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Sunday, 8 February 2009

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The art of paragraph writing

A paragraph is a group of sentences written on a particular topic. Unlike an essay it deals with one thought or point of view. You can write a paragraph about a group of things if they are closely related. The hallmark of a good paragraph is its unity.

Those who wish to write a full-length essay should first gain experience in paragraph writing. In an essay you have to write several paragraphs which are closely related.

In paragraph writing you have to state the theme in the first sentence itself. Other sentences that follow should develop the theme logically. The final sentence usually brings the paragraph to a conclusion.

Paragraph writers should aim at a variety of sentence patterns. If you write only short or only long sentences, the paragraph will have no variety. Therefore, try to have a judicious (sensible) mixture of long and short sentences.

Although some writers wrote paragraphs with long sentences in the 17th and 18th centuries, that style is now outdated. Similarly, a paragraph with only short sentences will not appeal to the reader. A well-balanced paragraph will have a mixture of long and short sentences which can be positive or negative; active or passive; direct or indirect; simple or complex.

Beginners should practise paragraph writing before attempting to write essays. Although paragraph writing was common when English was the medium of instruction, it has been abandoned with changes in the educational system. However, those who wish to write effective essays should practise the art of paragraph writing.If you want to write an effective paragraph, choose a topic you are familiar with.

Then plan your paragraph methodically selecting facts and words carefully.

Here is a paragraph written by an eminent writer for your inspiration:

ďI must tell you a feat of my dog, Beau. Walking by the riverside, I observed some water-lilies floating at a distance from the bank.

They are a large white flower, with an orange coloured eye, very beautiful. I had a desire to gather one, and having your long cane in my hand, by the help of it, tried to bring one of them within my reach. But, the attempt proved vain, and I walked forward.

Beau had all the while observed me very attentively. Returning soon after toward the same place, I observed him jump into the river while I was about forty yards distant from him; and when I had nearly reached the spot, he swam to land with a lilly in his mouth, which he came and laid at my feet.Ē

That was how William Cowper wrote a paragraph about the clever feat of his dog named Beau. Note how the writer introduces the subject in the opening sentence. He brings the story to a climax in the last sentence.

You can write a simple paragraph about anything such as a rainy day, your pet, your teacher or an accident. Keep on writing such paragraphs and have them marked by your teacher.


Some useful idiomatic phrases

The English language has certain forms of expressions peculiar to it. These expressions are called idioms. The phrases found in idioms have a special meaning. Here is help for you to understand some of the well-known idiomatic phrases.

1. Itís all one to me whether you join the trip or not. (the same thing).

2. The two boys who were fighting decided to bury the hatchet. (give up the quarrel)

3. When we reached the park the match was all over. (finished).

4. Father advised me not to have all my eggs in one basket. (all my money in one investment)

5. Seeing an elephant coming towards us we beat a retreat. (ran off).

6. The teacher warned the student to bottle up his feelings. (control)

7. When the terrorists are defeated we can breathe freely. (feel relieved)

8. You walk very fast and Iíll never be able to catch up with you. (overtake)

9. The coast is clear and now we can proceed. (there is no danger)

10. Remember to dot your iís (be careful about details)

11. All my plans ended in smoke. (failed)

12. Some children fight shy of strangers. (avoid)

13. The doctor said that the patient was gaining ground. (improving)

14. Sorry, I canít help you. My hands are full.(very busy)

15. Some people want to have a finger in every pie. (to be involved in everything that is going on)


Enrich your vocabulary

Giving one word for many is an interesting way to enrich your vocabulary. Here is a quiz to gauge your knowledge. Underline the correct word and check your answers with the solution.

1. Fluent in two languages: (a) bilingual (b) multilingual

2. Lasting only for a very short time (a) daily (b) ephemeral

3. Word for word: (a) verbose (b) verbatim

4. To change to stone: (a) petrify (b) stone

5. To reduce to powder: (a) pulverise (b) pulsate

6. Wasteful in spending: (a) excite (b) extravagant

7. To learn by memory: (a) remember (b) memorise

8. Capable of being drawn out: (a) malleable (b) malign

9. Consisting of several kinds: (a) multinational (b) miscellaneous

10. The exclusive right to buy or sell a commodity: (a) monopoly (b) motif

11. Unable to pay oneís debts: (a) debonair (b) insolvent

12. Easily broken: (a) fragile (b) complaint

13. About to happen: (a) immaterial (b) imminent

14. Serving for money: (a) mercenary (b) monetary

15. A position that requires no or little work, but gives the holder status or money: (a) statutory (b) sinecure

16. The system of spelling in a language: (a) orthography (b) orthodox

17. A mixture of loud unpleasant sounds: (a) castus (b) cacophony

18. A line of people waiting for something (a) queue (b) cadre

19. Steps to enable one to get over a fence: (a) style (b) stile

20. Loss of memory: (a) amnesia (b) melodrama Solution: 1(a), 2(b), 3(b), 4(a), 5(a), 6(b), 7(b), 8(a), 9(b), 10(a), 11(b), 12(a), 13(b), 14(a), 15(b), 16(a), 17(b), 18(a), 19(b), 20(a).

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