The Five-Paragraph Essay: Linking Paragraphs

View Worksheet

The five-paragraph essay is a classic writing assignment. Writing one successfully demonstrates your ability to write a cohesive essay with paragraphs that link together with smooth transitions. This type of essay consists of three main parts:

  • Introduction
  • Three body paragraphs
  • Conclusion

The introduction of a five-paragraph essay introduces the main topic and makes your position or the path your essay is to follow clear by ending with a thesis sentence consisting of three main points, or subtopics. Each point translates into one body paragraph. Finally, the conclusion wraps up the essay by revisiting the thesis statement and showing why you choose a particular topic.

Your topic is often provided for five-paragraph essays, and this assignment is often given as a timed, in-class assignment. To tackle this type of essay successfully, you need a solid understanding of how to break down the assignment and build the pieces together to form a coherent essay.

Outlining the five-paragraph essay

Before you begin writing your five-paragraph essay, create an outline that shapes your essay. An outline for this essay looks similar to the below example.

  1. Introduction
    • Main topic introduced
    • Subtopics and thesis statement
    • Transition to first body paragraph
  2. First body paragraph
    • Topic sentence (first subtopic)
    • Supporting information
    • Transition to second body paragraph
  3. Second body paragraph
    • Topic sentence (second subtopic)
    • Supporting information
    • Transition to third body paragraph
  4. Third body paragraph
    • Topic sentence (third subtopic)
    • Supporting information
    • Transition to conclusion
  5. Conclusion
    • Synthesizing (revisiting) thesis statement
    • Restating the overall topic and three subtopics
    • Wrapping it up to show why the essay is important

With an outline formed and filled in with the details of your paper, you can write each piece of the five-paragraph essay before putting it together.

The introduction of the five-paragraph essay

As you write the introduction paragraph of your five-paragraph essay, remember a few things about how it is constructed and the purpose it serves.

  • Set the tone for your entire essay.
  • Stay in the active voice.
  • Vary sentence structure and length.
  • End with the three-point thesis statement.

The body paragraphs of the five-paragraph essay

Each body paragraph of the five-point essay is constructed in a similar fashion. In addition, each paragraph must flow from one to the next. Transitioning between paragraphs can be done at the end of the previous paragraph or at the start of the new one. Keep the following in mind as you construct body paragraphs.

  • Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence introducing the subtopic
  • Provide supporting details, and get specific
  • Avoid overusing pronouns and lists
  • Avoid starting all your sentences the same way

The conclusion of the five-paragraph essay

In writing the conclusion of the five-paragraph essay, you cannot assume your readers make the connection about the overall message you are trying to convey. This makes it important for you to write with authority to state your position or reasoning clearly. Keep the following in mind when writing your conclusion.

  • Restate your thesis, but do not use the exact wording
  • Provide a summary of your argument, position or logic
  • Write powerfully—your last thoughts/words should leave a lasting impression on your readers

The five-paragraph essay is structured with a clear agenda of how to present information. Sometimes a specific topic is provided to you; other times, you must choose a topic. Whatever the topic, you must start with developing three key points or subtopics to address within the essay. Once you have the topic and subtopics, planning your essay and organizing it with an outline makes writing it and linking paragraphs much easier.