In most formal settings, sending emails, writing proposals, memos, technical and non-technical reports are the norm. If you always have to do this, you may want to learn the best ways to carefully construct your paragraphs so that they stand out.
Three things that are required in your paragraph to make it effective are
1. a topic sentence
3. adequate development
Applying these to your paragraphs makes your writing have unity.
Let’s examine what it means to have a topic sentence. A topic sentence is that one sentence that contains the central idea of your paragraph. Do not confuse this with the thesis statement, which refers to one sentence in your introductory paragraph (mostly in an essay) that captures the essence of and sets the tone for the entire essay. Despite having a thesis statement in the opening paragraph, the body paragraphs should each contain a topic sentence, which should give a hint on the thrust of that paragraph.
The topic sentence is useful because it helps you to keep only one idea to a paragraph. Every other sentence you write in a paragraph is a supporting sentence, which should lend more credence to your topic sentence. If your supporting sentences begin to include fresh ideas, then they no longer belong to that paragraph. You can simply move them to a new paragraph and create a topic sentence that captures the key idea. Doing this helps you to ensure that your writing is effective. Please, keep in mind that not all topic sentences are explicitly captured in the paragraphs; sometimes, great writers can leave them implied, but all through the paragraph you can tell what the central idea is. If you are a beginning writer, you may want to start with writing out your topic sentence so that it guides the rest of your supporting sentences.
Coherence gives linking to your sentences. A paragraph devoid of coherence cannot be understood by your reader. So aim for making your sentences beautifully connect and tie in with the previous and following sentences. To achieve coherence in your writing, use transition words that help to link preceding sentences to the following ones. All transition markers serve different purposes; some show time (before, after, now, then, when); addition (in addition, additionally, furthermore, another, also); reason/purpose (because, in order to, as a result of, for); and contrast (notwithstanding, but, in spite of, however). This is not an exhaustive list; in fact, I have only scratched the surface. Using transition markers appropriately and modestly helps your writing stand out and gives coherence to your work because one thought would clearly lead to the other. Yet another thing that gives coherence to your paragraph is the use of synonyms and repeating of key words.
To adequately develop your paragraph, supply details to prove your topic sentence. One way to do this is to give examples of what you mean in your topic sentence. You could also explain, cite illustrations, or give statistics. Doing this will help you to ensure that you have fully given the required details for your paragraph. Except in some email situations, a one-sentence paragraph will not make your writing effective – it will leave your reader looking for more information.
Consider this paragraph example and see if you can identify the three key ingredients that make it an effective paragraph:
The cost of living in Lagos is getting increasingly higher. Prices of food items are hitting the roof. Consequently, many people no longer cook at home but decide to eat out because the cost of gas and other food supplies are unbearably expensive. Even so, they cannot afford to eat quality meals and because of this people do not gun for three square meals – they settle for less, based on what they can afford. Also, because salaries are not being reviewed, people have to still make do with what they have always had even as they contend with soaring prices. Thus living in Lagos is now a big deal.
Apply these principles and make your paragraphs effective.
92 most commonly misspelt words
When we write, we may sometimes take it for granted that some words are wrongly spelt. Take a look at the following words and save them for your future reference.
Absence Accidentally Accommodate
Achieved Acknowledge Acquainted
Addresses Aerial Aggravate
Aggregate Agreeable Amateur
Analysis Antarctic Appearance
Appropriate Arctic Argument
Athletic Arrangement Awful
Automation Ascend Anxiety
Bachelor Beginning Believed Beneficial
Benefited Breathe Budgeted Business
Courteous Committee Conscientious
Deceive Dissatisfied Desperate Despicable
Exaggerated Exhausted Excellent Exercise
Foreign Forty Familiar Fulfilled
Genius Grievance Guard Gauge
Height Hypocrisy Hurriedly Heroes
Irresistible Influential Immigrate Intel- ligence
Liaison Livelihood Lose Loose
Maintenance Mediterranean Mischievous Miniature
Niece Negotiate Nestle Noticeable
Occasional Occasionally Occurred Occurrence
Parallel Pastime Permissible Pronunciation
Relieved Rhythm Referred Repetition
Seize Separate Secretary Supersede
Unnecessary Usually View Woollen
Some errors of syntax in writing
Syntax refers to the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language. Every language has its own syntax, and in order to be considered a competent user of the language, one must progressively come to terms with and use the syntax of the language appropriately.
In this segment, two errors associated with syntax are highlighted. First is the misplacement of pairs of conjunctions; the second is with the placing of the word ‘only’.
Misplaced pairs of conjunctions
We see this error frequently in sentence constructions.
The most common pairs of conjunctions include ‘not only … but also’, ‘either … or’, ‘both … and’. The positioning of these conjunctions matter greatly so that an error does not occur.
To illustrate, the sentence ‘She has not only shown herself to be capable but also efficient in her delivery of tasks’ has a problem with syntax. The conjunction ‘not only’ is not correctly placed and ought to have come immediately before ‘capable’. It should thus read: ‘She has shown herself to be not only capable but also efficient in her delivery of tasks.’
Another example to illustrate this is as follows: ‘My flight is either scheduled for 1 pm or 2 pm.’ Can you spot the conjunction that is wrongly placed here? Yes, you’re right – ‘either’. This is because you ought to ensure that the second conjunction must be followed by the same part of speech as the first; hence, the sentence should read this way: ‘My flight is scheduled for either 1 pm or 2 pm.’ Now look at the expressions that come after the conjunction – they both can be said to have a parallel or similar structure.
The Placing of ‘only’
The meaning that we seek to communicate is what should guide the use of this word. ‘Only’ can function as an adjective, an adverb, and a conjunction. If used wrongly, the right meaning would be obscured. It helps to remember that it is usually best to place a word closer to what it is describing.
To illustrate: ‘I only saw him last week’ suggests that you did not speak with or acknowledge the fellow. If the meaning is rather related to the expression ‘last week’, then the sentence should read: ‘I saw him only last week’. And this would mean that not this week but last week did you see the person.
To think about: do you find any difference in the use of ‘only’ in the following expressions?
1. I only ate my food.
2. I ate only my food.
Let me know if you found this helpful. Drop your comments; ask your questions; and share the article.