Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

The Five-Paragraph Essay

The five-paragraph essay is a basic essay format that can be expanded upon to meet the needs of the author. These essays are common in middle school and high school and on standardized tests. These are formal literary works that are written to prove a particular point to the reader. Personal opinions should not be included in a 5 paragraph essay.

The five-paragraph essay begins with an introductory paragraph that will establish the argument the author is making and set the tone for the rest of the essay. There will be three body paragraphs that will provide the evidence for the argument that was established in the introduction paragraph. The last paragraph will be the conclusion paragraph, which will wrap up the argument and summarize the essay in a concise, clear manner.

The five-paragraph essay is a structured format where the reader can make a clear argument with valid evidence in an organized manner. Example topics of essays that would benefit from this type of format would be arguing on behalf of medication reconciliation, reasons why Rome was a strong empire, and the benefits of having a home garden. These types of essays do well when proving a point with sufficient evidence in a formal way. Opinion essays should not be using the five-paragraph format.

Essay Structure

The essay structure of this literary work is divided into 5 paragraphs that have their format and use within the essay.

The five-paragraph essay outline is divided into the following segments:

  • Introduction paragraph
  • Body paragraph presenting evidence
  • Body paragraph presenting new evidence
  • Body paragraph presenting different evidence
  • Conclusion paragraph

This essay structure is used when the author is attempting to prove an argument concisely.

Formal essays stick to the five-paragraph format.



The purpose of the introductory paragraph is to present the argument to the reader and provide an overall idea of the purpose of the paper. This paragraph is placed as the first paragraph in the essay and will be the basis of what the paper will be about.

The introduction paragraph starts with a hook statement that grabs the reader’s attention. It might be a rhetorical question or an interesting statistic that sets up the purpose of the essay.

After the hook, the introduction paragraph will state the main purpose of the paper. What is the paper about? That question will be answered in this portion of the introduction paragraph. It will give context to the paper and will set the reader up for the thesis statement.

The introductory paragraph has a thesis statement. The thesis statement is a single sentence that presents the point the essay is trying to make and the main ideas of the three body paragraphs. This may be the most important sentence in the essay and it provides a significant amount of information. It must be well written. The thesis statement is the last sentence in the introductory paragraph.

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs provide the evidence to support the argument that is presented in the introduction paragraph. There will be three body paragraphs.

Each body paragraph will focus on a new supporting detail or argument that proves the point of the thesis statement. They can begin with transition words such as then or furthermore.

The body paragraph will have a topic sentence that introduces what the paragraph is about. At the end of each body paragraph, there will be a transition sentence that will allow a smooth passage from one paragraph to the next. The body paragraphs must flow and connect when the audience is reading through the text as a whole.

Every body paragraph should relate to the thesis statement and provide a supportive argument to prove the point of the paper.


The conclusion paragraph summarizes the main concept and the arguments that were introduced in the three body paragraphs. The conclusion paragraph will be 5 to 7 sentences long and there will be no new information included.

The conclusion will begin by restating the thesis that was used in the introductory paragraph. It is important that this sentence is refreshing and reworded. It should include the argument the author is trying to make and the three main points presented in each of the body paragraphs.

The conclusion paragraph should go on to summarize the paper and tie up any loose ends. It would be prudent to mention why the argument is significant. It is important to remember that the conclusion paragraph will leave the reader with a lasting impression of the tone of the paper.

It is important to use valid, current sources when researching formal essays.


Five-Paragraph Essay Example

When writing a five-paragraph essay, begin by picking a topic and thoroughly researching it using valid, current research. Then, formulate the argument based on the research. Outline the essay in bullet form including the main ideas. Start by writing the introduction paragraph and work your way to the conclusion.

The following is an example of a five-paragraph essay structure outline:

Topic: The benefits of having a home garden

Do you have a home garden? Having a home garden is beneficial for the homeowner and the environment because it reduces pollution, increases the well-being of the homeowner, and increases the self-esteem of the gardener.

Home gardens reduce pollution by bringing the garden closer to the consumer. This means pollutants are not released into the environment when the food is in transition to the consumer. In addition, pesticides are not needlessly used by large farming companies. Home gardens are better for the environment as well as the homeowner.

Home gardens also increase the well-being of the homeowner by providing nutritionally dense food that is easily accessible. When food is being transported from a different location, it loses its nutrients starting when it is picked from the plant. Improved nutrition is not the only benefit the homeowner receives from a backyard garden.

Gardeners will also receive a boost of self-confidence as they watch their plants flourish. Instead of being dependent on others for survival, they will feel pride in being able to provide for themselves and their families. Homeowners with gardens will have a greater sense of well-being by living a sustainable lifestyle.

Home gardens reduce pollution and increase the mental and physical well-being of the gardener by providing a solid sense of nutrition and pride. Gardeners will have easy access to nutritionally dense foods and will use fewer pesticides than large farming operations. Overall, locally grown food is better than mass-produced farming methods.

Lesson Summary

A five-paragraph essay has an introduction, 3 body paragraphs that add detail, and a conclusion paragraph. The conclusion paragraph should have no new information, provide a sense of closure and be about 6 sentences long. The conclusion should also restate the thesis statement, which identifies the writer’s argument and particular opinion on the subject of the essay.

A topic sentence is different from a thesis statement because topic sentences help the reader to preview the content of a paragraph, while a thesis statement determines the purpose of the entire essay. Each paragraph will have a topic sentence, while only the introduction will have a thesis statement.

These formal essays use reliable sources, such as databases. Wikipedia is not considered a reliable research source. Personal opinions or statements should not be included informal essays.

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