Body Paragraphs

The purpose of the body paragraphs is to develop and explain the main categories given about the two subjects that will be compared and contrasted. Each body paragraph has a main idea category sentence in support of the two subjects being compared and contrasted that is in support of the thesis statement about the two subjects. By 5th grade on, there should be at least three body paragraphs in the composition. The main idea category sentences and the detail sentences in support of the main idea category sentences can be organized in different ways to support the thesis statement about the two subjects:
Whole-to-Whole, or Block
Similarities to Differences

The 2012 school year writing assignment is requiring a compare and contrast, point-to-point essay.
For more information about how to write a compare and contrast point-to-point essay, or any of the other compare and contrast essay organizations, go to Read*Write*Think,

The Body Paragraph

The Paragraph Main Idea Category Sentence About the Two Subjects
Each "main idea category" sentence compares or contrasts the two subjects in support of the thesis statement in the introduction paragraph. It is typically the first sentence of the body paragraph.

The Paragraph Detail Sentences
When using the compare and contrast point-to-point organizational structure, the paragraph's main idea category sentence is followed by 2-3 detail sentences. The detail sentences explain how the two subjects are the same, or are different for that category. The two subjects are always listed in the same order for each comparison; the characteristic(s) for subject A are always mentioned first, and the characteristic(s) for subject B are always mentioned second in each detail comparison sentence.

In some writing programs, detail sentences are followed by elaboration sentences because they provide more details about the paragraph's main idea category. Regardless of what your writing program calls them, the body paragraph must have at least 2-3 sentences that explain, support, and discuss in more detail the main idea category for comparison of the paragraph.

One way to make the body paragraph more interesting is to vary the types of sentences. If the sentences are all facts, it makes the paragraph read like a grocery list which can be boring. To help choose an interesting mix of details, ask yourself a series of questions about the main idea of your topic sentence. Here are some questions to get you started:
Who does this affect?
Why does it occur?
Who does it involve?
Where does this occur?
What causes it to happen?
What can be done?
When does it occur?
How can this problem be helped?
Now think of some questions of your own about the paragraph's main idea category by starting with one of the following question words: who, what, where, why, when, and how.
Out of these, choose 2-3 of the most supportive details, while also trying to choose details that come from different question words. This technique will help vary the sentences and make the writing more interesting.

Fact, Statistic, Example, or Life Experience
Detail sentences can be a concrete fact, statistic, example, or life experience to support the main idea category. Asking questions about a detail sentence using the same process described above, can be used to further develop elaboration sentences in support of the detail sentences.

Paragraph Conclusion Sentence
It is a good writing strategy to conclude the body paragraph with a restatement of the paragraph's main idea category sentence. This refocuses the reader and gives closure to the body paragraph's main idea and helps to act as a transition to the next paragraph.