Can you give some instruction on how to write a body paragraph for an essay?What purpose does a body paragraph serve, and how can I write one?

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All body paragraphs of your essay serve to prove your thesis statement. Each body paragraph functions to add enough supporting details and even counterarguments to convince the reader beyond a doubt that what you are arguing is reasonable and true.

The most vital element of a body paragraph is the topic sentence. We can almost think of the topic sentence as a "mini thesis." It is a firm and clear statement of exactly what you are setting out to prove in your present body paragraph. Every single sentence you write in the paragraph is aimed at proving and supporting the topic sentence, which in turn proves your thesis.

Next comes the detail sentences. You will typically want at least three details to help support your topic sentence. You will also want to be able to add at least one quote or reference that helps prove or substantiate your ideas or details. For example, if we were writing an essay on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream aimed at proving that Puck is a complex character, more specifically that while he is a prankster, he is a prankster with a heart, at least a couple of our body paragraphs would be aimed at proving that he is indeed a prankster and a few of our other body paragraphs would be aimed at proving that he does indeed have a caring nature.

One of our topic sentences could be something like:

  • Puck has a known reputation as a prankster.

Our supporting details would then discuss Puck's confessions of his antics as well as Oberon's accusations that Puck has intentionally mixed up the four Athenian lovers.

The final important element of a body paragraph is the concluding sentence. The concluding sentence must serve two functions: 1) It must tie directly back to your thesis, clearly showing how you have just proven your thesis; and 2) It must transition into your next paragraph.

A possible concluding sentence for the body paragraph example discussed above could be:

  • While Puck is known and recognized as a prankster due to his antics as Oberon's court jester, we can actually question whether or not Puck intentionally mixed up the lovers, showing us that there is far more to Puck than meets the eyes.
flrobbins eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is also important that a body paragraph have a topic sentence, unity, and coherence. The topic sentence should be the first or last sentence of each body paragraph. It will indicate to readers what that particular paragraph is about. Each main detail and supporting detail should then be about the idea mentioned in your topic sentence. This is called unity, and it should occur from the beginning to the end of each body paragraph. Coherence occurs when each sentence makes sense next to and supports the ones that come before and after it. 

kevin0001 | Student

Body paragraphs are used to show and state details to thesis statements, main ideas, or what you are writing about. To write a body paragraph, you'll need to find 3-4 main details that really proves or describes what you are trying to say. Each of those details will be a paragraph that makes up the body paragraph. After you find those main details, look for more details that support your main detail. These are called supporting details. You can think of your main details as main ideas. Quotes can also be used as one of your supporting details. After you are done writing the paragraphs for you main details, put them all together to form a body paragraph. That is how to write a body paragraph that supports you thesis statement.

lrentas1 | Student

A body paragraph is essentially the "meat" of the entire paper's argument. In it, you provide evidence to support your thesis, (usually in the form of a quote or statistic from other works), and then provide an analysis as to why this piece of evidence supports your argument (thesis). Below is a dissected example of a proper body paragraph. 

 

There are many contradictions between neoliberal thought and practice, and an alarming amount of them pertain to key elements of the ideology. Even the most ardent proponents of neoliberalism often find it difficult to stay true to the main ideals.

  • This is the topic sentence of the paragraph. It shows what the rest paragraph will be about and what it plans to prove.

In the United Kingdom, neoliberal queen Margaret Thatcher, for all she argued about lessening the power of the state and it’s spending, “public spending as a percentage of [gross domestic product] continued to rise in real terms throughout her tenure,” (Gamble 1988).

  • This is the first piece of evidence. Although one piece of evidence is sufficient for a body paragraph, two or three will really strengthen your argument. When quoting, it is important to frame the quote with a proper context as it is above, not just "quote bombing." Leading into the quote with a few words of introduction helps the flow of the paragraph and paper. 

 

Another oddity of Thatcher’s neoliberal campaign was her attempt to promote market freedom by drastically diminishing the power of trade unions. This gave employers and businesses more freedom within the market, which by all accounts of neoliberalism, is an achievement.

  • Another piece of evidence. Even though this isn't a direct quote, statements like these must be supported by an outside source. 

 

However, as discussed before, neoliberals advocate for a minimal role of the state in market issues. To accomplish what she had done to the unions, she increased the legal power of government to criminalize their activities. This is the exact opposite of what neoliberals believe government should do. 

  • The analysis of the argument. The writer shows why he included the evidence above, and then makes completes the argument of the paragraph: neoliberals often contract their core principles. 

 

That is a full and complete body paragraph. An easy way to remember is the acronym OEA, for

  • Observation (the topic sentence/argument)
  • Evidence (a quote or statistic)
  • Analysis (why you included the evidence and how it supports your observation/argument.