex will write next. Her first body paragraph will begin, “We is able to see a few of the different reasons why the North and South fought the Civil War by studying the economy.” What’s going to the professor say about that? She may ask, “What differences can we see? What the main economy are you talking about? Why do the distinctions exist? Exactly why are they important?” After three such body paragraphs, the student might write a conclusion that says much a similar 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 begin with a preconceived notion of how to prepare her essay. Rather than 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 of a main argument, 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 rather of you start with a statement that is general civil wars, she gives us the ideas we have to know in order to understand most of the parts of her argument:

    The United States broke far 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 young republic. However in the nineteenth century, slavery made Northerners and Southerners see these values in very different ways. By 1860, the conflict during these values broke out into a war that is civil nearly tore the country apart. For the reason that war, both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, but Northerners dedicated to the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their rights to property and self-government.

Every sentence in Alex’s introduction that is new your reader down the road to her thesis statement in an unbroken chain of ideas.

Now Alex turns to organization. You’ll find more about the thinking process she goes through inside 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 values that are important the United States. Then she’ll write another background paragraph for which she shows how the conflict over slavery developed with time. 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 going to war.

Keep in mind that Alex now has four body paragraphs. She could have had three or two or seven; what’s important is that she allowed her argument to tell her exactly how many paragraphs she needs to have and just how to fit them together. Furthermore, her body paragraphs don’t all“points that are discuss” like “the economy” and “politics”—two of them give background, additionally the other two explain Northerners’ and Southerners’ views at length.

Finally, having followed her sketch outline and written her paper, Alex turns to writing a conclusion. From our handout on conclusions, she understands that a “that’s my story and I’m adhering to it” conclusion does not move her ideas forward. Using the strategies she finds into the handout, she decides that she can use her conclusion to describe why the paper she’s just buy essays written really matters—perhaps by pointing out that the fissures within our society that the Civil War opened are, most of the time, still causing trouble today.

Will it be ever OK to publish a five-paragraph essay?

Yes. Have you ever found yourself in times where somebody expects you to add up of a body that is large of on the spot and write a well-organized, persuasive essay—in fifty minutes or less? Feels like an essay exam situation, right? When time is short in addition to pressure is on, falling back from the good old five-paragraph essay can save you some time offer you confidence. A five-paragraph essay may additionally act as the framework for a short speech. Try not to belong to the trap, however, of creating a “listing” thesis statement when your instructor expects a quarrel; when making plans for your body paragraphs, think of three aspects of a disagreement, instead of three “points” to discuss. On the other hand, most professors recognize the constraints of writing essays that are blue-book and a “listing” thesis is probably a lot better than no thesis after all.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing the version that is original of handout. This is simply not a list that is comprehensive of from the handout’s topic, so we encourage you to do your own research to get the latest publications about this topic. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you will be using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

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