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How to write an essay

Россия, Московская область, г. Мытищи
МБОУ "Средняя общеобразовательная школа №27" 
Учитель английского языка
Князева Ю.И.

An essay is a group of paragraphs written about a single topic and a central main idea.


There are three main points of an essay: the introduction, the main body and the conclusion.


1. The introduction

This is the first paragraph of an essay which explains the topic with general ideas. It is usually five to ten sentences. It catches the reader's attention and gives background information about the topic. It also has a thesis statement of the essay. The introduction is often organized by giving the most general ideas first and then leading to the most specific idea, which is the thesis statement.

There are many different ways to introduce an essay:

a.    Facts and statistics: Introducing your essay with some surprising facts or statistics can capture your reader's interest.

b.   Short generalization: A simple sentence that catches the reader's attention and introduces the topic can sometimes be the most effective.

c.    Historical reference: A useful way to introduce a topic is to provide some historical information about it. Historical reference can often provide relevant background
information to show the importance of the topic being discussed.

d.   Example or anecdote: An example or short description of an event or story can be an effective introduction to an essay when it illustrates the thesis that will be developed by the writer.

e.    Questions: Questions can also pique the reader's interest. By posing one or more questions in the introduction, the writer can involve the reader and set up a structure for the development of the essay.

f.    Quotation: Sometimes the words of others can best introduce a topic. If a  quotation introduces your thesis in a unique way, this could be an effective beginning.

2. The main body

These are the paragraphs that explain and support the thesis statement and come between the introduction and the conclusion. There must be one or more paragraphs in the main body of an essay.

3. The conclusion

This is the last paragraph of an essay. It summarises or restates the thesis and the supporting ideas of the essay.

There also many different ways to conclude an essay:

a.           Summary: One of the most typical (though not always the most interesting) ways to conclude an essay is to summarise the main points that have been discussed in the essay. (If this type of conclusion is used, try to avoid simplistic expressions such as In conclusion, In summary, and Finally.)

b.          Example/anecdote: Ending with an example or story that illustrates the thesis can be a powerful way to conclude an essay.

c.           Quotations: A quotation can sometimes best sum up a writer's thesis. Someone else's words are sometimes the strongest way to conclude an essay.

d.          Call for action: Giving advice or ending with a plea for action is sometimes the most appropriate ending. With this type of conclusion, readers are left thinking about their
responsibility for acting on what has been discussed in the essay.

e.           Question: leaving your reader with a question that remains to be answered can be a strong ending. If your essay has explored a problem but has not offered a particular solution, this might be an effective ending.

f.         Prediction or own conclusion: Writers may choose to conclude their essays by making a prediction about the future; or after analyzing a problem, the writer may draw his
or her own conclusion about it.

In an essay, all ideas should relate to the thesis statement, and the supporting ideas in a main body paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.


Types of Essays

Some types of essays are:

Descriptive Essays: The aim of descriptive essays is to provide a vivid picture of a person, location, object, event, or debate. It will offer details that will enable the reader to imagine the item described.

Narrative Essays: The aim of a narrative essay is to describe a course of events from a subjective vantage point, and may be written in first-person present or first person past tense. Though not always chronological, narrative essays do follow the development of a person through a series of experiences and reflections. The focus of the essay is often to more clearly identify the point of view of the narrator, and to express common features of subjectivity.

Compare and Contrast Essays: The aim of a compare and contrast essay is to develop the relationship between two or more things. Generally, the goal is to show that superficial differences or similarities are inadequate, and that closer examination reveals their unobvious, yet significant, relations or differences.

Persuasive Essays: In a persuasive essay, the writer tries to persuade the reader to accept an idea or agree with an opinion. The writer's purpose is to convince the reader that her or his point of view is a reasonable one. The persuasive essay should be written in a style that grabs and holds the reader's attention, and the writer's opinion should be backed up by strong supporting details.

Argumentative Essays: Argumentative essays are most often used to address controversial issues - i.e. serious issue over which there is some evident disagreement (Like Election Campaign [Who wins?]). An argument is a position combined with its supporting reasons. Argumentative papers thus set out a main claim and then provide reasons for thinking that the claim is true.

About Outline for an Essay

An outline for an essay is a list of information that shows the organization of the essay and tells what ideas you will discuss and which ideas will come first, second, and so on.

How to Write an Outline for an Essay

Before writing an outline, you must go through the usual process of gathering ideas, editing them, and deciding on a topic for your writing. Writing an outline can be a very useful way of organizing your ideas and seeing how they will work together.

To show how the ideas work together, number them. To avoid confusion, use several different types of numbers and letters to show the organization of the ideas. Using Roman numerals (I,II,III etc.) for essay's main ideas: your introduction and thesis statement, your main body paragraphs, and your conclusion. Write all of these first, before going into more detail.

  1.             Introduction
  2.          First main idea
  3.       Second main idea
  4.       Third main idea
  5.          Conclusion

Next, fill in more information for the paragraphs in the main body by using capital Roman letters (А, В, C, etc.). Use one letter for each supporting idea in your main body paragraph. Complete this information for each paragraph in the main body before going into more detail.

  1.             Introduction
  2.          First main idea

A.      First supporting point

B. Second supporting point...

Finally, use Arabic numerals (1,2,3 etc.) to give details for your supporting points. Not every supporting point will have details, and some points will have several. It is not important to have the same number of details for every supporting point.

  1.             Introduction
  2.          First main idea

A. First supporting point

  1.    First detail
  2.    Second detail

Outline for an Essay

  1.    Introduction

A.    Introductory statement

B.    Thesis statement:

II.   Body

  1.     First Supporting Idea (Topic Sentence):


2. _________________________________

3. __________________________________


  1.      Second Supporting Idea  (Topic Sentence):


2. _________________________________

3. __________________________________

  1. Conclusion

A.    Closing statement

B.        Restate thesis:

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