The Paragraph

What is a paragraph?

Study the structure of the following paragraph.

Elephants are the biggest animals that live on land. Newly born baby elephants weigh as much as a grown up man, and are about one metre high. An adult elephant may be about three metres high, and weighs as much as six tonnes.

  1. A paragraph is a group of sentences which give information on one topic
  2. It is built around a topic sentence. In the example given, the topic sentence has been underlined.
  3. The topic sentence contains the main idea carried by the paragraph. It is a summary of the information contained in the paragraph.
  4. Each sentence in a paragraph must add a piece of information until the idea in the topic sentence is fully developed. In the above example, the idea in the topic sentence, and in fact in the whole paragraph, is that of the size (weight and height) of an elephant. Notice that each sentence in the paragraph adds more information to the size of an elephant.                                 

     The Paragraph Song


Now study and discuss the structure of the following paragraphs. Do they illustrate what has been said about paragraphs in the notes that you have just read? Longer paragraphs have the same structure.

Dickson Omolo is the best footballer in our school team. He plays so well that some of us call him the football wizard. In the last year, he scored more goals than the scores of all the other players put together. He is in possession of the ball almost all the time, as if he has a magnet in his legs which attracts the ball. Even when he is surrounded by two or three players from an opposing team, Omolo always dodges his way out with the ball. He is the backbone of our school team.

Look at another example

It had not rained for six months. The drought had begun to bite. The cattle I was looking after were mere moving skeletons. I could count their ribs as they protruded through their skins. When they walked, I could hear the joints creaking, as if they needed oiling.