The Bogeyman: A Paragraph Developed With Reasons

bogeyman under the bed
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College writing assignments often call on students to explain why: Why did a certain event in history take place? Why does an experiment in biology produce a particular result? Why do people behave the way they do? This last question was the starting point for "Why Do We Threaten Children With the Bogeyman?"--a student's paragraph developed with reasons.

Notice that the paragraph below begins with a quotation meant to grab the reader's attention: "You better stop wetting your bed, or else the bogeyman is going to get you." The quotation is followed by a general observation that leads to the topic sentence of the paragraph: "There are several reasons why young children are so often threatened with a visit from the mysterious and terrifying bogeyman." The rest of the paragraph supports this topic sentence with three distinct reasons.

Example Paragraph Developed with Reasons

As you read the student's paragraph, see if you can identify the ways in which she guides the reader from one reason to the next.

Why Do We Threaten Children With the Bogeyman?

"You better stop wetting your bed, or else the bogeyman is going to get you." Most of us probably remember a threat like this one being delivered at one time or another by a parent, babysitter, or older brother or sister. There are several reasons why young children are so often threatened with a visit from the mysterious and terrifying bogeyman. One reason is simply habit and tradition. The myth of the bogeyman is handed down from generation to generation, like the tale of the Easter Bunny or the tooth fairy. Another reason is the need to discipline. How much easier it is to frighten a child into good behavior than to explain to her just why she should be good. A more sinister reason is the perverse delight some people get out of scaring others. Older brothers and sisters, in particular, seem to thoroughly enjoy driving youngsters to tears with stories of the bogeyman in the closet or the bogeyman under the bed. In short, the bogeyman is a convenient myth that will probably be used to haunt children (and sometimes actually cause them to wet their beds) for a long time to come.

The first three phrases in italics are sometimes called reason and addition signals: transitional expressions that guide the reader from one point in a paragraph to the next. Notice how the writer begins with the simplest or least serious reason, moves to "another reason," and finally shifts to "a more sinister reason." This pattern of moving from least important to most important gives the paragraph a clear sense of purpose and direction as it builds toward a logical conclusion (which links back to the quotation in the opening sentence).

Reason and Addition Signals or Transitional Expressions

Here are some other reason and addition signals:

  • also
  • a more important reason
  • at times
  • besides
  • in addition
  • for this reason
  • furthermore
  • in the first place, in the second place
  • more importantly, most importantly
  • moreover
  • next
  • to begin with

These signals help to ensure cohesion in paragraphs and essays, thus making our writing easier for readers to follow and understand.

Cohesion: Examples and Exercises