Three Ways to Expand a Paragraph: Extension

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In the previous post, I started talking about the first kind of expansion, elaboration, to ensure ideas can be made clear, explained in other words or illustrated with examples.

Here comes the second “E”: extension.

Like elaboration, extending relation has three subtypes: adding a new idea upon the previous, varying the first idea with a second one, and presenting an alternative.

Addition (And)

The easiest way to think of extension is linking sentences with the conjunction and. This means “adding” a new idea after the first one, such as

There are numerous optional linguistic features used in English for this purpose [expressing stance], including both grammatical devices and simple word choice. In addition, stance-related meanings can be expressed in speech through tone of voice, duration, loudness and other paralinguistic features.

(Gray & Biber, 2012, p. 19)

This example perhaps considers breaking the ideas down into two separate sentences for easier reading. Otherwise, it is fine to use as well as to link all the “stance-related meanings”, i.e. … both grammatical devices and simple word choice, as well as tone of voice…

Of course, a more “written-like” addition of idea will be the markers we have taught you with the textbooks, like in addition, furthermore, moreover, etc. In addition (:P), similar meaning suggesting addition will do, e.g. one reason is… another reason is…

Variation (Instead, on the contrary)

I leave the technical explanations about “variation” and its many subtypes in Halliday & Matthiessen’s (2004/2014) great volume. To simplify the matter, I refer “variation” to replacing the idea of the first sentence:

This claim of reducing crime through legalising prostitution may not be valid. Instead, it is possible that crime rate will increase.

Edited from Student’s Example

In this example, the idea in the second sentence replaces that in the first, i.e. crime rate may increase but not decrease if prostitution is legalised. Readers’ attention is then directed towards the writer’s argument in the coming sentences.

We can again consider this relation approximately as that expressed by the conjunction but — the meaning in the second sentence counters the expectation of that in the first — similar to a “concessive” relation.

Also, more written-like adjuncts instead of, on the contrary serve the similar logical relation.

(I know technically speaking the concessive but should belong to “enhancement”; it’s worth starting a discussion in a separate technical post — for now allow me to be less accurate.)

Alternation (Or)

The last subtype functions to suggest an alternative to the idea of the first sentence, and we can think of this relation as the conjunction or, or adjuncts such as alternatively, on the other hand (the choice is quite limited imo):

[Using metadiscourse], the writer can provide previews and reviews to set up expectations of what is to come and also to highlight the key points that will arise or which have emerged in the text. Alternatively, the writer can make cross-textual references which point the reader to other parts of the text of relevance to the present part

(Thompson, 2012, p. 126)

In the example from this expert text, the author offers alternative functions of a linguistic feature namely “metadiscourse”, either for previews and reviews or for cross-textual references.

Although I’m not prescribing where extending relations should occur in a paragraph, it is expected that they would appear somewhere in the middle:

  • Addition: providing more than one point for elaborating the topic sentence;
  • Variation: replacing an argument with another (e.g. refuting a counter-argument), realigning readers on your side;
  • Alternation: suggesting an alternative solution.

It seems likely that a general idea in the topic sentence needs a few points to illustrate in detail, so it is natural to use any of the three or a combination of them.

A paragraph would need a wrap-up somehow since it may be clumsy to keep adding points. We can use the last expansion strategy to signal a conclusion. The strategy, enhancement, will be explored in next up.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (2004). IFG3. London, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Examples from Expert Texts
Gray, B., & Biber, D. (2012). Current conceptions of stance. In Hyland, K. & C. Sancho Guinda (Eds.), Stance and voice in written academic genres (pp. 15-33). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
Thompson, P. (2012). Achieving a voice of authority in PhD theses. In Hyland, K. & C. Sancho Guinda (Eds.), Stance and voice in written academic genres (pp. 119-133). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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