Types of Paragraphs in Academic/Professional Writing

Last Updated: 20 January 2022

Types of Paragraphs

Paragraphs are building blocks in essays, stories, research papers, dissertations, thesis, or other academic and professional tasks. Typically, this means that it is integral to understand how to write good paragraphs for you to compose top-quality papers. And even though paragraphs should have almost the same length, they come in different kinds depending on the purpose of the piece you are writing.

What unifies different types of paragraphs is the fact that each talks about a single point that explains, describes, argues, narrates, or illustrates something supporting the thesis of the piece you are writing. This means that a paragraph will have different sentences that offer arguments that support the thesis.

Although the conventional approach of writing paragraphs is by starting a new one by beginning a new line, it is also possible to write numbered or indented paragraphs.  

You now understand that you can select different paragraphs depending on the purpose, structure, and audience. First, let us check the different types of paragraphs, their intended use, and examples of each.

The 4 Kinds of Paragraphs

Types of paragraphs

There are four typical paragraphs: descriptive, expository, persuasive, and narrative. You can write about absolutely anything or any topic that comes to mind using either or a combination of the different types of paragraphs.

Failure to know when to use a specific paragraph type is vital for students, especially ESL students, who find writing English hard. Understanding the basics matters a lot and is the only currency separating excellent from average students.

1. Persuasive Paragraphs

A persuasive paragraph is written to offer opinions of the writer on a specific topic or subject. The purpose of writing a persuasive paragraph is to get the audience or readers to consider the particular point of view or understand the writer's position. In most cases, your point of view is subjective.

It is the most written type of paragraph because it is the foundational basis of argument. To write a detailed, persuasive paragraph, you need to collect facts and research.

Example of Persuasive Paragraph

Although immigration has been a hot topic both on the political and scholarly front, it is about time to accept that it contributes to America's overall economic health and viability. Although there are debatable concerns with both legal and illegal immigration, the United States of America is a country that has primarily reaped from the skills, ambitions, knowledge, and talents of immigrants. Thanks to immigration, American businesses can thrive due to a diverse workforce that offers affordable and high-quality labor. Towns, too, have benefited through the civic and social participation of the immigrants, leading to economic sustainability. Therefore, politicians and policymakers should formulate appropriate models to enable new arrivals and help those already in the country. Otherwise, the country will lose its economic lifeline the benefits the immigrants possess, which puts it ahead of other industrialized peers competing her for global success and dominance. Failure to do so would only lead to a struggling American economy competing for recruitment from the unskilled and skilled global workforce.

The above persuasive paragraph example has a topic sentence, a series of supporting facts that are objective, opposite views. It has ideas that bring out the writer's subjective viewpoint, which is the whole point and structure of how it should be.

2. Expository Paragraphs

The purpose of writing an expository paragraph is to provide instruction or to explain/ expound on something. Expository paragraphs also describe a process by detailing the step-by-step approach.

An expository paragraph informs your readers on a subject. It is a common type of paragraph in books or instructional guides.

Expository paragraphs can further be classified into:

Regardless of the format of an expository paragraph, you should provide factual information and maintain objectivity. These paragraphs are addressed from the third-person point of view.

Informative paragraphs explain a process, describe a category, or provide a long-form definition of a complex phenomenon or thing.

Example of Informative Paragraph

Canada is a multicultural society with a diversified population, using different languages depending on location. Even though English is widely spoken in Canada, Quebec, which is a densely populated province, has French as the dominant first language. Based on this understanding, citizens recognize French and English as official and business languages. It is common to find bilingual Canadian citizens who fluently express themselves in French and English when speaking either to locals or tourists. However, as you drift to the West, English becomes the most dominant. Nevertheless, the entire country has a significant bilingual population that is familiar with and fluent in both languages.

Related: How to write an informative essay

The above example is direct, factual, and objective as an expository paragraph.  

The cause-and-effect paragraph usually explains an action that occurs to produce a result.

Example of a Cause-and-effect paragraph

Until now, governments and experts are turning to cryptocurrencies and the whole idea of blockchain technology. Initially, governments were hesitant to accept blockchain and cryptocurrencies because there were no defined frameworks for either. However, as time would have it, some states and countries have adopted cryptocurrencies through their central banks. Blockchain initially was not understood, neither was cryptocurrency. Governments have now adopted laws and constructs to govern both. As a result, blockchain technology can now be used in various departments to enhance transparency, credibility, and integrity. As a result, every transaction by government agencies can be monitored. The same should apply to public, non-profit organizations.

Related: Cause and Effect essay tips

When writing a comparison-contrast paragraph, you compare two aspects, things, or phenomena.

Here is an example.

Example of Comparison-contrast paragraph

There are numerous advantages of Android over iOS. While Android gives you a selection of different phones that you can purchase at different prices, iOS gadgets and phones are highly-priced and similar. Android allows for customization, which means that users can change and personalize their devices much easier than iOS devices. It is also possible to expand the storage in android devices using microSD cards, which is affordable. On the other hand, iOS charges crazy for extra storage. Android phones and gadgets also have ubiquitous and accessible chargers compared to the unique iOS device chargers. Finally, Android always has the most innovative features before they are updated on iOS. Although both technologies give value for money, if anyone wants to enjoy their devices for a long time and at a lower cost, they should opt for android gadgets over iOS powered devices.

The author is trying to convince people to choose android devices over iOS devices.

Related: Compare and contrast essay guide

3. Narrative Paragraphs

The narrative paragraphs talk about a scene, place, story, or event. In most cases, narrative paragraphs encompass ideas about natural phenomena, account for a personís life, or document a novel.

When writing a narrative paragraph, you need to organize the events chronologically in their order of occurrence. This means detailing what came first, what followed, and what came last.

Ensure that your narrative paragraph has a central idea and details the characters involved when writing. This means that you should provide a clear description and set up your reader so that they will follow, understand, and flow with the story.

When organizing ideas in a narrative paragraph, the topic sentence should announce the ideas related to the topic. In most cases, the topic sentence bears the plot of the story. Where, when, and why of the story. Therefore, it should highlight the event, where it occurred, and how it happened.

You should then have a series of sentences that support the topic sentence, giving a detailed account and examples. Your paragraph should then end with a concluding sentence that crowns it. The latter summarizes the entire paragraph.

When writing about an event, organize it into the three stages of an event: beginning, middle, and end/climax of the story. These stages are the sequence of action. The introduction or beginning of your account should highlight the main issue or problem. The middle of the story should highlight the series of important activities in your story. Finally, the end concludes the story, offering insights to the reader.

In most cases, narrative paragraphs are used when writing an autobiography, bibliography, narrative essays, and personal statements.

Example of Narrative Paragraph

I had already given up hope of getting a donor. I was on the first list, waiting to get an organ donation from a lady who had volunteered her kidney for me. However, as it would later emerge, the lady in question could no longer fulfill her promise. Then, on September 30th, my birthday, we received the dreaded call. The hospital committee for organ transplants notified us of the possibility of scrapping my name off the list. Mary had wholeheartedly volunteered her kidney for me, but as fate would have it, she was in the fatal plane crash, and all that was left of her were ashes. She was my favorite pilot, my mentor, and my role model. The news broke me into pieces. I never lost hope, though; I prayed and hoped that soon enough, I would get another donor.

In this paragraph, the author takes us through her encounter with kidney failure prompting a kidney transplant. However, as we advance through the paragraph, it emerges that the transplant could not take place. It leaves us with the suspense of whether she got another donor. That there is how to hammer a narrative paragraph.

Related reading: How to begin and end a narrative essay.

4. Descriptive Paragraphs

You can use descriptive paragraphs when describing actions, processes, things, themes, ideas, or phenomena to a specific audience. The role of a descriptive paragraph is to give a vivid description of the subject. You have the chance to make something a reality to the reader, even when it does not seem so.

Reading such a paragraph creates a vivid picture in the readers' minds. It appeals to the senses of touch, smell, sound, taste, and sight.

As you write using descriptive phrases, everything becomes clear to the reader. But unfortunately, it is mainly applied in fiction words.

The described item should feature in the topic sentence for ease of flow. The supporting sentences should offer further details or recount the events/activities, characteristics, and functions of the item in question. It is also appropriate to use transition sentences in the middle, foreground, and far distance. You are allowed to use spatial relations when writing the descriptive paragraph.

Example of a Descriptive Paragraph

Rotary Trail, located in Birmingham, Alabama, is a beautiful place to enjoy rides with your family. There are paved surfaces that do not have human or bike traffic for the kids who can cycle on their own. There is also street parking that allows you to park your car and be guaranteed its safety and security. There are also multiple sitting areas where you can cool down, rest, and have snacks as you enjoy the views that nature has to offer. In addition to cycling, there are camping centers where you can pitch a tent and camp for the night. The sweet trails will definitely please your little ones and offer enough time and room for bonding.

Related: How to write an excellent descriptive essay.

Summing Up!

Paragraphs are powerful tools in the hands of writers. The four different types of paragraphs: persuasive, descriptive, narrative, and expository, each serve a different purpose, as we have outlined. The narrative paragraphs will tell a story about someone, an event, or something. The descriptive paragraphs always paint the picture of the subject in the readers' minds. Finally, the expository paragraphs offer information or instruction, while the persuasive paragraphs try to convince the readers to accept or consider the point of view of the writer.

The best way to write a paragraph is to write a series of consecutive sentences connected together using transition words. Every sentence in the paragraph should focus on a single theme or topic. To introduce the next paragraph, it is recommended to begin on a new line for good organization. To write a great paragraph, you need to plan, compose, organize, draft, complete, and polish the paragraph.

When writing paragraphs, you can use transition words to tie them together. Transition words ensure a good flow of ideas from paragraph to paragraph.

Now that you understand the different types of paragraphs, their format, and structure, you have our blessing to attack any writing task going forward.