A common question that you may ask while writing an essay for an assignment is how many sentences should you include in a paragraph. This is especially important if you’re trying to reach a minimum number of words or paragraphs.
How Many Sentences Should a Paragraph Have?
In general, paragraphs should have 5-8 sentences. In this case, if you’re tasked with writing a five-paragraph essay, then you should want 25-40 sentences total. However, that’s not a hard and fast rule. After all, you can’t evaluate a good paragraph in words or sentences.
So how many sentences should you write in a paragraph? To know that, you need to determine what your readers want to see in your writings as different readers may have different expectations from you.
How Many Words in a Paragraph?
A paragraph typically has 75-160 words. With an average of 15-20 words per sentence and 5-8 sentences in a paragraph, this comes to approximately 75 to 160 words. However, this will depend on the expectations of your audience. See the next section for what teachers usually recommend.
A lot of teachers and educators suggest that a paragraph section should be around 100 to 200 words long or no more than 5 to 6 sentences. This is regardless of font size and other stylistic choices.
A good rule of thumb is to express your idea in the first sentence or two, and in the next 3 to 4 sentences, provide information that supports your main idea. In the final sentence, come with a meaningful conclusion.
Generally, teachers expect longer paragraphs because they want to observe whether or not you have the required knowledge on the subject. They know it won’t be easier for you to showcase your understanding of the topic in a sentence or two.
How Many Words in a Sentence?
A sentence usually has 15-20 words on average. Therefore, a paragraph with 5-6 sentences should be Sentences longer than this should be broken up into separate sentences. Otherwise, they may become run-on sentences.
When Should You Use Shorter Paragraphs?
A short paragraph consists of just two or three sentences. Shorter paragraphs are generally easier for readers to digest and encourage skimming. Solid blocks of text are often difficult to consume and parse, especially when speed reading. Perhaps, this is the reason the majority of popular books have short paragraphs.
New authors also prefer to use shorter paragraphs in their writing. Not only does it help them provide information concisely, but it is also an excellent way to grasp the readers’ attention.
Commercial writers like to keep the paragraph length between three to four sentences. When they write a 1000 to 1500 words long post, they use a lot of subheadings to separate paragraphs and make them more precise.
So, if you’re a blogger or copywriter, keep your blog post paragraphs shorter so that your target audience can read your post attentively and separate paragraphs with clear subheadings so that readers can skim. The additional white space created by paragraph breaks and headers makes it easy for the reader’s eyes to consume the important parts.
Regardless of what’s the size of your paragraph, it must include key elements that include: Unity, Order, Coherence, and Completeness.
Let’s know about these elements in brief in the following list.
- Unity: Your paragraph must have a single complete thought that should also be observed in all its sentences.
- Order: It refers to the method you structure your supporting sentences. As per your requirement, you may follow the order of importance or chronological order. However, your end goal should be to make your paragraph easy to read.
- Coherence: It is the quality that makes your paragraph easy to understand. Sentences within your paragraph must be connected and work together as a whole.
- Completeness: Completeness is achieved when all your paragraphs are effortlessly supporting the main idea. Such paragraphs are considered complete.
Shorter paragraphs fo make it easier for readers, but the length of your paragraph will depend on the type of writing. Academic writing will differ from commercial writing which in turn differs from book writing.
How to Write a Perfect Paragraph
First, it’s essential to understand what makes a good paragraph? Remember, a good paragraph must consist of a key sentence, a few supporting sentences, and a closing phrase.
When you organize your passage following this structure, your paragraph gives your readers a clear and concise message.
Check out some quick tips to write a great paragraph below.
Don’t Leave Any of Your Sentences Behind
When writing a paragraph, the aim of your first sentence should be to get the reader to read the next sentence.
Unfortunately, a lot of new writers fail to pay attention to this. By the fourth and fifth sentences, their interest starts dropping off.
Give a quick revision to your paragraph as soon as you complete it. If you have a sentence in your passage that doesn’t push your readers to the next line, expel it immediately. It won’t do any good for your paragraph.
Create Connection Between Sentences
Make a connection between different sentences within your paragraph. Your paragraph must stick to one single point from beginning to end. When you start a new paragraph, don’t forget to refer back to the last sentence of your previous paragraph.
Start New Paragraph Carefully
A lot of new writers have confusion about when they should start a new paragraph. It’s straightforward. Every time you start a new idea or point, start it in a new paragraph. However, your new paragraph must embrace the main purpose of your theme or subject.
Ending a Paragraph
A good paragraph must end with a closing sentence summarizing the concepts of your paragraph. Your conclusion must emphasize the point of the paragraph providing a sense of closure.
If you’re writing an expository essay that compares or contrasts something, you must connect to that approach in the concluding sentence.
Use Transition Words
Though it is a good idea to break up big chunks of text to make it easier to digest for readers, you shouldn’t neglect the connections between sentences. Transition words such as Therefore, Accordingly, Consequently, Hence, So, etc. help you connect the sentences to other ideas in the passage.
Additionally, they allow your readers to understand your ideas and easily relate to them. Transition words are quite useful for bloggers who usually focus on a singular purpose at a time.
Besides transitions, you can also use pronouns such as ” they” and “these” to enhance the flow of your writing.
If you look around, you find that the concept of paragraphs with 5 to 8 sentences is prevalent. However, there is still an ongoing debate. Some experts say that 2 to 3 sentences per passage are optimal while others say 5 to 7 sentences make a perfect paragraph.
So, how long should a paragraph be? The answer is: it depends.
Always remember that if you’re into professional writing, you should stick to 3 to 5 sentences per paragraph.
On the contrary, if you are a student and writing to pass a school or university course, it is good to ask your teacher about their expectations. Rather than following a general rule, you should try to learn your readers’ choice and tailor your writings accordingly.