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Dr. Mark Jordan ~ ENGL 1301: Composition & Rhetoric

Sample Three-Part Essay Paragraphs: Introduction and First Body Paragraph

What follows are samples of an introductory paragraph and the first body paragraph, both following the Three-Part Format. This is the format I want your own essays to use, as well, other than the narrative essay. Both paragraphs below are preceded by the related portion of the Three-Part Format outline. Labels for the various parts of the outline are included before the various sentences of the paragraphs themselves. In your essays, please note that neither the outline nor the labels of the parts of the paragraphs should be included; they are presented here only for instruction. The topic of this partial essay sample is discourtesy in contemporary society.

Outline and Two Sample Paragraphs for Introduction

I. Introduction

A. Background Info--state topic, tell why write about this topic

B. Thesis Sentence--your opinion about your topic

C. Preview of Supports--various reasons or other types of support for your opinion

1. First support--names the support, uses transition words, and links to thesis by using key words from it. Best presented as no more than one single sentence, to avoid causing the reader to be unsure how many supports you are listing.

2. Second support--same for second support

3. Third support--same for third support

First Version, Sample Intro Paragraph:  Using Reasons for Supports

Discourtesy: Getting Worse Every Year?

[Background Information] It's hard these days not to be aware of the issue of discourtesy in society, either from reports in the news or from firsthand experience. Many people wonder whether our society is really less courteous than it used to be. [Thesis] Personally, I think that people are in fact less likely to be courteous to others these days. [Transition to Preview of Supports] There are several reasons why this is so.  [First Support] One such reason is that there are simply more people, and so we may feel as though we must interact when we simply don't want to. [Second Support] Another reason why discourtesy seems on the rise is the increasingly fast pace of our lives. [Third Support] And lastly, we are less courteous and respectful to one another perhaps because we see so many models for rude behavior, especially in television and movies.

Second Version, Sample Intro Paragraph:  Using General Examples for Supports

Discourtesy: Getting Worse Every Year?

[Background Information] It's hard these days not to be aware of the issue of discourtesy in society, either from reports in the news or from firsthand experience. Many people wonder whether our society is really less courteous than it used to be. [Thesis] Personally, I think that people are in fact less likely to be courteous to others these days. [Transition to Preview of Supports] I see this kind of behavior in all sorts of places around me, both involving me personally and in others. [First Support] One such place is in public, where we interact with others as strangers. [Second Support] Another place where discourtesy seems on the rise is in the workplace. [Third Support] And most significantly, it also seems that we are less courteous and respectful to one another even in our families.

Outline for Remainder of Essay (Main Body and Conclusion)

II. Main Body

A. First Support -- in this sample, the supports are general areas where discourtesy can be observed or experienced. Other types of supports are logical reasons, causes, effects, characteristics, etc. The first general area is in public.

1. TS: Topic Sentence -- virtually identical to the preview sentence for this support: It names the support, uses transition words, and links back to the thesis by borrowing some key words from it.

2. GE: General Explanation -- anticipates questions about the support & tries to answer them; often does this by describing the behavior of groups of people in generally typical circumstances. This is also the place where logical argumentation is presented.

3. SE: Specific Example -- expands on the GE by telling an actual story about a real incident involving a particular individual. If you can't name time, place, and characters, at least more or less, then it's not really a specific example. Whereas GE appeals more to the reader's logic, SE appeals more to their emotions.

4. CS: concluding sentence -- finishes the paragraph by clarifying exactly how the story in the SE actually supports the point made in the rest of the paragraph. This can usually be done by repeating wording from the TS while also mentioning the story just told, and telling how it is a typical example of the broader issue or behavior discussed.

B. Second area -- follows the same four part sequence.

C. Third area -- also follows the same four part sequence.

III.  Conclusion

A. Summary of Supports-- another list of your supports, very similar to the preview

B. Restatement of Thesis -- simply reword your thesis very slightly and restate it, to drive home your main point.

Sample of First Body Paragraph, Using General Example for Support

[Topic Sentence]One such place where discourtesy seems to be on the rise is in public, where we interact with others as strangers. [General Explanation--a list of several typical public places where discourtesy occurs]For instance, just a trip to the grocery can expose you to some pretty toxic discourtesy, like when it comes time to stand in line and everyone is in a hurry. That always seems to be just when the store is short of checkers. Or in the same context, when any two people want the same item and only one is left, some conflict often results. And surely everyone has experienced discourtesy on the road or highway. Yet another common situation that seems to draw on people's least courteous nature is at athletic events, where the heckling of the other team that is so commonplace often spills over into arguments or even fights (or worse) between spectators. [Specific Example -- a story taken from the second of these two typical contexts]I can think of a particular case that happened recently at my daughter's basketball game. The game was very close and near the end, one of my daughter's teammates got into a shoving match with one of the girls on the other team. I didn't see who started it, but the ref gave the other girl a technical, and so one of my daughter's teammates--a different girl, chosen because she is a good free throw shooter-- got to shoot a foul shot. All the parents of the other team obviously disagreed with the call, which is probably normal enough, but what happened next perhaps was not, or should not be: The entire group of parents shouted as loudly as possible for the girl to miss the foul shot. I couldn't help but wonder what kind of message about sportsmanship and common courtesy all these adults were sending to every single kid on that court. If the parents had an argument, it was with the referee, or perhaps with the parents of the player doing the shoving, but not with the player shooting; she had not even been involved in the incident, but was simply the player assigned to take the foul shot. Worse yet, the father of the girl being yelled at stood up in his daughter's defense and began shouting back at the other parents. While perhaps understandable, this did not help matters either. In fact, if cooler heads had not prevailed, it was entirely possible that a fistfight could have resulted--hardly a good lesson in common courtesy or problem solving. [Concluding Sentence]The point of this story is that this incident was just one of many where I am continually amazed by the more and more discourteous behavior of people, and public places are where much of this occurs.

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