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7 Strong Patterns to Make a Paragraph a Real Paragraph


Patterns of expression are also variously referred to as thought or paragraph patterns. We have earlier observed that a paragraph is a unit that presents a singular central idea around which the whole paragraph revolves.

The thought pattern used in a paragraph can be identified because there is a limitation to the number of ways through which thoughts and ideas can be expressed.

The most prominent of these patterns are as follows: cause-effect, whole-part (or listing or enumeration), comparison-contrast, sequence, generalization, and problem-solution.

Though the student has a responsibility to identify the dominant pattern used in a paragraph or passage, it should be noted that patterns are not paragraphed or passage restrictive. It is also possible for many patterns to be used in just one paragraph.

Patterns of expression are to a reasonable length determined by the function of the paragraph and the discipline in which the author is writing. For example, some patterns are more frequently used in the humanities than others.

Cause-effect pattern

The cause-effect pattern shows how an experience or event is caused by or gives rise to another.

Clues for recognizing the cause-effect pattern

  • Look for a direct statement of the cause or reason from the author. For example, “My reasons for accepting to serve in this capacity are…”
  • Identify the effects, interestingly, these are usually clearly stated.
  • Questions such as how, why, and under what conditions and circumstances can be asked to locate the cause.

Comparison-contrast Pattern

The focus of the comparison-contrast pattern is the presentation of similarities and differences. At times, a paragraph may emphasize only the similarities or the differences, especially when a much greater portion of the discourse is devoted to comparing and contrasting a topic.

Almost all kinds of study-type reading require the comparison-contrast pattern. The writer’s use of signal words in his introductory statements is a clue to help the student recognize the comparison-contrast pattern.

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Whole-part Pattern

The whole-part pattern is equally referred to as enumeration or listing. This is because the pattern could be used to make a general statement and list several points to support the statements or to present a major topic and then proceed to enumerate or elaborate on its parts.

The pattern shows how units such as incidents, ideas, and concepts fit together to form a total picture. The whole-part pattern is often used in explanatory and defining paragraphs.

When reading the defining or explanatory paragraph, the reader should search for the major topic or the generalization and the sub-topics, or a list of supporting points, especially in explanatory and defining paragraphs.

Clues for identifying the whole-part pattern

  • Usually the opening sentence makes a declaration of the topic and prepares the reader for the sub-topic.
  • The opening sentence may be a definite factual statement to which supporting points are added.
  • The details, points, or sub-points are usually independent elements of the whole presentation.
  • Several several points are made or details are given and a definite statement or generalization is made as a conclusion.

Sequence Pattern

The sequence pattern makes the comprehension of the larger idea or entire presentation easy through a chronological narration of events to reflect their interrelationship.

The pattern presents events in their order of occurrence or sequence. The pattern is used in literary and historical discourse to present a sequence of events in a manner in which a larger idea is projected.

The reader must follow the sequence if he would benefit maximally from the study.

Clues for the recognition of the sequence pattern

  • Identify the writer’s topic statement which is usually clearly stated at the beginning or end of the paragraph, or implied.
  • Discover whether there is an outline of definite steps in a process
  • Discover whether there is the description of a situation, presentation of a picture, or a narration t, through a sequence of events.
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Generalization pattern

A generalization is a general statement that introduces a principle, theory, law, or hypothesis. The general statement is usually a product of well-proven, established scientific principles and theories.

The generalization pattern is frequently used in explanatory and defining paragraphs devoted to the explanation of mathematical and scientific principles. Such paragraphs are dominated by generalizations.

In the generalization pattern, every sentence fosters the reader’s understanding of the presentation; hence every sentence is important and must be carefully read.

In the process of reading, the points made can be listed for purposes of clarity.


The problem-solving pattern is popular in scientific discourse, laboratory activities, and instructional mammals. According to Robson (1975), the pattern may be in any of the following forms:

  • The problem may be clearly stated and followed by a solution ( or solutions) also clearly stated.
  • The problem may be clearly stated followed by a hypothetical solution.
  • The problem may be clearly stated followed by no solution.
  • The problem may take the form of a question and the solution(s) from the answer to the question.
  • Neither the problem nor the solution may be clearly stated, so the reader must infer the pattern.

Since the problem-solution pattern requires that specific instructions are given and that questions are asked, or that answers are given, having to recognize the problem-solving pattern is relatively easy.

The task before the reader is for him to have a clear understanding of the problem and grasp the instructions on how to solve the problem. The reader should therefore note the following points:

  • Understand the meaning and usage of every word in the passage
  • Identify the problem posed
  • Identify, list, and, understand the pieces of information given on the problem
  • Critically analyze and evaluate the solution given to the problem if there is any.


As a paragraph is a miniature essay with a brief introduction, development, and conclusion. The concluding sentence collates and summarizes all the points made in the earlier sentences.

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The conclusion of a paragraph is usually the last sentence of the paragraph since its purpose is to close an aspect of the discussion or make a list of all the points made in the paragraph.

The concluding sentence may be a repetition of the author’s position, a guide to the reader. Or a vantage point for the succeeding paragraph.

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