Sentence functions

time to complete: 20 minutes

Every paragraph in an academic essay consists of essential functions which contribute to the general to specific structure (sometimes called a deductive structure). You need to know what function each sentence you are writing has and clearly link the ideas together.

 Some typical functions of content sentences in academic paragraphs are:

  • redefining the idea;
  • giving examples;
  • commenting on evidence;
  • showing implications or consequences ( = what may happen as a result of something);
  • examining opposing ideas.

Examples of sentence functions

(1) There is currently an ongoing debate in primary education about the role of classroom assistants within schools. (2)  For example, it is becoming more common for classroom assistants to participate more in the strategic decision making process (Green, 2013). (3)  However, it is not clear whether this trend might have an adverse effect on the ability of teachers to deal directly and effectively with pupil related issues. (4)  It may be that this change of focus will have negative consequences as Brown (2011) suggests.

  1. Topic Sentence
  2. Giving examples
  3. Showing consequences (in this case negative ones)
  4. Commenting on evidence

Task: Now, you can have a go and try to match the sentence in a paragraph to its function.