The Introductory Paragraph



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The Introductory Paragraph

  • References
  • © 2001 by Ruth Luman
  • The Paragraph that Hooks
  • Your Reader
  • Introduction
  • ------------------------------
  • An Introduction
  • Definition and Purpose
  • An introduction is the first paragraph in your essay and
  • contains the thesis statement. The main purposes of an
  • introduction are to…
  • catch your reader’s attention so that he/she will
  • become interested in reading your essay.
  • present the focus of your essay and give your
  • reader some general information about your
  • subject.
  • An introduction always includes some
  • general statements about your subject and a
  • thesis statement that announces the focus of
  • your essay. The thesis statement is usually
  • the last sentence in the introduction because
  • it is the most specific. Notice how the
  • introduction below begins with general
  • information and becomes more specific.
  • An Introduction
  • General Information and Focus
  • An Introduction
  • General Information and Focus
  • Specific focus of
  • essay and thesis
  • statement.
  • General statements provide background
  • information on the focus of health care
  • for homeless people with HIV.
  • There are a number of frightening disease epidemics occurring in
  • the United States today, but one of the most frightening is the
  • epidemic spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Among the most
  • serious of these sexually transmitted diseases is HIV which leads to
  • AIDS, a fatal disease. HIV is especially problematic among
  • homeless people. This particular population is difficult to treat due to
  • a number of barriers such as, limited access to health care, mistrust
  • of health care professionals, and a lack of awareness of the disease,
  • itself.
  • An Introduction
  • A Closer Look
  • Let’s look at that introduction again and see how the sentences
  • become more and more specific leading to the thesis statement.
  • There are a number of frightening disease epidemics occurring in the United States today, but one of the most frightening is the epidemic spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Among the most serious of these sexually transmitted diseases is HIV which leads to AIDS, a fatal disease.
  • HIV is especially problematic among homeless people.
  • This particular population is difficult to treat due to a number of barriers such as, limited access
  • to health care, mistrust of health care
  • professionals, and a lack of awareness of the
  • disease, itself.
  • General
  • Statements
  • More
  • Specific
  • Very Specific:
  • Thesis
  • Statement
  • Example #2
  • General Information and Focus
  • Here is another example of how an introduction can begin with general information and become more specific with a thesis statement at the end.
  • Example #2
  • General Information and Focus
  • Specific focus of
  • essay and thesis
  • statement.
  • General statements provide background
  • information on the steps the Indian
  • government is taking to reduce population.
  • Overpopulation and finding ways to reduce it are big concerns
  • of many developing nations today. One nation that is concerned
  • about this issue is India. One of the biggest causes of overpopulation
  • in India is the high infant mortality rate. Parents often have more
  • children because they are fearful that if some children die, there
  • won’t be enough children to take care of them in their old age. India is
  • taking some important steps in dealing with this problem. Some of
  • the steps the Indian government is taking are providing birth control
  • for women, improving pre-natal care, and educating women on the
  • benefits of having fewer children.
  • Example #2
  • A Closer Look
  • Look at the example below to see how the sentences in the
  • introduction become more and more specific leading to the
  • thesis statement.
  • Overpopulation and finding ways to reduce it are big concerns of many
  • developing nations today. One nation that is concerned about this issue is India.
  • One of the biggest causes of overpopulation in India is the high infant
  • mortality rate.
  • Parents often have more children because they are fearful that if
  • some children die, there won’t be enough children to take care of
  • them in their old age.
  • India is taking some important steps in dealing with this
  • problem. Some of the steps the Indian government is
  • taking are providing birth control for women, improving
  • pre-natal care, and educating women on the benefits
  • of having fewer children.
  • General
  • Statements
  • More
  • Specific
  • Very
  • Specific:
  • Thesis
  • Statement
  • An Introduction
  • Catch the Reader’s Attention
  • In addition to stating the thesis and providing some general
  • information on your subject, an introduction also needs to catch a
  • reader’s attention and cause him/her to become interested in
  • reading your essay. There are several ways you can introduce
  • your subject and catch your reader’s attention.
  • Use a story or example of a personal experience.
  • Use a quotation.
  • Use a question or questions.
  • A brief dramatic story or example can be
  • used to get the attention of your reader.
  • Look at the example below and think about
  • how it catches your attention.
  • Catching Attention
  • Using a Story or Personal Experience
  • Personal Story or Example
  • A personal story can “hook” your
  • reader into wanting to read more.
  • Thesis
  • Statement
  • When the car accident happened, my brother was left with a
  • broken arm, leg, and hip. My mother nearly died due to head
  • injuries. However, we all survived due to the team of emergency
  • medical technicians who responded quickly to the scene and
  • provided us with the help we needed. After my experience of being
  • involved in a car accident, I saw how I could use my interest in first
  • aid and desire to help other people through becoming an
  • emergency medical technician. Now, after twenty years of work as
  • an EMT, I think it is the most rewarding job I could ever have and
  • feel that the occupation, itself, has numerous advantages over other
  • occupations in the health care field.
  • Personal Story or Example
  • Example #2
  • Here’s another example of how you can use a story to catch a reader’s attention in an introduction.
  • John’s parents divorced when he was in elementary school.
  • After the divorce, his mother had to go to work to support him and
  • his three sisters. This disrupted John’s home life in serious ways.
  • Without the constant supervision of his mother and the lack of a
  • father for a role-model, John began skipping school and socializing
  • with the wrong group of people. He eventually turned to taking
  • drugs and was later arrested for being a drug dealer and sent to
  • prison. John is not unlike other prisoners. In many prisons today,
  • over half of all inmates come from divorced families. Divorce can
  • be the catalyst that unleashes emotional problems in children
  • and can affect children psychologically, mentally, and socially.
  • Personal Story or Example
  • Example #2
  • An example of a story in the third person.
  • Thesis
  • Statement
  • Sometimes controversial or well-known
  • quotations can be used to surprise your
  • reader. Look at the example below and
  • notice how a quotation can be used to get
  • you interested in the rest of the essay.
  • Catching Attention
  • Using a Quote
  • Using a Quote
  • A well-known quotation
  • from American literature.
  • Thesis
  • Statement
  • Henry David Thoreau, an American poet, once wrote, “ Our life is
  • frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify!” These words of advice
  • are difficult to follow in a society where a hectic pace of life is the
  • norm and the attainment of more material goods is encouraged.
  • However, I believe that this philosophy of living simply has quite a
  • bit of merit. The difficulty of following this philosophy is knowing
  • where we should begin. If we examine Henry David Thoreau’s life
  • carefully, I believe we will find a number of ways in which to simplify
  • our own lives and yet live richly.
  • (Quotation from: Watson, 1951)
  • Quotation
  • Example #2
  • Here’s another example of how you can use a quotation to catch a reader’s attention in an introduction.
  • Horace once wrote, “ Many blessings do the advancing years
  • bring with them.” For many senior citizens in the United States
  • today, old age can often come as a curse. Many older people suffer
  • from ill health, loneliness, and/or financial instability; however, life
  • in later years does not have to be this way. Many senior citizens
  • can experience the blessings of advancing years that Horace once
  • wrote about. In order to do that, let’s consider ways in which old
  • age actually enhances life.
  • (Quotation from: Watson, 1951)
  • Quotation
  • Example #2
  • Quotation
  • Thesis Statement
  • Another way to catch your reader’s
  • attention is with a question. Questions can
  • make your reader begin thinking about the
  • subject in your essay.
  • Catching Attention
  • Using Questions
  • Have you ever run in a marathon? Most marathons are twenty
  • six miles. Have you ever heard of one-hundred mile marathons?
  • The state of Colorado hosts a one-hundred mile marathon each
  • year. People from all over the United States and the world run in
  • this marathon. Some of the top runners in this race have been
  • members of the Tarahumara Indian tribe in the Sierra Madre
  • mountains of Mexico. Tarahumaras do not train for marathons, but
  • their lifestyle and culture promotes, develops, and supports this
  • type of athletic endeavor.
  • Using Questions
  • Questions that may surprise your reader.
  • Thesis Statement
  • Did you know that one of the eight architectural wonders of the world
  • is located in Cambodia? Angkor Wat is an ancient Buddhist temple that
  • was the center of culture and religion for the Khmer empire for several
  • centuries. It was only recently re-discovered by a French explorer during
  • the 1800’s. It has now become one of the most popular tourist attractions
  • in Southeast Asia. If you visit Angkor Wat, you will find much to admire in
  • its size, historical significance, and beauty.
  • Questions
  • Example #2
  • Here’s another example of how you can use a question to catch a reader’s attention in an introduction.
  • Question
  • Thesis Statement

Body Paragraphs

  • References
  • © 2001 by Ruth Luman
  • Writing Paragraphs of Importance
  • Body Paragraphs
  • Purpose
  • The body paragraphs in your essay support
  • the main idea in your thesis statement by
  • breaking it down into smaller ideas or subtopics.
  • Ideas in your paragraphs should relate back to
  • the thesis statement.
  • Essay
  • Introduction &
  • Thesis Statement
  • Body Paragraph 1
  • _____________
  • Body Paragraph 2
  • _____________
  • Body Paragraph 3
  • _____________
  • Body Paragraph 4
  • _____________
  • Body Paragraph 5
  • _____________
  • Body Paragraphs
  • Most paragraphs contain between five to ten sentences. The first line of a paragraph is usually indented (begin a few spaces to the right of the margin) to show that there is a new paragraph.
  • Form
  • ________________________ . ____________________. _____________________. _________________________. ____________________________. ____________________. ______________________. ______________________________.
  • indent
  • Key Features
  • Body paragraphs should should contain
  • some of the following features…
  • A Topic Sentence
  • A Concluding Sentence
  • Unity
  • Topic Sentences
  • Every paragraph should have a topic
  • sentence. This is the most important sentence
  • because it expresses the main idea of the
  • paragraph.
  • Definition
  • Body Paragraph
  • An important factor in learning a foreign language has to do with the
  • concept of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. When we do something
  • for the “fun of it” or because we enjoy it, that is called intrinsic
  • motivation. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is when we do
  • something for the purpose of receiving some kind of external reward
  • such as money, time off from work, etc. Many education experts believe
  • that intrinsic motivation is more powerful when it comes to helping
  • students retain what they’ve learned. The question and challenge for
  • teachers today is, “How can we help our students become intrinsically
  • motivated in what we are teaching?”
  • Example
  • Topic Sentence
  • Topic Sentence: states the main idea of the paragraph.
  • Topic Sentence Essentials
  • Complete Sentence
  • Example
  • Strategies of learning English.
  • There are many strategies
  • that you can use to help you
  • learn a new language.
  • Not a complete sentence
  • Example
  • The Day of the Dead.
  • The Day of the Dead is a special holiday in Mexico when people can get together to remember deceased loved ones.
  • Not a complete sentence
  • Topic Sentence Essentials
  • Two Parts
  • A topic sentence contains the topic of the
  • paragraph and a controlling idea. The
  • controlling idea limits the topic to something
  • very specific.
  • Topic Sentence Companies should develop more efficient forms of energy such as solar heating panels.
  • Example
  • This sentence does not contain a controlling idea. This is not a good topic sentence, because it does not limit the topic to make it more specific.
  • Controlling Idea: limits the ideas in the paragraph and makes the sentence more specific.
  • Topic Sentence Companies need to develop more efficient forms of energy.
  • Topic: names the main idea
  • Example #2
  • Topic and Controlling Idea
  • Topic Sentence
  • One of the most serious problems in today’s inner-city public
  • schools is overcrowded classrooms.
  • Topic: names the main idea or general subject of the paragraph
  • Controlling Idea: makes a specific comment about the subject. Tells the reader what the paragraph will say about the main topic.
  • Example #2
  • Topic and Controlling Idea
  • Topic Sentence
  • One of the most serious problems in today’s inner-city public
  • schools is the low percentage of trained teachers.
  • Topic: names the main idea or general subject of the paragraph
  • Controlling Idea: makes a specific comment about the subject. Tells the reader what the paragraph will say about the main topic.
  • Be Careful!
  • Make sure that your topic sentence does not contain too many controlling ideas.
  • Be Careful!
  • Make sure that your topic sentence does not contain too many controlling ideas.
  • Topic Sentence The advent of the Internet has benefited society through improved communication.
  • Example
  • There are too many controlling ideas to be covered in one paragraph. A good topic sentence should be limited to one controlling idea.
  • Most topic sentences contain only one controlling idea.
  • Topic Sentence The advent of the Internet has benefited society through improved communication, access to information, and streamlined commerce.
  • Supporting Sentences
  • Definition
  • Every paragraph has sentences that relate
  • to the ideas in the topic sentence. These
  • sentences are called supporting sentences.
  • Look at the supporting sentences on the next
  • page to see how the writer provided more
  • information on the subject in the topic
  • sentence.
  • Supporting Sentences
  • Topic Sentence
  • An important factor in learning a foreign language has to do with the
  • concept of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.
  • When we do something for the “fun of it” or because we enjoy it, that is called intrinsic motivation.
  • Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is when we do something for the purpose of receiving some kind of external reward such as money, time off from work, etc.
  • Many education experts believe that intrinsic motivation is more
  • powerful when it comes to helping students retain what they’ve learned.
  • Supporting Sentences
  • Concluding Sentence
  • A concluding sentence is the last
  • sentence in a paragraph. A conclusion can
  • remind the reader of the main points of a
  • paragraph and/or leave the reader with
  • something to think about in relation to the
  • topic. Look at the next page to see how
  • the writer used a concluding sentence.
  • Definition and Purpose
  • Concluding Sentence
  • A concluding sentence is the last
  • sentence in a paragraph. A conclusion can
  • remind the reader of the main points of a
  • paragraph and/or leave the reader with
  • something to think about in relation to the
  • topic. Look at the next page to see how
  • the writer used a concluding sentence.
  • Definition and Purpose
  • Concluding Sentence
  • A concluding sentence is the last
  • sentence in a paragraph. A conclusion can
  • remind the reader of the main points of a
  • paragraph and/or leave the reader with
  • something to think about in relation to the
  • topic. Look at the next page to see how
  • the writer used a concluding sentence.
  • Definition and Purpose
  • Concluding Sentence
  • A concluding sentence is the last
  • sentence in a paragraph. A conclusion can
  • remind the reader of the main points of a
  • paragraph and/or leave the reader with
  • something to think about in relation to the
  • topic. Look at the next page to see how
  • the writer used a concluding sentence.
  • Definition and Purpose
  • Body Paragraph
  • An important factor in learning a foreign language has to do with the
  • concept of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. When we do something
  • for the “fun of it” or because we enjoy it, that is called intrinsic
  • motivation. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is when we do
  • something for the purpose of receiving some kind of external reward
  • such as money, time off from work, etc. Many education experts believe
  • that intrinsic motivation is more powerful when it comes to helping
  • students retain what they’ve learned. The question and challenge for
  • teachers today is, “How can we help our students become intrinsically
  • motivated in what we are teaching?”
  • Concluding Sentence
  • This concluding sentence tries to leave a final thought with the reader by asking a question.
  • Concluding Sentence
  • Useful Expressions
  • It is sometimes helpful to have a concluding expression
  • in your last sentence to signal the end of your paragraph.
  • Some common expressions used in concluding sentences
  • are listed below.
  • As we can see,
  • These examples show that…
  • As a result,
  • In summary,
  • Finally,
  • Consequently,
  • Concluding Sentence
  • Useful Expressions
  • It is sometimes helpful to have a concluding expression
  • in your last sentence to signal the end of your paragraph.
  • Some common expressions used in concluding sentences
  • are listed below.
  • As we can see,
  • These examples show that…
  • As a result,
  • In summary,
  • Finally,
  • Consequently,
  • Unity
  • Definition
  • Good paragraphs have unity. That
  • means that each sentence in the paragraph
  • is related to the topic sentence. Unified
  • paragraphs also discuss only one main idea.
  • Body Paragraph
  • One of the recent status symbols for many American business people is the
  • palm pilot. Palm pilots are small electronic devices that help people organize
  • information such as dates for meetings, short notes, and addresses of contacts.
  • Fax machines are also very popular among office workers. With palm pilots, a
  • person can input information at any time and any place. Many business people
  • also have cellular phones so that they can make phone calls from just about
  • anywhere. When a person returns to the office from a business trip, he/she won’t
  • have to spend hours organizing notes or addresses, because the palm pilot
  • already has that information. All that person has to do now is hook up the palm
  • pilot to a personal computer, and voila! All the information from meetings is
  • efficiently organized on the hard drive of the personal computer!
  • Find the sentences that are “off topic” or do not relate to the topic
  • sentence.
  • Topic Sentence
  • These sentences do not relate to the topic sentence in the paragraph. This paragraph does not have unity.

The Conclusion

  • References
  • © 2001 by Ruth Luman
  • The End
  • A Conclusion
  • Definition and Purpose
  • The conclusion is the last paragraph in your essay. A conclusion completes the essay and reemphasizes your thesis statement or main ideas. Look at the example thesis statement and conclusion below.
  • A Conclusion
  • First Sentence of Conclusion
  • Ultimately, because of the steps I took, I was successful in fighting the disease…
  • Thesis Statement
  • When I first found out that I was diagnosed with cancer, I took
  • two important steps to fight the disease.
  • First sentence in conclusion reemphasizes ideas in thesis statement.
  • A Conclusion
  • So What?
  • In addition to referring back to your main idea, your
  • conclusion needs to show your reader the significance of
  • your thesis. When discussing the importance of your
  • thesis, try to address questions such as…
  • How and why is this topic important?
  • How might this topic affect me or other people?
  • What can be learned from this topic?
  • Look at the example below of a conclusion that shows the reader the importance of the main idea of the essay.
  • Example #1
  • So What?
  • Conclusion Paragraph Draft
  • Ultimately, because of the steps I took, I was successful in fighting the disease. I
  • was able to become healthy enough to attend my daughter’s wedding, and I no longer
  • worried about dying. Others suffering with cancer can learn an important lesson from
  • my experience: Don’t give up no matter how hopeless things may seem and always
  • get a second opinion from another doctor!
  • Example #1
  • The writer points out how the steps she took to fight cancer affected her and other people.
  • The writer discusses the importance of her topic by writing about the lessons that can be learned.
  • Look at the example below of a conclusion that refers back to the thesis statement and shows the reader the importance of the main idea of the essay.
  • Example #2
  • Conclusion
  • Conclusion Paragraph
  • The decision to move to the United States was a difficult one for my parents to
  • make. Though I was angry with their decision at the time, I understand now that the
  • poor economy and political instability of my country forced them to immigrate.
  • Through this experience I learned that one simply cannot control all of life’s
  • circumstances. One must learn to deal with tough situations as they come and work
  • to be successful regardless of one’s location.
  • Example #2
  • The first two sentences reemphasize the thesis statement.
  • The writer concludes by discussing the lessons learned from his experience.
  • Thesis Statement
  • There were several factors that caused my family to make the difficult decision
  • to immigrate to the United States.
  • Concluding an Essay
  • Techniques
  • Some ways to enhance a conclusion are to
  • include a…
  • Prediction
  • Recommendation
  • Quotation
  • Concluding an Essay
  • A Prediction
  • A prediction talks about what might happen in the future. A prediction can be a good way to finish your essay. It can make your reader think about the possible results of your thesis statement.
  • Prediction
  • Example
  • Finally, the importance of beginning a program to re
  • forest parts of Haiti will be an important step in making this
  • country more economically self-sufficient. Without such a
  • program in place, the people of this country will continue to
  • destroy their natural resources for fuel in order to salvage their
  • present state of survival.
  • A program to reforest parts of Haiti is urgently needed.
  • Thesis Statement
  • A prediction is used to make the reader think about possible results of the thesis.
  • Concluding an Essay
  • A Recommendation
  • A recommendation is often used by a writer after he/she has discussed a problem in an essay. A recommendation can be used to suggest a solution or call the readers to do something about the problem in the essay.
  • Recommendation
  • Example
  • As we have seen, international students face a number
  • of difficulties when coming to a new country to study.
  • However, problems such as culture-shock and the language
  • barrier can be lessened before a student comes to the new
  • country through preparation. If you are considering going to
  • school in another country, you should begin learning about the
  • culture, customs, and history of your host nation. Also, you
  • should be sure that you are proficient in the national language
  • or be sure to sign up for language classes once you are there.
  • A recommendation is used to suggest a solution to a problem.
  • Concluding an Essay
  • “A Quotation”
  • A relevant quotation can bring good
  • closure to your essay, especially if the
  • quotation is from an expert on the topic in
  • your composition.
  • Quotation
  • Example
  • David Werner, author of, Where There Is No Doctor,
  • notes that, “Only when the people themselves become actively
  • responsible for their own and their community’s health, can
  • important changes take place.” This should be the mantra of
  • every public health agency when looking at making
  • improvements in common health problems. Unless a
  • community understands the importance of the intervention and
  • takes responsibility for transformation, no long-lasting changes
  • will be made.
  • A quotation from an expert can be used to add credibility to a writer’s position.
  • A Conclusion
  • Useful Transitions
  • It is sometimes helpful to have a transition at the
  • beginning of your conclusion to signal the end of your
  • essay. Some common transitions used in conclusions
  • are listed below. Remember to use a comma after your
  • transitions.
  • In conclusion,
  • In summary,
  • Thus,
  • Therefore,
  • To conclude,
  • In short,
  • A Conclusion
  • Example of Transition Use
  • Thus, despite the advances in computer technology, the kind of computers that take on human characteristics often found in science-fiction movies are still a long way off.
  • The transition, thus, is used at the beginning of the conclusion to signal the end of the essay.


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