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Let’s Play With English: Logic Used in Writing Essays in English

The eastern cultures and the western cultures developed independently of one another. This has caused the logic used from the East to the West to be different. English uses the logic that was propagated by Aristotle. The same logic is used in the universities when people study in other languages that come from Europe too. When I was in Romania and was teaching essay writing, I learned that not all countries were using what is normally called Western logic or Aristotelian logic, but I was teaching it to them. I was the first one to teach it at Lucian Blaga University. Romania learns anything having to do with language quickly, so the most modern things in Romanian may be beginning to be written in Western logic. I have known people who have studied in other countries in Europe in other languages other than English, and they were all using the Western logic, not the Eastern logic. You must understand this logic if you want to make reading easier or if you want to know how to put an essay together.

That thesis sentence is like a foundation on a tall building. You build the whole building on the concrete foundation just like the whole essay is built on the strong foundation, the thesis sentence..

If you want to use Western logic, you must tell what you are talking about from the very beginning. Essays normally have an introductory paragraph and then one sentence toward the end of that introductory paragraph that tells what the rest of the essay is about. That one sentence is called the thesis sentence. Paragraphs usually have one sentence at the beginning of the paragraph that tells you in a nutshell what everything else in that paragraph is about. You can tell if what you are reading is an essay, an article, or a story by how it is written. If it is an essay, you need to be able to find that sentence in the first paragraph that tells you about the rest of the essay as well as the sentences at the beginning of each of the paragraphs except the first and the last.

After they pour the foundation, they have to put the frame of the walls up in a house or a building before they actually put the walls in. The foundation is like the thesis sentence. The frame of the walls is like the topic sentences. Actually putting the walls in, the floors in, the windows in, etc. is like the details and reason in each paragraph. That thesis sentence and topic sentences hold up and frame the essay.

When you are reading and looking for answers, you can find them better if you know where to find them in the paragraph or essay. The sentence in the first paragraph is called the thesis sentence, and it is the most important sentence in that essay. The sentences at the beginning of the paragraph that tell you what each paragraph is about are called topic sentences. Each of those topic sentences are connected to the thesis sentence. They are a smaller category or a reason why the thesis sentence is true or a detail or explanation of the thesis sentence. If you want even smaller details, they will be inside of the paragraph because inside of the paragraph will be explaining or supporting the topic sentence just as the topic sentences are supporting the thesis sentence. If you are looking for someone’s name, a date, a fact, a reason, or an explanation, you can find them inside the paragraphs. Those facts, explanations, etc. support the topic sentences like the legs of a table support the top of the table. Those topic sentences support the thesis sentence in the same way.

The topic sentences need to support the thesis sentence just as the legs on a table support the top of the table. If the table is an essay, the thesis sentence is the top of the table. The legs hold it up or support it. Without the legs, the table will fall over. Just one or two legs are not enough to keep the table standing. The table can also be compared to a paragraph. Each paragraph is held up by four legs like a table also. Those four legs are like the details, the reasons, the explanations, the quotations from people of authority who know what they are talking about that you put in your paragraph that support the topic sentence. The top of the table is the topic sentence in a paragraph.
A table needs at least three legs to stand up. If one of the three legs were gone, the table would fall over. If you have four or five legs, the table will still stand. After the introductory paragraph that contains the thesis sentence, the essay needs at least three topic sentences with paragraphs under them or it isn’t an essay. Each of those paragraphs are like the table too. The topic sentence must be supported by at least three reasons, details, explanations, or quotations from someone with authority..

Besides the thesis sentence in the introductory paragraph, the topic sentences in the paragraphs, the details, and explanations, etc. in the paragraphs, you will also find the thesis sentence again in different words in the concluding paragraph. This is just the basic structure of the easiest essay, but it tells you how to find what you are looking for. People who are more advanced in their writing have a tendency to mix it up a bit. However, they know that just two paragraphs is not an essay. The basic, easiest essay is considered the five paragraph essay that contains the introductory paragraph, three paragraphs in the the middle, and then the concluding paragraph. Here in Korea, some of the ESL teachers have shortened it, but that is because they don’t understand the logic. The logic says that to prove a point, you have to have at least three legs on that table or the table will fall down: reasons, details, explanations, or quotations of knowledgeable people. Science, Law, and other disciplines use the same logic. A Scientist makes a hypothesis, and then he must have at least three reasons why that guess he made is true, or people will not accept it.

If you know how it is organized, then it is easier to find what you want to know.

Exercise

Directions: In each one, tell whether it belongs in the first paragraph, the last paragraph, in the middle of a paragraph in the middle of the essay, or at the beginning of a paragraph. The answers are below.

  1. the main idea of the essay ___________________
  2. the main idea of a paragraph in the middle of the essay ________________
  3. a date_________________
  4. an explanation ________________
  5. topic sentence __________________
  6. a detail __________________
  7. a reason the thesis sentence is true ____________________
  8. a reason a topic sentence is true ______________________
  9. thesis sentence ____________________
  10. a quotation from an authority on the subject ________________

Answers:

  1. You can find it in at the end of the first paragraph, the introductory paragraph. You can also find it in the concluding paragraph at the end of the essay.
  2. You can find the main idea of each paragraph at the beginning of each paragraph in the middle of the essay.
  3. You can find it inside the paragraphs in the middle of the essay.
  4. You can find it inside the paragraphs in the middle of the essay.
  5. You can find topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph in the middle of the essay, not in the first and last paragraphs.
  6. You can find it inside of each of the paragraphs in the middle of the essay.
  7. You can find the reasons the thesis sentence is true by looking for the topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph in the middle of the essay.
  8. You can find the reason the topic sentences are true in the paragraphs in the middle of the essay. The first, and sometimes the second, sentence in the paragraph will be a topic sentence to tell you what it is about, and everything under it in the paragraph will tell you why it is true.
  9. The thesis sentence should be at the end of the first paragraph. In basic essays, it is the last sentence in the first, introductory, paragraph. If it is a magazine article, it could be the first sentence of the article. In the essay, though it is the last sentence in the first paragraph and then just somewhere in the last paragraph of the essay.
  10. Look at the paragraphs in the middle of the essay, and it will be after the first sentence somewhere in the paragraphs.
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