CoverObjectivesThe Writing ProcessAddressing the PromptPrewritingWritingRevisingOriginalityTimed Writing 1Integrated Writing 1Introduction to Academic EssaysStyleShapeOrganizationIntroduction ParagraphsBody ParagraphsConclusion ParagraphsExample EssayTimed Writing 2Using SourcesFinding SourcesCitationsQuotingSummarizingParaphrasingDescriptive EssaysExample EssayPrewritingWritingRevisingRevise: Descriptive EssayComparison EssaysExample EssayPrewritingWritingRevisingRevise: Comparison EssayCause-Effect EssaysExample EssayPrewritingWritingRevisingRevise: Cause-Effect EssayRefining WritingDevelopmentUnityCohesionWriting for the TOEFLIntegrated Writing TaskIndependent Writing TaskNuts and BoltsPunctuationUsing Academic VocabularyAnswer KeyThe Writing Process AKIntroduction to Academic Essays AKUsing Sources AKDescriptive Essays AKComparison Essays AKCause-Effect Essays AKRefining Writing AKWriting for the TOEFL AKNuts and Bolts AK

Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs should all work to support your thesis by explaining why or how your thesis is true. There are three types of sentences in each body paragraph: topic sentences, supporting sen- tences, and concluding sentences.

Topic sentences

A topic sentence states the main idea, or focus, of the paragraph. The rest of the body paragraph will give evidence and explanations that show why or how your topic sentence is true. In many ways, a topic sentence is very similar to a thesis. Remember that the thesis is the main idea of the essay; a topic sentence is the main idea of a body paragraph. Many of the same characteristics apply to topic sentences that apply to theses. The biggest differences will be the location of the sentence and the scope of the ideas.

An effective topic sentence—

  • clearly supports the thesis statement.
  • is usually at the beginning of a body paragraph.
  • controls the content of all of the supporting sentences in its paragraph.
  • is a complete sentence.
  • does not announce the topic (e.g., I'm going to talk about exercise.").
  • should not be too general (e.g., "Exercise is good.").
  • should not be too specific (e.g., "Exercise decreases the chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, asthma, osteoporosis, depression, and anxiety.").

Supporting sentences

Your body paragraph needs to explain why or how your topic sentence is true. The sentences that support your topic sentence are called supporting sentences. You can have many types of supporting sentences. 

An effective supporting sentence—

  • provides an explanation
  • states a fact
  • describes the topic in more detail
  • supports with reasons
  • gives examples

Concluding sentences

Your final statement should conclude your paragraph logically. New ideas should not be presented in your concluding sentence.

An effective concluding sentence—

  • can restate the main idea of your paragraph
  • state an opinion
  • make a prediction
  • give advice
  • offer an evaluation of information
  • transition from one body paragraph to the next

1 Exercise: Body Paragraph Analysis

Read this example body paragraph. Is the topic sentence effective? Do the supporting sentences directly connect to the topic sentence? Or are there unnecessary or overly specific details included? Does the concluding sentence effectively end the point? Is it logically organized?

       First, different form freedom of decision between capitalism and socialism. Robert Longley, who graduated from History and Government Expert at B.S., Texas A&M University, defines capitalism as the system that allows free markets and there are no restrictions to participate in the economy. Capitalism allows people, businesses and large companies to invest their money, what to produce and what price to set. On the other hand, socialism only allows the democratically elected government to control major companies and industries. Socialism allows large private companies to participate in the economy but with "high taxes" and government regulations. Capitalism and socialism have marked differences in terms of freedom of decision in markets and economies.