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What is a paragraph?
To answer this question, it is easy to give you an example of what is not a paragraph. Study
the following group of words, and decide whether it is a paragraph or not.
A. The trees are growing. He has been working for three hours now. I like yellow
dresses. They are sending me letter it was summer there.
Paragraph? Yes / No _______________________________________________

B. The woman in the painting is smiling. He was an Italian painter. The Mona Lisa was
painted by Leonardo da Vinci. There has been talk about meaning of that smile for
centuries. He lived during the Renaissance. People have different ideas about the
meaning of the Mona Lisa’s smile. They all agree that it is a great painting.
Paragraph? Yes / No _______________________________________________

C. Along the way, the pilot swung the helicopter from side to side and moved it
backwards. He commented that a two-a-pack-a-day smoker obtains what might be a
fatal amount if taken in a single dose. Therefore, the men were not surprised to hear
that Dick Nen bashed a home run on his second time at bat as a major leaguer and
that bride had chosen a full-length gown of white satin with controlled skirt and
short-sleeved jacket.
Paragraph? Yes / No _______________________________________________

D. The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian painter who lived
during the Renaissance. The woman in the painting is smiling and there has been
talk about the meaning of her smile for centuries. People have different ideas about
it. Nevertheless, all agree that the Mona Lisa is a great painting.
Paragraph? Yes / No _______________________________________________

E. At the start of the test, she pulled into traffic without giving arm signal. Turning left
out of the right-hand lane into Maine into Montrose avenue, she drove to the corner
of Salem. Here her foot nervously felt for the break, but missed it, and she went
through a traffic light on yellow. She looked at the speedometer and see that she was
speeding 35 mile per hour at the 25-mile speed zone. She pulled up at last, stepping
too hard on the brake and stopped with a jerk, in front of the Motor Vehicle
Department headquarters. She leaned back in the seat and sighed. Finally the officer
broke the silence. “You should have turned the wheel toward the curb. Better luck
next time.”
Paragraph? Yes / No _______________________________________________

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You see the arrangement of ______________ makes the acceptable paragraphs, because all
the sentences in them develop a central point, or idea. They also have a logical pattern, and
structurally the sentences are joined together or related to each other. Some simple
sentences are joined using conjunctions , and links have been made by using reference, it,
her, nevertheless, finally.
Each paragraph is written to have a main point about a topic. Usually the main point is the
first sentence in the paragraph, the following sentences support the main point by
describing it, giving example, or giving the opposite or similarity. Or the main point might
be the first sentence of the ending part (concluding part) of the paragraph.

Task 1 What Makes a Paragraph

Which of these groups of sentences, with only minor changes and additions, could made
into paragraph?
1. The women of the country carry water jars in their heads.
2. African elephants have very large floppy ears.
3. Mrs. Johnson won the tennis prize yesterday.
4. The time for action is now.
5. Air flight is less dangerous than rail travel.
1. A bird was hungry.
2. The bird stole some cheese.
3. The fox was hungry but it had no food.
4. The bird opened its mouth to sing.
5. The fox ran away with the food.
1. Most members of Third Estate of France were farmers.
2. The Nobles made up the Second Estate.
3. The First Estate consisted of churchmen.
4. Another part of the Third Estate was made up of servants and laborers.
5. A small part of the Third Estate was made up of the middle class – doctors, lawyers,
merchants, and businessmen.
1. Laura knew her mother hated to tell the truth.
2. First Lady addressed the group and walked toward the other guests.
3. The Silver Star Hotel is most elegant I have ever seen.
4. Riding down the river in a canoe is exhilarating but sometimes frightening.
5. Two engineering students were working on the road construction project.

Task 2

In the following groups of sentences cross out the one which could not be in a paragraph
with the other four because it does not lead to a central idea

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1. For breakfast Jack had pancakes, orange juice, two eggs, bacon, a bowl of cereal
with banana and a glass of milk.
2. Between bells in the morning he went to his locker and hastily ate two candy bars.
3. At noon he piled his plate with spaghetti, pizza, two hamburgers, and French fries.
4. In the afternoon he ate three ice cream bars.
5. John wore his checked shirt to school.
1. Some people like to paint furniture or the rooms in their house, but I do not enjoy it
2. It takes a long time to get the paint mixed.
3. It is hard to apply paint evenly; it always seems to streak.
4. Things can be pushed by the steam from boiling water.
5. The paint gets on my clothes, my arms, and sometimes my face.
1. Human error causes many road accidents.
2. Drinking alcohol causes the drivers to less alert.
3. Accidents in factories of results from ignorance of safety regulations.
4. They often fail to notice other cars or pedestrians.
5. Even alert drivers can misjudge distance and speed.
1. The world contains many forms of energy.
2. A star is a kind of giant nuclear reactor, producing heat and light.
3. All of them come from two sources only – the sun and minerals.
4. The sun’s energy reaches the earth in the form of light and heat.
5. Minerals give us energy in chemical form.

Recognizing the Topics of Paragraph

When you are reading a text or a passage it is important that you are able to recognize the
topics of each of the paragraph. In that way, it will be easier for you to decide the main idea
or what the text is about. When you ask yourself “what is the topic?” remember to look for
the topic that is exact, not too general or too specific.
Example: American tourists are sometimes surprised by the food in Italy, which is known for its fine
cooking. The Americans expect to find pizza and spaghetti as the main course in the
restaurants. But pizza is rarely found, and spaghetti is served as a part of dinner, before the
main course, which is fish, chicken, or meat. Tourists are rather surprised when they find a
great difference between the food in northern and southern Italy. But no matter how
surprised they are, tourists agree the food in Italy is fantastic.

What is the topic?

a. Italian food _________________________________________________________
b. Spaghetti in Italy _____________________________________________________
c. Surprises in Italian food _______________________________________________

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Task 3 Choosing the Best Topic

Make a check after the best topic. Write “too specific” or “too general” after the other
topics. Work with another student.
Some of the largest trees in the world are in California. These are called redwood trees.
Visitors in the park can walk and drive through the forest to look at the trees. Some
redwoods are hundreds year old. These trees are very tall. They are also bery wide at the
bottom. One tree has a large hole in the bottom. The hole so big you can drive a car through
a. Parks in California _____________________
b. Redwood trees in California _____________________
c. The age of redwoods _____________________
In many hilly areas of Scotland there once were large forests. Over the years the forests
became smaller. People cut down the trees to use the wood for heating or building. They
used land for farming. But after awhile the land was not good for farming. It became rocky
because the earth was washed away by the rain. There were no trees to hold the earth in
place. Now the Scottish government is planting new trees. These forest look nice and green.
They also will help improve the earth for the future.
a) The land in Scotland _____________________
b) How trees hold earth in place _____________________
c) Forests in Scotland _____________________
Large forests are important for us in many ways. They give us wood for building and
heating. They are home for many kinds of plants and animals. And for many city people,
forests are places to go for a vacation. People can learn about nature there. They breathe
fresh air and sleep in a quiet place. But there is one more reason why forests are important
for everyone. The leaves in a forest help to clean the air. Dirty air is a problem in many
parts of the world. Without our forest this problem might be much worse.
a) The importance of forests _____________________
b) Taking vacations in forests _____________________
c) Large forests _____________________

Write the topic for all three paragraphs. ________________________________________

It is easy to make a good cup of tea. First, boil some water in the tea pot to warm it. Pour
the water out of the pot and put in some tea leaves. You will need one teaspoon of tea
leaves for each cup of tea you want. Then pour the boiling water into the tea pot, cover the
pot and wait for a few minutes. Now the tea is ready to drink.
a) A good tea ____________________
b) How much tea to use ____________________

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c) How to make a good tea ____________________
The first people to grow coffee beans lived in the Middle East. The Persians, Arabs and
Turks were drinking coffee many hundreds of year ago. Then, in the 1600s. Europeans
learned about coffee. They quickly learned to like it. Soon there were coffee houses in
many Europeans cities. Europeans took coffee with them when they traveled to new
countries. That is how people in other parts of the world know about the coffee. Now coffee
is very popular in North and South America, in Africa and in parts of Asia.
a) The history of coffee _____________________
b) European coffee houses _____________________
c) Popular drinks _____________________
In the United States orange juice is one of the most popular cold drinks. Most of the
oranges for juice grow in Florida. In many homes around the country, orange juice is
always served at breakfast time. It is also favorite snack at any time of the day. When there
is bad weather in Florida people know about it. Bad weather in Florida means fewer
oranges. And that means more expensive orange juice!
a) Cold drinks in the United States _____________________
b) Bottled orange juice _____________________
c) Orange juice in the United States _____________________

Write the topic for all three paragraphs. ________________________________________

Task 4 Thinking of the Topic

Write the topic of these paragraphs. Be sure they are not too specific or too general. Work
with other students.
In the United States drinking water comes from a few different places. Many cities get their
drinking water from special lakes called reservoirs. Other cities get their water from rivers.
For example the drinking water for New Orleans comes from the Mississippi River. In
some areas, people get their water from mountains. The water from mountain snow is
delicious and clean. In other areas people dig deep holes in the ground for water. These
holes are called wells. Outside of cities, most people get their water this way.
Topic ____________________________________________________________________
Many American scientists are worried about the drinking water in the United States. They
think that soon there may be no more clean drinking water. Dirt salt and chemicals from
factories can get into water. Then it is not safe to drink. This is already true in some places.
One example is a small town in Massachusetts. Many children in this town became sick
because of the dirty water. Another place with water problems is Sacramento, California.
The water near an airport in Sacramento is not safe to drink. Many other cities and towns
have water problems, too.
Topic ____________________________________________________________________

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It is very important to use water carefully. Here are some ways you can use less water. First,
you should be sure to turn off the faucets tightly. They should not drip in the bathroom or
kitchen sink. Second, you should not keep the water in for a long time. You should turn it
off while you are doing something else. It should be off while you are shaving or brushing
your teeth. It should be off while you are washing the dishes. Finally in the summer you
should water your garden in the evening. That way you will not lose a lot of water. During
the day the sun dries up the earth too quickly.
Topic ____________________________________________________________________

Write the topic for all three paragraphs _________________________________________

Finding a job is often difficult for a young person today. But it will be easier if you follow
these steps. First, you have to decide what kind of job you want. Think about what kind of
work you like to do. You should talk to your friends and your family about it. You can also
talk to some people with different kinds of jobs. Next you need to write a resume. This tells
about your education and your earlier jobs. It should carefully typed. Then you are ready to
start looking for a job.
Topic ____________________________________________________________________
The job of a young doctor is not easy. Doctors often spend many hours with a patient.
There are usually more patients waiting. So doctors do not have much free time during the
day. They often have to work all night in hospitals, too. Or they may have to go somewhere
suddenly when someone ill. A doctor’s decision may mean life or death for the patient.
Even when doctors are very tired, they have to think very carefully.
Topic ____________________________________________________________________
The worst problem may be over when you find a good job. But you must think about
keeping your job. You may lose it if you are not careful. Be sure you arrive at work on time
every morning. You should not stop every hour for coffee. And you should not leave early
too often. An important part of your job may be the way you work with other people. If you
are difficult to work with, you may have trouble. Or you may have trouble if you do not
make friends with the other people at your job. Remember these things if you want to keep
your job!
Topic ____________________________________________________________________

Write the topic for all three paragraphs _________________________________________

Task 5 Finding the Topic Sentence

A topic sentence in the sentence that describes the main idea of a paragraph and gives you a
clue on what the topic is about. It usually appears at the beginning of the paragraph, but
may occur in other places as well.

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Write the letter of the sentence that may become the topic sentence of these paragraphs.

1._______.Much of this trade is with Pueblo

3. Silver is also worn for its decorative effect.
Indians. The western Navajos carry on trade ______. If he has pawned all his jewelry at the
with nearby Hopi villages. The central and trading post and is going somewhere, he
southern Navajos trade dies and finished borrows his relative’s jewelry; he would feel
jewelry to the Zuni, especially when they goundressed and conspicuous if he were not
to the Zuni pueblo on December for the wearing any. When a visitor to the reservation
festival of Shalako. Navajos living in the wanted to photograph an elderly Navajo, the
“four corners” area where Arizona meets New Indian declined, saying “no, I don’t have any
Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, also trade with of my turquoise and silver on. People who see
the Utes, exchanging silver for Ute beadworkthe picture will say, ‘why, that Navajo doesn’t
and buckskin. have anything at all.’ I would fell like a
chicken with all its feather plucked out.”
2.______. A silversmith does the Navajo a
favor when he sells him Jewelry for a high 4.Fifty or sixty years ago, massive heavy
pieces with bold, simple designs were
price, because then the buyer can boast about
how much he paid. The first thing a Navajo considered beautiful. Twenty years later,
says when complementing another on a piece jewelry had become more elaborate in form,
of jewelry is, “That’s pretty. How much did and Navajo silversmiths were beginning to
you pay for it?” A Navajo wears Jewelry in cover the surface of their bracelets and other
pieces with curving designs applied with metal
order to display his wealth. He gets the same
satisfaction from appearing at a squaw dancestamps or dies. More recently there has been a
bedecked in silver and turquoise as he does strong influence from the Zuni Indians, and
when he gathers his sheep and goats togethermost Navajos today prefer silver set with rows
at the sheep dip where other Navajos come or cluster of turquoise stones. ______.
with their flocks.

a. Bracelets, rings and necklaces have become an essential part of a Navajo’s attire.
b. The Navajos trade their silver with other Indians of the southwest.
c. In their jewelry, the Navajos use many designs that have symbolic meaning.
d. It is evident that over the years there has been a change in the ideas of the Navajos
as to what constitute beauty in silver jewelry.
e. The Navajos thin of their jewelry mainly in terms of dollars-and-cents values

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