The word classification comes from the word class—meaning a group of things that all have one important element in common. From this word we have the verb to classify, which means “to gather into categories, segments, methods, types, or kinds according to a single basic principle of division”. Based on this meaning, classification is defined as a logical way of thinking that enables us to organize a large number of ideas or items, their use and/or function into categories (groups). By means of classification, large amounts of materials will be more manageable and easier to understand or analyze. For instance, sciences are classified into two main groups: natural and social; and each of the groups are further classified into some subgroups. Another example is that to make a book easier to find, librarian classify books based on certain system.
A classification paragraph is the one used to clearly define something and place it in a group according to a specific basis or rule so that it only fits in one group. In other words, a classification paragraph items are grouped into categories grouped according to shared characteristics. In general, information could be classified into more than one category, but a classification paragraph must stick to a basis of classification. In the paragraph, the topic sentence comprises of two parts: the topic and the basis of classification. This classification basis constitutes the controlling idea; it controls how the writer approaches the subject. Look at the following simple but interesting and popular example.
There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best sellers–unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns wood-pulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books–a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many–every one of them dogeared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled from front to back. (This man owns books.)”(From: Adler, “How to Mark a Book.” The Saturday Review of Literature, July 6, 1941).
Different person may classify book owners into different numbers of group based on different basis or criteria. In the paragraph above, Adler classifies book owners (the topic) into three groups. This classification is acceptable it is based the criterion of whether the persons read the books they own or not (controlling idea). In the following example, the writer classifies paraphrases based on their uses.
Paraphrasing is used for different purposes. Some paraphrases will be designated to support already existing evidence. Others will reinforce argumentation against evidence. Still others will help to develop existing arguments and provide back-up for any conclusion drawn in the course of writing. Depending on the function, paraphrases will be introduced in accordance with their unique context. Quotations require yet another approach. They are not self-expressive because every quotation can signify a number of different things in various contexts. It is both the introduction and the commentary that follows it which decides about its context and the ultimate meaning of a given citation in an essay. Paraphrasing quotations – changing the original words or sense is not allowed.(From: http://daria-przybyla.suite101.com/example-of-a-classification-paragraph)
To produce good classification paragraphs, the following step-by-step approach suggested by Scarry & Scarry (2011: 489-490) is worth applying.
- After you have selected a topic, decide on the basis for your classification.
- Determine the categories for your classification. Give each category an identifying title or name. Be as creative as possible. You may want to take a humorous tone. Remember, no item should belong in more than one group, and your classification should be complete.
- Write your topic sentence. Use one of the terms (such as group or type) that signal a classification.
- Write at least one or two sentences for each group, remembering that each group should be given approximately equal space and importance.
- Write a concluding statement. If you have not already indicated a useful purpose for the classification, do so in the conclusion.
- On a separate piece of paper or on the computer, copy your sentences into standard paragraph form. Before printing, read the paragraph again to check for any changes that may be needed.
- Do a final reading once you have printed the paragraph to check for any errors or omissions.
To achieve coherence in classification paragraphs, the following transitional words and phrases are important to use.
- can be divided
- can be classified
- can be categorized
- the first/second/third kind/type,
- the first/second third category
- the last category
—–to proceed reading, click → Classification Paragraphs