Chapter 5: Maintaining Focus and Purpose: The Body Paragraphs

Topic Sentences and Transitions

In the end, you want your body paragraphs to build (like blocks) to your conclusion. Transitions are the glue that hold these blocks together. You should work  on building topic sentences that both develop and support the thesis in a logical manner. Avoid such easy, empty transitions as “firstly,” “secondly” and “finally.” Your reader should be able to understand they have been moved from one aspect of your argument to another without a tell-tale “secondly” informing them that the first point is over and the second point is about to begin. Again, this is where keeping a close eye to your thesis and your outline is so important. If you know where the essay is going, you can transfer your readers smoothly from the analysis of one aspect of the text to the next with meaningful connections and statements rather than empty transitional phrases. Witness the transition from the final sentence in Paragraph 2 into the first sentence and then the topic sentence of Paragraph 3.


Thus, whether it is being used to foster cooperation or perpetuate conflict, language has always been a commons accessible to all members who wish to contribute meaningfully to their community.

Justice defines language as “A method of communication that is available to virtually all humans to use;” a “common property, available to everyone free.” Justice thereby establishes language as a common human right and desire—an inherent need that is obvious even in the simple naming and describing of a “proto-language” like “Me Tarzan, you Jane…”

The bolded sentence above is the topic sentence of Paragraph 3—it is what we want this paragraph to do. The final sentence of the previous paragraph and the opening sentence of the current paragraph work well to demonstrate that language, whether it is used to argue or agree, is a “commons” desired by and available to everyone. Such a connected argument solidifies  our claim that Justice is establishing language as the tool that facilitates arguments but produces understanding and community through these arguments.