A paragraph is a division of a piece of writing. It is a group of several sentences dealing with one main idea. It must have unity of thought and unity of purpose. All ideas should be connected with the main theme. As all roads lead to Rome, all ideas and sentences should point to the central theme. There should be nothing irrelevant. Nothing should be hanging loose.
A good paragraph generally contains a catchy sentence which clearly expresses the main theme, subject or the topic. The first and the last sentences are usually the most important. The beginning and end of the paragraph should be emphatic and impressive. The first sentence opens the topic and the last sentence closes and concludes it.
The thought in a paragraph should be developed logically and systematically. One sentence should lead naturally on to the other. All the sentences should be linked together in the form of a chain. There should be no confusion of thought. There should be no inconsistency or contradiction in the paragraph.
A paragraph must have unity and at the same time it should have variety. It may seem to be contradictory statement, but there is solid truth in it. A good deal of variety can be introduced into a paragraph by varying the length and structure of sentences. A short sentence may follow a long sentence and a long sentence may follow a couple of short sentences. A judicious use of active and passive voice, direct and indirect narration, assertive and interrogative sentences can lead variety and charm to a paragraph.
A paragraph should remain a paragraph and it should not be further sub-divided into smaller paragraphs. It should be one piece and one single unit. In no case should a paragraph look like an essay. There can be different ideas and divergent views in an essay. As such it can be divided into several paragraphs. But one single thought runs through a paragraph. As such it cannot be further divided into paragraphs.
Types of Composition: A paragraph is a unit of composition and composition is of two types:
1. Free Composition
2. Guided or Controlled Composition
1.Free Composition: In Free Composition, only the topic is given and the student is left free to make use of any structure and vocabulary items he likes. He is free to express his ideas on the given topic in any way he likes. He is free to use words, phrases and structures of his own choice.
Free composition has its dangers. The student has not enough of structures and vocabulary items at his command required for the purpose. Free composition gives him freedom to make mistakes. His ideas may be irrelevant and arrangement may be unsatisfactory. Free composition has another danger. It encourages cramming and leaves little scope for original writing. The student may cram a number of topics from books and reproduce them in the examination. Free composition at an early stage is like asking the students to run before he has learnt to walk. So he is likely to stumble and fall. Moreover the Indian student has the tendency first to compose in his mother tongue and then to render literal translation of his ideas into English.
2.Guided or Controlled Composition: It is not in the fitness of the things to expect students at the early stage of learning a foreign language like English to attempt the composition of essays, letters and paragraphs. In Guided or Controlled Composition the student is given a good deal of help regarding the structure and vocabulary items to be used in a particular piece of writing. The details of the topic are given in the form of hints. The student ahs to follow the given guideline. He has to make use of given words, phrases and structures. He is helped and guided at every step and his unlimited freedom is curtailed. The student ahs to follow the marked path. The given broad hints refer to ideas and their arrangements.
My grandmother is really a grand old lady. She loves me dearly and I am very fond of her. I have always seen her old. I do not know how old she is because nobody knows her date of birth. It is difficult to believe that she could ever be a child or young woman. She is a pious and religious lady. She says her prayers regularly in the morning and evening. She often gives me her share of cake and sweets. She always has some money tied in the corner of her sari. Whenever I run short of money, I go to her for a loan. I am in no hurry to return the loan. I wish I had more of such grandmothers. How I wish that the one I have may live for thousand years.
2.Guided or Controlled Composition:
Using the words and phrases given below, write a paragraph:
Hill station, last summer, my friend, scenery, different places, scenic beauty, enjoyable visit.
A Visit to a Hill Station
I live in the plains. But ever since my childhood I had a burning desire to visit Shimla. Last summer I visited Shimla along with my friend Jagdish. The train journey was very enjoyable. The scenery was very charming. We visited different places around Shimla. The scenic beauty captured our hearts. It was a week's visit to Shimla. It was really a very enjoyable trip.