4. Definition Paragraph

For the Definition Paragraph, you will need to define and explain a concept. The concept will be one that can be explained by many different people from different perspectives. Because the definition is based on your experience and your knowledge, you will have a different paragraph from someone else who is writing about the same term.

You can choose from among the concepts I mentioned in class:

  • Ambition
  • Success
  • Discrimination

The paragraph should do the following:

  1. Tell what is being defined – identify the term in the topic sentence
  2. Give a clear, basic definition – explain what you mean
  3. Use examples to support the definition
  4. Give details about the examples

The point of this assignment is to practice defending your definition of the concept that you have chosen. You will give the term, define the term, give examples of the term, and then describe those examples. By the time you have finished, you should have written a paragraph that can convince the reader that your definition is correct and understandable and that you understand what you are talking about.

You will NOT use a dictionary definition in any way, shape, or form. If you do, Turnitin will catch this and it will be reported as plagiarism.

  • Topic sentence – it needs have two parts — it must identify the word that you have chosen, and it should give a brief definition of it. If you are writing about racism (which you won’t be), your topic sentence should look something like this:
    Racism is when someone acts against others in an unfair manner based on a wrong opinion of them due to their ethnicity.
  • You should follow the defined term with an elaboration of it – you should explain what it means in more detail. Racism affects all people in the culture, but it is particularly damaging to the success of those people who are targeted.
  • You will then provide examples – you could explain racist acts that you have encountered in the past.
  • You MUST write in the third person, even if your example is using your own experiences.

This is a more difficult paragraph to write, since you are moving from describing concrete items (a building, a person) to an idea that you have some experience with. You won’t be able to look at your concept and describe it or explain it, so you will have to do a lot of thinking.

1. As always, your paragraph should be between 200 & 300 words. Those are ONLY the words in your paragraph, so make sure your word count is not including the header or the title.

2. As always, you should not have comma splices, fragments, fused sentences, or subject-verb disagreement.

3. As always, your paper must have an identifiable topic sentence which should indicate the contents of the paragraph.

4. Your paragraph has to be in MLA format with the appropriate header.

5. If you have 4 major errors, your paper will fail automatically.

MLA formatting requires the following:

  1. Times New Roman 12-point font (NOT Calibri, which is the font MS Word uses – you have to change it)
  2. 1” margins on the top, bottom, and sides of your paper (you may have to change this as well)
  3. All spacings should be 0pts
  4. Title should be centered and have NO extra spaces between the last line of the header and the title, or between the title and the first line of the paragraph.
  5. The entire document should be double-spaced, including the header.



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