What is the similarity between paragraphs and essays?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In many ways, a paragraph is a mini-essay. Both have a limited subject with (a) precise opinion(s) In writing either a paragraph or an essay writers do three things:

  1. Writers tell the readers what  they are going to tell them
  2. Writers tell this to them and illustrate/prove it, giving details to explain or develop the support
  3. Writers then tell readers what they have just told them.
  • Both a paragraph and an essay make a general statement that contains an opinion (the essay may have three). 
  • Both paragraphs and essays must be unified (all ideas relate to the general statement)
  • Both paragraphs and essays must have coherence (there is explanation of the support, reminders of the opinion, and transitions). 
  • Supporting sentences give reasons, examples, statistics, testimony, or facts that prove the veracity of the opinion stated in the general statment. 


  • A conclusion rewords the general statement (and topic sentences of the body in an essay) and its opinion(s) with a "clincher," a thought-provoking sentence that relates to the general statement and extends its idea, or reflects upon its idea.
crmhaske's profile pic

crmhaske | College Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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An essay is essentially a collection of paragraphs, and as has already been said, a pargraph is essentially a mini-essay.

An essay contains an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

A paragraph contains an introductory sentence, a body, and a closing sentence.

An essay is a collection of thoughts/ideas on a topic.

A paragraph is one thought/idea.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In my opinion, the similarity between an essay and a paragraph is in the way that the two things are (or should be) structured.  I believe that an essay and a paragraph should be set up in just the same way.

Both an essay and a paragraph must start with an introduction that tells what that is about.  In a paragraph, it's just a sentence or two.  In an essay, it's usually a paragraph.

Then both kinds of writing need a body.  This is made up of the sentences or paragraphs that do what the introduction says is the purpose of the piece.

Finally, both should end with a conclusion.  This is very similar to the introduction -- it just sort of summarizes the major argument of the piece of writing.

kapokkid's profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

As a writing teacher with an aversion to the extremely structured paragraph (though it is absolutely valid and effective, just sometimes dangerous in the wrong hands!), I would say that they are similar because both of them are trying to get across a certain idea.  An effective essay can be short or long or have three paragraphs or nineteen.  The point is whether it accomplishes its purpose or conveys its idea effectively.

So too, a paragraph can be twenty one sentences or it can be one word.  The point is that both of them should have a purpose and should be trying to get across a meaning.  If you aren't, then what are you wasting our time for anyway?

lit24's profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

A paragraph is a miniature essay. The same rules that apply for a well written essay apply for a well crafted paragraph.

A paragraph  must contain only one idea.

It must be made up of at least three sentences.

The first sentence is known as the topic sentence. The topic sentence must introduce the idea which is to be elaborated in the paragraph.

The next two or three sentences must expand the main idea of the paragraph.

The last sentence must conclude the paragraph and look forward to the next paragraph.

Each paragraph is a unit of the larger essay. Each paragraph must be linked to the main theme of the larger essay.

Each paragraph must be coherent and contribute to the coherence of the essay of which it is a part.

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