Essay Writing: Paragraphs and Transitions
- Essay Writing Basics
- Purdue OWL Page on Writing Your Thesis This link opens in a new window
- Paragraphs and Transitions
- How to Tell if a Website is Legitimate This link opens in a new window
- Formatting Your References Page
- Cite a Website
- Common Grammatical and Mechanical Errors
- Additional Resources
- Proofread Before You Submit Your Paper
- Structuring the 5-Paragraph Essay
A. Begins with a sentence that captures the reader’s attention
1) You may want to use an interesting example, a surprising statistic, or a challenging question.
B. Gives background information on the topic.
C. Includes the THESIS STATEMENT which:
1) States the main ideas of the essay and includes:
b. Viewpoint (what you plan to say about the topic)
2) Is more general than supporting data
3) May mention the main point of each of the body paragraphs
II. BODY PARAGRAPH #1
A. Begins with a topic sentence that:
1) States the main point of the paragraph
2) Relates to the THESIS STATEMENT
B. After the topic sentence, you need to fill the paragraph with well-organized details, facts, and examples.
C. Paragraph may end with a transition.
III. BODY PARAGRAPH #2
IV. BODY PARAGRAPH #3
3) States the main point of the paragraph
4) Relates to the THESIS STATEMENT
A. Echoes the THESIS STATEMENT but does not repeat it.
B. Poses a question for the future, suggests some action to be taken, or warns of a consequence.
C. Includes a detail or example from the INTRODUCTION to “tie up” the essay.
D. Ends with a strong image – or a humorous or surprising statement.
Transition Words and Phrases
More transitions and linking expressions, a monroe college research guide.
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105 Best Words To Start A Paragraph
The first words of a paragraph are crucial as they set the tone and inform the reader about the content that follows.
Known as the ‘topic’ sentence, the first sentence of the paragraph should clearly convey the paragraph’s main idea.
This article presents a comprehensive list of the best words to start a paragraph, be it the first, second, third, or concluding paragraph.
Words to Start an Introduction Paragraph
The words you choose for starting an essay should establish the context, importance, or conflict of your topic.
The purpose of an introduction is to provide the reader with a clear understanding of the topic, its significance, and the structure of the ensuing discussion or argument.
Students often struggle to think of ways to start introductions because they may feel overwhelmed by the need to effectively summarize and contextualize their topic, capture the reader’s interest, and provide a roadmap for the rest of the paper, all while trying to create a strong first impression.
Choose one of these example words to start an introduction to get yourself started:
- The debate surrounding [topic]…
- [Topic] has garnered attention due to…
- Exploring the complexities of [topic]…
- The significance of [topic] lies in…
- Over the past decade, [topic] has…
- The critical question of [topic]…
- As society grapples with [topic]…
- The rapidly evolving landscape of [topic]…
- A closer examination of [topic] reveals…
- The ongoing conversation around [topic]…
Don’t Miss my Article: 33 Words to Avoid in an Essay
Words to Start a Body Paragraph
The purpose of a body paragraph in an essay is to develop and support the main argument, presenting evidence, examples, and analysis that contribute to the overall thesis.
Students may struggle to think of ways to start body paragraphs because they need to find appropriate transition words or phrases that seamlessly connect the paragraphs, while also introducing a new idea or evidence that builds on the previous points.
This can be challenging, as students must carefully balance the need for continuity and logical flow with the introduction of fresh perspectives.
Try some of these paragraph starters if you’re stuck:
- Building upon previous research…
- As [source] suggests, [topic]…
- Analyzing [topic] through [theory]…
- Considering the impact of [policy]…
- Delving deeper into [topic]…
- Drawing from [author]’s findings…
- [Topic] intersects with [related topic]…
- Contrary to popular belief, [topic]…
- The historical context of [topic]…
- Addressing the challenges of [topic]…
Words to Start a Conclusion Paragraph
The conclusion paragraph wraps up your essay and leaves a lasting impression on the reader.
It should convincingly summarize your thesis and main points. For more tips on writing a compelling conclusion, consider the following examples of ways to say “in conclusion”:
- In summary, [topic] demonstrates…
- The evidence overwhelmingly suggests…
- Taking all factors into account…
- In light of the analysis, [topic]…
- Ultimately, [topic] plays a crucial role…
- In light of these findings…
- Weighing the pros and cons of [topic]…
- By synthesizing the key points…
- The interplay of factors in [topic]…
- [Topic] leaves us with important implications…
Complete List of Transition Words
Above, I’ve provided 30 different examples of phrases you can copy and paste to get started on your paragraphs.
Let’s finish strong with a comprehensive list of transition words you can mix and match to start any paragraph you want:
- Secondly, …
- In addition, …
- Furthermore, …
- Moreover, …
- On the other hand, …
- In contrast, …
- Conversely, …
- Despite this, …
- Nevertheless, …
- Although, …
- As a result, …
- Consequently, …
- Therefore, …
- Additionally, …
- Simultaneously, …
- Meanwhile, …
- In comparison, …
- Comparatively, …
- As previously mentioned, …
- For instance, …
- For example, …
- Specifically, …
- In particular, …
- Significantly, …
- Interestingly, …
- Surprisingly, …
- Importantly, …
- According to [source], …
- As [source] states, …
- As [source] suggests, …
- In the context of, …
- In light of, …
- Taking into consideration, …
- Given that, …
- Considering the fact that, …
- Bearing in mind, …
- To illustrate, …
- To demonstrate, …
- To clarify, …
- To put it simply, …
- In other words, …
- To reiterate, …
- As a matter of fact, …
- Undoubtedly, …
- Unquestionably, …
- Without a doubt, …
- It is worth noting that, …
- One could argue that, …
- It is essential to highlight, …
- It is important to emphasize, …
- It is crucial to mention, …
- When examining, …
- In terms of, …
- With regards to, …
- In relation to, …
- As a consequence, …
- As an illustration, …
- As evidence, …
- Based on [source], …
- Building upon, …
- By the same token, …
- In the same vein, …
- In support of this, …
- In line with, …
- To further support, …
- To substantiate, …
- To provide context, …
- To put this into perspective, …
Tip: Use Right-Branching Sentences to Start your Paragraphs
Sentences should have the key information front-loaded. This makes them easier to read. So, start your sentence with the key information!
To understand this, you need to understand two contrasting types of sentences:
- Left-branching sentences , also known as front-loaded sentences, begin with the main subject and verb, followed by modifiers, additional information, or clauses.
- Right-branching sentences , or back-loaded sentences, start with modifiers, introductory phrases, or clauses, leading to the main subject and verb later in the sentence.
In academic writing, left-branching or front-loaded sentences are generally considered easier to read and more authoritative.
This is because they present the core information—the subject and the verb—at the beginning, making it easier for readers to understand the main point of the sentence.
Front-loading also creates a clear and straightforward sentence structure, which is preferred in academic writing for its clarity and conciseness.
Right-branching or back-loaded sentences, with their more complex and sometimes convoluted structure, can be more challenging for readers to follow and may lead to confusion or misinterpretation.
Take these examples where I’ve highlighted the subject of the sentence in bold. Note that in the right-branching sentences, the topic is front-loaded.
- Right Branching: Researchers found a strong correlation between sleep and cognitive function after analyzing the data from various studies.
- Left-Branching: After analyzing the data from various studies, a strong correlation between sleep and cognitive function was found by researchers.
- The novel was filled with vivid imagery and thought-provoking themes , which captivated the audience from the very first chapter.
- Captivating the audience from the very first chapter, the novel was filled with vivid imagery and thought-provoking themes.
The words you choose to start a paragraph are crucial for setting the tone, establishing context, and ensuring a smooth flow throughout your essay.
By carefully selecting the best words for each type of paragraph, you can create a coherent, engaging, and persuasive piece of writing.
Chris Drew (PhD)
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 10 Critical Theory Examples
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 13 Social Institutions Examples (According to Sociology)
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 71 Best Education Dissertation Topic Ideas
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 11 Primary Data Examples
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How To Start A Paragraph: 200+ Important Words And Phrases
by Kerri-Anne Edinburgh | Aug 3, 2022
There’s a lot to get right when you’re writing an essay. And a particularly important skill is knowing how to start a paragraph effectively. That first sentence counts!
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled HEAPS of advice, example phrases and top connective words to help you transition between paragraphs and guide your reader with ease.
So read on for a pick ’n’ mix of how to start a paragraph examples!
Paragraphs: the lowdown
So why exactly are paragraphs such an important tool for writing effectively ? Well:
- They’re an important part of keeping your reader captivated
- They help your reader to follow your argument or narrative
- And they keep your writing in easily digestible chunks of information!
And an important part of all that is nailing the start of your paragraphs . Honestly!
Start off strong and your reader will know exactly what you’re going to do next and how your information interrelates. Top marks here you come – and for the low, low cost of some clever vocab!
Start your paragraphs off weakly however, without setting up effective signposting and transitions , and they’ll get lost and ( horror !) might have to re-read your essay to make sense of it. Ugh.
What should your paragraphs contain?
If you’re writing an academic essay, there are a lot of popular conventions and guides about what a paragraph should include.
Academic writing guides favour well-developed paragraphs that are unified, coherent, contain a topic sentence, and provide adequate development of your idea. They should be long enough to fully discuss and analyse your idea and evidence.
And remember – you should ALWAYS start a new paragraph for each new idea or point .
You can read more about paragraph break guidelines in our helpful what is a paragraph article! If you’re wondering how long your paragraphs should be , check out our guideline article.
Paragraph structure (the PEEL method)
Academic paragraphs often follow a common structure , designed to guide your reader through your argument – although not all the time ! It goes like this:
- Start with a “topic sentence”
- Give 1-2 sentences of supporting evidence for (or against) your argument
- Next, write a sentence analysing this evidence with respect to your argument or topic sentence
- Finally, conclude by explaining the significance of this stance, or providing a transition to the next paragraph
(A quick definition: A “topic sentence” introduces the idea your paragraph will focus upon and makes summarising easy. It can occur anywhere but placing it at the start increases readability for your audience. )
One popular acronym for creating well-developed academic paragraphs is PEEL . This stands for Point, Evidence, Explanation, Link . Using this method makes it easy to remember what your paragraph should include.
- I.e. your point (the topic sentence), some evidence and analysis of how it supports your point, and a transitional link back to your essay question or forwards to your next paragraph.
NOTE : You shouldn’t start all your paragraphs the same way OR start every sentence in your paragraph with the same word – it’s distracting and won’t earn you good marks from your reader.
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How to create clarity for your readers
Paragraphs are awesome tools for increasing clarity and readability in your writing. They provide visual markers for our eyes and box written content into easily digestible chunks.
But you still need to start them off strongly . Do this job well, and you can seamlessly guide your readers through the narrative or argument of your writing.
The first sentence of your paragraph is an important tool for creating that clarity . You can create links with the surrounding paragraphs and signal the purpose of this paragraph for your reader.
- Transitions show the links and relationships between the ideas you’re presenting: addition, contrast, sequential, conclusion, emphasis, example/citation
- Connective words help you to join together multiple paragraphs in a sequence
- Note: there is quite a lot of overlap in vocabulary! Some transitions are also great signposts etc.
Tip : Don’t overuse them! These techniques can make your writing sounds more professional and less like spoken language by smoothing over jarring jumps between topics. But using too many will make your writing stilted.
A common term that encompasses these three tools is “ sentence starter ”. They are typically set apart from the body of your sentence by a comma.
You can learn more about these key skills in our two helpful articles linked above – or explore a range of other writing skills advice, such as how to start an essay , structure an essay , and proofread an essay effectively!
Picking the right tone
It is important that the paragraph-starting phrases and connective words you choose complement the style of your writing and the conventions of the subject you are writing for .
For example, scientific papers usually have much clearer and expected structure and signposting conventions than arts and humanities papers.
If you’re unsure, it’s best to check some of the sources you’ve researched for your essay, explore the relevant academic style guide, or get help from a teacher – ask them for some examples!
Getting your grammar right
Grammatical conventions can be a minefield, but they’re worth remembering if you want to get top marks!
If you’re looking to increase the clarity of your writing and paragraphs, make sure you pick the right spot for your commas and colons .
For example, when you’re starting a new paragraph, many of the common signposting words and phrases require a comma. These include: however, therefore, moreover, what’s more, firstly, secondly, finally, likewise, for example, in general … (and more!).
These phrases should always be followed by a comma if it’s at the start of a sentence, or separated with a comma before and after like this if placed mid-sentence:
However, we cannot say for sure what happened here. We know, for example, that X claims to have lost the icon.
A word about “ this ” (a tip for really great writing)
As you start writing your paragraphs (and even sentences), you might be tempted to kick off with the word “ this” – as in the classic “ this shows that … ”.
But that’s not a great idea.
Why ? Academic essays aim should aim for maximum clarity, and “ this ” is just vague !
What’s important is that the connections that are clear to you , the writer (who is – hopefully – intimately familiar with your argument), are ALSO clear to your reader , who has probably never read your essay before.
Just imagine, your reader might be muttering “this what??” as they read, and then having to re-read the paragraph and the paragraph before to check … which is not ideal for getting good marks.
In complex documents (especially essays and theses) where a lot of information is presented at once, the points you’re referencing might be spread across several paragraphs of evidence and argument-building. So, unless your sentence/paragraph-starting “this” follows on immediately from the point it references, it’s best to try a different phrase.
And all it really takes is a little signposting and clarification to avoid the vagueness of “ this shows that ”. Ask yourself “ this WHAT shows that? ” And just point out what you’re referencing – and be obvious !
Here’s some examples:
You can also do a similar exercise with “ they ” and other demonstrative pronouns (that, these, those).
Specifying what your pronouns refer to will great help to increase the clarity of your (topic) sentences . And as an added bonus, your writing will also sound more sophisticated!
What type of paragraph are you starting?
When it comes to essay writing, there’s usually an expected structure: introduction, body (evidence and analysis) and conclusion .
With other genres of writing your paragraphs might not conform to such
Consider the structure of your paragraph. What do you want it to do? What is the topic? Do you want to open with your topic sentence?
How to start an introductory paragraph
Nailing the introduction of your essay is simultaneously one of the most important and hardest sections to write . A great introduction should set up your topic and explain why it’s significant.
One of the primary goals of an effective introduction is to clearly state your “ thesis statement ” (what your essay is about, and what you are setting out to achieve with your argument).
A popular (and easy) technique to start an introduction is to begin your first paragraph by immediately stating your thesis statement .
Here’s some examples of how to start a paragraph with your thesis statement:
- This paper discusses …
- In this paper, you will find …
- This essay argues that …
- This thesis will evaluate …
- This article will explore the complex socio-political factors that contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire between the reign of Constantine (312-337AD) and the fall of Rome in 476AD .
However, starting your introductory paragraph effectively is not all about immediately stating your thesis!
So head over to our great article on how to start an essay , for lots of more advice and examples on how to kick off your introductions and capture your reader’s attention with style!
How to start a body paragraph
Unless you’re writing an introduction or conclusion, you’ll be writing a “body paragraph”. Body paragraphs make up the majority of your essay, and should include all of your main points, data, evidence, analysis, deductions and arguments.
Each paragraph should have a particular purpose and be centred around one idea . Your body paragraphs might be analytical, evidential, persuasive, descriptive etc.
To help your reader make sense of the body of your essay, it’s important to guide them with signposts and transitions. These usually occur at the start of your paragraphs to demonstrate their relationship to preceding information.
However, that means there are LOTS of different techniques for starting your body paragraphs! So for 200+ words and phrases for effectively starting a body paragraph, simply keep reading!
How to start a concluding paragraph
Concluding paragraphs are a little different to other paragraphs because they shouldn’t be presenting new evidence or arguments . Instead, you’re aiming to draw your arguments together neatly, and tie up loose ends.
You might find them as part of a smaller sub-section within a longer academic dissertation or thesis. Or as part of the conclusion of your essay.
When starting your conclusion it’s always a great idea to let your reader know they’ve arrived by signposting its purpose . This is especially true if your essay doesn’t contain any headers!
Here are some examples of how to kick off your concluding paragraph:
- In conclusion, this paper has shown that …
- In summary, we have found that …
- A review of these analyses indicates that …
- To conclude, this essay has demonstrated that we must act immediately if we want to halt the drastic dwindling of our global bee population.
How to start a paragraph: 200+ top words and phrases for a winning first sentence
Choosing the best start for your paragraph is all about understanding the purpose of this paragraph within the wider context of the preceding (and following) paragraphs and your essay as a whole.
Where does it fit into the structure of your essay? Is it:
- Opening a new topic or theme?
- Providing explanations or descriptions?
- Continuing a list or sequence?
- Providing evidence?
- Presenting a different opinion or counter-argument?
- Beginning an analysis?
- Highlighting consequences?
- Drawing a conclusion?
It’s important to be direct in how you start each paragraph – especially if you’re struggling to get your point across!
The best way to craft a killer first sentence is to be clear on what you want it to do . We’ve covered 12 options below, packed with vocab and examples to get you started …
And don’t forget to consider when you should start a new paragraph , and how long you want your paragraphs to be . Where you place your paragraph breaks will have a big effect on the kind of starting sentence you need !
Finally – remember that the best time to craft effective opening sentences is after you’ve written your first draft and decided on your paragraph breaks! You should already have all your ideas arranged into a logical order.
Showing structure and presenting concepts
This first type of paragraphs are commonly found throughout your essay, whether you’re introducing your ideas, providing evidence and data, or presenting results.
There a lots of useful types of connective words and phrases to help you kick off your paragraphs with clarity:
Most notable are the sequential signposting words , which you can use throughout your essay to guide your reader through the steps of your argument, or a list of related evidence, for example.
If you’re looking for something a little more specific, read on for four sets of example academic phrases to use to start a paragraph!
1. Starting or continuing a sequence
One of the most important types of transitional phrases to help you start a paragraph is a sequential transition . These signposting transitions are great for academic arguments because they help you to present your points in order, without the reader getting lost along the way.
Sequential connectives and transitions create order within your narrative by highlighting the temporal relationship between your paragraphs. Think lists of events or evidence , or setting out the steps in your narrative .
You’ll often find them in combination with other paragraph-starting phrases ( have a look at the examples below to spot them !)
Why not try out some of these examples to help guide the readers of your essay?
- Before considering X, it is important to note that …
- Following on from Y, we should also consider …
- The first notion to discuss is …
- The next point to consider is …
- Thirdly, we know that Y is also an important feature of …
- As outlined in the previous paragraph, the next steps are to …
- Having considered X, it is also necessary to explore Y …
2. Providing evidence, examples or citations
Once you’ve made your claims or set out your ideas, it’s important to properly back them up. You’ll probably need to give evidence, quote experts and provide references throughout your essay .
If you’ve got more than one piece of evidence, it’s best to separate them out into individual paragraphs . Sequential signposting can be a helpful tool to help you and your reader keep track of your examples.
If your paragraph is all about giving evidence for a preceding statement, why not start with one of these phrases:
- For example, X often …
- This stance is clearly illustrated by …
- Consider the example of Y, which …
- This concept is well supported by …
If you want to quote or paraphrase a source or expert, a great way to start your paragraph is by introducing their views. You can also use phrases like these to help you clearly show their role in your essay:
- [Author], in particular, has argued that …
- According to [source], Y is heavily influenced by …
- [Source] for example, demonstrates the validity of this assertion by …
- This [counter-] argument is supported by evidence from X, which shows that …
Always remember to provide references for your sources in the manner most appropriate for your field ( i.e. footnotes, and author-date methods ).
3. Giving emphasis to your point
Not all points and paragraphs in an essay are made equal. It’s natural you’ll want to highlight ideas and evidence for your reader to make sure they’re persuaded by your argument !
So, if you want to give emphasis to what you’re about to discuss, be obvious ! In fact, you may need to be more direct than you think:
- This detail is significant because …
- Undoubtedly, this experience was …
- Certainly, there are ramifications for …
- The last chapters, in particular, are revealing of X …
4. Acknowledging uncertainty
In academia it’s common to find a little uncertainty in your evidence or results, or within the knowledge of your field . That’s true whether you’re a historian exploring artefacts from Ancient Greece, or a social scientist whose questionnaire results haven’t produced a clear answer.
Don’t hide from this uncertainty – it’s a great way to point ahead to future research that needs to be done. In fact, you might be doing it in your essay!
Why not try one of these examples to highlight the gaps in your academic field or experiment?
- Whether X is actually the case remains a matter of debate, as current explorations cannot …
- Although not proven, it is commonly understood that X …
- Whilst the likelihood of X is debateable …
- Given the age of the artifacts, it is impossible to say with accuracy whether Y …
- Although we cannot know for sure, the findings above suggest that …
- Untangling the causes of X is a complex matter and it is impossible to say for sure whether …
Showing the relationships between your points
As your essay progresses you will need to guide your reader through a succession of points, ideas and arguments by creating a narrative for them to follow. And important part of this task is the use of signposting to demonstrate the relationship between your paragraphs . Do they support each other? Do they present opposite sides of a debate?
Luckily there are lots of agreement , opposition and contextual connectives to help you increase your clarity:
Read on for four more sets of example academic phrases to help you present your ideas!
5. Making a new point
If there’s no connection between your new paragraph and the preceding material, you’re probably starting a new topic, point or idea.
That means it’s less likely ( although not impossible ) that you’ll need transitional phrases . However, it’s still important to signpost the purpose and position of this new paragraph clearly for your reader.
- We know that X …
- This section of the essay discusses …
- We should now turn to an exploration of Y …
- We should begin with an overview of the situation for X …
- Before exploring the two sides of the debate, it is important to consider …
You can find some great ideas and examples for starting a new topic in our how to start an essay article. Whilst they’re definitely applicable to introductions, these strategies can also work well for kicking off any new idea!
6. Presenting accepted concepts
If you’re aiming to take a new stance or question an accepted understanding with your essay, a great way to start a paragraph is by clearly setting out the concepts you want to challenge .
These phrases are also an effective way to establish the context of your essay within your field:
- It is commonly believed that …
- The accepted interpretation of X is …
- Until recently, it was thought that …
- Historically, X has been treated as a case of …
- Over the past two decades, scholars have approached X as an example of …
- The most common interpretation of Y is …
7. Adding similar points
Agreement connectives are an important tool in your arsenal for clearly indicating the continuation or positive relationship between similar ideas or evidence you’re presenting.
If you’re looking to continue your essay with a similar point, why not try one of these examples:
- Another aspect of X is …
- Another important point is …
- By the same token, Y should be explored with equal retrospection for …
- Moreover, an equally significant factor of X is …
- We should also consider …
- Proponents of Y frequently also suggested that …
8. Demonstrating contrast
In contrast, if you’re looking to present a counter-argument, opposite side of a debate, or critique of the ideas, evidence or results in your preceding paragraph(s), you’ll need to turn to contradiction and opposition connectives.
These phrases will help you to clearly link your paragraphs whilst setting them in contrast within your narrative:
- A contrary explanation is that …
- On the other side of this debate, X suggests that …
- Given this understanding of X, it is surprising that Y …
- On the other hand, critics of X point to …
- Despite these criticisms, proponents of X continue to …
- Whilst the discussion in the previous paragraph suggests X to be true, it fails to take into consideration Y …
Note : some paragraph-opening sentences can be modified using connective words to show either agreement or contrast! Here are some examples:
- It could also be said that X does [not] …
- It is [also] important to note that X … OR It is important, however, to note that X …
- There is [also/however], a further point to be considered …
Presenting analyses, arguments and results
An important stage of any essay is the analysis – that’s when you bring your own arguments to the table, based on your data and results.
Signalling this clearly, therefore, is pretty important! Happily, there are plenty of connective words and phrases that can help you out:
Read on for four sets of example academic phrases to use to start your analysis, results and summary paragraphs!
9. Conducting an analysis and constructing your argument
Once you’ve set out your evidence or data, it’s time to point out the connections within them. Or to analyse how they support the argument you want to make.
With humanities essays it is common to analyse the impact of your evidence as you present it. In contrast, sciences essays often contain a dedicated analysis section after the data has been presented.
You’ll probably need several analytical paragraphs to address each of your points. So, a great way to get started is to dive straight in by signposting the connections you want to make in each one:
- Each of these arguments make an important contribution to X because …
- In order to fully understand Y, we need to analyse the findings from …
- Each model of X and Y changed throughout the experiment because …
- Exploring this dataset reveals that, in fact, X is not as common as hypothesised …
- Notwithstanding such limitations, this data still shows that …
- Of central concern to Y, therefore, is the evidence that …
- This interpretation of X is …
- This critique implies that …
- This approach is similar to that of Y, who, as we have seen above, argues that …
- The resulting graphs suggest that …
- Whilst conducting the survey, it was discovered that …
10. Presenting results
Having completed your analyses of any evidence (and hopefully persuaded your reader of your argument), you may need to present your results. This is especially relevant for essays that examine a specific dataset after a survey or experiment .
If you want to signpost this section of your essay clearly, start your paragraph with a phrase like these:
- The arguments presented above show that …
- In this last analysis, we can see that X has shown …
- As we have seen, the data gathered demonstrates that …
- As demonstrated above, our understanding of X primarily stems from …
11. Demonstrating cause and effect
When writing an academic essay you may often need to demonstrate the cause and effect relationship between your evidence or data, and your theories or results . Choosing the right connective phrases can be important for showing this relationship clearly to your reader.
Try one of these phrases to start your paragraph to clearly explain the consequences:
- As a consequence, X cannot be said to …
- Therefore, we can posit that …
- Provided that X is indeed true, it has been shown that Y …
- As such, it is necessary to note that …
- For this reason, the decision was made to …
- The evidence show that the primary cause of X was …
- As a result of Y, it was found that …
12. Summarising a topic or analysis
In general, summary paragraphs should not present any new evidence or arguments. Instead, they act as a reminder of the path your essay has taken so far.
Of course, these concluding paragraphs commonly occur at the end of an essay as part of your conclusion. However, they are also used to draw one point or stage of your argument to a close before the next begins .
Within a larger essay or dissertation, these interludes can be useful reminders for your reader as you transition between providing context, giving evidence, suggesting new approaches etc.
It’s worth noting that concluding your topic or analysis isn’t always the same as presenting results, although there can be some similarities in vocabulary.
Connect your arguments into summaries with clear linking phrases such as:
- Altogether, these arguments demonstrate that …
- Each of these arguments make an important contribution to our understanding of X …
- From this overview of X and Y, we can conclude that …
- We can therefore see that …
- It was hypothesised that X, however, as we have seen …
- Therefore, we can [clearly] see that …
Time to get writing your paragraphs!
And that’s it! You should now have a much-improved understanding of how to start a paragraph.
Whether you we’re worried about how to start your introductions or conclusions, or were wondering about specific types of body paragraphs, hopefully you’ve found what you need in the examples above .
If you need more writing advice to help you nail top marks for your essay, we’ve got a whole series of articles designed to improve your writing skills – perfect ! Have a read for top tips to for capturing easy marks 😊
You can learn:
- how to create effective paragraphs
- about the ideal length(s) for your paragraphs
- how to start an essay AND how to structure an essay
- the 70+ top connective words and phrases to improve your writing
- how to signpost your essay for top marks
- about improving clarity with easy proofreading tricks
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How to Write a Paragraph in an Essay
Written by Scribendi
The deadline for your essay is looming, but you're still not sure how to write your essay paragraphs or how to structure them. If that's you, then you're in good hands.
After the content of your essay, the structure is the most important part. How you arrange your thoughts in an essay can either support your argument or confuse the reader. The difference comes down to your knowledge of how to write a paragraph to create structure and flow in an essay.
At its most basic level, an essay paragraph comprises the following elements: (1) a topic sentence, (2) sentences that develop and support the topic sentence, and (3) a concluding sentence.
Also, when writing a paragraph or essay , keep in mind that most essays follow the five-paragraph model. This model involves writing an introductory paragraph, three paragraphs of supporting arguments, and a conclusion paragraph.
In most cases, a paper of this length just won't cut it. However, remembering this formula can help you write key paragraphs in your essay, such as an introduction that states the main hypothesis, a body that supports this argument, and a conclusion that ties everything together.
Let's break down how to write a paragraph so you can get that essay written.
Writing a paragraph means grouping together sentences that focus on the same topic so that the important points are easy to understand. In the body of an essay, each paragraph functions as its own point or argument that backs up the essay's main hypothesis. Each paragraph also includes evidence that supports each argument made.
It helps to separate each paragraph idea in a quick essay outline before you start writing your paragraphs so you can organize your thoughts. It is also helpful to link each paragraph in a cohesive way that supports your hypothesis. For good paragraph writing to work, your readers will need to be able to clearly follow the ideas you're presenting throughout your essay.
Essay paragraphs are important for organizing topics and thoughts and for creating readability and flow. Readers often skip large blocks of writing in blog posts, articles, or essays. It can be confusing when there are no breaks between different ideas or when thoughts flow one into the next without any discernible pauses. Knowing how to write a paragraph to help break up your content and ideas is essential for avoiding this.
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Writing a paragraph is easier when you follow a structure. An essay paragraph consists of around 250 words , with the sentence count varying from five to six or more, depending on the type of essay you're writing.
The structure of an essay paragraph includes the following:
- A topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph that clearly states one idea
- Supporting sentences that explain the idea in the topic sentence and provide evidence to back up that idea
- A concluding sentence that links back to the original topic sentence idea and segues to the next paragraph
Following this basic structure will ensure that you never have to wonder how to write a paragraph and will keep your essay structure consistent.
What Is a Topic Sentence?
All good paragraph writing starts with a topic sentence. The topic sentence provides a brief summary of the content. In an essay's body, each paragraph begins with a topic sentence.
The topic sentence gives structure to a paragraph the same way a thesis gives structure to an essay. Both a thesis and a topic sentence state the main idea that drives the rest of the content. In the case of a paragraph, the topic sentence drives the rest of the paragraph content, and in the case of an essay, the thesis drives the rest of the essay content.
When writing a topic sentence, keep in mind that it should be
- The first sentence of your paragraph
- Specific, focusing on a specific area of your thesis statement
- The focus of your paragraph
There are two parts to every topic sentence: the topic, which is what the paragraph will be about, and the controlling idea, which is the paragraph's direction. For example, if your paragraph was about hamsters being great pets, that would be your topic, but your controlling idea might be that there are many reasons why hamsters are great pets.
A paragraph example with a good topic sentence would start out something like this:
Hamsters are great pets for many reasons. They don't require extensive training, so no time-consuming obedience courses are necessary. They are also relatively inexpensive to own when compared to dogs or cats because they're low-maintenance.
Examples of Effective Hooks
A paragraph in an essay should always use an effective hook. If you're hoping to grab the attention of your reader, it helps to start your paragraph with a compelling statement or question that will be of interest.
Here are a few examples to use for inspiration:
Most people would rather work to live than live to work, and the gig economy makes this possible.
How important is it for today's influencers to rely on Instagram?
Daily sugar intake has reached a staggering average of 25 teaspoons per person in the United States.
Writing an essay paragraph is like building an effective and functional house. In the same way that each room has a purpose, each paragraph in your essay should have its own separate topic with supporting sentences . Paragraph writing can be simple if you think of it this way!
The goal of supporting sentences is to provide evidence validating each topic in your paragraph. Each sentence provides details to help your reader understand the paragraph's main idea.
If you have trouble coming up with supporting sentences to develop the main idea in your paragraph, try rephrasing your topic sentence as a question. For example, if you're writing about how all babies have three basic needs, ask, what are the three basic needs of all babies?
At the end of your supporting sentences, add a concluding sentence that ties everything to the main argument of your essay. Repeat this for each supporting argument, and you'll have mastered the concept of how to write a paragraph. Read on for a paragraph example with supporting sentences.
Supporting Sentence Examples
To get a feel for how to use supporting sentences in a paragraph in an essay, check out this basic example:
Babies have three basic needs. First, babies need food. Depending on their age, they'll drink formula for their first meals and graduate to soft baby food later. Second, they need shelter. Babies need a safe place to live. Third, they need support. They need someone loving to look out for them and take care of them.
How to Use Transitions
Knowing how to write a paragraph involves knowing how to use transitions .
Good essay paragraphs have transitions that help ideas flow clearly from one to the next. Given that your essay will include many different ideas and subtopics, your transitions will ensure that your information and ideas are well connected.
If you're not familiar with transitions, they are words or phrases that connect ideas. They signal a connection between your topic sentence and your supporting sentences, but they also help readers connect ideas between paragraphs.
At the beginning of a sentence, use a transition to segue into a new idea. At the beginning of each paragraph, use a transition to signal a new concept or idea that you will discuss.
However, try to avoid one-word transitions at the beginning of a paragraph, like "Since" or "While," because they don't usually provide enough information. Instead, try using transitional phrases between paragraphs (instead of words), such as "On the other hand" or "In addition to."
Examples of Transitions
Here are a few examples of transitions — both one-word transitions and transitional phrases — to use in the paragraphs of your essay:
- As a result
- For example
- By the same token
- In the meantime
- To summarize
- To conclude
Writing a paragraph in an essay can be simple if you understand basic paragraph structure. Additionally, it's helpful to keep in mind the structure of an essay and how each essay paragraph links together to form a fully developed argument or idea.
Creating an outline before you start writing your essay—which can also be described as a blueprint (to return to the metaphor of building a house)—is a great way to effectively arrange your topics, support your argument, and guide your writing.
Knowing how to write a paragraph is essential to communicating your thoughts and research, no matter the topic, in a way that is readable and coherent.
How Long Is a Paragraph?
An essay paragraph can vary in length depending on a variety of factors, such as the essay's type, topic, or requirements. Generally, essay paragraphs are three to five or more sentences, since each paragraph should have a fully developed idea with a beginning, middle, and end.
However, all essays are different, and there are no hard and fast rules that dictate paragraph length. So, here are some guidelines to follow while writing a paragraph:
- Stick to one idea per paragraph.
- Keep your paragraphs roughly the same length.
- Ensure that each page of your essay has 2 – 3 paragraphs.
- Combine shorter paragraphs into a larger one if the smaller paragraphs work together to express a single idea.
Overall, it's the paragraph writing itself that dictates a paragraph's length. Don't get too caught up in trying to reach a specific word count or number of sentences. Understanding this concept is key to knowing how to write a paragraph that conveys a clear and fully developed idea.
How Do I Know When to Start a New Paragraph?
A new essay paragraph will always signal a new point or idea. Before you think about starting a new paragraph, ask yourself whether you are about to discuss something new that you haven't brought up yet. If the answer is yes, it warrants a new paragraph.
The end of a paragraph functions as a break for your reader. If you've successfully developed and concluded an idea, you'll know that it's time to begin a new paragraph, especially if the material is long or complex.
Every essay should have an introductory paragraph and a conclusion paragraph. But as long as you keep in mind that good paragraph writing means starting off with a new idea each time, you're in a good position to know when a new paragraph should begin.
How Many Paragraphs Do I Need in My Essay?
The number of paragraphs you write in an essay will largely depend on the requirements of the essay. These requirements are usually dictated by an instructor.
For a short, 1-page essay, your instructor might require only three paragraphs. For a longer, 2- to 3-page essay, you might need five paragraphs. For longer essays, there could be up to seven to nine paragraphs. Any essay with more paragraphs than that is usually deemed a thesis or a research paper.
At a minimum, an essay will always have at least three paragraphs: an introductory paragraph, a body paragraph, and a conclusion paragraph. Depending on the required word or page count or the type of essay (argumentative, informative, etc.), your essay could have multiple paragraphs expanding on different points. An argumentative essay, for example, should have at least five paragraphs.
Therefore, the most important question to ask when deciding on your number of essay paragraphs is this: What does my professor expect from me?
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How to start a new paragraph using transitions
Do you struggle with how to start new paragraphs when you’re writing? As a general rule and to make things much easier, most paragraphs will begin with a transition. These words and phrases help show the relationship between the ideas you’re presenting. This way, the reader can follow your thoughts more easily. On the other hand, without transitions, your writing will be difficult to read and risks coming off like a scattered collection of ideas. So let’s take a look at how to start new paragraphs with transitions for better writing.
Determining an outline of the ideas you’ll present in your paper can save you time writing and will also let you consider how the ideas relate to each other and the topic of the paper . This also helps you choose what kind of transitions to use.
What is a paragraph?
A paragraph is a section of writing that presents one single topic. It is usually made up of more than one sentence and begins on a new line with a transition . Put simply, well-written paragraphs begin with a topic sentence , several detail sentences on that topic and a closing sentence . To provide a bit more detail, well-written paragraphs have logical and verbal bridges as defined below.
The same idea carries over from sentence to sentence.
Key words can be repeated in several sentences
Synonymous words can be repeated in several sentences
Pronouns can refer to nouns in previous sentences
Transition words can be used to link ideas from different sentences
When do you start a new paragraph?
There are three basic times in which you’ll want to start a new paragraph.
Introducing a new idea.
Beginning the introduction or conclusion.
Giving your reader a break.
Topic sentences define what a paragraph is about and are composed of three parts.
Transition + topic + the central point of your paragraph
Example of a topic sentence
“However, homework does have its drawbacks.”
In this topic sentence, the transition “ however ” shows it contrasts with previous information. We can tell we’re talking about “ homework ” and being presented with the central point of “ drawbacks ”
How do you choose what kind of transition to use?
Like we said before, this will depend on the relationship between the previous paragraph and the paragraph you’re starting.
Here are three questions you can ask yourself to choose the correct transition:
Am I starting a paragraph that presents similar information to the one before?
Am I starting a paragraph that presents contrasting information which is in opposition to the one before?
Am I starting a paragraph that highlights the consequences of the previous paragraph’s information?
This isn’t a complete list, but the most common ones you’ll see.
New idea/ Agreement
These transitions can be used to open a paragraph that covers another similar idea.
First, second, third,
On the same token
These are words and phrases when you are beginning a paragraph that contrasts with previous paragraphs or at least presents alternatives.
On the contrary
On the other hand
In spite of ________
Be that as it may
If you’re opening a new paragraph that builds off of the previous paragraph by showing a cause and effect relationship, you might use some of the phrases below that as part of an “adverb clause” (adverb clauses are phrases that like adverbs answer: how, when, where and to what extent)
As a result of ___________,
As a consequence of_________,
With this in mind,___________
EXAMPLE As a result of the previously mentioned improvement in scores , teachers are considering whether to make assignments and tests more difficult.
These transitions help you to signal that you’re closing out your paper. Keep in mind that conclusion paragraphs summarize or restate your thesis.
On the whole
With this in mind, you have all of the parts you need to easily plan and start new paragraphs. Need help taking your writing to the next level? Contact us today for a free consultation. FLS has private tutoring and group English classes for all levels and purposes.
Also, don’t forget FLS is opening for in-person classes. Find out more about our in-person programs here .
Written by: Welkin Tang
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Writing successful introductory paragraphs.
This handout is available for download in DOCX format and PDF format .
In the most abstract sense, the function of an introductory paragraph is to move the reader from the world of daily life into the textual and analytical space of an essay.
In a more concrete sense, an introduction performs three essential functions:
- It clearly and specifically states the topic or question that you will address in your essay.
- It motivates the topic or question that the essay will examine.
- It states, clearly and directly, your position on this topic or question (i.e., your thesis).
While reading your introduction, your reader will begin to make assumptions about you as an author. Be sure to project yourself as a thoughtful, knowledgeable and nonbiased writer capable of dealing effectively with the complexities and nuances of your topic. Your introduction should set the tone that will remain consistent throughout your essay. In addition to emphasizing the uniqueness of your approach to your subject matter, you should seek to draw your reader into your essay with the gracefulness of your prose and the rational demeanor you project as a writer.
In addition to stating the topic and scope of your analysis, your introduction should provide your readers with any background or context necessary to understand how your argument fits into the larger discourse on the subject. The details you use to orient your reader with your topic should be woven throughout the structural components of your introduction listed below.
In addition to grabbing the reader’s attention, the opening sentence of an essay sets up the structure of the introductory paragraph. You want to create movement among your ideas, which is best done by moving either from the particular to the general or from the general to the particular. Essays that move from the particular to the general often begin with an anecdote, quotation, fact or detail from the text that can be used to introduce readers to the larger issues the essay will address. Introductions that move from the general to the particular — typically referred to as the funnel structure — often begin with a wider view of the topic that will be used to establish a context for the more localized argument that the author will present.
Claims about the topic that the author posits as common knowledge or uncontroversial, which the reader will readily accept as true without extensive evidence or argument. The shared context often entails a claim or claims that are obviously true, which the "motive" and "thesis" will then complicate or even oppose.
Topic or Purpose
The introductory paragraph must leave the reader with a clear understanding of the specific subject area that your essay will investigate. Defining your essay’s scope in this way often requires distinguishing your specific focus from the larger discourse on your topic. Though this is not always essential, many essays include a purpose statement that tells the reader directly: “this paper examines…” or “the aim of this essay is to…”
The motive is a specific sentence, usually near the middle of your introduction, that clarifies for the reader why your thesis is interesting, nonobvious and/or contestable. In essence, your motive answers the question “so what?” that a reader might ask of your thesis. Because they show that the truth about a subject is not as clear as it might seem, motive statements often employ terms of reversal — “yet,” “but,” “however,” etc. — that reflect a departure from the obvious.
The thesis statement is the central claim your essay will make about your chosen topic. Since the topic area must first be described and motivated, the thesis statement is usually placed near the end of the introduction.
Though this is often unnecessary in shorter papers, essays that are long (seven-plus pages) or especially complex are often easier for the reader to understand if the author offers some preview of the essay’s structure at the beginning of the paper. In especially long essays (20-plus pages), this outline of the essay’s structure may demand a paragraph of its own (usually the second paragraph).
Example Introduction Paragraph
Here is an example of an introductory paragraph that we will analyze sentence by sentence:
Dublin is such a small city: everyone knows everyone else's business. This is Doran's lament, one of many such laments in Dubliners , a book whose very title seems to presage a comprehensive portrait of Ireland's capital city. Joyce makes full use of the advantages Dublin offers as a setting. Both national capital and provincial town, the city was the ideal site for cutting — and often scathing — dissections of this land. It would be unfortunate, however, to see Dubliners merely as an ethnographic study, for Joyce's commentary has a broader scope. Dublin comes to serve as a locale for a drama which is played out all over the world, a drama about home. Joyce studies the nature of home, what it is and what it means to leave it. However different his characters may be, together they form a tableau which, while it does much to indict the idea of home, also shows a deep compassion for those who are bound to it. Although this theme may be examined in many stories — the failed attempt at leaving in “Eveline” is an obvious example — a look at two less obvious works, “The Boarding House” and “Little Cloud,” may best suggest its subtlety and pervasiveness.
Example Introductory Paragraph: Structural Components
In this table, each structural component of the introduction is listed in the left column, and the corresponding sample text is on the right:
Example Introductory Paragraph: Analysis
- Dublin is such a small city: everyone knows everyone else's business .
This introduction proceeds from the particular to the general (it is also common to proceed from the general to the particular), beginning with a quotation before moving on to more large-scale issues. It is important to note that, while the opening quotation sets up this structure, it is reinforced by the author's movement from an initial discussion of Joyce's ethnographic rendering of Dublin itself to a broader discussion of Dublin's more universal significance as a site of home (the topic of this essay). Structuring your introduction in this way — “particular to general” or “general to particular” — ensures movement among your ideas and creates interest for the reader by suggesting a similar movement of ideas in the essay as a whole.
- This is Doran’s lament, one of many such laments in Dubliners , a book whose very title seems to presage a comprehensive portrait of Ireland’s capital city. Joyce makes full use of the advantages Dublin offers as a setting. Both national capital and provincial town, the city was the ideal site for cutting — and often scathing — dissections of this land.
The author posits these claims as foundational, expecting that they will be readily accepted by her readers. Students of Joyce will recognize them as commonplaces. Others will accept them as authoritative precisely because the author presents them as informational, without substantial evidence. Having established a baseline of common wisdom, the author will proceed to complicate it with the word “however,” signaling the motivating move of the essay.
- It would be unfortunate, however, to see Dubliners merely as an ethnographic study, for Joyce's commentary has a broader scope.
This essay is given its motive as a result of the author's claim that there is a lot more to Joyce's presentation of Dublin than is evident in an initial reading of Dubliners . Implicitly, the author is telling her readers that they should continue reading her essay in order to be shown things about the novel's rendering of Dublin that they would not otherwise have seen. The goal of the essay then becomes to fulfill this promise made to the reader. Note how the motive's placement in the introduction is related directly to the paragraph's structure: after presenting a more narrow and obvious reading of Dubliners in the opening sentences, the author inserts the motive in order to describe how her essay broadens the scope of this reading in a less obvious way that she elaborates on in the rest of the introduction.
- Dublin comes to serve as a locale for a drama which is played out all over the world, a drama about home. Joyce studies the nature of home, what it is and what it means to leave it.
The author very specifically states her topic — Joyce's Dublin as a “local for a drama ... about home” — in order to clarify the scope of the essay for her readers. The purpose of her essay will be to explore and arrive at some conclusions about this topic. Again, note that the author's placement of the novel's topic relates directly to the structure she has chosen for her introduction: immediately after the motive in which the author informs the reader that she will not pursue a more obvious ethnographic investigation of Joyce's Dublin, she tells the reader clearly and directly what topic her essay will explore. Because it is essential to clearly define an essay's topic before presenting a thesis about it, the topic statement also precedes the thesis statement.
- However different his characters may be, together they form a tableau which, while it does much to indict the idea of home, also shows a deep compassion for those who are bound to it.
The author's thesis statement is particularly strong because it pursues a tension in the novel by examining the way in which Joyce's attitude toward home pushes in two directions. It has Joyce simultaneously indicting and showing compassion for different aspects of home in Dubliners . As in most college essays, the thesis statement comes toward the end of the introduction. Again, note the way in which the placement of the thesis statement fits into the overall structure of the introduction: the author motivates and clearly defines her topic before offering her thesis about it. Giving the reader a clear understanding of the the topic to be explored in an essay (as this author does) is essential for the formulation of a thesis statement with this sort of tension and double-edged complexity.
- Although this theme may be examined in many stories — the failed attempt at leaving in “Eveline” is an obvious example — a look at two less obvious works, “The Boarding House” and “Little Cloud,” may best suggest its subtlety and pervasiveness.
While this author's roadmap falls a bit short of the brief outline of an essay's structure that is often found in the introduction of longer college essays, she does give the reader an indication of the argumentative path the body of her essay will follow. In addition, indicating that she has limited herself to an examination of two of the novel's 15 stories further clarifies the essay's scope, and the reference to these works as “less obvious” enhances her motive.
Credit: Yale Writing Center. Adapted by Doug Kirshen.
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How to Start an Essay: 7 Tips for a Knockout Essay Introduction
Sometimes, the most difficult part of writing an essay is getting started. You might have an outline already and know what you want to write, but struggle to find the right words to get it going. Don’t worry; you aren’t the first person to grapple with starting an essay, and you certainly won’t be the last.
Writing an essay isn’t the same as writing a book. Or writing a poem. Or writing a scientific research paper. Essay writing is a unique process that involves clear sequencing, backing up your positions with quality sources, and engaging language. But it’s also got one important thing in common with every other type of writing: You need to hook your reader’s attention within the first few sentences.
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Intriguing ways to start an essay
There are many different ways to write an essay introduction. Each has its benefits and potential drawbacks, and each is best suited for certain kinds of essays . Although these essay introductions use different rhetorical devices and prime the reader in different ways, they all achieve the same goal: hooking the reader and enticing them to keep reading.
To “hook” a reader simply means to capture their attention and make them want to continue reading your work. An essay introduction that successfully hooks readers in one essay won’t necessarily hook readers in another essay, which is why it’s so important for you to understand why different types of essay openings are effective.
Take a look at these common ways to start an essay:
Share a shocking or amusing fact
One way to start your essay is with a shocking, unexpected, or amusing fact about the topic you’re covering. This grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read further, expecting explanation, context, and/or elaboration on the fact you presented.
Check out these essay introduction examples that use relevant, engaging facts to capture the reader’s attention:
“More than half of Iceland’s population believe that elves exist or that they possibly can exist. Although this might sound strange to foreigners, many of us have similar beliefs that would sound just as strange to those outside our cultures.”
“Undergraduate students involved in federal work-study programs earn an average of just $1,794 per year. That’s just slightly more than the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in our city.”
Relevance is key here. Make sure the fact you choose directly relates to the topic you’re covering in your essay. Otherwise, it will feel random, confusing, or at best, shoehorned into the essay. In any case, it will undermine your essay as a whole by making it seem like you don’t have a full grasp on your topic.
If you’re writing an expository or persuasive essay , including a shocking or amusing fact in your introduction can be a great way to pique your reader’s curiosity. The fact you present can be one that supports the position you argue in the essay or it can be part of the body of data your expository essay explains.
Ask a question
By asking a question in your essay opening, you’re directly inviting the reader to interact with your work. They don’t get to be a passive consumer; they’re now part of the conversation. This can be a very engaging way to start an essay.
Take a look at these examples of essay openings that use questions to hook readers:
“How many times have you been late to class because you couldn’t find parking? You’re not alone—our campus is in desperate need of a new parking deck.”
“How frequently do you shop at fast fashion retailers? These retailers include H&M, Zara, Uniqlo and other brands that specialize in inexpensive clothing meant for short-term use.”
Asking a question is an effective choice for a persuasive essay because it asks the reader to insert themselves into the topic or even pick a side. While it can also work in other kinds of essays, it really shines in any essay that directly addresses the reader and puts them in a position to reflect on what you’re asking.
Dramatize a scene
Another effective way to write an essay introduction is to dramatize a scene related to your essay. Generally, this approach is best used with creative essays, like personal statements and literary essays. Here are a few examples of essay introductions that immerse readers in the action through dramatized scenes:
“The rain pounded against the roof, loudly drowning out any conversations we attempted to have. I’d promised them I’d play the latest song I wrote for guitar, but Mother Earth prevented any concert from happening that night.”
“Imagine you’ve just gotten off an airplane. You’re hot, you’re tired, you’re uncomfortable, and suddenly, you’re under arrest.”
Beyond creative essays, this kind of opening can work when you’re using emotional appeal to underscore your position in a persuasive essay. It’s also a great tool for a dramatic essay, and could be just the first of multiple dramatized scenes throughout the piece.
Kick it off with a quote
When you’re wondering how to write an essay introduction, remember that you can always borrow wisdom from other writers. This is a powerful way to kick off any kind of essay. Take a look at these examples:
“‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ —William Faulkner. In his novel Requiem for a Nun , our changing perspective of the past is a primary theme.”
“‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ —Nelson Mandela. Before I joined the military, boot camp seemed impossible. But now, it’s done.”
Just as in choosing a fact or statistic to open your essay, any quote you choose needs to be relevant to your essay’s topic . If your reader has to perform a web search for your quote to figure out how it relates to the rest of your essay, it’s not relevant enough to use. Go with another quote that your text can easily explain.
State your thesis directly
The most straightforward kind of essay introduction is one where you simply state your thesis. Take a look at these examples:
“Fraternity culture is dangerous and contrary to campus values. Banning it is in the campus community’s best interest.”
“We can’t afford to ignore the evidence any longer; we need climate action now.”
How to write an essay introduction
Pick the right tone for your essay.
You probably shouldn’t use a funny quote to start a persuasive essay on a serious subject. Similarly, a statistic that can evoke strong emotions in the reader might not be the right choice for an expository essay because it could potentially be construed as your attempt to argue for a certain viewpoint, rather than state facts.
Read your essay’s first paragraph aloud and listen to your writing’s tone. Does the opening line’s tone match the rest of the paragraph, or is there a noticeable tone shift from the first line or two to the rest? In many cases, you can hear whether your tone is appropriate for your essay. Beyond listening for the right tone, use Grammarly’s tone detector to ensure that your essay introduction—as well as the rest of your essay—maintains the right tone for the subject you’re covering.
When you’re stuck, work backwards
Starting an essay can be difficult. If you find yourself so caught up on how to write an essay introduction that you’re staring at a blank screen as the clock ticks closer to your deadline, skip the introduction and move onto your essay’s body paragraphs . Once you have some text on the page, it can be easier to go back and write an introduction that leads into that content.
You may even want to start from the very end of your essay. If you know where your essay is going, but not necessarily how it will get there, write your conclusion first. Then, write the paragraph that comes right before your conclusion. Next, write the paragraph before that, working your way backwards until you’re in your introduction paragraph. By then, writing an effective essay introduction should be easy because you already have the content you need to introduce.
Polish your essays until they shine
Got a draft of a great essay? Awesome! But don’t hit “submit” just yet—you’re only halfway to the finish line. Make sure you’re always submitting your best work by using Grammarly to catch misspelled words, grammar mistakes, and places where you can swap in different words to improve your writing’s clarity.
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- How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples
How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.
A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.
The main goals of an introduction are to:
- Catch your reader’s attention.
- Give background on your topic.
- Present your thesis statement —the central point of your essay.
This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.
The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.
Table of contents
Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.
Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.
Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.
Examples: Writing a good hook
Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.
- Braille was an extremely important invention.
- The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.
The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly why the topic is important.
- The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
- The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.
Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.
Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.
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Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:
- Historical, geographical, or social context
- An outline of the debate you’re addressing
- A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
- Definitions of key terms
The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.
How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:
Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.
This is the most important part of your introduction. A good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.
The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.
Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.
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As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.
For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.
When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.
It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.
To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .
You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.
Checklist: Essay introduction
My first sentence is engaging and relevant.
I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.
I have defined any important terms.
My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.
Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.
You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.
- Literary analysis
This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.
This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).
In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.
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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.
To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
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