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Five-Paragraph Essay

The five-paragraph essay is the essay format that most students first encounter. Structurally, five-paragraph essays are very simple and easy to write. A five-paragraph essay can be any length, but they are usually among the shortest essays due to the five-paragraph structure. Five-paragraph essays are often called “hamburger essays” because each paragraph can be considered a hamburger part, with the meat in the middle.

The first paragraph of a five-paragraph essay is the introduction. This is where the idea of the essay is introduced. The student must state his or her thesis in the first paragraph. The thesis statement is what the five-paragraph essay must prove or argue. The introduction sets up the next paragraphs.

The second paragraph in a five-paragraph essay is the first body paragraph. This paragraph will present an idea that supports the thesis statement, along with supporting evidence and quotations. The entire contents of the first body paragraph must revolve around an idea that supports the thesis.

The third paragraph is the second body paragraph. Confused yet? This paragraph will continue to support the thesis statement but it will be a different idea or argument than the first body paragraph. The body paragraphs should flow together and the last sentence of each paragraph should prepare the reader for the next paragraph.

The fourth paragraph is the final body paragraph. Here you must make your final point before the conclusion. Some students make this the weakest point, other make it the strongest. It is up to you, but it should still be an interesting and insightful paragraph that concludes the new ideas and sets the reader up for the conclusion.

The fifth and final paragraph is the conclusion. It is here where all the points must be tied together and concluding points must be made. Some students don’t spend enough time and effort in the final paragraph and the whole essay suffers. The conclusion should be as strong as all the other paragraphs. Remember, your teacher will read this last, before assigning your grade!

Many scholars criticize the five-paragraph essay because of its rigid structure. They feel that it does not leave much room for creativity. Others argue that it is an excellent way to learn how to write an essay and it teaches students about how to structure their arguments. Regardless, it looks like the five-paragraph essay is here to stay.

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