Writing and organising paragraphs - Exercises (2017)Apunte Inglés
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CONSTRUCTING YOUR TEXT: Writing paragraphs
A paragraph is a basic unit of organization in writing in which a group of related
sentences develops one main idea. What makes a good paragraph?
Every paragraph should have a topic sentence. The topic sentence is a general
statement that expresses the main idea of the entire paragraph. In a coherent
paragraph, each sentence relates clearly to the topic sentence.
A topic sentence should be neither too general nor too specific. If it is too general, the reader cannot tell exactly what the paragraph is going to discuss. If it is too specific, the writer may not have anything left to write about in the rest of the paragraph: a. American food is terrible. (Too general) b. American food is tasteless and greasy because Americans use too many canned, frozen, and pre-packaged foods and because everything is fried in oil or butter.
(Too specific) c. American food is tasteless and greasy. (Good) Remember that supporting sentences must develop the topic sentence. That is, they give examples, provide arguments, etc. Each detail may be represented by one or more sentences: Gold, a precious metal, is prized for two important characteristics (Topic sentence). First of all, gold has a lustrous beauty that is resistant to corrosion.
For example, a Macedonian coin remains as untarnished today as the day it was minted twenty-three centuries ago. Another important characteristic of gold is its utility in industry and science. The most recent application of gold is in astronauts’ suits. (Supporting details) ‘One idea = One paragraph’. An important element of a good paragraph is its unity. Every good paragraph develops only one main idea. If you start to discuss a new idea, start a new paragraph.
Avoid writing paragraphs made up of only one sentence. One sentence paragraphs are only used in very specific kinds of writing such as personal letters and newspaper articles, usually in order to make the reading task easier for the reader and to attract their attention.
Avoid writing long paragraphs. A long paragraph can normally be split up into two or more separate paragraphs with similar themes, as long as the second paragraph gets an introductory sentence to keep the reader on track.
Exercises: Topic sentences Activity 1. Read the following three paragraphs and the three alternative topic sentences for each. Decide which alternative is the best.
1. ________________________. He was only five when his parents were forced to leave the country and had to send him away to boarding school. This was difficult enough, but two years later his father went bankrupt and Mark was sent to live with his grandparents.
Then, at the age of sixteen, he had a serious riding accident and had to spend six months in hospital.
a) Mark’s childhood had been an unhappy time for him on the whole.
b) Mark’s routines of school life had been particularly unpleasant for him.
c) Mark’s childhood had been spoilt by a number of unfortunate incidents.
2. ________________________. For one thing, I had to work much longer hours. I often worked form six in the morning until eight at night. Another thing which was different was my social life. In England I had a very active social life, whereas in Africa I found that there was little for me to do after work. Compared to my previous existence, I suppose my life in Africa was much healthier but it was not so much fun.
a) It took me a long time to get used to living abroad.
b) My job in Africa was a new experience for me.
c) Many things changed when I left England to go and live in Africa.
3. ________________________. She hated the way they always found the warmest place in the house. She also disliked them because of the unnerving way they stared at her. It was almost as if they possessed an uncanny ability to penetrate the innermost secrets of her soul. Most of all, however, she hated cats because of the wailing noise they made at night. She had lost count of the number of times she had been woken up at night by the screeching of a cat in her backyard.
a. Dora had an almost pathological dislike of cats.
b. In Dora’s view all cats were intensely selfish animals.
c. Dora was happy to live alone, without a cat.
Activity 2. Write topic sentences for the following paragraphs.
1._____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________. For one thing, you should always remove your shoes when you enter a Japanese home, and you should leave them pointing toward the door. Another suggestion is to make sure that you bring a gift for your Japanese hosts, and to be sure to wrap it. A third recommendation is to be appreciative of things in a Japanese house, but not too appreciative. Finally, remember that when you sit down to eat, you do not have to accept every kind of food you are offered, but you are expected to finish whatever you do put on your plate.
2._____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________. One reason is that when commercial flights began, all pilots were male. Men were hired because they had flight experience obtained in combat. Women, not having been in combat, had no flight experience. A second reason is simply prejudice: the powers in the airline industry presumably believed the stereotype that there are certain jobs that women cannot do as well as men. A third reason is inertia and the status-quo – flying has mostly been a male-dominated profession since it began, and it takes time to change things. Eventually we will see more and more female commercial airline pilots, but for the present, old ideas die hard.
3._____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________. At the very least it should make sure that they all receive a pension and do not have to spend the last few years of their lives in poverty. It could also give them special bus and train passes, enabling them to travel cheaply on public transport, and could offer discounts on many other things. Finally, the state could even provide housing and hospital facilities for those old people who have no relatives to look after them.
4._____________________________________________________________________ _________ _____________________. For example, there is a swimming pool designed for people who are confined to a wheelchair, and there is also a gym where those who are disabled in some way can work out safely and under the guidance of one of the sports centre’s qualified assistants. Facilities for disabled people exist for a range of other sports and activities and everyone is given a huge amount of encouragement and help. I was extremely impressed by what I saw on my visit to the centre last week.
1.12 Organising Paragraphs Paragraphs are the basic building blocks of texts. Well-organised paragraphs not only help readers understand the argument, they also help writers to structure their ideas effectively.
Read the following paragraph.
The way we use banks is currently changing. This is partly because of the introduction of new technology in the last ten years. The personal computer and the internet, for instance, allow customers to view their accounts at home and perform operations such as moving money between accounts. At the same time banks are being reorganised in ways that affect both customers and staff. In the past five years over 3,000 bank branches have closed in Britain. The banks have discovered that staffing call centres is cheaper than running a branch network.
The structure of the paragraph is: 1.
cross-reference 2.5 2.7 2.12 2.
Definitions Examples Restatement and Repetition topic sentence reason example information information reason The way we use banks . . .
This is partly because . . .
The personal computer . . .
At the same time banks . . .
In the past five years . . .
The banks have discovered . . .
a) A paragraph is a collection of sentences which deal with one subject.
b) All paragraphs contain a topic sentence, which is often, but not always, the first.
Other components vary according to the nature of the topic. Introductory paragraphs often contain definitions, while descriptive paragraphs include a lot of information.
Other sentences give examples and offer reasons and restatements.
Read and analyse the following paragraph.
In recent years all British universities have adopted the semester system. A semester is a period of time which lasts for half the academic year. Semester 1, for example, starts in September and finishes in January. Previously the academic year had been divided into three terms: autumn, winter and spring. Most courses consist of modules which last for one semester, and exams are held at the end of each. Britain began using semesters to make it easier for international students to move from one country to another.
44 The Writing Process: Writing Stages 1.
The sentences below form a paragraph, but have been mixed up.
Use the table to rewrite the sentences in the correct order.
a) The Romans were the first people to build a bridge near the position of today’s Tower Bridge.
b) London has been the English capital for over 1,000 years.
c) Over 500 years ago the area below the bridge had become a major river port for ships trading with Europe.
d) Its dominance is due to its strategic site near the lowest crossing point of the River Thames.
e) For many centuries it has been the centre of the country’s economic, cultural and social life.
1.12 Organising Paragraphs 1. topic 2. restatement 3. reason 4. example 5. information cross-reference 2.3 5.
Cohesion The sentences below form a paragraph, but have been mixed up.
Rewrite them in the correct order and analyse the paragraph structure, using the components below.
Topic 1, Topic 2, Example, Information, Reason a) Even simple words like ‘dinner’ or ‘hello’ were not recognised.
b) Consequently, the keepers have been trained to talk French to the baboons.
c) The zoo realised that the animals were used to hearing commands in French.
d) An English zoo has been given a gift of nineteen baboons by a zoo in Paris.
e) But when the English zoo keepers tried speaking to the animals there was no response.
cross-reference 1.14 Introductions 6.
You are writing an essay on ‘Prisons make criminals worse, and should be abolished’. Using the notes below, complete the introductory paragraph, following the structure provided.
Introduction Modern prison system developed in nineteenth century Prisons intended to isolate, punish and reform 45 46 The Writing Process: Writing Stages Steep rise in number of prisoners in last 20 years Critics claim they are ‘universities of crime’ Essay aims to consider how effective prisons are cross-reference 2.6 7.
The modern prison system . . .
The system had three basic aims: . . .
However, in the last 20 years . . .
Prisons are commonly criticised . . .
This essay attempts to evaluate . . .
Using the second set of notes, write the next paragraph of the essay.
Advantages Prisons offer society three apparent benefits Provide punishment by deprivation of freedom Offenders are segregated so cannot re-offend Possibility of reform through training programmes 1.
Using the next set of notes, write the third paragraph.
Drawbacks Prisons appear to be failing in twenty-first century Prison population steadily rising in many countries Many prisoners are ‘repeat offenders’ Few prisons able to offer effective reform programmes Prison conditions often brutal and degrading 1.12 Organising Paragraphs 47 1.
cross-reference 1.15 Conclusions 9.
Write a concluding paragraph, summarising the previous points and using your own ideas, to answer the title given.