Paragraph Structure - Introductions

Understanding the flow of sentences in a paragraph

Opening Paragraphs

An opening paragraph needs to achieve a number of objectives. It needs to get the reader's attention, arouse the the reader's curiosity in some way. It needs to establish the topic of the essay, report or article. If it is an argumentative essay, it needs a thesis statement, which makes the author's opinion or stance clear.

But all well written paragraphs have a natural, logical flow. They are not just a list of separate unconnected sentences. They are connected by cohesive devices which reference items in other sentences and there is a logical coherence to their order: they go from the general to the specific, or they start with a topic and then give details, or they follow some other accepted pattern.

The following pages give examples of opening paragraphs taken from various texts. But each one has been mixed up. Your task is to rearrange the sentences to form a coherent paragraph by dragging each one into position (make sure it snaps into place). Once the sentences have been placed correctly you will be provided with feedback on the position of each sentence and comment on the paragraph structure.

Note that, while many of these texts are written by academics, they are not academic texts in the sense of journal articles. They are written more in the format of magazine articles. This also means their paragraphs do not always follow a classic essay format. Nevertheless, there is a sense of flow which carries the reader through and usually gives a sense of what is to come in the rest of the text, as you would expect in an introduction.

There are six example paragraphs for you to try including this one.

Example 2 Example 3 Example 4 Example 5 Example 6

Here is the first example. Drag each sentence at the bottom into the correct place at the top.