Like any well-written paragraph, a classification paragraph uses a group of sentences to convey and develop one main idea. As “The Bedford Handbook” explains, “Classification is the grouping of items into categories according to some consistent principle.” A classification paragraph describes various classes related to one category of things. The paragraph’s main subject appears in the paragraph’s topic sentence.
Select the item to classify, and create categories related to that item. Tangible items work best for this paragraph type rather than ideas, experiences or other intangibles. For example, tennis shoes can be classified into running, walking, basketball or aerobic exercise tennis shoes.
Compose a topic sentence that provides an overview for the entire paragraph. Each sentence within a paragraph relates to the topic sentence. Do not announce writing intent with a sentence such as “Now I am writing about tennis shoes.” A better example of a topic sentence would be “Before buying tennis shoes, decide on your main activity while wearing them.”
Develop the classification paragraph’s supporting details with a sentence describing each type within a class -- for example, “For joggers, tennis shoes cushion the impact on the runner’s feet, while tennis shoes for walkers have slightly different padding.” Use transitional phrases as you move from one class to another so that the paragraph has coherence.
Compose a closing sentence for the classification paragraph that provides a general statement about the subject. For example: “The world of tennis shoes has a type of shoe for every type of athlete.”
Revise your paragraph after setting it aside for a couple hours. More than merely rereading, look for errors in paragraph structure, sentences and individual words. Look for grammar and punctuation errors and misspellings.
- A three-sentence classification paragraph limits proper development, while a paragraph of more than ten sentences probably loses its focus on the topic sentence.
- Some teachers demand a closing sentence so that a paragraph does not end on a supporting detail, but others do not believe a short paragraph needs a closing sentence.
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