Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

First Paragraph

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
First Paragraph

How do you begin an essay? You grab the reader's attention and introduce them to your topic! You can do this with a great first paragraph, also known as the introductory paragraph. The first paragraph is an important part of any essay. It sets up the argument and prepares the reader for what you will be writing about. Good first paragraphs include an eye-catching hook to start things off, an overview of the topic, and a statement of your main point.

Meaning of the First Paragraph

The First Paragraph is the introductory paragraph of an essay. It appears at the very beginning of the essay. It introduces the topic, provides background information, and provides a roadmap to the essay.

The first paragraph sets the stage for your essay. It is the first thing the reader sees. It gives you space to capture the reader's attention and let them know what you'll be writing about.

Importance of a First Paragraph

The first paragraph is important because it grabs the reader's attention, provides necessary background information on your topic, and prepares the reader for what is coming later in the essay. Without the first paragraph, you risk dropping the reader into your argument without any introduction. This makes things more difficult to understand. The first paragraph is prime real estate for getting your reader into the mindset.

You can use the first paragraph to make sure the reader is interested in what you have to say.

Benefits of the First Paragraph

  • It grabs the reader's attention
  • It introduces the reader to your topic
  • It gives necessary background information
  • It prepares the reader for what is coming
  • It provides a roadmap for the essay

First Paragraph Sentence Starters

The first paragraph should include a hook, an introduction to the topic, a statement or question of your purpose, and a thesis statement. Together, these elements grab your reader's attention and prepare them for the rest of the essay.

To begin, you need a sentence starter. Really, this means you need a hook.

Attention-Grabbing Hook

Imagine you are fishing. You carefully dig through your tackle box, looking for the perfect lure. The lure you choose is meant to catch the eye of big fish. It will bring the fish to your hook so you can capture it!

In writing, an attention-grabbing opening is called an essay hook. It captures the attention of your reader. It draws them to your argument. It makes them want to read more.

Climate change currently causes over 150,000 deaths per year. Clearly, climate change is not a problem of the future. It is a problem right now.

Once you've gotten your reader, you need to craft the rest of your first paragraph. Here's how.

Writing the First Paragraph

To write the first paragraph, start with a broad overview, narrow it down by explaining your topic, and then get specific with your purpose and thesis statement. Think of writing the first paragraph as working from a broad subject to a specific argument. Each sentence should make your topic more specific.

Take a look at the graphic below to get an idea of how you should approach the first paragraph. Then, follow the steps listed below to try and write your own.

First Paragraph Steps for Writing the First Paragraph StudySmarterSteps for writing your first paragraph, StudySmarter.

1. Start Broad

Imagine someone asked you what you are writing about. You would start out with a broad overview of the subject, right? For example, you might say "I'm writing about climate change." Then, you might give some interesting facts about climate change to show this person why your subject matters.

Approach the first paragraph in the same way. Take 5 minutes to write down the basics of your subject. What is your subject in general? Don't think about the specifics or the argument just yet. Focus on the big picture.

Add a hook to the beginning of the paragraph. This should be broad too. For example, you might state a surprising fact about climate change.

Ask yourself: What would get the reader in the right mindset for your essay?

2. Narrow It Down

Now that you've got the reader's interest, it's time to be clear about the specific topic of your paper. Take another five minutes to write down the following:

  • Who are you writing about?
  • What are you writing about?
  • When are you writing about?
  • Where are you writing about?

Summarize your answers in 1-3 sentences. This is the introduction part of the first paragraph.

Make it clear what your topic is about exactly. For example, you might explain the positions of the authors you are comparing. You might describe the problem you are solving. Or you might summarize the text you are analyzing. Keep your introduction direct and simple.

3. Get Specific

Now it's time to get to the point. Exactly what will you say in this essay?

Write 1-2 sentences summarizing the purpose of your essay. Are you comparing texts? Analyzing the character usage in a novel? Offering a solution to a problem? Make it clear what you intend to do in this essay.

Now, state your main point in a one-sentence thesis statement. What is the one idea you want your reader to get from this essay? This sentence can be a little longer than the others. It should be very clear what your main point is. The rest of the essay will all connect to it.

4. Put It All Together

Take the sentences you created for Steps 1-3, and put them together into one paragraph. You might need to tweak some things, but that's okay! You can always revise the first paragraph to make it flow smoothly. The important thing is that you have the important stuff written out. Take a moment to celebrate!

Examples of First Paragraphs

No two examples of a first paragraph look the same. As you review the example, think about which type of first paragraph you need.

Each part of the first paragraph is a different color. Pay attention to these different parts. How do they work together to grab the reader's attention and introduce the subject?

Use this color key to identify the different parts of each example:

Attention-Grabbing Hook
Introduction to the Topic
Question/Statement of Purpose
Thesis Statement

Expository First Paragraph Example

Have you ever concentrated on something so hard that you lose track of time and don't even notice? You are not alone! The psychological concept of flow is a state of mind in which one is fully immersed in an activity or experience. When in a state of flow, things might seem more interesting, energizing, or engaging than expected. What causes flow, and what are its effects? According to scientists, flow is only achieved by the correct balance of skill, enjoyment, and challenge; it influences how people choose to spend their time, and it is a key factor in whether a person pursues a challenge or not.

Argumentative First Paragraph Example

Despite common belief, healthcare workers do not always love their jobs. Although there are personal rewards that come from helping people, many healthcare workers suffer from burnout early in their careers. Mismanagement, limited funds, overcrowded hospitals, and long hours are just a few of the hardships they face every day. One might argue that the best solution to this problem is to simply pay healthcare workers more money. However, people in healthcare professions need more than just money; they need healthier work environments that include more support, increased communication, and extra funding for supplies and assistance.

Analytical First Paragraph Example

"Your only shame is to have shame." These are the words Amy Tan's mother says to her in her essay, "Fish Cheeks." In "Fish Cheeks," Tan tells the story of an embarrassing Christmas Eve dinner when she was fourteen years old. The author's use of imagery and a sentimental tone illustrate her complicated relationship with her family's culture. To convey the lessons her mother taught her about loving herself with her culture rather than despite her culture, Tan uses the imagery of "strange" foods that embarrassed her, even though she later admits they are her favorites.

Comparative First Paragraph Example

Climate change currently causes over 150,000 deaths per year. Clearly, climate change is not a problem of the future. It is a problem right now. In his article on the need for climate-focused business practice, Author A argues climate change can be slowed down by sustainable business practices. In her article on the future of climate change, Author B suggests businesses alone cannot impact the future of climate change. In comparing the arguments of Author A and Author B, it becomes clear that this issue is much more complicated than one might think. Both authors agree that sustainable practices are important for addressing climate change, but while Author A believes businesses should be the biggest contributors to that change, Author B believes it is too late to expect them to do so; she argues that everybody will have to work toward sustainability together.

Transitioning from the First Paragraph

To transition from the first paragraph, consider what point you want to make first. The second paragraph (the first body paragraph) should focus on one subpoint.

To transition is to use a word or phrase as a bridge from one idea to the next. To transition between paragraphs, use words that show the connections between the paragraphs.

To transition from the first paragraph, write a topic sentence that states the point of your second paragraph. What is the one idea you want the reader to understand from the second paragraph?

A topic sentence is the first sentence of a paragraph. It states the main point of that paragraph, which should be a subpoint of the thesis statement.

Now, look at the topic sentence of your second paragraph. Does it clearly connect to the thesis statement in the first paragraph? If not, think of ways to tweak either the topic sentence or the thesis statement. It should always be clear how they relate to each other.

Once you understand the relationship, use a transition to bind the ideas together!

First Paragraph - Key Takeaways

  • The first paragraph is the introductory paragraph of an essay.
  • The first paragraph is important because it grabs the reader's attention, provides necessary background information on your topic, and prepares the reader for what is coming later in the essay.
  • The first paragraph should include a hook, an introduction to the topic, a statement or question of your purpose, and a thesis statement.
  • To write the first paragraph, start with a broad overview, narrow it down by explaining your topic, and then get specific with your purpose and thesis statement.
  • To transition from the first paragraph, consider what point you want to make first.

Frequently Asked Questions about First Paragraph

The first paragraph is the introductory paragraph of an essay. It appears at the very beginning of the essay. It introduces the topic, provides background information, and provides a roadmap to the essay. 

You start the first paragraph of an essay with an attention-grabbing hook to get the reader's attention.

Yes, you should indent the first line of every paragraph one half-inch from the margin of the paper.

An example of a first paragraph in an essay is as follows: 

Climate change is a shift in temperature and weather patterns over time. This shift has both natural and man-made causes. In his article on the need for climate-focused business practice, Author A argues climate change can be slowed down by sustainable business practices. In her article on the future of climate change, Author B suggests businesses alone cannot impact the future of climate change.  

The first paragraph of an essay shows the reader what the subject of your essay will be, some background information on the subject, and your main argument about that subject. 

To transition from the introductory paragraph to the first body paragraph, write a topic sentence that states the point of that body paragraph. You can use sentence starters like First, Before, Currently, Importantly, and Clearly for a smoother transition.

Final First Paragraph Quiz

Question

What is the definition of First Paragraph? 

Show answer

Answer

The first paragraph is defined as the introductory paragraph of an essay. It appears at the very beginning of the essay. It introduces the topic, provides background information, and provides a roadmap to the essay.

Show question

Question

One can think of the first paragraph of an essay as an opening to a ______.

Show answer

Answer

conversation

Show question

Question

What are some of the benefits of the first paragraph? 

Show answer

Answer

It grabs the reader's attention

Show question

Question

What parts should the first paragraph include? 

Show answer

Answer

Attention-Grabbing Hook

Show question

Question

What is a hook? 

Show answer

Answer

A hook is an attention-grabbing opening of an essay.

Show question

Question

What are some of the different types of hooks? 

Show answer

Answer

A surprising fact or statistic relating to the topic

Show question

Question

What are some elements a writer might include in an introduction to their topic?

Show answer

Answer

The 4 w's of the topic(who, what, when, where)

Show question

Question

What are some examples of "filler words" to avoid in a statement of purpose?

Show answer

Answer

My purpose is...

Show question

Question

What is a thesis statement? 

Show answer

Answer

The thesis statement is a one-sentence statement that summarizes the main point of the essay. 

Show question

Question

The first paragraph should reflect the _____ of the essay.

Show answer

Answer

purpose

Show question

Question

What is the first step in writing a first paragraph?

Show answer

Answer

Broad overview and hook

Show question

Question

When writing the first paragraph, it helps to narrow down the topic by doing what?

Show answer

Answer

Summarizing the details of the subject in 1-3 sentences

Show question

Question

How can one get specific when writing the first paragraph of an essay?

Show answer

Answer

Summarizing the purpose of an essay in 1-2 sentences

Show question

Question

What is the fourth and final step to writing the first paragraph of an essay?


Show answer

Answer

Put it all together

Show question

Question

Is it okay to change the first paragraph while writing or after writing the rest of the essay?

Show answer

Answer

Yes, it is okay to change the first paragraph at any time! It's always a good idea to revise the first paragraph so it aligns with the rest of the essay.

Show question

Question

What does it mean to transition between paragraphs? 

Show answer

Answer

To transition is to use a word or phrase as a bridge from one idea to the next. To transition between paragraphs, use words that show the connections between the paragraphs

Show question

Question

How does one transition from the first paragraph to the second paragraph (the first body paragraph)?

Show answer

Answer

To transition from the first paragraph, write a topic sentence that states the point of the second paragraph.  Make sure that topic sentence relates to the thesis statement in the first paragraph.

Show question

Question

A first paragraph can:

Show answer

Answer

Get the reader's attention

Show question

Question

A first paragraph can:

Show answer

Answer

Help navigate the reader like a roadmap

Show question

Question

When you narrow down your topic you know:

Show answer

Answer

Who you're writing

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the First Paragraph quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.