A each of these paragraphs could be clearer,

A good paragraph presents an idea that the reader can understand.

In this lesson, you’ll learn about the characteristics of a good paragraph and just how many sentences it takes to make one.

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Parts of a Sentence

A sentence usually has a subject (what we are talking about) and a verb (the action that is going on). Let’s look at an example:

  • I like apples.

Here, the subject is ‘I,’ the verb is ‘like,’ and the object is ‘apples.’

Parts of a Paragraph

A paragraph is a group of sentences that begins with an indented sentence about one idea, supports the idea, and concludes with a final thought about that idea. Even though Run! is one word, it is a paragraph, where run serves as the main idea, support for the main idea, and a conclusion: Run!Technically, a paragraph does not have a set amount of sentences. Some paragraphs have two or three sentences while others have only one sentence. In newspapers and online writing, a powerful, well-written sentence can function just as well as five sentences.

Five sentences is usually the maximum guideline for a good paragraph and includes an introductory sentence (or the main idea of a paragraph), one to three supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence.

Sample Paragraph

Let’s take a look a sample paragraph that might be in need of some grammatical first aid:I am a big fan of the Seattle Seahawks. They are amazing. They have won the Super bowl. They have very good players. My favorite player is quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks have an incredible stadium in Seattle, WA.

The stadium is called CenturyLink Field. It can hold 67,000 people. The stadium is an important part of downtown Seattle. There are many buildings in downtown Seattle. The tallest building in Seattle is the Columbia Center.

I have been to the top of the Columbia Center. The view is amazing!Wow! There’s a lot going on in that one paragraph. The paragraph has three main ideas. Let’s look at the first one:I am a big fan of the Seattle Seahawks. They are amazing. They have won the Super bowl. They have very good players.

My favorite player is quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Here, the main idea is the Seattle Seahawks.
Now, let’s take a look at the second main idea:The Seahawks have an incredible stadium in Seattle, WA. The stadium is called CenturyLink Field. It can hold 67,000 people. The stadium is an important part of downtown Seattle. The main idea here is the CenturyLink Field stadium.


Now, how about the third main idea:There are many buildings in downtown Seattle. The tallest building in Seattle is the Columbia Center. I have been to the top of the Columbia Center.

The view is amazing! Here the main idea is the Columbia Center.
While each of these paragraphs could be clearer, each one is based upon a main idea rather than several main ideas. Many writers are guilty of this mistake at one time or another. When you’re writing and good ideas are coming out of your head, it’s easy to forget that the reader can get lost.

Lesson Summary

Let’s review.While there’s no formal rule about how many sentences a paragraph should have, the general rule is that a paragraph should begin with an indented sentence, as denoted by five spaces or one push of the tab key.

A good paragraph typically consists of an introductory sentence, one to three supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence that leads into the next paragraph. It takes practice, but a good paragraph begins with an idea – like ‘Run!’

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