What is expository writing? Well, expository comes from the word expose which means “to reveal”, so expository writing explains or analyzes a topic to reveal information to the reader. It can also sometimes be called informative writing.
What is a paragraph?
You could say that a paragraph is a group of sentences. When handwritten, the first word of each paragraph is indented. When word processed, block style is sometimes used.
The group of sentences in a paragraph are related in topic.
Read the paragraph and identify the topic and controlling idea
Some amusement park rides, like rollercoasters, can be frightening experiences. Looking at a rollercoaster from the ground can make you think it is fun. However, once you are up in the air, your feelings can change. The coaster goes higher than you thought. The cars bump and swerve around so you feel as if you are about to fall out. Going to an amusement park is enjoyable, but it might be scary as well.
Introduction to expository paragraphs
Exposing a topic can be accomplished in many ways, but in expository writing, it is usually done by supplying specific details and examples. In the amusement park ride paragraph, the writer explains why a ride might be frightening by supplying specific details about a rollercoaster. This is not the only way to reveal the controlling idea frightening. The writer could have chosen to discuss another type of ride, such as one that uses a parachute to drop one from an extremely high point. That, of course, would have required different specific details or examples to expose the controlling idea and make the meaning clear to the reader.
Let’s practice it!
Let’s see if we can use the same topic and controlling idea in a paragraph of our own about a different kind of amusement park ride. Remember to use specific details.
You do it!
Of course, there are other possible controlling ideas and topics for paragraphs about an amusement park. Look at this example of a topic sentence.
One of the best things about amusement parks are that everyone is in a happy mood.
Brainstorm some ideas to support the controlling idea and write a paragraph to support the topic sentence.
Read the paragraph and answer the questions on the following slide.
Mrs. Smith became one of my favorite teachers when she went out of the way to help me when I was having trouble with math. Mrs. Smith would always come in early to help me and other students who had trouble understanding their multiplication and division problems. She would often think of activities using food, such as cookies or candy, to help us learn some difficult lesson. Whenever I had trouble understanding a new idea, she would go over it again but not embarrass me. I think I am doing well in math today because of the help Mrs. Smith gave me in the fifth grade.
What is the topic?
What is the controlling idea?
What are the three supporting ideas?
Do you think the concluding sentence is a good one? Why?
Complete the topics and controlling ideas practice sheet and add two or three supporting statements to each one.
Writing Complete Sentences
You may have been told at some point that you have trouble writing complete sentences (incomplete sentences are called fragments) or that you tend to write run-on sentences. Don’t despair. Almost all student writers will have trouble with these at some point.
If you are writing fragments, you might need to understand exactly how a simple sentence is composed. A simple sentence consists of a subject and a predicate. Here are four types of simple sentences.
Bob ran to the story. (simple sentence w/ 1 subject and 1 verb)
Sandra and Maria share a locker at school. (simple sentence with compound subjects and 1 verb)
The children played and screamed on the playground. (simple sentence with 1 subject and compound verbs)
Joanna and Sarah walked around the campus and visited their friends. (simple sentence w/ compound subjects and compound verbs)
You try it!
Write a sentence to fit each of the situations below.
Ex. Susan wanted the job at the pet store she wasn’t hired.
One way to improve this is to separate the sentences.
Susan wanted the job at the pet store. She wasn’t hired.
However, a better way to improve this would be to combing the two sentences with a connecting word.
Susan wanted the job at the pet store, but she wasn’t hired.
Notice that the original two sentences were connected using commas and the word but. This is now a compound sentence.
Run-on: My brother is a singer I am a dancer.
Compound: My brother is a singer, but I am a dancer.
Run-on: All my friends are coming to my party I am very excited.
Compound: All my friends are coming to my party, and I am very excited.
Run-on: Mary can take photography next semester she can take band.
Compound: Mary can take photography next semester, or she can take band.
Another type of sentence is a complex sentence. Actually, you used these on the finding dependent clauses worksheet. Here are some common complex sentence connectors: because, since, unless, before, after, until, if, when, whenever, although, as, as soon as, while, though, although
Run-on: Maria doesn’t like to cook she will help her mother on special occasions.
Complex: Maria doesn’t like to cook although she will help her mother on special occasions.
Run-on: The reporter wrote an article about the new teacher she interviewed him.
Complex: Before the reporter wrote an article about the new teacher, she interviewed him.
You may have noticed that the clauses in a complex sentence can usually be switched from the back of the sentence to the front and from the front to the back.
Ex. I don’t like to surf even though I like to swim. Even though I like to swim, I don’t like to surf.
Complete the “Correct Run-On Sentences” worksheet on the classroom calendar.
In this technique, you are to write for five or ten minutes on a subject without stopping. You are to put down whatever comes to your mind as fast as you can. Do not stop until the time is over. Try not to stop writing the entire time. Do NOT worry about spelling or punctuation during this time. Just get down the ideas!
Focused Free write
This time, instead of free writing about anything that comes to your mind, focus in on the topic of your neighborhood.
The Five W Questions
Your topic is the importance of table manners. Now what? Right, you must develop a controlling idea! Try this brainstorming technique based on the five W questions that newspaper articles often use. Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Five W Questions Cont.
Who uses good table manners?
What is so important about good table manners?
Where should a young person use good table manners?
When is an important time to be aware of your table manners?
Why should anyone care about good table manners?
Here is a way of coming up with writing topics that you have probably used before. Let’s look at one student’s example and see what controlling ideas she figures out from her graph.
Suppose the teacher gives you no subject at all and asks that you write an essay about whatever you want? Just start writing about anything you want and write does the various thoughts which happen to pop into your mind. You don’t even have to finish a whole thought if something else occurs that seems more interesting. Just write. After you are done, go back and circle ideas that could be possible topics and write a topic and controlling idea statement for each one.
Automobiles are expensive to own. After buying a car you have to have money for insurance that the law says you must have in case of an accident. Cars, even new ones, need occasional costly repairs. Even if you drive carefully, you will sometimes make mistakes and might get a ticket, which you must pay for or you license will be taken away. Even if you never get in an accident or get a ticket, you have to fill the car with gas, and prices are at an all-time high.
Why is the topic sentence a good one?
Do the supporting sentences explain the controlling idea?
Are all the sentences related?
Which would make the best concluding sentence?
Owning a car will cost the owner plenty of money.
Also, you could get in trouble driving without a license.
Commercials on television tell you that you must have insurance.
Peer Paragraph Review
List your name and the name of the person who wrote the paragraph.
What is the topic of the paragraph?
What is the controlling idea?
Is it an acceptable topic/controlling idea sentence? If not, what is the problem?
Do all sentences support the controlling idea? Point out any problems.
An expository essay, like a paragraph, is controlled by one central idea. In an essay, this controlling idea is called a thesis statement. In our model essay “The Positive Side to Student Government” the thesis statement is Holding a school office will bring you many rewards. It is a complete sentence restating the topic- school office- and the controlling idea- bring many rewards.
Where should the thesis statement be placed in your introductory paragraph? Although there is no single place that it must be, the most common place is the last sentence in the first paragraph.
Trees can change the look of a neighborhood. Trees provide shade, windbreaks, and homes for singing birds. Every homeowner should be required to plant at least one tree in the front of the house.
What is the topic?
What is the controlling idea?
In an essay, the entire first paragraph sets up the topic and the controlling idea. The thesis statement (topic and controlling idea) is placed at the end of the first paragraph so it is fresh in the reader’s mind as the writer starts his proof in the developmental or body paragraphs.
Expository writing must prove the attitude or opinion that the writer states, whether it is just a paragraph, an essay, or a 500-page book. Most expository writing is nonfiction and can therefore be compared to how a trial is conducted, since the law often deals with facts. However, facts may be dealt with in different ways, depending on which side of the case is important to a participant. A lawyer must prove his case to the jury. The writer must prove his statement to the reader. A lawyer only argues one side of the case (the side of the client). The writer states one view of the topic and attempts to prove it. A lawyer will not usually bring up facts that would help the other lawyer’s case. Likewise, a writer only uses proof that will help his or her case.
Suppose you are a lawyer and your client is a student accused of jaywalking on a busy street. Which of the following would you use to defend your client.
The crosswalk was not clearly marked.
The student had been kept late after school and felt that he did not have time to walk to the corner.
The student frequently was seen crossing in the middle of the block.
On the day the student was given a jaywalking ticket, he had a sore foot and he was needed at home to help his mother take care of his baby sister.
He was just one of eight students who crossed in the middle of the block.
Write Your Own
Using one of the facts below to begin your own introduction paragraph for an expository essay. You must add at least one sentence that states examples that can be used to support the first sentence. The last sentence should state the attitude or opinion about your topic.
Developmental paragraphs usually number from 2 to 4 in student essays. They provide explanation, illustration, discussion, or proof for the thesis statement.
Each developmental paragraph discusses one aspect of the main topic. If you write about some of the ways trees have an impact on a neighborhood street, each paragraph should discuss one of those ways or functions.
Each developmental or body paragraph should echo or refer to the thesis statement. If your thesis statement says “every homeowner should plant trees,” then each controlling idea should have something to do with the reason every homeowner should plant a tree.
The developmental paragraphs should flow. The flow of thoughts from one paragraph should flow into the next. This is done by using transitions.
The conclusion can restate the main points.
The conclusion can restate the thesis.
The conclusion should not bring up a new topic.
Thesis statement: The food in San Francisco is unusual and surprising for the people who visit this fascinating city.
Chinese cuisine found in Chinatown area is often considered the best in the United States.
The restaurants in the Italian section of North Beach often specialize in food from one small section of Italy.
The area of Fisherman’s Wharf has developed dishes that originated in this city.
Develop a concluding paragraph using the thesis and supporting details.