Writing the First Paragraph

by eslwriter on July 21, 2010

in Learn English

Does this happen to you?

You have to write an essay but your mind is blank. You look at the computer monitor or white piece of paper. There are no words. You start to panic. You ask yourself, “How can I write this essay?” This is how many students start to write an essay. When the words don’t come out, writing can be difficult and a little scary.

How to start an essay

In this lesson, you will learn how to start an essay – quickly – by using a paragraph format. A format tells you what sentences you need and how to write your ideas. I call this the 1-2-3 Paragraph Format. This format is useful for writing projects where you have to say why you like one thing more than another thing. This is called expressing a preference. The 1-2-3 Paragraph Format has three benefits for you:

  • It gives you a starting point. So, you will always know how to begin a new writing project.
  • It’s flexible. You change the words the way you like them. Make your story and make it great.
  • You don’t copy my ideas, you learn how to create. The 1-2-3 Paragraph Format teaches you the structure of the first paragraph.

1-2-3 Paragraph Format

Here is the first paragraph of an essay using the 1-2-3 Paragraph Format.

In my country, there is a long and serious debate about the best place to grow up as a kid. Some people say it is better for children to grow up in the countryside because rural areas provide safe streets to play and a clean environment. Other people argue that the city is a better place to raise a family because urban centers have more choices for entertainment and education. Both places have advantages and disadvantages to be sure. In my opinion, the city is a better place to raise a child because of personal, academic and professional reasons.

The paragraph has three parts.

  • Part 1: The first sentence tells the reader the topic. This sentence says there are two different opinions about the best place to raise children.
  • Part 2: The second and third sentences briefly explain the two different points of view. There is no detail. It’s just a summary.
  • Part 3: This is the last sentence of the paragraph. This sentence explains your opinion. This is your thesis.

Now you try

Download the worksheet here and practice writing paragraphs using this format. The worksheet has three topic questions. I have also included three samples that show you how the 1-2-3- Paragraph Format can be changed to answer all kinds of questions. Your answers may be different from mine. That’s good. Good luck.

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