Paragraphing
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Paragraphing

If sentences are the bricks, then paragraphs are the walls: if your walls are not well constructed, your writing will crash to the ground. Each paragraph is a self contained unit: the first sentence is the 'topic sentence'; the last sentence is the 'link sentence' and the remaining sentences develop the subject within each paragraph. The 'topic sentence' introduces us to the subject of the paragraph and the 'link sentence' is a sentence that introduces the next paragraph: this ensures a smooth continuity in the text.

Read the following questions carefully and don't rush this 11-plus quiz. Reading comprehension is an important skill which requires concentration and effort.

See if you can work out the correct topic and link sentences.

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  1. What could happen if the writer didn't use topic and link sentences in the paragraphs of an essay?
    The topic and link sentences direct the readers and help them to come to a logical conclusion or decision
  2. Complete the link sentence that leads onto the next paragraph which talks about 'natural gas':

    Electricity has become a very important part of our existence; we are extremely dependent on it. If there were no electricity, life as we know it would probably end. We feel helpless without electricity. On a hot day without electricity, we would feel frustrated. There can be no life without electricity, but ...
    This is the only instance where 'gas' is mentioned
  3. Complete the link sentence that leads onto the next paragraph which talks about 'gaining confidence':

    Golf seems terribly complicated to the novice. There seem to be so many rules and different kinds of clubs. There's also the 'technical language such as 'birdies', 'bogeys' and 'number two iron'. Don't worry! If you ...
    This is the only case that encourages the player
  4. Which one of the following sentences would be a good topic sentence (first sentence) for the paragraph below?

    Although hippos may appear sweet and friendly, they are one of the animals you do not want to tangle with: they are easily frightened and very aggressive. A hippo will not hesitate to attack a human - especially if its young are close by.
    The paragraph is concerned with the danger that hippos pose to people
  5. You have been told to write an essay on 'Road Safety'. The essay must cover the following points: pedestrians, vehicles, road layout and traffic signs, punishments for breaking the Highway Code. What is the minimum number of paragraphs needed to write a 500 word essay?
    One paragraph for the introduction to the essay, one paragraph for each point, and one paragraph for the brief summary and/or conclusion. Each paragraph will have to have topic and link sentences - except the last one
  6. Which one of the following sentences would be a good topic sentence (first sentence) for the paragraph below?

    They’re inexpensive and work great. There’s nothing worse than soggy lettuce. Use this gadget, and you'll never have any more problems with soggy lettuce. No more embarrassing dinner parties - spoilt by that soggy lettuce! Incidentally, don't forget to use some red leaf lettuce for a change.
    Only this choice mentions a gadget: 'a salad spinner'
  7. Which one of the following sentences would be a good topic sentence (first sentence) for the paragraph below?

    The Tbox 336 HD DVD Player is one of the cheapest ways to enjoy the next generation of DVD technology. It enables you to watch HD content on your HDTV with an HD DVD on your Tbox 336 system. All you have to do is install the software and connect the Tbox 336 HD DVD Player to your Tbox 336 console. You're ready to go! Enjoy the ultimate home theatre - it's better than broadcast, cable or even satellite HD.
    This is obviously an advert for the Tbox 336 HD DVD Player
  8. Complete the link sentence that leads onto the next paragraph which talks about 'pet mice':

    When choosing a pet, contact a reputable pet shop. Listen carefully to what the pet shop keeper tells you about the different pets and do not be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you will be able to properly look after the pet yourself before making the final decision. Dogs can be quite demanding, but one type of pet that doesn't require a lot of trouble ...
    I hope that you didn't get this wrong!
  9. Which one of the following sentences would be a good topic sentence (first sentence) for the paragraph below?

    The following symptoms will help you decide what sort of burn it is: Redness (first degree burns), blistering (second degree burns) and charring of skin (third degree burns). Third degree burns are the most serious. First and second degree burns should be treated with cold water. ALL burns should be covered with sterile non-stick dressings. In the case of chemical burns, they should be washed with a large quantity of water. If it's an alkali burn, vinegar may be added to the water. In the case of acid burns, however, sodium bicarbonate may be added to the water. Third degree burns require the immediate attention of a doctor, but you can still cover them with sterile non-stick dressings.
    The paragraph talks about the treatment of burns
  10. Which one of the following sentences would be a good topic sentence (first sentence) for the paragraph below?

    Miss Vera Hedges Butler was the first British woman to pass her driving test. This was in 1900! Unfortunately, she had to take her test in France because driving tests didn't exist in England: they weren't introduced until 1940. On the other hand, the publication of the first edition of The Highway Code came out in 1931. Ah, well! Better late than never.
    The paragraph then goes on to prove this point

Author: Frank Evans

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