This is certainly a vintage essay introduction that is five-paragraph.

This is certainly a vintage essay introduction that is five-paragraph.

But Alex’s professor doesn’t want it. She underlines the initial two sentences, and she writes, “This is simply too general. Arrive at the point.” She underlines the third and sentences that are fourth and she writes, “You’re just restating the question I inquired. What’s your point?” She underlines the sentence that is final after which writes within the margin, “What’s your thesis?” because the past sentence in the paragraph only lists topics. It doesn’t make a disagreement.

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

You can guess what Alex will write next if you’ve seen a lot of five-paragraph essays. Her body that is first paragraph begin, “We can easily see some of the different reasoned explanations why the North and South fought the Civil War by taking a look at the economy.” What is going to the professor say about this? She may ask, “What differences can we see? What the main economy have you been talking about? Why do the distinctions exist? What makes they important?” The student might write a conclusion that says much the same thing as her introduction, in slightly different words after three such body paragraphs. Alex’s professor might respond, “You’ve already said this!”

What could Alex do differently? Let’s start over. This time, Alex does not start out with a preconceived notion of how to prepare her essay. In place of 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 argument that is main or thesis statement:

    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.

Then Alex writes her introduction. But rather of you start with a general statement about civil wars, she gives us the ideas we have to know so that you can understand all of the elements of her argument:

    The usa broke away from England in response to British tyranny and oppression, so opposition to tyranny and a belief in individual freedom and liberty were important values into the republic that is young. However in the nineteenth century, slavery made Northerners and Southerners see these values in completely different ways. By 1860, the conflict during these values broke out into a civil war that nearly tore the nation apart. For the reason that war, both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, but Northerners centered on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their rights to property and self-government.

Every sentence in Alex’s new introduction leads the 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 passes through in our handout on organization, but here are 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 important values in 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 planning to war.

Observe that Alex now has four body paragraphs. She might have had three or two or seven; what’s important is her argument to tell her how many paragraphs she should have and how to fit them together that she allowed. Furthermore, her body paragraphs don’t all“points that are discuss” like “the economy” and “politics”—two of them give background, while 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 knows that a “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it” conclusion doesn’t move her ideas forward. Using the strategies she finds in the handout, she decides that she can use her conclusion to describe why the paper she’s just written really matters—perhaps by pointing out that the fissures inside our society that the Civil War opened are, most of the time, still causing trouble today.

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

Yes. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where somebody expects one to add up of a large body of information 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 and also the pressure is on, falling back regarding the good old essay that is five-paragraph help save you some time give you confidence. A five-paragraph essay may also work as the framework for a short speech. Do not belong to the trap, however, of creating a “listing” thesis statement when your instructor expects an argument; when planning your body paragraphs, think of three aspects of a disagreement, instead of three “points” to go over. On the other hand, most professors recognize the constraints of writing essays that are blue-book and a “listing” thesis is probably better than no thesis at all.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing the version that is original of handout. It is not a list that is comprehensive of on the handout’s topic, and we also encourage one to do your own personal research to obtain the latest publications about this topic. Please don’t use this list as a model for the format of your personal reference list, as it can not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.