How to Write an Essay

The ability to write well-organized, concise essays is essential. The material must be presented in logical order and clear language. An essay consists of a number of paragraphs. Here are some hints on paragraph writing :

1) There are paragraph introducers which are sentences that establish the topic focus of the paragraph as a whole. The topic sentence in the paragraph contains a key idea.

2) There are paragraph developers which present examples or details of various kinds to support the ideas of the topic sentence.

3) There are sometimes viewpoints or context modulators which are sentences that provide a smooth transition between different sets of ideas.

4) There are paragraph terminators or restatement sentences, which logically conclude the ideas discussed in the paragraph.

To be able to write a good essay you must realize that your essay should be relevant to the set topic in both content and focus; the essay should be the result of wide reading, taking notes, looking things up, sorting out information, theories and ideas, and coming to well-thought-out conclusions…

An essay consists of a number of paragraphs which may be sorted into functional groups such as introductory, developmental, transitional, and summarizing.

Depending upon the purpose or intent of the writer, particular paragraphs may be thought of as aiming to persuade, inform, argue, or excite. Paragraphs may also be classified according to such techniques of development as comparison, contrast, description, classification, generalization, etc.

In linking paragraphs together the transitional devices may be the following:

1) the use of a pronoun instead of the above mentioned nouns;

2) repetition of the key word or phrase used in the preceding paragraph;

3) the use of transitional words or phrases and connectives.

The following connectives and transitional phrases are particularly useful in an essay writing: first, second, etc., next, finally, eventually, furthermore, meanwhile; because of, for; as, and since; thus, therefore, as a result, and so; at the same time, but; and (in order) to, so (that); and for, yet, nevertheless, nonetheless, however; whereas, while; on the other hand; in contrast, unlike; similarly, also, too, both; obviously; etc.

In essay writing the following hints concerning the language may be helpful:

– restrictions upon the vocabulary. Words and phrases labelled colloquial, familiar, vulgar, slang are excluded as inappropriate. Abbreviations, contracted verbal forms, colloquial abbreviations of words (such as ad, vac, exam, etc.), should not be used

– preference should be given to concrete words rather than abstract (instead of walk- more specific stroll, shuffle, trot, etc.)

– wider use of phrasal verbs should be made

– overused adjectives, adverbs, cliches should be avoided

– idioms should be used with care

– features of academic style should be preserved: lengthier and more complex paragraphs; the approach to the material is analytical, objective, intellectual, polemical; the academic writer’s tone is serious, impersonal, formal rather than conversational, personal, colloquial; the academic writer makes frequent use of passive forms of the verbs; impersonal pronouns and phrases; complex sentence structures; specialized vocabulary

– one must be aware that there are differences in style and usage between disciplines and topics set.

Here is a model paragraph development by contrast:


British and American universities are similar in their pursuit of knowledge as a goal but are quite different in their organization and operation.

English universities and colleges, because of their selective intake, are relatively small. American universities, which combine a number of different colleges and professional schools, are large, sometimes with 20,000 to 25,000 students on one campus. Teacher training colleges and polytechnics are alternatives to the university course for some students in England , being established for specific purposes. In contrast, virtually all schools of education, engineering and business studies are integral parts of universities in the United States . In England universities receive about 70% of their financial support through Parliamentary grants. Similarly, in the United States , public institutions receive about 75% of their funds from local, state, and federal sources, but private colleges and universities receive little or no government support In England, personal financial aid is provided by the government to over 80% of the students through local educational authorities according to the parents’ income. In the US student’s aid is administered by the university or the sponsoring agency and is provided by private organizations and the state or federal governments. Obviously British and American universities have similar educational aims but different means of achieving those aims.

How to Write an Essay
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