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What is a paragraph?

A paragraph is a unit of writing consisting of one or more sentences that all relate to a single subject or topic. A paragraph usually begins with a topic sentence that provides an overview of the paragraph with sentences that then support the topic sentence.

Example Paragraphs

There are three different websites that you can learn about grammar and usage from. The first is called Grammar Girl, which can be found by simply googling the words “grammar girl.” This is an excellent site that has over 200 podcasts that cover various topics that pertain to the rules of grammar and usage. You can download the audio or even read the transcripts of the articles. The second site is, which provides lessons in a video format that are stored on YouTube. It too is comprehensive and easy to use. The topics covered are done so in a manner that is simple and easy to understand. Finally, there is the OWL site (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University. This site is beyond comprehensive because it not only covers the basics, but also covers more advanced topics like logic and deductive reasoning in writing.
One of my favourite videos is by the band They Might Be Giants. They are best known for the song, “You’re Not the Boss of Me Now,” which is the theme song from the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. Their song is called “Meet the Elements,” and it is about the elements of the periodic table. In the song, they explain how elements can be used singularly or combined to form compounds. For example, both diamonds and coal are made up of carbon and nothing else. Neon, for example, is the single element used in a glowing neon sign. Compounds, however, are a combination of elements such as when iron and oxygen are combined to form iron oxide, which is better known as rust. Some of the other compounds mentioned are sodium chloride, a combination of sodium and chlorine, which is also know as salt; silicon dioxide, a combination of silicon and oxygen, is commonly known as sand. The last and best example is sugar, which is a combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in a one to two to one ratio. It is the numbers in the ratio that determine the kind of sugar. For example, sucrose (sugar) is C12H22O11, whereas fructose (corn sugar) is C6H12O6.
Intensive care is an opaque term. Specialists in the field prefer to call what they do “critical care,” but that doesn’t exactly clarify matters. The non-medical term “life support” gets us closer. Intensive-care units take artificial control of failing bodies. Typically, this involves a panoply of technology—a mechanical ventilator and perhaps a tracheostomy tube if the lungs have failed, an aortic balloon pump if the heart has given out, a dialysis machine if the kidneys don’t work. When you are unconscious and can’t eat, silicone tubing can be surgically inserted into the stomach or intestines for formula feeding. If the intestines are too damaged, solutions of amino acids, fatty acids, and glucose can be infused directly into the bloodstream.
The difficulties of life support are considerable. Reviving a drowning victim, for example, is rarely as easy as it looks on television, where a few chest compressions and some mouth-to-mouth resuscitation always seem to bring someone with waterlogged lungs and a stilled heart coughing and sputtering back to life. Consider a case report in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery of a three-year-old girl who fell into an icy fish-pond in a small Austrian town in the Alps. She was lost beneath the surface for thirty minutes before her parents found her on the pond bottom and pulled her up. Following instructions from an emergency physician on the phone, they began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A rescue team arrived eight minutes later. The girl had a body temperature of sixty-six degrees, and no pulse. Her pupils were dilated and did not react to light, indicating that her brain was no longer working.
It also increases the chances of catching the life-threatening diseases that are more prevalent in poorer countries. In many places cities have been built just above a so-called “malaria line”, above which malaria-bearing mosquitoes cannot survive (Nairobi is one example). Warmer weather allows the bugs to move into previously unaffected altitudes, spreading a disease that is already the biggest killer in Africa. By 2030 climate change may expose 90m more people to malaria in Africa alone. Similarly, meningitis outbreaks in Africa are strongly correlated with drought. Both are likely to increase. Diarrhoea is forecast to rise 5% by 2020 in poor countries because of climate change. Dengue fever has been expanding its range: its incidence doubled in parts of the Americas between 1995-97 and 2005-07. On one estimate, 60% of the world’s population will be exposed to the disease by 2070.
Research by Emma Cohen, an anthropologist at Oxford University, suggests that a better model is provided by Hicham El Guerrouj, a Moroccan middle-distance runner who is the current holder of the world 1,500-metres and one-mile records. Before retiring in 2006 Mr El Guerrouj was known for the throngs of training partners that followed him everywhere in Morocco. This was a good strategy because, as Dr Cohen reports in a forthcoming issue of Biology Letters, training in a synchronised group may heighten tolerance for pain. That, in turn, could allow athletes like Mr El Guerrouj to train longer and harder.
A theory which might explain her disappearance, and that of some other vessels, is that they were struck by rogue waves—which begin with a deep trough followed by a wall of water the size of an eight- or nine-storey building. For many years oceanographers dismissed sailors’ reports of rogue waves much as they did stories of mermaids. But in 1995 an oil rig in the North Sea recorded a 25.6-metre wave. Then in 2000 a British oceanographic vessel recorded a 29-metre wave off the coast of Scotland. In 2004 scientists using three weeks of radar images from European Space Agency satellites found ten rogue waves, each 25 metres or more high.

Compare and Contrast Paragraphs

There were two "Reigns of Terror" if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon a thousand persons, the other upon a hundred million; but our shudders are all for the "horrors" of the minor terror, the momentary terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold insult, cruelty and heartbreak? What is swift death by lightning compared with slow death by fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by the brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled the older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.
—Mark Twain
Since my apotheosis as Captain Kindergarten, I have been a frequent guest in schools, most often invited by kindergartens and colleges. The environments differ only in scale. In the beginners' classroom and on the university campuses the same opportunities and facilities exist. Tools for reading and writing and scientific experimentation are there—books and paper, labs and work boxes—and those things necessary for the arts—paint, music, costumes, room to dance—likewise available. In kindergarten, however, the resources are in one room, with access for all. In college, the resources are in separate buildings, with limited availability. But the most radical difference is in the self image of the students.
In addition to the fact that most people don't get a good grammar education, I believe a significant reason you see so many typos and errors on web pages is that most web copy never gets reviewed by anyone but the writer before it goes live. By contrast, copy that you see in newspapers and magazines (in addition to being written by professional writers) goes through an extensive editing process. After a writer turns in a story, it's usually reviewed by multiple editors, including the department editor who assigned it, a senior editor, and a copy editor. Of course these editors all have more training in grammar and writing than the average person writing a blog, and even if you consider text on a commercial website, in my experience, these companies tend to run lean editorial departments and may only have one editor looking at copy before it goes live.
Less and fewer are easy to mix up. They mean the same thing — the opposite of more — but you use them in different circumstances. The basic rule is that you use less with with mass nouns and fewer with count nouns.
Sometimes it isn't obvious if something is a mass noun or a count noun because some words can be used in different ways. For example, coffee can refer to either a mass of liquid or a cup of liquid. If you're responsible for filling the coffee decanter at a wedding, and you're getting carried away, your boss might ask you to make less coffee. But if you're a waiter serving cups of coffee to the tables, and the crowd is waning, your boss might tell you to bring out fewer coffees next time. She means cups of coffee, but it's common to hear that shortened to just coffee as in “Bring me a coffee, please.” Remember that I said mass nouns (like coffee) can't be made plural? In this example, I've made a mass noun plural, but in the process I transformed it into a count noun. So the rule still holds.
Here's how you would use comparisons and superlatives. If you want to brag that you now have more knowledge about grammar than you used to, you’re comparing now and then, which is two items. You might therefore state, “I’ve been listening to Grammar Girl for a while, so my grammar is better than it used to be.” Here, the comparative is “better.” If, on the other hand, you’re comparing yourself with your six cousins, you’re comparing seven people. You might say, “I am the best speller in the family.” Here, the superlative is “best.”
In Stockholm, Sweden researchers wanted to know if making stairs fun would increase their usage over the escalator. So, they decided to turn a set of stairs next to an escalator into a working or functional piano keyboard. After a period of time, which in scientific terms is an interval, researchers found that the piano stairs were used 66% more often or frequently than the escalator.
In the Galapagos Islands located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador, there are two types of giant tortoises that illustrate how species evolve: Saddle-Backs and Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz variety of giant tortoise lives on wet, lush islands where it feeds on grasses. Therefore, its shell is flat where the neck protrudes from it; by contrast, Saddle-Back tortoises, which live on dry, desert-like islands, have a saddle-shaped shell in the same location or place. This allows them to reach up high for the cactus fruit they feed on.
Saddle-Back and Santa Cruz giant tortoises are two types of giant tortoise that live on the Galapagos Islands located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador. They are excellent examples of how species evolve depending on their environment. For example, Saddle-Back tortoises, which live on dry desert-like islands, have a shell that is shaped like a saddle where the neck extends out. This is because this shape allows the tortoise to reach up high for the cactus fruit it feeds on. On the other hand, Santa-Cruz tortoises have no such adaptation because they graze on grass and have no need to reach up for food.
My wife and I watch American Pickers and Pawn Stars, both of which are on the History Channel. American Pickers consists of two guys, Mike and Frank, who travel around the country-side in a huge Mercedes van looking for antiques and other valuables that might be buried in homes, barns or under piles of junk. Their clientèle consists mostly of hoarders who, generally speaking, don’t want to give up their stuff. So, they will establish a relationship based on being mutual collectors. Frank, for example, will first try to buy an oil can, “for himself,” which establishes a transaction that leads to more. By contrast, Pawn Stars is about a family owned pawn shop in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring Pops, Rick and Cory Harrison a.k.a Big Hoss. Their clientèle is more varied, but consists mostly of retirees, gamblers, drug addicts, fiancées and husbands who have been ordered to sell their guns. When negotiating, they will immediately explain that they have to make a profit, they are not retail, and they also know that you probably want money today. So, they have a bit more bargaining power.

Descriptive Paragraphs

It is a HONTM High-Performance Task Chair model # H7828. This chair is 34-1/2 inches deep by 26-7/8 inches wide and 44 inches tall. Its colors are maroon for the cushions on the seat and back and black for the plastic and metal parts. It features include an adjustable back, arm rests, and seat, which include height, width, and tilt. For example, you can tilt the seat back to help avoid lower back strain or raise and lower the overall height of the seat depending on your size. At approximately $750 this chair may seem expensive but it does come with a lifetime warranty although that does not include the adjustment levers under the seat. The polyurethane cushions on both the back and seat are wrapped by a nylon like cloth that resists stains and provides excellent comfort to the person sitting in it for extended periods of time.
A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool. On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees—willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winter's flooding; and sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool. On the sandy bank under the trees the leaves lie deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among them. Rabbits come out of the brush to sit on the sand in the evening, and the damp flats are covered with the night tracks of 'coons, and with the spread pads of dogs from the ranchers, and with the split-wedge tracks of deer that come to drink in the dark.
It was a classroom. There were books and tables with chairs made of chrome tubing and plastic - uncomfortable. At the front, there is a large desk filled with the tools of instruction: computer, visual presenter, and a media center for playing audio and video. On the ceiling with the sterile fluorescent lights is a single projector used to put videos or presentations on a screen so everyone can see. Circling the exterior is a computer that will take forever to boot-up and log onto for every student who bothers to come to class. Finally, on each grouping of four tables is a small basket of toys that students will play with until it breaks open and makes a mess on their clothes.
My first car was a yellow 1974 rust bucket, known as a Ford Pinto. The leaf spring was broken due to oxidization, causing the rear driver’s side to sag. Every time I hit a bump, the car would bounce up and down, scraping some unknown metal part underneath (I didn’t want to know). I had to be very gentle with the doors because one hinge was crumbling apart while the other was encrusted in several layers of rust. The gas tank even had rust in it, which meant that I had to keep the tank over half full all the time or rust would get in the carburettor, causing the engine to sputter and lose power. Although it was a rust bucket, it was my rust bucket.
I grew up in the very small town of Ottawa, WI. There were no stop lights, stop signs and not even a “from here to there” mile sign, telling you the distance to the next town. On the corner of Hwy 67 and ZZ, there was no post office, sorting the thousands of letters that don’t exist. There were no restaurants filling the air with the aroma of fried chicken, hamburgers or barbecue ribs. There wasn’t even a movie theatre showing the latest movie releases. And although, it may not have had much, it was a quiet, peaceful place to grow up.
At sunset, below a cut bank inside the northern boundary of Yellowstone Park, a female grizzly enters the swollen Yellowstone. She thrashes through the spinning plates of current like an angry dog. The muddy river catches her, swings her downstream, toward the Lamar River. But she reaches the far side soon enough, her massive head already focused upward on the trellis of game trails that rises before her. She is chasing an elk and her calf. The calf, eyes screwy with panic, stumbles.
Chapple, Steve. National Geographic, April 1997. Page 64.
The Kamchatka Peninsula, rugged and remote, is a vast blade of land stabbing south-westward through cold seas from the mainland of north-eastern Russia. Its coastline is scalloped like the edges of an obsidian dagger. Its highlands rise to cone-shaped volcanic peaks, snow-streaked in summer, and to ridges of bare, gray rock. Its gentler slopes are upholstered in Boreal greens. It's a wild place, in which brown bears and Steller's sea-eagles thrive on a diet rich in fatty fish. About 350,000 people inhabit Kamchatka Krai (its label as a governmental region), and they too are highly dependent on fish. In fact, you can't begin to understand Kamchatka without considering one extraordinary genus: Oncorhynchus, encompassing the six species of Pacific salmon.
Where the Salmon Rule. National Geographic, August 2009.
The morning air still smelled of smoke. Wood ash mainly but there was also the acrid stench of burnt plastic and pain. And even though I knew it couldn't be true, I thought I caught a whiff of putrid flesh from under the rubble across the street. The hardware store and Bernard's Stationary Store were both completely gutted. The Gonzalez Market had been looted but only a part of its roof had been scorched. The corner building, however, Lucky Dime Liquors, had been burned to the ground. Manny Massman was down in the rubble with his two sons, kicking the metal fixtures. At one point the middle-aged store owner lowered his head and cried. His sons put their hands on his shoulders.

Cause and Effect Paragraphs

Smoking has many serious effects. The most obvious effect is the deterioration of a smoker's health. Smoking increases the risk of lung disease, increases blood pressure, increases the risk of heart attacks, and reduces the flow of oxygen to the brain. Smoking creates respiratory problems. A smoker's cough expels phlegm, a thick mucus in the nose and the throat that wants to escape the body. Prolonged use may lead to emphysema and the need to hook up to a machine to pump enough oxygen into the lungs. Another effect of this habit is that smoking breeds halitosis; a smoker's breath always smells foul and repulsive. Smoking frequently results in social isolation because fewer people smoke or want to be in the presence of a second-hand smoker. Friends and acquaintances often bluntly tell their smoking friends that they don't want the smell in their cars or in their homes. The strong, offensive odour of smoke clings to smokers' clothing, hair, and skin. The final effect of smoking is that it depletes the pocketbook. Smoking is now an expensive habit, and the price of cigarettes continues to rise. The effects of smoking are many, which leaves one wondering why intelligent people do not find a way to break their harmful addiction.
Air pollution is perhaps the most devastating form of pollution since it destroys a resource that almost every life form as we know it needs to sustain itself. The effects of this menace, both immediate and far ranging, are easy to summarize: unbreathable air. The causes, however, need some more inspection. Every citizen who drives a car that is not properly serviced and that does not have emission control devices is contributing more than the normal amount of noxious gases into the atmosphere. Large industries that do not have filtration mechanisms on their smoke stacks are also contributors. Every government which does not pass, or passes but does not enforce, strict air pollution legislation is also destroying the atmosphere. One may wonder why these three aspects of society are so cavalier about the air they breathe. Well, there is an underlying cause which motivates all three groups: money. Legislation and enforcement of laws, installation and maintenance of filtration systems cost money. The majority of these three groups seems content to save a bit of money now and to sacrifice an invaluable commodity later.
Many houses today are constructed by builders who own and develop an area of homes. The builders often hire teams of workers who go from site to site specializing in certain tasks. To make this easier and to make the cost of materials less expensive, the houses are all built based on the same floor plan and the exteriors only have minor variations in styles and materials. Consequently, the interior details as well as the exteriors look very much the same from house to house. The overall result of this system is a lack of charm and individuality of homes in such housing additions.
In recent decades, cities have grown so large that now about 50% of the Earth's population lives in urban areas. There are several reasons for this occurrence. First, the increasing industrialization of the nineteenth century resulted in the creation of many factory jobs, which tended to be located in cities. These jobs, with their promise of a better material life, attracted many people from rural areas. Second, there were many schools established to educate the children of the new factory laborers. The promise of a better education persuaded many families to leave farming communities and move to the cities. Finally, as the cities grew, people established places of leisure, entertainment, and culture, such as sports stadiums, theaters, and museums. For many people, these facilities made city life appear more interesting than life on the farm, and therefore drew them away from rural communities.
Google makes looking information up so quick and easy that it is changing our memories. Betsy Sparrow, a researcher at Columbia University, did a study whereby people were asked to type facts into a computer such as an Ostrich's eyeball is bigger than its brain. Some subjects were informed that the information would be stored on the computer, and other subjects were told that the information was immediately deleted. Those subjects who were told that the information would be deleted were better at remembering those facts later. This implies that our access to the Internet and our ability to look information up whenever we want has the effect that we don't bother to remember that information. In other words, spell-check means that no one checks their spelling.
Colbert Report: Head in the Clouds
Each day all across the United States little motors hum away opening vents and windows to allow air in for cooling or fresh air. These little motors require power to run them and switches to start and stop them. But, what if there was an alternative that was cheap, strong, and efficient? What if this motor was a polymer muscle made of simple fishing line and thread that contracted with the simple application of heat: heat from the sun, for example? The effect would be profound. First, no more copper wires would be needed to run, operate, or make these motors, lowering the demand for the highly desired material. Second, less equipment means less complexity, and less complexity means less maintenance because there will be fewer break-downs. Third, these polymer muscles don't require electricity thus reducing the load on the electrical grid and the burning of fossil fuels. Imagine billions of little motors that no longer need electricity to operate and no longer generate heat as they do. As a nation and planet, we would save trillions of dollars that could be spent, saved, or invested.

Process Paragraphs

If you drive in winter conditions, knowing five steps possibly can save your life. First, be sure your car is ready. Check the tires’ tread and air pressure, the battery, and the antifreeze. Second, stock your car with emergency roadside supplies. Have a flash-light, jumper cables, and a shovel. Third, practice winter driving in an empty parking lot. When you skid, ease your foot off the gas and steer the car in the direction you want the front end to head. Next, know your route in advance so your hands do not leave the steering wheel and your eyes do not leave the road in an attempt to find directions on a map. The final step is to know what to do if you do get stuck, stalled, or stranded. Stay in your car where you will be warmer. Tie a bright piece of cloth or a marker on your antenna. Run your car long enough to remove the chill. Do not leave your car and attempt to walk long distances for help. Following these five steps will lead to safer winter driving and could save your life.
Buying a good car takes several steps. First, you must decide on a new car or a used one. You must also figure out your budget and know how much you want to spend. If you decide to buy a used car, check the Blue Book values. Research new cars in consumer magazines and the Internet for price, safety, and value. Road test to see how the car handles on the freeway, city streets, and on curves. Check the brakes. Listen for sounds or squeaks inside the car from the engine or in the wheels. Ask family and friends about the car. Most dealerships will let you take the car off the lot and have a computer analysis on it. These steps can help you select the right car for many years of reliable transportation.
Adding wind-shield washer fluid to your vehicle is easy if you follow these simple steps. Make sure you have your user manual handy to help you locate any parts you are unfamiliar with. To start off, open the hood by pulling on the hood latch located on the driver’s side near the steering column. Then, reach under the hood, release the safety latch and lift up the hood. Now that you have access to the engine compartment you need to locate the prop rod. Which will secure the hood in the upright position. Now we need to locate the wind-shield washer fluid tank. This can be located in various areas please refer to your user manual if unable to locate. Once you have located the wind-shield washer fluid tank unscrew the cap and set aside or if it is attached make sure you leave enough room for the fluid to flow in to the tank. Take off the cap to the wind-shield washer fluid and pour it into the tank until it is full. Now put the cap back on the tank and remove the prop rod and close the hood. By following these easy steps you can add wind-shield washer fluid your vehicle.
When it comes to shovelling the driveway, these simple steps will help you be more efficient at removing snow. The first step to consider is selecting your shovel. I prefer a long handled, flat bladed dirt shovel to remove snow because no matter how heavy the snow is, it won’t break the shovel or my back. Now, if the snow is light and powdery, you may want to use a large push shovel because it clears a lot of snow at once. However, if the snow is wet and heavy, the shovel can crack and will be too heavy to move. Once you have the proper shovel for the type of snow you will be shovelling, you then need to think about your own physical limitations. Generally, I like to start at the end of the driveway because it is the most difficult part. The snowplow dumps all the packed snow there in a rather large pile. While shovelling I like to have about 25 to 35 shovel loads per minute, depending on how heavy the snow is. Any more than that and I will burn out before I am done. If the job seems too big, break the driveway up into sections and clear each section individually, taking breaks, if necessary, between each one. Using these helpful tips will make your snow shovelling fun and exciting—not really.
This is a great Southern style rice dish, but that’s just my biased opinion. First, get a five quart pot and gather your ingredients: one pound ground chuck, one pound sausage, one or two skinless chicken breasts, one chopped bell pepper, two chopped onions, one or two minced garlic cloves, Cajun seasonings and spices, one stick of butter, three cups rice, four cups water and one small bottle Kitchen Bouquet. Second, brown and drain ground chuck and sausage, slice first. Set this aside. Third, cube chicken breasts. In five quart pot, combine chicken, chopped onion and bell pepper, and minced garlic with butter and Cajun seasonings and spices, such as Cayenne Pepper or Cajun Seasoning mix. Sauté` and cook til done. Next, add browned ground chuck and sausage to mixture as well as three cups of rice, four cups water, bottle of Kitchen Bouquet and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, it gives a little extra flavour. Mix together well, cover, reduce heat and cook til water is completely absorbed. You may stir once or twice. Lastly, serve alone or with any kind of bread and enjoy a taste of the South.
Buying a quality house in a good location takes seven steps. First, you must decide on a pre-existing or a newly constructed home. Before buying, it might be a good idea to speak to a lender, so that you have some idea of how much you can afford. If you decide to buy a pre-existing home, check the online real estate listings like Zillow for possible locations, size, floor plans, etc., etc. Check out the house by setting up an appointment with a realtor or go to open houses. Check the furnace, the roof, attic, chimney, plumbing, and electrical. Listen for sounds or squeaks that might indicate that an animal or animals are living in the home. Ask neighbours, an appraiser, or pay an inspector to inspect the house. These steps can help you select the right home for many years of reliable living.
This is my multi-use dough recipe that can be used for pizza, beignets, or cinnamon rolls. I begin with eight cups of flour that is unbleached, enriched, and organic because it has a more silky texture. To this I add, one packet of quick rise yeast, five tablespoons of sugar, and four teaspoons of salt. Now, mix these dry ingredients together. Once mixed, I add six to eight tablespoons of olive oil and mix again. The flour should get a bit clumpy. Finally, I add three cups of ice cold water and mix until it forms into dough, but no more. If you mix too much, the dough will start break down the gluten and it will become tough and chewy instead tender and flaky. Now, for pizza dough simply roll out with a rolling pin. For cinnamon rolls do the same, but add sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Then roll the dough up into a log and slice the log to make round cinnamon rolls. Now for beignets, roll out the dough like for a pizza, but cut it up into flat squares and deep fry in a fryer.


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