ESL Study Guide

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

TOEFL Essays - Body Paragraphs

Body Paragraphs

You will need to accomplish three things in your body paragraphs:
Topic sentences
Supporting detail
Examples (optional)

Topic sentences

A topic sentence is a sentence whose main idea dictates the rest of the paragraph. The body of a paragraph explains or develops the topic sentence's main idea. It is best to use a transition at the beginning of the topic sentence as a placeholder to let readers know the progress of the essay.

Supporting detail

After introducing what you will be discussing in your topic sentence, it is important to build and expand on your reason. Be sure that each body paragraph only discusses one main point (the one introduced in your topic sentence). Supporting detail should give enough information to show why each point is relevant to the reason at hand.


To further persuade the listener and show additional understanding of the topic, an example can be used. Examples must however be relevant and should be developed in such a way as to give the reader little choice but to see your point of view. For example:

First, students should be required to attend class. Students attending university classes are gain necessary skills for later in life. An example that clearly highlights the need for experience and skills is medical students. If medical students were allowed to optionally attend class they would not have the necessary skills to diagnose patients. You may go to the doctor and get antibiotics that rather than cure an infection, make it worse.

By using the example of medical students and the fact that people wanting medical treatment have to see a doctor, we can make the reader consider the possibility of an unqualified doctor. While they may get one that regularly attended class, would you want to take the chance that they did not?

As long as your example is clearly related to the topic at hand and easy to understand, your argument can become much more persuasive.

Good luck with your studies,
ESL Study Guide

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