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 see how these expressions are used look at the following sample paragraphs.
There are three different types of rock music, alternative rock, classic rock, and hard rock, also known as metal. Alternative rock features a steady bass drum laying down the beat, with easy flowing guitar riffs over the top. The bass line is toned town, and the lyrics are sung with intensity an authority. Depending on the song, the guitars can either be acoustic guitars or electric guitars. Classic rock combines a steady driving bass drum sound, with high snare overtones, steady and often repeating guitar riffs, and an intensive bass line. The guitars are more often than not all electric guitars, and distortion is rarely used. The lyrics are sung with style and enthusiasm. Hard rock, or metal, features a hard rolling bass drum with an abundant amount of cymbal work. This style of rock uses several electric guitars with heavy distortion to bring a very intense sound. A hard, intense, driving bass line rounds out the style. The lyrics aren’t really sung so much as screamed. It doesn’t matter what your preference is, each different style of rock music is unique on its own.(from: http://english120.pbworks.com/w/page/)
Men can be categorized by the way they treat women while dating into three groups: a social addict, a content lover, or a keeper. The first type, a social addict, is the type of man who is constantly late and everything is on his time. Social addicts are particularly self absorbed. For your birthday this type of dater will give you a gift such as a necklace, so that everybody can notice it. When it comes down to emotions and feelings, a social addict will say whatever he assume you want to hear at any given moment. The second type of dater, a content lover, is a guy who will come and go as he pleases. These men just seem to be in attendance but not involved. When he is with you, he will not open up and share his thoughts. A content lover will forget your birthday all together. Lastly there is the keeper who will not keep you waiting; in fact, he always plans ahead and involves you in the decision making. To them, your birthday is tremendously important. They will give you time for your friends and family; in addition, they always make unique plans for the two of you later that evening. Unlike the other types of daters, the keeper will attempt to be 100% in touch with their feelings towards you and are willing to talk about them. Men’s dating styles differ; nonetheless, it all comes down to what behavior you are in the mood for.(from: http://english120.pbworks.com/w/page/)
Types of Friends
Friends can be classified according to their honesty, loyalty, the type that fits you into their schedule, or the type that finds time for you when they need something. An honest friend tells you the truth even if it’s not always what you want to hear. In the long run, that honest friend may have saved you from embarrassment or possibly rejection. They give you constructive criticism overall. The loyal friend is the type of friend that will be there for you through the thick and the thin. They don’t care how good or bad you may look one day; they are sensitive to your feelings, they respect you and the other people in your life, and most of all they will never let you down when times are hard. They may be what you call a best friend. The third group, the person that fits you into their schedule, is the type of person that is always on the go. They barely have time for themselves let alone another person. More than likely they will not be there for you when you need them most, because they are so wrapped up in their busy, hectic life. Then you have the self-absorbent type of “friend” that finds time for you only when they need something. This type of person isn’t what you would call a friend. This person may always be extremely nice to you because they know that if are nice to you then they will more than likely get what they want. They will call you every once in awhile when it is almost time for them to use that person again. It may be for a ride to work, home, or they just want somebody to hangout with because they have no other friends. If the person that is being used is smart they will eventually realize that they are getting used and will stop being there for that person.(from: http://english120.pbworks.com/w/page/)