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Third Paragraph

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).

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Third Paragraph

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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 a 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.

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.

However, the technology behind the Post-It note was not always well-received.

Third paragraph. Post-it note. StudySmarter.Fig. 1 - A topic sentence sets up evidence.

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.

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.

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.

After years of trying to convince people of his invention's potential, Dr. Silver had a great idea.

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.

Third Paragraph Steps for Writing the Third Paragraph StudySmarterFig. 2 - Writing a third paragraph.

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.

Great!

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. Which transition words work best?

There is a section at the end devoted to this, so check it out if you need some help!

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.

Here's that topic sentence again.

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

Now here are some reasons that support it.

Support sentences:

If college was paid for, more people would attend and finish degree programs.

Degree completion makes people more competitive for highly-skilled jobs.

Now you need evidence for these reasons.

Third paragraph. A graduate stands in a road. StudySmarter.Fig. 3 - Your reasons support your thesis statement

4. Support Your Claims with Evidence

Every support sentence needs evidence to back it up.

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.

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

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

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

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

This evidence is theoretical! You will need to actually find sources to cite in your essay.

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

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.

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.

Transition Words For Third Paragraph

Here is a table of transition words you can use for the third paragraph.

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

Third Paragraph Example

Here is an example of what a third paragraph might turn out like.

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.

Good luck with completing your own third paragraph!

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.
  • Your third paragraph should relate back to your topic sentence.
  • 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.
  • Use source materials for evidence.

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

Frequently Asked Questions about 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.

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

What are the key elements of the third paragraph?

What is the first step to writing the third paragraph? 

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

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