Teach English in Mexico


How Do You Format a Five Paragraph Essay?

A typical high school essay must have five paragraphs, the first of which is the introduction. The three following ones form the body, while the last paragraph is the conclusion.


The first sentence of your introduction is extremely important. It should provide a clue about the essay subject and encourage your reader to continue. There are three common ways to open an essay:

  • Generalization. A broad statement of the story you are going to tell, or a question you are trying to answer.
  • Quotation. It should be relevant to the topic of your essay and provide a hint of your main idea. A well-chosen quotation will intrigue the readers and make them feel the importance of what you are writing about.
  • A joke or a short funny story. This method should be used carefully. Some teachers may disapprove of it, especially when the subject is serious. Otherwise, starting your essay with an anecdote is a good way to relax your readers and win their attention.

After you have introduced your work in one of these ways, you can either jump to the body of your essay, or add a thesis statement where you precisely name the person or thing you are writing about; briefly state your position. You may also list up to three arguments in favor of your view. The body of your essay should support these arguments with evidence.

If you want to include the thesis statement, make it the last sentence of your introductory paragraph.


Each of the three body paragraphs should follow this scheme:

  • A transition sentence that connects this paragraph to the previous one.
  • One statement that you make about the essay subject.
  • A piece of evidence in support of your statement.
  • An explanation as to why this evidence is important (at least one sentence).
  • A concluding sentence to summarize this paragraph.

You should not make more than one statement or give more than one piece of evidence in a single paragraph, as it may confuse your readers.

If your body paragraphs are short, you may not be able to include all the elements listed above. However, make sure to maintain the order, i.e. the explanation should follow evidence.


In your concluding paragraph, you should demonstrate that your essay has reached its goal. Tell the reader what you have discovered or proven. This final part is closely connected to the opening one. If your introduction asks a question, your conclusion should answer it with a short summary of your research.


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