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What is the difference between an essay and a paragraph?

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oracleman | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 22, 2009 at 8:37 PM via web

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What is the difference between an essay and a paragraph?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 22, 2009 at 10:05 PM (Answer #1)

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An essay is a formal writing sample of a given topic composed of multiple paragraphs.  The largest difference between the two types of writing is that the essay usually involves more preparation work.  Traditional essays involve five paragraphs, in which the first serves as an introduction and includes a thesis statement- a critical idea that defines the purpose of the paper.  The subsequent paragraphs develop and explore the thesis through the use of evidence and analysis in its explanation . The concluding paragraph summarizes the findings that have been presented in the essay and has proven the thesis statement in a lucid and reasonable manner.  There will be disagreements on the outline of it, but traditionally this is how an essay breaks down.

By contrast, a paragraph is shorter and by virtue of this does not have as many requirements.  There is a topic sentence to open the paragraph that defines its purpose and the remaining sentences in the paragraph serve to support and enhance that topic sentence.  If you want to think of it in a comparative way, the topic sentence is the thesis statement of a paragraph.  The development of a paragraph can lead to an essay, and normally, this is how good essays begin.  Different teachers have different belief systems on it, but roughly, I think this is what is meant by the difference between an "essay" and a "paragraph."

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maria-vivanco | TA , Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:27 PM (Answer #2)

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An essay is made up of paragraphs. Essays are focused around a central idea that  are broken up into sub-ideaS which are written in paragraphs. 

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atyourservice | TA , Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:30 AM (Answer #3)

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A paragraph is made up of 5 to 6 sentences, and has a topic sentence with sentences that support it. An essay on the other hand is longer, made up of multiple paragraphs. An essay is drawn out and has multiple topic sentences and proof to support it.

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