Sally Baggett holds a master’s in literature. She enjoys inspiring students, cooking with her family, and helping others achieve their dreams.
Just like there is more than one way to skin a cat (or so they say), there is more than one way to write an essay. One is not required to produce a perfectly formatted five-paragraph essay every time one composes a piece of writing. There is another type of essay you can write that may just be simpler than the traditional style: the three-paragraph essay. This type of essay might be beneficial for beginning writers as it offers the organizational structure of a longer essay without requiring the length. It also offers a challenge to more advanced writers to condense their points.
The Parts of the Essay and Its Benefits
As with most essays, the three-paragraph essay has three parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Yet with this type of essay–unlike its five-paragraph counterpart–each one of these sections has only one paragraph. The three-paragraph essay, therefore, might be ideal for young writers or those who are currently mastering the English language.
Another benefit to the three-paragraph essay could be that it requires you to condense your supporting points into just one, which can be a good exercise. If you had to choose only one point to convince a reader to agree with you, what would it be?
After performing some light prewriting, such as brainstorming or writing an outline, students can move right into composing the essay. While this process is similar across the board for writing academic papers, the three-paragraph essay is unique in that the body will take up less space in the finished product.
An outline for this essay might look like this:
- Introduction Paragraph
- Background Points
- Thesis Statement
- Body Paragraph
- Topic Sentence
- Supporting fact 1
- Supporting fact 2
- Transition Sentence
- Topic Sentence
- Conclusion Paragraph
- Re-statement of Thesis
- Summary of Main Point
- Challenge to the Reader
Paragraph One: Introduction
As with most formal essays, the three-paragraph essay begins with an introduction paragraph. Such paragraphs must, obviously, introduce the reader to your idea and, in most cases, convince the reader that this essay is worth reading. To craft a strong introduction, be sure to open with a solid hook. You want to draw in readers so they are compelled to engage with your writing.
A hook can be something compelling such as a question, a powerful quote, or an interesting fact. Introduction paragraphs also usually contain background information that assists the reader in understanding your topic, perhaps defining it or explaining an important part. Finally, you want to include a thesis statement. Even though your essay only has three paragraphs, there still needs to be a purpose to the writing.
You could structure your introduction paragraph according to this outline:
- Introduction Paragraph
- Hook: Is there no solution for dumping waste in the ocean?
- Background Points
- Explain why trash is dumped in the ocean
- Statistics about dumping trash in the ocean
- Thesis Statement: Dumping waste in the ocean is a problem because it spells disaster for the ecosystem, leading to problems on land.
This structure is not mandatory, though it might be useful in the long run for organizing your thoughts.
Paragraph Two: Body
The second paragraph, as we have discussed, is the one and only body paragraph. This paragraph bears the burden of communicating support for the thesis statement all on its own. As such, it may take more than one rough draft to get this paragraph to communicate everything you want it to.
Your body paragraph needs to underscore the thesis statement. Create a topic sentence for this body paragraph that communicates this and also transitions from the introduction into the body. For example, your body paragraph topic sentence based on the outline above could be:
One of those problems might play itself out as food scarcity where humans live.
This topic sentence reiterates the thesis and moves the reader into a body paragraph that contains a supporting point: that damage to the ocean’s ecosystem could lead to food scarcity. Within the body paragraph, you can quote different sources that support this point.
Again, this paragraph does not have room to contain everything that a full five-paragraph essay might. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fit in some strong evidence to convince your reader to see your perspective, such as is accomplished through quotes and analysis. Don’t forget to end with a strong transition sentence to move the reader seamlessly into the conclusion.
Paragraph Three: Conclusion
The final paragraph in an essay is usually the conclusion. The three-paragraph essay is no exception. In this essay, the conclusion can be just as long as the other two paragraphs, and it can drive home the point made in the thesis statement and body paragraph. As with most conclusion paragraphs, this paragraph ought to restate the thesis in different words. It should then summarize what was stated in the body paragraph before challenging the reader in some way, whether in thought or action.
Editing Before Turning It In
One thing to be sure of in this type of essay (as in any other) is to polish it. Make it flow well. In other words, revise it!
Before beginning the revision process, take a break from your writing so that you can look at it with fresh eyes. Once you start revising, hunt not only for grammar and punctuation errors but for ways to make the writing flow better. Take a look at the sentences at the beginning and end of each paragraph. Do these sentences contain transition words? Do these paragraphs link to each other? Transition words or phrases like “Likewise,” “In spite of,” or “In addition to” can ensure that your paragraphs are coherent. There are also other services that will automatically proofread you paper.
If you used any sources (i.e. websites, books, videos, etc.) to help support your points and write your paper, you need to cite them! Most teachers will ask you to create a bibliography in MLA format. Others may have you one in APA format, or create references in Chicago style. Ask your teacher for guidance on what citation style they prefer.
Don’t forget that you aren’t limited to using this type of essay for just persuasion. You can also use it to relate a narrative tale, using the three parts as the beginning, middle, and end of a story. You can use this to craft an informative essay. See if other types of essays–such as a process analysis or an evaluation–will fit inside the three-paragraph essay format.
In many ways, the three-paragraph essay is similar to the five-paragraph essay. They both make a solid point using an introduction, body, and conclusion. This simpler essay only requires that you condense your points into one body paragraph, perhaps only one supporting point, before reaching a conclusion. Again, this can make a good exercise for beginning English writers, but can also make a challenge for a more advanced writer to select their strongest supporting points.
The American dream is something common to all people, but it is something that everyone views in different ways. The American dream is different for everyone, but they share some of the same aspects of it. The dream is dependent mainly on the setting of where one lives and one‘s social status. For example, The Declaration of Independence was by Thomas Jefferson, who was an upper class white male. He wanted freedom, but freedom for people like himself that were white landowning males. Martin Luther King, in his I Have a Dream speech, also called for freedom, but mostly for African Americans like himself. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his book The Great Gatsby, that he would have liked to eliminate the idle rich, which he was a part of. Every American dream is somewhat different, but they all relate to the times that one lives in.
In The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson asked for equality for white landowning males. His American dream was to be free from Britain and to be treated equally. This dream only included people like himself, that were white men who owned land. The people that signed the document were all part of that class. They were the people leading the revolution, so Jefferson thought they should be the ones reaping the benefits. In the text, it talks about “the merciless Indian Savages.” Obviously they were not included as being equal. Jefferson also wrote “We…the Representatives of the united States of America…” He was referring to himself and everyone who signed The Declaration of Independence, none of whom were women or black. Jefferson also wrote “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…” He specifically used the word “men,” when he could have said “all people” instead. This also shows how his dream was for all men to be treated equally. Jefferson’s dream is different from Martin Luther King’s dream in the specifics, but in the whole they are the same dream. Both want equality for their people, the people that are in the same class and race they are in. Jefferson’s dream is fairly different than F. Scott Fitzgerald’s dream in principal, but the dreams are similar in that they both want change for the better. Their dreams also focused on the social class they belonged to.
Martin Luther King’s American dream is to have equality for everyone, but namely African Americans. In his I Have a Dream speech, he said, “…we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.” He was saying that even though America is supposed to be a free country, African Americans were really not free and treated equally. King said, “…the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” African Americans were not given good job opportunities. They were isolated and it was hard for them to live comfortably when all the families with white males could have high paying jobs and affords the comforts of life. He also said, “This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.” King was referring to The Declaration of Independence, which had been aimed to gain equality for white males. Colored citizens were not included in it, and this was wrong. King was saying how the document was supposed to promise freedom for all people, but that this was not true at all. African Americans were not free, and they had to live a hard life full of segregation and discrimination. He did not really ask for equality of all people though, like Asian or Hispanic people, but mainly black people like himself. This makes King’s American dream very similar to Jefferson’s American dream because they both wanted equality for their people. The dream is different from Fitzgerald’s dream, but they are similar because they both demanded positive change and they focused on their specific social classes.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American dream was to eliminate the idle rich. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald showed his distaste for them. One character, Tom, had an affair with another women. Tom brushed it off as nothing when talking about it. He lied to his wife Daisy quite often, so he could get away from her for a weekend. Fitzgerald showed how this was wrong, and that it should be stopped. Gatsby, another character, would throw parties all of the time. Anyone would come, even if they didn’t know Gatsby. The partiers made a lot of noise at late hours of the night and left big messes for the maids to clean up in the morning. Fitzgerald was showing how the rich are careless. They have no respect for anyone and only think of themselves. Also, when Gatsby died, no one attended his funeral. This showed how all his rich “friends” didn’t even care enough to come to his funeral. Fitzgerald was a part of the idle rich. He had a good amount of money, drank a lot, partied often, and had affairs. His American dream related to the class that he was a part of, just like Jefferson and King. All of their dreams dealt with the part of society they belonged to. Fitzgerald wanted change like the others too, but he wanted to change who he was. Jefferson and King wanted to change other people’s perspective of them.
Jefferson, King, and Fitzgerald’s American dreams shared similarities. All of their dreams had to deal with the social class they belonged to. Jefferson’s dream dealt with white landowning males, King’s dream dealt with African Americans, and Fitzgerald’s dream dealt with the idle rich. All of their dreams also dealt with change for the better. My American dream is to go to college, have an enjoyable job, get married, have kids, and have a nice house. My dream is probably what most upper-middle class people aspire for. This makes my dream similar in that it deals with my social class. It is also a change for the better. I don’t want to live in my parents’ house all my life. The American dream is universal in that everyone hopes for positive change and that the change deals with their place in society. The American dream something that everyone aspires for, even if it is hard to accomplish. It is the thing that keeps people going.
This academia was first published 28 Mar 2005 and last revised 15 Feb 2016.Adam Cap is a sometimes raconteur, rare dingus collector, and webmaster probably best known for SixPrizes (serving as “El Capitan”) and PkmnCards (read: fine art purveyor). He scrapbooks yonder every minute or three.