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Body Paragraphs and Transitions

Body Paragraphs and Transitions

Author: Martina Shabram

In this lesson, students will learn about the role of body paragraphs and transitions in an essay.

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Hello, students. My name is Dr. Martina Shabram. And I will be your instructor for today's lesson. I'm genuinely excited to teach you these concepts. So let's get started.

What's today's lesson about? We are going to discuss body paragraphs. We'll explore what they're made up of, how to transition between these various parts, and finally, discuss how to transition between whole body paragraphs.

So a body paragraph is an essential part of an essay. Let's recall that an essay is a short piece of writing on a particular subject. And essays are made up of, in part, what we call body paragraphs, each of which is a paragraph within the body of an essay. Body paragraphs occur between the introduction and conclusion of an essay.

So how do we generate these paragraphs? While you're doing your essay development, which is the act of developing an essay's ideas with relevant facts and details, you will likely do some prewriting during which you'll develop ideas to support your thesis statement. And those ideas-- well, that's what you're going to work out in body paragraphs.

Each body paragraph should relate back directly to the thesis statement, developing support for one element of the essay's main idea. And each body paragraph will have a topic sentence that expresses the main idea of the paragraph. And within each paragraph, all of the supporting sentences point back towards that topic sentence, providing, well, support for that main point.

Finally, each body paragraph will develop a new essential idea in support of the thesis, not adding irrelevant or extraneous detail. Here is a sample. Take a moment to read through it by pausing here. And then press play when you're ready.

What do you notice about the sample essay? Well, here's the thesis statement, right. And then here are each of the body paragraphs, which each support the thesis. How do they do that?

Well, this one here, that explains the opposition to this argument, which was previewed there in the thesis. This next one, well, it gives some examples to support this part of the thesis, here. And the final paragraph, well, that brings the whole argument together to support this last claim of that thesis. So see how your body paragraphs each develop an essential element of the thesis statement, working together to build support so that your reader believes your thesis statement?

All right, now we've seen some body paragraphs in action, so let's think about the connections within and between them. Transitions are words, word combinations, and even sentences that highlight connections between ideas. Because transitions make these connections, they help readers understand the relationships between different ideas, which thus helps your reader understand the whole essay better.

When we move between paragraphs, transitions help connect one big idea with the next, making the progression of ideas flow more smoothly. And when we move between sentences within paragraphs, transitions do the same thing, helping us link smaller ideas with the same effect. In both cases, they operate like signal posts, pointing the reader to where the essay has been and where it's going.

So what if our essay doesn't have clear or regular transitions, uses its transitions ineffectively or even incorrectly, or just repeats the same transitions in every sentence and paragraph? Well, then we're going to have a weak piece of writing.

So let's look again at our sample to see how we can make a strong piece of writing. All right, notice how here we're transitioning between paragraphs. We start this one with many people to show that this is going to be a discussion of one argument that many people hold. And that's what the paragraph does. It introduces an argument.

Well, then we follow up that discussion in the next paragraph and begin with in fact. By looking at both how this paragraph begins and how the previous paragraph ends, we can see that this in fact is responding against the previous argument. While the previous paragraph presented the arguments against our thesis statement, this paragraph will counter with the assertion that, in fact, those claims aren't sound and our thesis is.

So then we have another transition here. We've just had two paragraphs that present opposing arguments and offer examples of those arguments. So in this paragraph, we transition in with the phrase as the example shows. This statement connects not just to the preceding paragraph, but to the whole arc of this argument, to both of the prior paragraphs.

So let's look also here, inside the paragraph. Notice that the transitional word thus, which means therefore or as a result of, connects these two ideas. Well, that tells us that this sentence is going to present an explanation of what the previous examples prove. So in all of these ways, the paragraphs, their examples, and even these transitions, help point the reader back to the thesis statement and thus to the main idea and purpose of this essay.

So what did we cover today? We looked at body paragraphs in detail, exploring how they relate to the thesis statement of an essay and also practicing ways to transition between body paragraphs to solidify support for the thesis and improve the flow between ideas.

Well, students, I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thank you.

Terms to Know
Body Paragraph

A paragraph within the body of an essay; body paragraphs occur between the introduction and conclusion of an essay.


A short piece of writing on a particular subject.

Essay Development

The act of developing an essay's ideas with relevant facts and details.


Words, word combinations, and even sentences that highlight connections between ideas.