Terrific explanation of a stand-alone paragraph


WHITE LINE BREAK
THE PARAGRAPH:
Gold, a precious metal, is prized for two important characteristics. First of all, gold has a lustrous beauty that is resistant to corrosion. Therefore, it is suitable for jewelry, coins, and ornamental purposes. Gold never needs to be polished and will remain beautiful forever. For example, a Macedonian coin remains as untarnished today as the day it was minted twenty-three centuries ago. Another important characteristic of gold is its usefulness to industry and science. For many years, it has been used in hundreds of industrial applications. The most recent use of gold is in astronauts’ suits. Astronauts wear gold-plated heat shields for protection outside the spaceship. In conclusion, gold is treasured not only for its beauty but also its utility.

In the table below, I’ve analyzed this paragraph in terms of the “TEE” approach to writing paragraphs.

T = Topic (or Topic sentence)
E = Explanation or elaboration (or discussion)
E = Example or evidence

Don’t worry about the difference between example/evidence or explanation/elaboration. Inside a paragraph, evidence and examples serve roughly the same purpose, as do explanation and elaboration:

  • Explanation and elaboration tell your reader ‘more’ about the topic. (Say a lot about a little, not a little about a lot.“)
  • Evidence and examples give the reader specific details that “support” your topic — that “prove” your claim about the topic is true.

Don’t think of “TEE” as a rule. “TEE” is a guide, not a rule.

the
TEE
paragraph
T = Topic
E = Examples or Evidence
E = Explanation or Elaboration
Topic
sentence
Gold, a precious metal, is prized for two important characteristics.
Elaboration First of all, gold has a lustrous beauty that is resistant to corrosion.
Elaboration Therefore, it is suitable for jewelry, coins, and ornamental purposes.
Evidence Gold never needs to be polished and will remain beautiful forever.
Example For example, a Macedonian coin remains as untarnished today as the day it was minted twenty-three centuries ago.
Elaboration Another important characteristic of gold is its usefulness to industry and science.
Evidence For many years, it has been used in hundreds of industrial applications.
Example The most recent use of gold is in astronauts’ suits.
Explanation Astronauts wear gold-plated heat shields for protection outside the spaceship.
  In conclusion, gold is treasured not only for its beauty but also its utility.

AND SEE:
The TEE formula for paragraphs & the exit exam
NV’s perfect paragraph

The ‘TEE’ formula for paragraphs & the Exit Exam

‘TEE’ paragraphs

 

Topic
Explanation/Elaboration (or “development”)
Examples
   A “TEE” PARAGRAPH:
Topic
sentence
The characters [in fables] are flat, with no inner life.
Explanation
(elaboration,
analysis, development)
They personify virtues and vices, such as courage and cowardice, honesty and dishonesty, patience and impatience, humility and boastfulness, kindness and cruelty, sincerity and flattery, cunning and artlessness, and the like.
Explanation The characters are generally types.
Examples They are meant to represent aspects of human nature: the proud peacock, the clever crow, the defiant donkey, the oracular owl, the plodding turtle, the cocky hare, the greedy pig.

Paragraph drawn from:
D’Angelo, Frank J. Composition in the Classical Tradition. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 2000. Print. (60).

My impression is that published paragraphs often have just a single ‘E’: some paragraphs offer examples while other paragraphs offer elaboration, analysis, and explanation. However, this is just an impression. I may be wrong.

I’ll come back to this post later when I have a better sense of how academic authors distribute elaboration and example throughout their work.

The graders for the Exit Examination will be looking for paragraphs that include a topic sentence, development (elaboration), and examples, which is as it should be. A 5-paragraph essay is a highly compressed form, so elaboration and examples must reside together within the same paragraph.

AND SEE:
The “T.E.E.” formula for paragraphs and the exit exam
An exemplary paragraph by Frank D’Angelo
Terrific explanation of a stand-alone paragraph
NV’s perfect paragraph

An exemplary paragraph by Frank D’Angelo

The characters [in fables] are flat, with no inner life. They personify virtues and vices, such as courage and cowardice, honesty and dishonesty, patience and impatience, humility and boastfulness, kindness and cruelty, sincerity and flattery, cunning and artlessness, and the like. The characters are generally types. They are meant to represent aspects of human nature: the proud peacock, the clever crow, the defiant donkey, the oracular owl, the plodding turtle, the cocky hare, the greedy pig.

D’Angelo, Frank J. Composition in the Classical Tradition. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 2000. Print. (60).

D’Angelo’s paragraph is an excellent example of the “TEE” paragraph (see here).

You will need to write “TEE” paragraphs for the Exit Examination.

exemplary: worthy of imitation; commendable: exemplary conduct. (Dictionary.com)
Sentences using the word exemplary from YourDictionary.
Sentences using the word exemplar from YourDictionary

A simple text reconstruction exercise

INSTRUCTIONS: Number the sentences in the order you believe they appear in the original paragraph. Then copy the paragraph on a sheet of paper.

Important: Don’t copy word for word! Try to remember 5 to 10 words (and punctuation marks) at a time.

_____ A crane would take away your courage and your skill—three cranes would leave you with as much fight as a lettuce leaf.
_____ There were signs that told a warrior to fight, or to pack up and go home.
_____ They believed that there were good days for fighting and bad days.
_____ The Celts were fearless fighters yet they could easily be put off a fight.
_____ If he saw a crane bird, for example, he knew that would bring him bad luck.

Adapted from:
Deary, Terry. The Cut-Throat Celts. Illus. Martin Brown. London: Scholastic Children’s Books, 1997. (Print.) (5).

The author’s paragraph here.

M.O.’s paragraph using a transition that expressions ‘concession’

The Grimms made their tales more violent in the second edition. For example, they increased the punishing of evildoers: the step-sisters have to cut off their heels or toes to make the shoe fit. They also increased cartoon violence, with the step-sisters having their eyes taken out by birds. Although they increased cartoon violence and unrealistic violence, they reduced realistic violence, taking out the story of the starving children whose mother wants to eat them to survive.

AND SEE:
The reader over your shoulder
Concession words

Martha Kolln explains cohesion in writing

Martha Kolln‘s  three methods of achieving paragraph cohesion:

  1. The subject of all or most sentences in the paragraph is the same.
  2. In each two-sentence pair, information included in the predicate of the 1st sentence becomes the subject of the 2nd sentence. In other words, something in the end of Sentence 1 becomes the beginning of Sentence 2.
  3. In paragraphs of description, a list of details follows the topic sentence. In such paragraphs, you don’t need to use explicit transitions, although you certainly may if you wish. SEE: SM’s cohesive paragraph.

Note that in all three cases, “old” information comes before new information: sentences begin with something we ‘know’ (or have already read about, usually in the preceding sentence), then introduce something new in the predicate. This old-to-new principle is true with the paragraph of descriptive details because the reader knows the situation each detail refers to. The paragraph topic is old; each sentence in the list is new (see the example below).

EXAMPLES

1. Same subject – same subject

Despite the immense racial gulf separating them, Lincoln and Douglass had a lot in common. They were the two pre-eminent self-made men of their era. Lincoln was born dirt poor, had less than a year of formal schooling and became one of the nation’s greatest Presidents. Douglass spent the first 20 years of his life as a slave, had no formal schooling–in fact, his masters forbade him to read or write–and became one of the nation’s greatest writers and activists. Though nine years younger, Douglass overshadowed Lincoln as a public figure during the 15 years before the Civil War. He published two best-selling autobiographies before the age of 40, edited his own newspaper beginning in 1847 and was a brilliant orator–even better than Lincoln–at a time when public speaking was a major source of entertainment and power.

2. Predicate becomes Subject

Thunderstorms can be categorized as single cell or multicell.

Basically, a single-cell thunderstorm is the lone thunderstorm that forms on a hot humid day. The heat and humidity of the day is the only trigger for the storm. This type of storm forms in an environment with little difference in the wind speed and direction—or wind shear—between the surface and cloud level.
– Joe Murgo (Centre Daily Times)

3. List of details in paragraph of description

Our trip to Florida for spring break turned out to be a disaster. The hotel room we rented was miserable—shabby and stuffy and downright depressing. The food we could afford made our dining hall remembrances from campus seem positively gourmet. The daily transportation to the beach we had been promised showed up only once and even then was an hour late.

Source: Kolln, Martha J. Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects. 5th ed.  New York: Longman 2006. 69. Print.

AND SEE:
Sentence Cohesion — excerpt from Rhetorical Grammar
Coherent paragraphs & the bride on her wedding day