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Third Paragraph

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English

Each paragraph of an essay serves a different purpose. The body paragraphs each contain one major idea. The third paragraph (aka the second body paragraph) contains the second most important idea of the essay. It contains many of the same elements as the second paragraph. The third paragraph allows you to transition into the third strongest argument, which appears in the fourth paragraph (aka the third body paragraph).

Meaning of the 'Third Paragraph'

The third paragraph is the second body paragraph of an essay. It contains the second most important argument, example, or information of the essay.

The third paragraph should mimic the structure of the second paragraph. It contains the second most important point of the essay. It should connect to the second paragraph. It should also connect to the thesis statement of the introductory paragraph.

Elements of the Third Paragraph

The elements of the third paragraph are the topic sentence, supporting sentences, evidence, and a concluding transition sentence. Together, these elements create a complete picture of the point you are making.

Key Elements of the Third Paragraph

Let's take a closer look at the different elements of the third paragraph. Review the elements listed in the table below. Pay close attention to the examples provided to get a sense of how you might structure these elements in your essay.

ElementDefinitionExamples

Topic Sentence

A topic sentence is a sentence that states the main idea of a paragraph. It should be the first sentence of the paragraph. In the third paragraph, the topic sentence should also contain transition words that show its relationship to the second paragraph.Ask yourself: What is the second most important point of my essay?
  • Additionally, school uniforms create a sense of community for students.
  • However, the technology behind the Post-It note was not always well-received.

Support Sentences

Support sentences are sentences that support the main argument of a paragraph. Support sentences explain the logic of the argument for the reader to follow along. In the third paragraph, there should be 2-3 support sentences that explain your main idea in-depth.Ask yourself: What does the reader need to know to understand my point?
  • School uniforms are like sports uniforms. They foster a shared sense of identity among students.
  • For years, nobody believed the removable glue used on Post-It notes was useful for anything.

Evidence

Evidence is material used to support a claim. Every point you make in an essay should be supported by evidence from sources. In the third paragraph, you can use evidence from your source to back up the claims made in the support sentences. Ask yourself: What proof do I have that my claims are correct?
  • According to ProSports Outlook, team uniforms play an important role in helping players feel like they belong. Uniforms make people feel like they are part of a team.
  • The inventor of the Post-It Note says he "preached the gospel" of his removable glue for years, but nobody would listen to him.

Concluding Transition Sentence

A concluding transition sentence is a sentence at the end of a paragraph that includes a hint of what is coming next.

In the third paragraph, the concluding transition sentence should hint at the main idea of the upcoming fourth paragraph.

Ask yourself: How do I let the reader know what's coming?

  • When students feel like part of a team, they benefit in a variety of ways.
  • After years of trying to convince people of his invention's potential, Dr. Silver had a great idea.

Third Paragraph example with elements

The elements of the third paragraph work together to craft your argument. Let's look at an example of a third paragraph with the required elements. Try to identify each element as you read the example below. How do they work together to establish, support, and conclude the main idea of the paragraph?

Additionally, free college would boost the economy by improving graduation rates and producing more skilled workers. If college was paid for, more people would attend and finish degree programs. According to a recent study of university graduates in Texas, free college leads to increased degree completion. According to the study, degree completion makes people more competitive for highly-skilled jobs. Edsource reports the fastest growing sectors in today's economy need workers with " a college credential of some form such as an industry-recognized skills certificate or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree." 1 We need more college graduates to work in these growing sectors. Free college is an effective way to train workers needed in these fields, especially workers from underprivileged backgrounds.

Note how the above example includes a topic sentence with a transition from the second paragraph. It also includes support sentences to explain the writer's reasoning. Evidence from sources is used to back up that reasoning. Finally, the paragraph includes a final sentence hinting at a future claim.

Writing the Third Paragraph

When writing the third paragraph, create a topic sentence with transition words, explain your reasoning, support your reasoning with evidence, and end with a concluding transition sentence. Follow the steps below to write the third paragraph of your essay.

Steps for writing the Third Paragraph

Let's break down the process of writing the third paragraph. These steps will ensure you have all the elements you need for a great third paragraph!

Third Paragraph Steps for Writing the Third Paragraph StudySmarterSteps for Writing the Third Paragraph, Elizabeth Brownlow- StudySmarter Originals

1. Write the topic sentence

The first element you need is a topic sentence. The topic sentence is important because:

  • It states the main idea of the paragraph.
  • It connects to the main idea of the second paragraph.
  • It also connects to the thesis statement.

The thesis statement is a sentence that states the main idea or argument of an essay. It appears toward the end of the introductory paragraph.

To write the topic sentence, think about the point you would like to make. It should be the second most important claim of the paper.

Turn to the thesis statement. It should be located in the first paragraph of the essay (the introductory paragraph). What are the claims you make in that statement?

Thesis statement: Free college would be good for the economy because it would increase spending, improve graduation rates, and address wage gaps.

Claims:

  • free college would increase spending
  • free college would improve graduation rates
  • free college would address wage inequalities

The strongest or most important claim should appear in the second paragraph. For the third paragraph, select the SECOND strongest or most important claim. Which one is it?

Now that you have chosen the second strongest claim, it's time to turn it into a topic sentence. In that topic sentence, connect your claim to the thesis statement.

Claim: Free college would improve graduation rates

Topic Sentence: Free college would boost the economy by improving graduation rates and producing more skilled workers.

Note how the above example connects to the thesis statement. It states "free college would boost the economy," which is the main idea of the thesis statement.

Then, it states the main idea of this particular paragraph (that it would improve graduation rates).

The example also takes things a step further by suggesting that improved graduation rates could have a second benefit: it would produce more skilled workers.

Ask yourself: how does my claim connect to my thesis statement?

Ask yourself: how can I take my argument a step further?

2. Add transition words

Once you have a topic sentence, connect it to the previous paragraph. You can do this by adding transition words.

Transition words connect one idea to another. They show the relationship between your ideas.

The transition words you use should reflect the relationship between the main ideas of the second and third paragraphs. Use the table below for ideas. Think about the relationship between your ideas. Which transition words work best?

Type of Relationship
Transition Words
Similar Ideassimilarly, also, in the same way, just like
Contrasting Ideasin contrast, however, although, yet, in spite of, on the other hand, nonetheless, on the contrary
Sequential Ideassecond of all, secondly, next, then, additionally, in addition, again, also, as well, besides, equally important, furthermore, moreover
Chronological Ideasnext, then, all along, after, afterward, during, earlier, immediately, later, meanwhile, simultaneously, subsequently, then
Example of Previous Ideafor example, for instance, to illustrate
Cause and Effectbecause, so, therefore, accordingly, consequently, thus

Select a transition word or phrase from the table above. Then, add it to the beginning of the topic sentence you just wrote. Now you have a topic sentence that transitions from the previous paragraph!

3. Explain your reasoning

Now that you have a topic sentence, it's time to explain your reasoning. Write two or three support sentences that explain your idea more in-depth.

To write the support sentences, follow the same process you used to write the topic sentence. First, write out two or three reasons that support your topic sentence.

Topic sentence: Free college would boost the economy by improving graduation rates and producing more skilled workers.

Supporting reasons:

  • Free college would help more people graduate
  • More graduates means more skilled workers
  • We need more skilled workers

Note how the reasons listed in the above example follow a logical order. If your reasons don't follow a logical order at first, that's okay! Just write them down in any order. Then, play with that order. In what order do they make the most sense?

Now, turn those reasons into support sentences. Make sure they connect to the topic sentence.

Supporting reason 1: Free college would help more people graduate.

Support sentence 1: If college was paid for, more people would attend and finish degree programs.

Supporting reason 2: More graduates means more skilled workers

Support sentence 2: Degree completion makes people more competitive for highly-skilled jobs.

Supporting reason 3: We need more skilled workers

Support sentence 3: We need more college graduates to work in fast-growing sectors.

Note how the support sentences in the above example connect to each other. They also connect to the topic sentence. Try to write sentences that connect both to the topic sentence and to each other. This will help your ideas flow logically.

4. Support your claims with evidence

Every support sentence needs evidence to back it up.

Third Paragraph Every Support Sentence Needs Evidence StudySmarterEvery Support Sentence Needs Evidence, Elizabeth Brownlow- StudySmarter Originals

You've explained your reasoning. But you still need to prove that you know what you are talking about.

You need to provide evidence.

There are different types of evidence you can use.

Types of Evidence

  • Examples

  • Facts or Statistics

  • Quotes

  • Expert opinions

Look to your source material to find evidence.

Source material can be written, spoken, audio, or visual materials.

Select information from your sources that best supports your ideas.

Ask yourself: how do I know this statement is true? Which sources prove it's true?

Support Sentence 1: If college was paid for, more people would attend and finish degree programs.

Evidence: Texas study showing free college leads to increased degree completion

Support Sentence 2: Degree completion makes people more competitive for highly-skilled jobs.

Evidence: Texas study claims that degree completion makes graduates more competitive for skilled jobs

Support Sentence 3: We need more graduates to work in fast-growing sectors.

Evidence: EdSource report on fastest-growing sectors of the economy

Once you have identified evidence, turn it into sentences. Consider how this evidence proves your points.

Consider how you want to incorporate the evidence from your sources. You can summarize an entire source, paraphrase one or two key ideas from a source, or quote directly from the source. Try using a blend of these techniques when writing evidence into sentences.

Use the table below for reference as you write sentences incorporating evidence.

Evidence TechniqueDescriptionExample
Summary

A summary is a general overview of a source's main idea. Think of it as your translation of the source.

According to a recent study of university graduates in Texas, free college leads to increased degree completion.
ParaphraseTo paraphrase is to describe one key idea, concept, or fact from a source. Think of paraphrasing as your translation of just one idea from a source. According to the study, degree completion makes people more competitive for highly-skilled jobs.
Direct QuoteA direct quote is a phrase, sentence, or group of sentences pulled directly from a source. Direct quotes use the author's exact words. EdSource reports the fastest growing sectors in today's economy need workers with " a college credential of some form such as an industry-recognized skills certificate or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree."

5. End with a concluding transition sentence

The final element of the third paragraph is a concluding transition sentence. The last sentence concludes your ideas and hints at what is next.

Return to the list of arguments you made in Step 1. The fourth paragraph will discuss your third most important idea. The final sentence of the third paragraph should hint at that idea.

In the concluding transition paragraph, wrap up your last idea AND hint at the main idea of the next paragraph.

Ask yourself: How do I wrap up this paragraph AND let the reader know what's coming?

Last idea of the third paragraph: We need more graduates to work in fast-growing sectors.

Main idea of the fourth paragraph: Free college would address wage inequalities

Concluding transition sentence: Free college is an effective way to train workers needed in these fields, especially workers from underprivileged backgrounds.

Note how this example hints at wage inequality. The reader can guess the fourth paragraph will discuss how free college can address wage inequality.

How do I transition to the Fourth Paragraph (Third Body Paragraph)?

To transition to the fourth paragraph, create a topic sentence with transition words that illustrate the relationship between the two paragraphs. The transition words you choose may be different from the ones you used to transition from the second paragraph to the third paragraph. It all depends on the relationship between the main ideas of each paragraph.

What is the fourth paragraph?

The fourth paragraph is the third body paragraph of an essay. It is often the final body paragraph. The fourth paragraph contains the third most important idea of the essay.

Think of the fourth paragraph as an opportunity to share one last idea in support of the thesis statement. You have already shared great ideas in the second and third paragraphs. The fourth paragraph is a great place to bring in one final idea that completes your argument.

Writing the Fourth Paragraph (Third Body Paragraph)

To write the fourth paragraph, follow the same steps you used to write the third paragraph. Create a topic sentence, explain your reasoning, and provide evidence.

However, there are two key differences when writing the fourth paragraph:

  • You might need different transition words than before
  • You will need a concluding sentence that does not include transition words

Since the fourth paragraph is often the final body paragraph, you might need different transition words in the topic sentence.

The following paragraph will be the conclusion. So, you won't need to demonstrate the connection between the ideas quite so obviously. Therefore, you will not need to include transition words in the concluding sentence. Instead, write a final sentence that wraps up the fourth paragraph. You can also use the final sentence to connect your ideas to the thesis statement more clearly.

Transitioning to the Fourth Paragraph (Third Body Paragraph)

These transition words should still show the relationship between your paragraphs. However, if the fourth paragraph contains your final point, the relationship will be slightly different.

Here are some examples of transition words that show the relationship between final ideas:

  • Thirdly
  • Finally
  • Accordingly
  • Again
  • Evidently
  • Consequently
  • In fact
  • Consequently
  • Therefore
  • Again
  • In the end

Quick Tip! You may find that none of these transition words work for you. That's okay! These are just some ideas of words that might be most appropriate. Feel free to return to the table from Step 2. Choose transition words that best demonstrate the relationship between your ideas.

Third Paragraph - Key Takeaways

  • The third paragraph is the second body paragraph of an essay. It contains the second most important argument, example, or information of the essay.
  • The elements of the third paragraph are the topic sentence, supporting sentences, evidence, and a concluding transition sentence.
  • When writing the third paragraph, create a topic sentence with transition words, explain your reasoning, support your reasoning with evidence, and end with a concluding transition sentence.
  • To transition to the fourth paragraph, create a topic sentence with transition words that illustrate the relationship between the two paragraphs
  • The fourth paragraph is the third body paragraph of an essay. It is often the final body paragraph. The fourth paragraph contains the third most important idea of the essay.
  • To write the fourth paragraph, follow the same steps you used to write the third paragraph except with different transition words and without a concluding transition sentence.

1. Morley Winograd and Max Lubin, Tuition-free college is critical to our economy, EdSource, 2020.

Third Paragraph

The third paragraph is the second body paragraph of an essay. It contains the second most important argument, example, or information of the essay. 

To write a third paragraph, create a topic sentence with transition words. Explain your reasoning and support that reasoning with evidence. End with a concluding transition sentence. 

The third paragraph of an essay is important because it contains the second most important point of the essay.  It demonstrates the logical flow of your ideas and provides a bridge between the second and fourth paragraphs.

The third paragraph of an essay should contain a topic sentence, supporting sentences, evidence, and a concluding transition sentence.

An example of a third paragraph is as follows: 

Additionally, free college would boost the economy by improving graduation rates and producing more skilled workers. If college was paid for, more people would attend and finish degree programs. According to a recent study of university graduates in Texas, free college leads to increased degree completion. According to the study, degree completion makes people more competitive for highly-skilled jobs. Edsource reports the fastest growing sectors in today's economy need workers with " a college credential of some form such as an industry-recognized skills certificate or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree."  We need more college graduates to work in these growing sectors. Free college is an effective way to train workers needed in these fields, especially workers from underprivileged backgrounds.

Final Third Paragraph Quiz

Question

What is the third paragraph of an essay?

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Answer

The third paragraph is the second body paragraph of an essay. It contains the second most important argument, example, or information of the essay.

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Question

What are the key elements of the third paragraph?

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Answer

topic sentence

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Question

What is a topic sentence?

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Answer

A topic sentence is a sentence that states the main idea of a paragraph. It should be the first sentence of the paragraph.

Show question

Question

What are support sentences?

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Answer

Support sentences are sentences that support the main argument of a paragraph. Support sentences explain the logic of the argument for the reader to follow along. 

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Question

How many support sentences should the third paragraph have?

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Answer

The third paragraph should have two or three supporting sentences.

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Question

What is evidence?

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Answer

Evidence is material used to support a claim. Every point made in an essay should be supported by evidence from sources. 

Show question

Question

What is a concluding transition sentence?

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Answer

A concluding transition sentence is a sentence at the end of a paragraph that includes a hint of what is coming next.

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Question

What should the concluding transition sentence of the third paragraph hint at? 

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Answer

The concluding transition sentence of the third paragraph should hint at the main idea of the upcoming fourth paragraph.

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Question

What is the first step to writing the third paragraph? 

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Answer

Write the topic sentence

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Question

The third paragraph contains the ______ most important argument of an essay.

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Answer

second

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Question

What should the topic sentence of the third paragraph connect to?

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Answer

the thesis statement

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Question

What are transition words?

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Answer

Transition words are words that connect one idea to another. They show the relationship between ideas. 

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Question

Where should one add transition words when writing the third paragraph of an essay?

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Answer

The beginning of the topic sentence

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Question

Where should one look for evidence to back up their claims?

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Answer

source material

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Question

What is a summary?

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Answer

A summary is a general overview of a source's main idea. 

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Question

What does it mean to paraphrase a source?

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Answer

To paraphrase is to describe one key idea, concept, or fact from a source. 

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Question

What is a direct quote?

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Answer

A direct quote is a phrase, sentence, or group of sentences pulled directly from a source. Direct quotes use the author's exact words.

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Question

What is the fourth paragraph of an essay?

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Answer

The fourth paragraph is the third body paragraph of an essay. It is often the final body paragraph. The fourth paragraph contains the third most important idea of the essay.

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Question

What are the key differences between writing the third paragraph and writing the fourth paragraph?


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Answer

Different transition words

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