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General Writing and Grammar Help/How many sentences in a paragraph?

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Hi Ted,

How are you?It's been a long time I haven't asked any question. Respected Ted, today my question is about paragraphs in an article. Many people say that when you write an article, your paragraphs must contain at least five sentences or lines, is this true? Is there any English Rule that backup this claim?

Secondly, my second question is about points in an article. For example, I am writing an article about "Benefits of apples," and I need to mention its benefits in points like benefit No.1,2,3,etc. So how many sentences or lines I must write in those points? Are there any rules for these two subjects in English language?

Thanks.

Answer
Dear Den:

PLEASE NOTE:  I decided that, after 15 years of service and more than 15,000 questions answered, it was time to take a break from Allexperts.  My eye doctor has advised me against spending too much time on the computer.  I discovered recently that most days I have been working on Allexperts' questions for at least 4 hours.

There are a few of my "regular" questioners with whom I would like to stay in contact.  You are one of them.  You are also courteous, ask interesting questions, and are generous in your responses.  

SO . . . please feel free to (1) try other experts OR (2) send your questions to my e-mail account.  I will answer questions as soon as I can.

My personal e-mail address is tedjnesbitt@netscape.net

Thank you.

Ted

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  Hi Ted,

How are you?It's been a long time I haven't asked any question. Respected Ted, today my question is about paragraphs in an article. Many people say that when you write an article, your paragraphs must contain at least five sentences or lines, is this true? Is there any English Rule that backup this claim?

*** No, there is no rule. Someone once joked about the length of a paragraph:  A paragraph is like a woman's dress -- long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting.

Although it is rare, some paragraphs consist of just one sentence.  They are intended to capture the reader's attention.  Usually, however, a paragraph must contain these elements:  (1) a topic sentences; (2) two or more sentences that expand on or explain the topic sentence; (3) a concluding sentence.  Thus, a good paragraph should contain a minimum of FOUR sentences. If the body of your paragraph -- the sentences that explain the topic sentence -- has SIX sentences, then you entire paragraph should contain EIGHT sentences:  The topic sentence, the six sentences that develop the topic sentence, and the concluding sentence.

Secondly, my second question is about points in an article. For example, I am writing an article about "Benefits of apples," and I need to mention its benefits in points like benefit No.1,2,3,etc. So how many sentences or lines I must write in those points? Are there any rules for these two subjects in English language?

*** Again, there is no specific rule.  I suggest a bare minimum of five paragraphs -- the opening paragraph, the concluding paragraph, and, at least three paragraphs that develop the opening paragraph.  Let's suppose that your opening paragraph introduces your idea of three benefits of apples.  Your second, third, and fourth paragraph should develop or explain these benefits.  One paragraph may have just three sentences, but another paragraph may have ten sentences.  There is NO rule.  Your content determines how many sentences you need to develop/present your point of view.

When someone tells you that there is an absolute RULE in English, don't believe him.  There are few "absolutes."  Most things depend on the content.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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