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what is a five paragraph essay?

we're supposed to write a five paragraph essay and i'm not sure what it is


When writing a 5 paragraph essay and your struggling to decide what you want to say, try using a template or graphic organizer. The template below can actually be a huge help.

  1. Introductory Paragraph 1
  • Introduce the topic by grabbing the audience’s attention
  • Narrow the topic by leading into the thesis

     2.  Body Paragraph 2

  • Topic Sentence
  • Reason/Detail/Fact with Transition:
  • Explain:
  • Reason/Detail/Fact with Transition:
  • Explain:
  • Reason/Detail/Fact with Transition:
  • Explain:
  • Conclusion:

     3.  Body Paragraph 3 and 4

  • Topic Sentence
  • Reason/Detail/Fact with Transition:
  • Explain:
  • Reason/Detail/Fact with Transition:
  • Explain:
  • Reason/Detail/Fact with Transition:
  • Explain:
  • Conclusion:

4.  Concluding Paragraph 5

  • Summary Statement:
  • Clincher Statement:

Thanks, Judy.

With a transition at the end of each body paragraph, the answer above is similar to my ideal. The introduction could specifically mention the topics of the three paragraphs but should leave open the conclusion and the specifics of the topic sentences. I outline the body paragraphs, outline the conclusion, outline the intro, then write the paper. I make no effort to write and introduction, for a paper I have neither: outlined, written, nor read.

8 Answers by Expert Tutors

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Anneliese A. | Proof-reading and writing improvement - fast, thorough, and reliableProof-reading and writing improvement - ...
5.0 5.0 (39 lesson ratings) (39)

A five paragraph essay will typically have the following:

Introduction paragraph (¶1): state your thesis (your main point) and briefly outline each of your supporting points.

Supporting paragraphs (¶2-4): each will have a topic sentence that states the main theme of the paragraph, followed by evidence supporting that idea. Of the three supporting paragraphs, each should have its own distinct idea and evidence which supports your overall thesis.

Conclusion paragraph (¶5): restate/summarize the evidence that you have presented, leading up to a final statement of your thesis.



I get this question a lot as well. In Florida, many students struggle with this. You have my vote. :)

Sheldon J. | Sheldon J. Tutoring ProfileSheldon J. Tutoring Profile

5 Paragraph Essays

1st Paragraph (Introduction.  Must include a topic sentence and let the reader know what you will be discussing.  It should also include a grabber-the first sentence that should catch the readers attention.  This can be accomplished in a variety of ways including a question, a startling statistic, or various other methods)

2-4th Paragraphs (Supporting details.  This should be three details that support your argument made in the first paragraph.  I always train my students to show don't tell.  This means add enough detail to your essay so that your reader can make mental images about what is going on.  This keeps your writer from guessing.  We want to answer all of the questions in the readers' minds.)

5th Paragraph (Conclusion: This is a summary paragraph.  We do not introduce any new information, we summarize what we've already talked about.  We leave the reader with a one time whim or something to think about.)

I train my students using the hamburger model.  The buns (top and bottom) hold everything together.  They support the entire essay.  The meat and cheese go in the middle, and remember no one likes a plain burger so be sure to add all of the juicy details in the middle.

Jess A. | Tutoring for Bright Students, Struggling with Reading and SpellingTutoring for Bright Students, Struggling...
5.0 5.0 (2 lesson ratings) (2)

A Five Paragraph Essay is comprised of:

1st PARAGRAPH Introduction: briefly tell the reader what you will be talking about.  At least one sentence mentioning the information that will be included in the body of your story. 

2nd-4th PARAGRAPH: Body of your paper: Give detailed information about your topic.  Each of the 3 paragraphs should be distinctly different.  For example:

  • Paragraph 2: Discuss where bats sleep 
  • Paragraph 3: Discuss what bats eat
  • Paragraph 4: Discuss bone structure of bats

PARAGRAPH 5: Conclusion. Basically reword your introduction.

*The average paragraph should have between 4-6 sentences.

Laura E. | Looking for a friendly and hardworking tutor in DC?Looking for a friendly and hardworking t...

Great explanations! I would also like to add that while the 5 paragraph essay is helpful when learning to write essays, one should not become attached to the format. In college, professors often want students to avoid this form because it is too restrictive and does not allow room for analysis.

Anna D. | Elementary/ Middle School WhizElementary/ Middle School Whiz
5.0 5.0 (25 lesson ratings) (25)
A 5 paragraph essay is the standard for most writing assignments in middle school and high school. At the core it consists of the following: 
Paragraph 1: Introduction to the topic of the essay. The first sentence or two starts with an antidote, fact, or question  Be sure to tell your reader your topic, argument, claim and provide a preview for the "body" or support of the essay, paragraphs 2-4.
Paragraphs 2-4: This is the body of your essay. Here you will develop the support you have stated for your topic in paragraph 1. Use facts and examples from credible sources to support your reasons. 
Paragraph 5: Conclusion In this paragraph, you will wrap up your essay restating in a new way what you have written about in paragraphs 1-4. This paragraph is the hardest to write for most young writers. 
Donna B. | Let Me Be Your TutorLet Me Be Your Tutor

I like essays because they address ideas,thoughts and opinions more liberally than technical papers. Every essay has 3 parts: Beginning. Middle and End. Be sure you understand where you are when you are writing. You don't want to write the ending in paragraph 3 and be stuck for what else to say.  Your beginning is the engaging introduction to your topic, the invitation to read your essay, or the reason you are writing it.

The Middle is the body of the essay and needs to focus on the main points of your essay. A lead sentence followed by qualifiers or modifiers is an excellent and traditional strategy. With each of your three internal paragraphs you are strengthening your case for the opening paragraph.

The End is your conclusion where you weave it all together and restate the obvious conclusions that you drew from the beginning to the end. 

The simple outline is to State what you are going to write about. Tell them about it. Conclude by telling the reader what you told them about. 

Francis Bacon's essay on Friendship was my guide for essay writing throughout my high school years. Though, I confess, I do not recall how many paragraphs he used.  Have fun. Write it early and then leave it alone for a day or so. Then go back and read it to see if it does what you intended it to do.

Rex L. | Most subjects, grade 6-12 - 15 years experienceMost subjects, grade 6-12 - 15 years exp...

The only thing I would add that is a fairly standard practice in 5 paragraph essays is that the first paragraph is typically an inverted pyramid and the last paragraph is typically a pyramid. In the intro, start out with a broad idea and narrow it down over the course of the paragraph to your thesis, which is the last sentence of that paragraph. In the conclusion, start out by restating your thesis. Reword it in a way that will emphasize what you have established in pps. 2-4, then expand it in a way that provides a broader perspective. These two pps. have the two functions of providing a master theme for the entire work and wrapping the entire work into a cohesive bundle.


Rex, I like your image of inverting paragraphs. I completely forgot about that! But, most surely it is an effective way to accomplish the task.

Be careful and do not use this inverted paragraph in a published paper. I friend of mine wrote a book on writing, and just before it went to print, someone else claimed he had writte the same thing in his book 10 years before.  However, I remember my teachers and professors using the same inversion process nearly 55 years ago.


I'm not sure what you mean, Spencer, or how it relates to the narrow down/expand out first and final paragraph structure. I cannot see a reason to not utilize this structure in published work IF it is the format requested. It's a beginner's tool, but as valid today as it was 55 years ago.

Kimberly W. | Certified Tutor Specializing in History and English/LiteratureCertified Tutor Specializing in History ...
5.0 5.0 (1 lesson ratings) (1)

The Scientific Method in Five Steps:

Paragraph 1) Chose and introduce your topic (Introductory/Opening Statement)

Paragraph 2) Pose a question on the topic and form an educated guess. (Thesis Statement)

.....Do reseach to form your arguments supporting your thesis statement.

Paragraph 3) Argument #1

Paragraph 4) Argument #2

Paragraph 5) Form a conclusion (Summary/Closing Statement-Restate thesis, summarize arguments and state your conclusion)

Publish/Print it and turn it in.