The Body Paragraph

The Body Paragraph

            Some students dismiss the body graph as just needing to contain the main idea and three supporting details.  What the heck are supporting details?  Isn’t that vague?  Here you will learn what the body paragraph must contain in order to be effective.

The Main Idea – is a statement that supports your thesis.  Without a main idea in the beginning of your paragraph, the rest of your paragraph will not make any sense.  A main idea is very much like a thesis: a simple statement.

Example: Without electricity, transportation would take longer than ever.

The statement is simple and it reflects what was mentioned in the introduction paragraph.  In addition, it explains to the reader that this is what the paragraph is talking about.

The Example – is a specific, often factual, piece of information which backs up your main idea.  If used with Ethos, your example can be a personal experience or credential.  If used with Pathos, it can be a story or metaphor.  When used with Logos, however, the example must be statistical or, in most cases this year, a quote.

Example a: without electricity, transportation would take longer than ever. As an engineer for both a steam powered and electric powered train, I can tell you that electric cars not only run more efficiently but they can carry a heavier load and are less expensive tan steam powered trains.

Which persuasive technique is this?  The example establishes credibility for the author; therefore, the persuasive technique is ethos.  One would trust a train engineer’s opinion on train transportation more so than a sandwich maker at a chain restaurant.

Example B: Without electricity, transportation would take longer than ever. For example, one student, who lived five miles away from school, made the long, rocky, two hour journey to school every day, since electricity disappeared.  His shoes would often wear out and his feet would be covered in blisters.

            Which persuasive technique is this?  The example forces the reader to empathize (or put yourself in someone else’s shoes, feel what he/she feels, etc) with the student; therefore, the persuasive technique is pathos.  The author assumes that the reader has taken a long journey on foot before and can somehow relate to the student’s journey.  Remember the author only tells this story because there was no public transportation because there was no electricity.

Example C: Without electricity, transportation would take longer than ever. For example, Transportation Weekly states, “Without the necessary battery power, we would be driving horse and buggies again” (pg. 41).

            Anytime we use a quote, we are using logos.  The quote is a statistical fact from a reliable source (unfortunately, for this case, I made it up).  Both the quote and the source need to be reliable in order for this to be effective.  Imagine this was a quote from Ed, Edd, and Eddy; would you take the quote seriously?

The Explanation– shows the reader how the example and the quote relate to each other.  Often times, your teacher will tell you, “explain everything as if the reader knows nothing.”  This is important because this is where you reinforce your point.

Example: Without electricity, transportation would take longer than ever. For example, Transportation Weekly states, “Without the necessary battery power, we would be driving horse and buggies again” (pg. 41).  Driving a horse and buggy rather than a car would be much, much slower.

The statement reinforces how the example and the main idea go together.  Don’t assume that your reader will associate horse and buggy with slow; you must explain it to them.

Thesis Explanation- explains how the main idea and example relate to the overall thesis: Without electricity, the United States would be dramatically different.  This reinforces your idea that the thesis and main idea relate to each other.

Without electricity, transportation would take longer than ever. For example, Transportation Weekly states, “Without the necessary battery power, we would be driving horse and buggies again” (pg. 41). Driving a horse and buggy rather than a car would be much, much slower.  Therefore, if one were to look at the United States today, not having electricity would make this country’s transportation slower and life, here, dramatically different.

This statement rounds out the rest of the statement and explains how slower transportation (main idea) would change life in the United States (thesis).

Summary

The Main Idea – is a statement that supports your thesis.

The Example – is a specific, often factual, piece of information which backs up your main idea.

The Explanation– shows the reader how the example and the quote relate to each other.

Thesis Explanation- explains how the main idea and example relate to the overall thesis

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