Every paragraph needs unity, which means it develops one main idea that is stated in the topic sentence. That main idea must then be developed and explained adequately to be interesting and convincing.
Next, that fully-developed idea must be organized in a logical way for the reader to understand it. Finally, the developed and well-organized idea in the paragraph must be clearly linked to the thesis of the essay and the paragraphs around it with strong transitions.
In this workout, you will work on Unity – the first core building block of a good paragraph.
Parts of a paragraph
To understand the idea of Unity in a paragraph, we need to understand not only the content, but also the function of each key part of a paragraph: the topic sentence, the body, the concluding sentence, and the transition words.
Take a moment to read the sample paragraph. When you’ve finished, read the text below about the function of each part of the paragraph.
Unity and the Topic Sentence
We use paragraphs to separate our writing into manageable chunks – but these chunks are not random. We separate our writing into paragraphs so that each distinct idea is accessible and clear.
The topic sentence defines the scope, and tell us what to expect from the rest of the paragraph. The following sentences must then fulfill this expectation, creating a unified idea.
But sometimes paragraphs wander away from their intended purpose, and they lose unity.
Consider these examples:
|Despite the risks of overuse, video games can help children learn basic math skills. Many video games teach math skills, such as multiplication, in a fun way. Too many children are not learning strong math skills. This gap limits their ability to succeed in fields such as engineering and computer studies.|
|Despite the risks of overuse, video games can help children learn basic math skills. Many video games teach math skills, such as multiplication, in a fun way. For example, players can unlock levels or shoot space ships as they multiply. In addition, games encourage children to solve puzzles and problems (to advance in the game) so that they are empowered in their learning. Used in moderation, video games are an effective tool for math education.|
The information in the last two sentences of the first example discusses the importance of math skills. This information does not work towards fulfilling the purpose of the paragraph, as it is set out by the topic sentence. As a result, the paragraph lacks unity because it attempts to discuss two different ideas.
Fix the problem:
Remember that the topic sentence sets the rules for the paragraph. As a writer, you can choose to follow the expectations you set up with the topic sentence or change the topic sentence to make a more unified paragraph.