The 5-paragraph essay is one of the simplest forms of essay.
Paragraphs can be short, or long and include many examples. However, the structure remains roughly the same.
5 paragraph essays usually include an introduction (which states the thesis), three paragraphs explaining the main points, and a conclusion.
The 5-paragraph essay structure does not have to be exactly 5 paragraphs: adding extra paragraphs to explain extra points, add more detail to important points, or to discuss the opposite point, often helps.
Paragraph 1: Introduction
The most important part of this paragraph is the thesis. The thesis says exactly what the rest of the essay will include.
The thesis is often one important sentence (or even part of a sentence). It can, however, be longer if the essay wants to talk about more than one thing.
Examples of the introductory paragraph
- There are many things I like to eat, and quite a few I don’t. However, the things I like to eat bring me great pleasure.
- The school cafeteria in our school is awful, and has been for many years: students are often given a choice between an unhealthy, fat-filled meat option, and a vegetarian option that tastes like cardboard. Should I be in charge of the school dinner menu, there are three main changes I would make.
- Since the 1900s the British Empire has weakened; presently the influence the UK has over the rest of the world is – although not insignificant – a far cry from what it was when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Three of the major losses to Britain’s influence during the last century have been: the rise of America’s independent culture; the loss of influence in Asia; and Britain’s decline as a pioneer.
Paragraphs 2-5: Supporting Paragraphs (The Argument)
The main part of the essay consists of paragraphs that explain the point.
Each paragraph should talk about one key point. However, as the 5-paragraph essay does not have to be exactly 5 paragraphs, extra paragraphs can be added to explain a point, or talk about the opposite view.
Key points are generally introduced by a topic sentence, which is usually the first sentence. However, sometimes a linking sentence is used first; this sentence helps connect paragraphs before a topic sentence.
Examples of supporting paragraphs (the argument)
- Ice cream is my favourite food, and I have enjoyed it since I was a child. I cannot remember the first time I ate ice cream, but my parents tell me that when I was five I asked for an ice cream sundae for my birthday instead of a cake.
- One thing the school cooks do well is pasta, but one thing the students, including myself, find disappointing is the amount of sauce: it looks like a bed of pasta which the sauce machine leaked on for a second. Since pasta itself has very little taste, and sauce does not cost much, adding more taste to the meal would mean little extra money is spent in exchange for a great deal more happiness.
- Since the 1900s Britain’s role as the leader of the ‘free world’ has been replaced by that of America. This is both a fault of Britain, and because America itself has found its own voice since independence. Perhpas this is, when considering the populations and land mass of both, not surprising, but its affect cannot be underestimated.
The conclusion is the ending of the essay. Although the argument paragraphs are important, a good conclusion can help people agree with what you said.
When writing an essay it is very important to know what sort of essay you are writing: some essays want to know your opinion. In these essays you can use ‘I’. Some essays, however, want a general conclusion of your points (so don’t use I unless it is important).
A good conclusion summarises all the key points made in the paragraphs, and answers the thesis. It is important to look at your thesis when writing the conclusion. This is a good way to round out a essay.
Examples of conclusion
- Many of the foods I like may be called unhealthy, but I cannot imagine my life without them. Ice cream and popcorn both satisfy my sweet tooth, and potatoes can be eaten at any time. I believe eating healthy is important, but life needs things that make you happy, and these foods make my life better. (personal opinion)
- Taking these points into consideration, there are many ways in which the school cafeteria could improve its service. Cost will always be important, especially when the school does not make make a lot of money, but the important question is whether the school wants to provide only food, or an enjoyable part of the day. Considering a great many students would find school life boring without a few small pleasures, the little things may indeed make a big difference. (general overview)
- Many commentators believe these points have had an effect on Britain’s role in world politics and culture, although not all agree the amount of influence they have had; indeed, many other factors have been cited. However, what can be certain is that the influence Britain exerts on the world is not as important as it once was. Whilst it is not vital that the United Kingdom has a key role – indeed, many people and countries suffered under British rule – the effect is one that those living and working in Britain cannot ignore. The golden age of the empire is over, and what the 21st century brings will certainly be different than what the 20th gave. (objective essay)