English 098: English Fundamentals

Sample Outline

        home course outlines writing assignments the mind of a sentence skills exercises instructional resources policies, guidelines contact info


Here's an outline for a paragraph examining the topic of what a "good" family is.  Note how complete

sentences are  used, and how these sentences are appropriately grouped in the the stages of

paragraph development.

I.  Topic Point:


Although many people would probably not consider a house full of college roommates to be a

family, my house is, without a doubt, a solid family unique in how selfless everyone in it is.


My family stands apart from even the family in which I was raised, because it engenders

loyalty, unconditional understanding, and support when crises occur.

II.  Explanation:  Different families have different values, including cultural ones, but these are values

that my family of roommates choose to respect out of their own free will.


Loyalty is a bond of trust in which people dedicate themselves to one another's safety

and promote and support one another's interests


Patience is a virtue that helps a family of individuals with difference in background and

experience to tolerate one another.


Tolerance leads to understanding, that ability to empathize that is indispensable for

any group of people to be supportive the way a family should be.


Support is perhaps the single most important value that any family, whether blood

relatives or relative strangers, needs in order to hold together.

III.  Paragraph Support:


The kind of loyalty that typifies a family seems harder and harder to find these days, but my

roommates and I certainly have it.


Every Wednesday night, we have a “family night” we spend together making pizza and

watching a movie that we take turns choosing.


We all clear our schedules, and even try to keep our work and class schedules free on

Wednesday nights so that we can spend this time together.


Boyfriends (and girlfriends) are not invited, but no one ever complains because we

treasure that time to rediscover why we are so close.


We are also more understanding of each other than almost any other family I know.


I have witnessed my aunt’s family, for example, disintegrate when my cousin was

arrested on drug charges because no one would reach out to him and find out why

he was doing crystal meth.


However, in my house, everyone takes an active interest to find out what is troubling

someone.  It does not matter what that trouble is.


When my roommate, Marie, started crying one day and told us she was a lesbian,

instead of feeling threatened we all felt honored that she could trust us, and we

threw her a spontaneous “Coming Out” party.


Several of us went with her to her first gay bar, which, I believe, epitomizes the

kind of unconditional support that makes groups like us a tight-knit family.


Of course, all families have to stand tests, and when real crises manifest, a family’s true

character (or lack of character) shows itself.  Once again, my roommates and I demonstrate

how banding together in mutual support is one of the most important family characteristics.


When Angie’s mother had a car accident and was in the hospital, we all made sure

that Angie could get onto the plane that afternoon and go back to New Jersey to be

with her mother.


Angie did not have much money, but the other four of us chipped in from our savings

and credit cards to make sure she got home that night, and Ellie even offered to go

home with her if she needed it.


Those sorts of gestures denote a real, family-like willingness to be supportive during

difficult times, and not just good times, when it is easiest to show support.

IV.  Interpretation:


All these qualities, in fact, demonstrate how the members of my family of roommates put

others before themselves.


This does not mean that we are not sometimes selfish, because human nature

means everyone is occasionally.


However, we have enough maturity as individuals, and love for one another, to put

the needs of others first.

V.  Conclusion:


I realize that, one day, most of my family will move on, just like blood-related families do,

but I am confident that our family ties will long outlast the time we will have spent together

living under one roof.


No matter what lies ahead for us, we will always think of ourselves as a genuine family.