March 01, 2018 Feature

How Paragraphs Speak to Each Other

George D. Gopen

It should seem obvious that, for accurate communication to take place, individual units of discourse must speak to each other: Words must hang together to make sentences, sentences to make paragraphs, and paragraphs to make documents. And yet, when we teach writing at the grammar school and high school levels, we tend to concentrate on these units of discourse in isolation from each other. Fair enough, perhaps, since the student brain at those stages has not developed far enough for it to deal extensively with the all-important missing subject—connectivity. Best save that for college and professional schools, when students will have brains well enough developed to tackle complex and sophisticated thought.

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