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Chapter 7. Paragraphs Plus > Appearance vs. Reality - Pg. 70

Paragraphs Plus 70 Appearance vs. Reality You know a paragraph when you see it: It's a group of sentences whose first word is indented. Yes? Not so fast, partner. If it was that easy, you wouldn't have bought this book. Read each of the following models. One only is a paragraph. Decide which one it is--and why. Exhibit A: Japan is a very populated country. With so many big cities, natural disasters can be even more damaging. Have you thought yet about what it's like searching for a job? How do you think you will feel the first time you go on an important interview? Unruly fans have become a big problem in many major professional sports stadiums. Florida residents see alligators all the time, but not everyone welcomes these fascinating creatures. Acid rain is a problem all over the world; no country can escape its effects. Rain forests are incredibly rich in many forms of life. They are filled with an astonishing variety of plants and animals. Exhibit B: Long-time Boston residents still talk about the molasses flood that engulfed the city's north end on January 15, 1919. Many people were sitting near the Purity Distilling Corporation's 50-foot- high molasses tank enjoying the unseasonably warm day. The tank was filled with over two million gallons of molasses--and it was about to burst apart. First, molasses oozed through the tank's rivets. Then the metal bolts popped out, the seams burst, and tons of molasses exploded in a surge of deadly goo. The first wave, over 25 feet high, smashed buildings, trees, people, and animals like toys. Residents were carried into the Charles River, which was soon a gooey brown sludge. The molasses was not the only threat; sharp pieces of the tank sliced through the air, injuring scores of people. After the initial destruction, molasses continued to clog the streets for days. Many survivors had to have their clothing cut off: Dried molasses turned garments into cement. People were stuck to sidewalks and benches; molasses glued telephone receivers to ears and hands. The smell of molasses stayed in the air for months. The disaster left over 20 people dead and more than 50 seriously hurt. As you can see, slapping together a group of sentences and indenting the first word does not a paragraph make. Exhibit A is a group of unrelated sentences. You can call it "Beanie," "Bernie," or "Banana," but you can't call it a paragraph because it's not one. Exhibit B is a paragraph. Word Watch A paragraph is a group of sentences that all relate to a single main idea or central point. What makes a group of sentences a paragraph is the relationship among them. Every sentence in a paragraph has to support the main idea. Paragraphs are a great invention because they allow you to divide your material into manageable parts that are connected by a common theme. What about paragraph length? Technically speaking, a paragraph can have as many sentences as you need to convey your ideas clearly. Practically speaking, however, most of the paragraphs you write will contain at least four sentences and no more than seven to eight. In expository or persuasive documents, these sentences include ...