How to write a good introductory and concluding paragraph


As we know, writing skill is a real challenge to many students. When asked about the skill they find the most difficult, most of the students think that writing causes them a lot of troubles and many of them have difficulties in generating a good introduction and conclusion of the essay. Hence, I am writing this paper to introduce some strategies to write a good introductory and concluding paragraph.

Parts in this paper are collected and edited from many informative books listed in the last page and it is divided into two following main parts:    

PART I. How to Write a Good Introductory Paragraph.

PART II. How to Write a Good Concluding Paragraph.

PART I. How to Write a Good Introductory Paragraph.

I. The Parts of an Academic Introductory Paragraph.

An introduction to an academic essay must have a hook, background information, and a thesis statement.

  • A hook (or a lead-in) is a statement that begins the introduction. It includes one or two interesting sentences that engage the reader’s attention and stimulate their curiosity.
  • Back ground information in most cases follows the hook. The background information contains a general statement or statements that give a broader picture of the subject matter to be discussed.
  • Thesis statements usually come at the end of the introduction. It summarizes what the entire essay is about. It contains the topic and controlling idea for the whole essay. The topic is the theme or subject matter of the essay. The controlling idea defines the purpose of the essay and sets its direction.

Ex: My first day at school was the most exciting day of my life.

              (topic)                                (controlling idea)

II. How to Write a Good Hook.

The first few sentence of your essay are particularly important; first impressions, as you know, are often lasting ones. The beginning of your essay, then, must catch the readers’ attention and make them want to keep reading. Recall the way you read a magazine: if you like most people, you probably skim the magazine, reading a paragraph or two of each article that looks promising. IF the first few paragraphs hold your interest, you read on. When you write your own introductory paragraph, assume that you have only a few sentences to attract your reader. Consequently, you must pay particular attention to making those first lines especially interesting and well written.

In some essays, your thesis statement alone may be controversial or striking enough to capture the readers. At other times, however, you will want to use the introductory device called a lead-in. The lead-in catches the readers’ attention; announces the subject matter and tone of your essay (humorous, satiric, serious, etc.); and sets up, or leads into, the presentation of your thesis and essay may.

1.  Some Suggestions to Write a Good Hook.

1.1 A paradoxical or intriguing statement

“Eat two chocolate bars and call me in the morning”, says the psychiatrist to his patient. Such advice sounds like a sugar fanatic’s dream, but recent studies have indeed confirmed that chocolate positively affects depression and anxiety.

1. 2. An arresting statistic or shocking statement

One of every nine women will develop breast cancer this year, according to a recent report prepared by the Health Information Service.

1.3. A question

It is three times the number of people who belong to the Southern Baptist Convention, nine times the number who serve in the U.S. armed forces, and more than twice the number who voted for Barry Goldwater for president in 1964. What is it? It’s the number of people in the United States who admit to having smoked marijuana: a massive 70 million.

1.4. A quotation or literary allusion

“I think onstage nudity is disgusting, shameful, and damaging to all things American”, says actress Shelley Winters. “But if I were twenty-two with a great body, it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic, and a progressive religious experience”.

1.5. A relevant story, joke, or anecdote

Writer and witty critic Dorothy Parker was once assigned a remote, out-of-the- way office. According to the story, she became so lonely, so desperate for company, that she ultimately painted “Gentlemen” on the door. Although this university is large, no one on this campus needs to feel as isolated as Parker obviously did: our excellent Student Activity Office offers numerous clubs, programs, and volunteer groups to involve students of all interests.

1.6. A description, often used for emotional appeal

With one eye blackened, one arm in a cast, and third-degree burns on both her legs, the pretty, blond two-year-old seeks corners of rooms, refuses to speak, and shakes violently at the sound of loud noises. Tammy is not the victim of a war or a natural disaster; rather, she is the helpless victim of her parents, one of the thousands of children who suffer daily from America’s hidden crime, child abuse.

1. 7. A factual statement or a summary who-what-where-when-why lead-in

Texas’s first execution of a woman in twenty-two years occurred September 17 at the Huntsville Unit of the state’s Department of Corrections, despite the protests of various human rights groups around the country.

1.8. An analogy or comparison

The Romans kept geese on their Capitol Hill to cackle alarm in the event of attack by night. Modern Americans, despite their technology, have hardly improved on that old system of protection. According to the latest Safety Council report, almost any door with a standard lock can be opened easily with a common plastic credit card.

1.9. A contrast

I used to search for toast in the supermarket. I used to think “blackened” – as in blackened Cajun shrimp- referred to the way I cooked anything in a skillet. “Poached” could only have legal ramifications. But all this has changed! Attending a class in basic cooking this summer has transformed the way I purchase, prepare, and even talk about food.

1.10. A personal experience

I realized times were changing for women when I overheard my six-year-old nephew speaking to my sister, a prominent New York lawyer. AS we left her elaborate, luxurious office one evening. Tommy looked up at his mother and queried, “Mommy, can little boys grow up to be lawyers, too?”

1.11. A catalog of relevant examples

A two-hundred-pound teenager quit school because no desk would hold her. A three-hundred-pound chef who could no longer stand on his feet was fired. A three-hundred-fifty-pound truck driver broke furniture in his friends’ houses. All these people are now living healthier, happier, and thinner lives, thanks to the remarkable intestinal bypass surgery first developed in 1967.

1.12. Statement of a problem or a popular misconception

Some people believe that poetry is written only by aging beatniks or solemn, mournful men and women with suicidal tendencies. The Poetry in the Schools Program is working hard to correct that erroneous point of view.

Thinking of a good hook is often difficult when you sit down to begin your essay. Many writers, in fact, skip the hook until the first draft is written. They compose their working thesis first and then write the body of the essay, saving the hook and conclusion for last. As you write the middle of your essay, you may discover as especially interesting piece of information you might want to save to use as your hook.

2. Avoiding Errors in Hooks

In addition to the previous suggestions, here is some advice to help you avoid common lead-in errors:

2.1. Make sure your hook introduces your thesis. A frequent weakness in introductory paragraphs is an interesting hook but no smooth or clear transition to the thesis statement. To avoid a gap or awkward jump in thought in your introductory paragraph, you may need to add a connecting sentence or phrase between your hook and thesis. Study the paragraph below, which uses a comparison as its hook. The italicized transitional sentence takes the reader from a general comment about Americans who use wheelchairs to information about those in Smallville, smooth preparing the reader for the thesis that follow.

Hook 

 

Transitional sentence

 

 

Thesis

          In the 1950s, African Americans demanded the right to sit anywhere they pleased on public buses. Today, Americans who use wheelchairs are fighting for the right to board those same buses. Here in Smallville, the lack of proper boarding facilities often denies disabled citizens basic transportation to jobs, grocery stores, and medical centers. To give persons in wheelchairs the same opportunities as other residents, the City Council should vote the funds necessary to convert the public transportation system. 

 

2.2 Keep your hook brief. Long lead-ins in short essays often give the appearance of a tail wagging the dog. Use a brief, attention-catching hook to set up your thesis, don’t make your introduction the biggest part of your essay.

2.3. Don’t begin with an apology or complaint. Such statement as “It’s difficult to find much information on this topic…” and “This controversy is hard to understand, but …” do nothing to entice your reader.

2.4. Don’t assume your audience already knows your subject matter. Identify the pertinent facts even though you know your teacher knows the assignment. (“The biggest problem with the new requirement…” What requirement?) If you are writing about a particular piece of literature, identify the title of the work and its author, using the writer’s full name in the first reference.

2.5. Stay clear of overused lead-ins. If composition teachers had a nickel for every essay that began with a fry dictionary definition, they could all retire to Bermuda. Leave Webster’s alone and find a livelier way a begin. Asking a question as your lead-in is becoming overworked, too, so use it only when it is obviously the best choice for your opener.

II. How to Write a Good Thesis Statement.

1. What is a thesis? What does a “working thesis” do?

The thesis statement declares the main point or controlling idea of your entire essay. Frequently located near the beginning of a short essay, the thesis answers these questions: “What is the subject of this essay?” (To explain something? To argue a position? To move people to action? To entertain?).

Consider a “working thesis” a statement of your main point in its trial or rough-draft form. Allow it to “work” for you as you move from prewriting through drafts and revision. Your working thesis may begin as a very simple sentence. Such a working thesis states an opinion about the subject (the need for a center) and suggests what the essay will do (give arguments for building such a center). Similarly, the prewriting list on running might lead to a working thesis such as “Before beginning a successful program, novice runners must learn a series of warm-up and cool-down exercises”. This statement not only tells the writer’s opinion and purpose (the value of the exercises) but also indicates an audience (novice runners).

A working thesis statement can be your most valuable organizational tool. Once you have thought about your essay’s point and purpose, you can begin to draft your paper to accomplish your goals. Everything in your essay should support your thesis. Consequently, if you write your working thesis statement at the top of your draft and refer to it often, your chances of drifting away from your purpose should be reduced.

2. Can a “working thesis” change?

It’s important for you to know at this point that there may be a difference between the working thesis that appears in your rough drafts and your final thesis. As you begin drafting, you may have one main idea in mind that surfaced from your prewriting activities. But as you write, you may discover that what you really want to write about is different. Perhaps you discover that one particular part of your essay is really what you want to concentrate on (instead of covering three or four problems you have with your current job, for instance, you decide you want to explore in depth only the difficulties with your boss), or perhaps in the course of writing you find another approach to your subject more satisfying or persuasive (explaining how employees may avoid problems with a particular kind of difficult bosses in your field).

Changing directions is not uncommon: writing is an act of discovery. Frequently we don’t know exactly what we think or what we want to say until we write it. A working thesis appears in your early drafts to help you focus and organize your essay; don’t feel it’s carved in stone.

A warning come with this thesis, however, if you do write yourself into another essay- that is, if you discover as you write that you are finding a better topic or main point to make, consider this piece of writing a “discovery draft”, extended prewriting that has helped you find your real focus. Occasionally, your direction changes so slightly that you can rework or expand your thesis to accommodate your new ideas. But more frequently you may find that it’s necessary to begin another draft with your newly discovered working thesis as the controlling idea. When this is the case, don’t be discouraged- this kind of “reseeding” or revision of your topic is a common practice among experienced writers. Don’t be tempted at this point to leave your original thesis in an essay that has clearly changed its point, purpose, or approach – in other words, don’t try to pass off an old head on the body of a new statue! Remember that ultimately you want your thesis to guide your readers rather than confuse them by promising an essay they can’t find as they read on.

3. Some useful tips to write a Good Thesis: To help you draft thesis statement, here is some advice:

 3.1. A good thesis states the writer’s clearly defined opinion on some subject. You must tell your reader what you think. Don’t dodge the issue; present your opinion specifically and precisely. For example, if you were asked to write a thesis statement expressing your position on the national law that designates twenty-one as the legal minimum age to purchase or consume alcohol, the first three theses listed below would be confusing:

Poor   Many people have different opinions on whether people under twenty-one should be permitted to drink alcohol, and I agree with some of them. (the writer’s   opinion is not clear to the reader).

Poor   The question of whether we need a national law governing the minimum age to drink alcohol is a controversial issue in many states. (This statement might introduce the thesis, but the writer has still avoided stating a clear opinion on the issue).

Poor   I want to give my opinion on the national law that sets twenty-one as the legal age to drink alcohol and the reasons I feel this way. (What is the writer’s opinion? The reader still doesn’t know).

Better            To reduce the number of highway fatalities, our country needs to enforce the national law that designates twenty-one as the legal minimum age to purchase and consume alcohol. (The writer clearly states an opinion that will be supported in the essay).

Better            The legal minimum age for purchasing alcohol should be eighteen rather than twenty-one. (Again, the writer has asserted a clear position on the issue that will be argued in the essay).

If you want to write about a personal experience but are finding it difficult to find your clearly defined thesis idea, try asking yourself question about the topic’s significance or value. (Examples: Why is this topic important to me? What was so valuable about my year on newspaper staff? What was the most significant lesson I learned? What was an unexpected result of this experience?). Often the answer to one of your questions will show you the way to a working thesis. (Example: writing for the school newspaper reaches tine-management skills that are valuable both in and out of class).

3.2. A good thesis asserts one main idea. Many essays drift into confusion because the writer is trying to explain or argue two different, large issues in one essay. You can’t effectively ride two horses at once; pick one main idea and explain or argue it in convincing detail.

Poor The proposed no-smoking ordinance in our town will violate a number of our citizens’ civil rights, and no one has proved secondary smoke is dangerous anyway. (This thesis contains two main assertions- the ordinance’s violation of rights and secondary smoke’s lack of danger- that require two different kinds of supporting evidence).

Better            The proposed no-smoking ordinance in our town will violate our civil rights. (This essay will show the various ways the ordinance will infringe on personal liberties).

Better            The most recent U.S. Health Department studies claiming that secondary smoke is dangerous to nonsmokers are based on faulty research. (this essay will also focus on one issue: the validity of the studies on secondary smoke danger).

Poor  High school athletes shouldn’t have to maintain a certain grade-point average to participate in school sports, and the value of sports id often worth the lower academic average. (Again, this thesis moves in two different directions).

Better            High school athletes shouldn’t have to maintain a certain grade-point average to participate in school sports. (This essay will focus on one issue: reasons why a particular average shouldn’t be required).

Better            For some students, participation in sports may be more valuable than achieving a high grade-point average. (This essay will focus on why the benefits of sports may sometimes outweigh those of academics).

Incidentally, at this point you may recall from your high school days a rule about always expressing your thesis in one sentence. Writing teachers often insist on this rule to help you avoid the double-assertion problem just illustrated. Although not all essays have one-sentence theses, many do, and it’s a good habit to strive for in this early stage of your writing.

3.3. A good thesis has something worthwhile to say. Although it’s true that almost any subject can be made interesting with the right treatment, some subjects are more predictable and therefore more boring than others. Before you write your thesis, think hard about your subject: does your position lend itself to stale or overly obvious ideas? For example. Most readers would find the following theses tiresome unless the writers had some original method of developing their essays:

Poor   Dogs have always been man’s best friends. (This essay might be full of ho-hum clichés about dogs’ faithfulness to their owners).

Poor   Friendship is a wonderful thing. (Again, watch out for tired truisms that restate the obvious).

Poor   Food in my dorm is horrible. (Although this essay might be enlivened by some vividly repulsive imagery, the subject itself is ancient).

Frequently in composition classes you will be asked to write about yourself; after all, you are the world’s authority on that subject, and you have many significant interests to talk about whose subject matter will naturally intrigue your readers. However, some topics you may consider writing about may not necessarily appeal to other readers because the material is simply too personal or restricted to be of general interest. In these cases, it often helps to universalize the essay’s thesis so your readers can also identify with or learn something about the general subject, while learning something about you at the same time:

Poor   The four children in my family have completely different personalities. (This statement may be true, but would anyone other than the children’s parents really be fascinated with this topic?)

Better            Birth order can influence children’s personalities in starting ways. (The writer is wiser to offer this controversial statement, which is of more interest to readers than the preceding one because many readers have brothers and sisters of their own. The writer can then illustrate her claims with examples from her own family, and from other families, if she wishes).

Poor   I don’t like to take courses that are held in big lecture classes at this school. (Why should your reader care one way or another about your class preference?)

Better            Large lecture classes provide a poor environment for the student who learns best through interaction with both teachers and peers. (This thesis will allow the writer to present personal examples that the reader may identify with or challenge, without writing an essay that is exclusively personal).

In other words, try to select a subject that will interest, amuse, challenge, persuade, or enlighten your readers. If your subject itself is commonplace, find a unique approach or an unusual, perhaps even controversial, point of view. If your subject is personal, ask yourself if the topic alone will be sufficiently interesting to readers; if not, think about universalizing the thesis to include your audience. Remember that a good thesis should encourage readers to read on with enthusiasm rather than invite groans of “not this again” or shrugs of “so what”.

3.4. A good thesis is limited to fit the assignment. Your thesis should show that you’re narrowed your subject matter to an appropriate size for your essay. Don’t allow your thesis to promise more of a discussion than you can adequately deliver in a short essay. You want an in-depth treatment of your subject, not a superficial one. Certainly you may take on important issues in your essays; don’t feel you must limit your topics to local or personal subjects. But one simply cannot refight the Vietnam War or effectively defend U.S. foreign policy in Central America in five to eight paragraphs. Focus your essay on an important part of a broader subject that interests you. .

Poor   Nuclear power should be banned as an energy source in this country. (Can the write give the broad subject of nuclear power a fair treatment in three to five pages?)

Better            Because of its poor safety record during the past two years, the Collin County nuclear power plant should be closed. (This writer could probably argue this focused thesis in a short essay).

Poor   The parking permit system at this college should be completely revised. (An essay calling for the revision of the parking permit system would involve discussion of permits for various kinds of students, faculty, administrators, staff, visitors, delivery personnel, disabled persons, and so forth. Therefore, the thesis is probably too broad for a short essay).

Better            Because of the complicated application process, the parking permit system at this college penalizes disabled students. (This thesis is focused on a particular problem and could be argued in a short paper).

Poor   African-American artists have always contributed a lot to many kinds of American culture. (“African-American artists”, “many kinds”. “a lot” and “culture” cover more ground than can be dealt with in one short essay).

Better            Scott Joplin was a major influence in the development of the uniquely American music called ragtime. (This thesis is more specifically defined).

3.5. A good thesis is clearly stated in specific terms. More than anything, a vague thesis reflects lack of clarity in the writer’s mind and almost inevitably leads to an essay that talks around the subject but never makes a coherent point. Try to avoid words whose meanings are imprecise or those that depend largely on personal interpretation, such as “interesting”, “good”, and “bad”.

Poor   The woman’s movement is good for our country. (What group does the writer refer to? How is it good? For whom?)

Better            The Colorado Woman’s Party is working to ensure the benefits of equal pay for equal work for both males and females in our state. (This tells who will benefit and how- clearly defining the thesis).

Poor   Registration is a big hassle. (No clear idea is communicated here. How much trouble is a “hassle”?)

Better            Registration’s alphabetical fee-paying system is inefficient. (The issue is specified).

Poor   Living in an apartment for the first time can teach you many things about taking care of yourself. (“Things” and “taking care of yourself” are both too vague- what specific ideas does the writer want to discuss? And who is the “you” the writer has in mind?)

Better By living in an apartment, first-year students can learn valuable lessons in financial planning and time management. (The thesis is now clearly definedd and directed).

3.6. A good thesis is easily recognized as the main idea and is often located in the first or second paragraph. Many students are hesitant to spell out a thesis at the beginning of an essay. To quote one student, “I feel as if I’m giving everything away”. Although you may feel uncomfortable “giving away” the main point so soon, the alternative of waiting until the last page to present your thesis can seriously weaken your essay.

Without an assertion of what you are trying to prove, your reader does not know how to assess the supporting details your essay presents. For example, if your roommate comes home one afternoon and points out that the roof on your apartment leaks, the rent is too high, and the closest space is too small, you may agree but you may also be confused. Does you roommate want you to call the owner or is this merely a gripe session? How should you respond? On the other hand, if your roommate first announces that he wants the two of you to look for a new place, you can put the discussion of the roof, rent, and closets into its proper context and react accordingly. Similarly, you write an essay to have a specific effect on your readers. You will have a better chance of producing this effect if readers easily and quickly understand what you are trying to do.

Granted, some essays whose position is unmistakably obvious from the outset can get by with a strongly implied thesis, and it’s true that some essays, often those written by professional writers, are organized to build dramatically to a climax. But if you are an inexperienced writer, the best choice at this point still may be a direct statement of your main idea. It is, after all, your responsibility to make your purpose clear, with as little expense of time and energy on the readers’ part as possible. Readers should not be forced to puzzle out your essay’s main point- it’s your job to tell them.

Remember: an essay is not a detective story, so don’t keep your readers in suspense until the last minute. Until you feel comfortable with more sophisticated patterns of organization, plan to put your clearly worded thesis statement near the beginning of your essay.

4. Common Expressions in writing a thesis statement.

+I believe that…………………………………………………………………………………….

+I assert that………………………………………………………………………………………

+I maintain that..…………………………………………………………………………………

+I hold that……….………………………………………………………………………………

+It is true that…………………….………………………………………………………………

+It is without doubt that……………………………………………………….………………….

+It is without question that……………………………………………………..…………………

+It is unquestionable that…………………………………………………………………………..

+It is doubtless that………………….………………..……………………………………………

+Doubtlessly, ………………………………………………………………………………………

+Unquestionably, ………………………………………………………………………………….

Ex: It is without question that land for saving animals in danger is more important because people must preserve the food chain and protect the animals for scientific research.

5. Avoiding Common Errors in Thesis Statements

Here are five mistakes to avoid when forming your thesis statement:

A. Don’t make your thesis merely an announcement of your subject matter or a description of your intentions. State an attitude toward the subject.

Poor   The subject of this essay is my experience with a pet boa constrictor. (This is an announcement of the subject, not a thesis).

Poor   I’m going to discuss boa constrictors as pets. (This represents a statement of intention but not a thesis).

Better            Boa constrictors do not make healthy indoor pets. (The writer states an opinion that will be explained and defended in the essay).

Better            My pet boa constrictor, Sir Pent, was a much better bodyguard than my dog, Fang. (The writer states an opinion that will be explained and illustrated in the essay).

B. Don’t clutter your thesis with such expressions as “in my opinion”, “I believe”. And “in this essay I’ll argue that …” These unnecessary phrases weaken your thesis statement because they often make you sound timid or uncertain. This is your essay; therefore, the opinions expressed are obviously yours. Be forceful: speak directly, with conviction.

Poor   My opinion is that the federal government should devote more money to solar energy research.

Poor   My thesis states that the federal government should devote more money to solar energy research.

Better The federal government should devote more money to solar energy research.

Poor   In his essay I will present lots of reasons why horse racing should not be legalized in Texas.

Better            Horse racing should not be legalized in Texas.

C. Don’t be unreasonable. Making irrational or oversimplified claims will not persuade your reader that you have a thorough understanding of the issue. Don’t insult any reader; avoid irresponsible charges, name-calling, and profanity.

Poor   Radical religious fanatics across the nation are trying to impose their right-wing views by censoring high school library books. (Words such as “radical”, “fanatics”, “right-wing” and “censoring” will antagonize many readers immediately).

Better            Only local school board members- not religious leaders or parents- should decide which books high school libraries should order.

Poor   Too many corrupt books in our high school libraries selected by liberal, atheistic educators are undermining the morals of our youth. (Again, some readers will be offended).

Better            To ensure that high school libraries contain books that reflect community standards, parents should have a voice in selecting new titles.

D. Don’t merely state a fact. A thesis is an assertion of opinion that leads to discussion. Don’t select an idea that is self-evident or dead-ended.

Poor   Child abuse is a terrible problem. (Yes, of course, who wouldn’t agree that child abuse is terrible?)

Better            Child-abuse laws in the state are too lenient for repeat offenders. (This thesis will lead to a discussion in which supporting arguments and evidence will be presented).

Poor   Advertisers often use attractive models in their ads to sell products. (True, but rather obvious. How could this essay be turned into something more than a list describing one ad after another?)

Better            A number of liquor advertisers, well known for using pictures of attractive models to sell their products, are now using special graphics to send subliminal messages to their readers. (This claim is controversial and will require persuasive supporting evidence).

Better            Although long criticized for their negative is just as often guilty of stereotyping men as brainless idiots unable to make a decision. (This thesis makes a point that may lead to an interesting discussion).

E. Don’t express your thesis in the form of a question unless the answer is already obvious to the reader.

Poor   Why should every college student be required to take two years of foreign language?

Better            Chemistry majors should be exempt from the foreign- language requirement.

Remember: Many times writers “discover” a better thesis near the end of their first draft. That’s fine- consider that draft a prewriting or focusing exercise and begin another draft, using the newly discovered thesis as a starting point.

III. Suggested Tasks

1. Read this introduction to an essay then answer the questions below.

It was a sunny day in the summer of 1998 when my family moved out of the city to the suburbs. I did not like leaving because I would lose my friends and the places where I had had so much fun. It was very sad for me to see my friends standing in front of the old house as we said our last goodbye. Little did I know that this movie would turn out to be one of the best moments of my life.

A. Circle and label the hook.

B. Underline the background information.

C. Underline the thesis statement.

D. Write the topic of the thesis statement. ………………………………………….

E. Write the controlling idea of the thesis statement. ………………………………

………………………………………………………………………………………

2. Answer the questions below about this introduction.

Difficult life-changing experiences become the memories that stay forever in our minds. We have to learn to balance the positive and negative effects that these situations have on us. The day after I finished my first year at college,  had one of these life-changing experiences. Going on a job interview at an international bank taught me an important lesson.

A. Circle the hook.

B. Find the background information and write it below.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

C. Underline the thesis statement.

D. Write the topic of the thesis statement.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

E. Write the controlling idea of the thesis statement.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

3. Identify topics and controlling idea in the sentences below.

A. Pizza is easy to make if you follow these steps.

B. If you compare a Mini-Cooper with a Volkswagen Bug, you will find several important differences.

C.  There are several ways to reduce stress.

D. Not getting enough sleep can have negative effects on a student.

E. One of my packaging trips was almost my last.

F. A good journalist has to have special talents and skills.

4. In the following introductory paragraphs, the sentences are in incorrect order. Rewrite each paragraph on a separate sheet of paper, beginning with the most general statement first. Then add each sentence in correct order, from the next most general to the least general. Finally, write the thesis statement last.

A. (1)therefore, workaholics’ lifestyles can affect their families, social lives, and health. (2) Because they work so many hours, workaholics may not spend enough time in leisure activities. (3) Nowadays, many men and women work in law, accounting, real estate, and business. (4) These people are serious about becoming successful; they work long hours during the week and even on weekends, so they are called “workaholics.”

B. (1) Therefore, anyone who wants to drive must carry a driver’s license. (2) It is divided into four steps: studying the traffic laws, taking the written test, learning to drive, and taking the driving test. (3) getting a driver’s license is a complicated process. (4) Driving a car is a necessity in today’s busy society, and it is also a special privilege.

C. (1) During this period, children separate themselves from their parents and become independent. (2) Teenagers express their separateness most vividly in their choice of clothes, hairstyles, music, and vocabulary. (3) The teenage years between childhood and adulthood are a period of growth and separation.

5. Identify thesis statements

Read the short essay. The thesis statement is missing. Choose the best thesis statement from the list following short essay.

A good party game that is simple and fun for everyone is zombie tag. Children love it and so do adults because there is no fancy equipment and anyone who can jump can participate. ……………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

Zombie tag follows the same basic procedure as regular tag with a few additional rules. First, decide on the boundaries. It is a good idea to play outside in a backyard or in a park. Then choose one person to be It. It must the “tag” another player and then the tagged player becomes It. Finally, in zombie tag all players must keep their arms at their sides and their ankles together. This means that they must jump instead of run, and they must tag with their shoulders or hips rather than their hands. If a player does not keep his ankles together or his arms at his sides, he is cheating and must sit out for five minutes.

In the final analysis, zombie tag is a good play game for all ages because it requires no equipment and is easy to play. People usually have a good time because thay have to keep their bodies straight and hold their arms at their sides and this makes them look funny when they jump, so they laugh a lot.

A. I often play zombie tag with my friends at birthday parties.

B. Zombie tag is easy to play if you follow the steps below.

C. Zombie tag is different from regular tag in two important ways.

6. Read the story essay. The thesis statement is missing. Choose the best thesis statement from the list following essay. Discuss you choice with your friend.

Imagine having a job that fits your class schedule. You do not have conflicts with studying because you only work at night and on the weekends. In addition, you can work in a beautiful room with paintings on the walls, candlelight, and beautiful music playing in the background. …………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

First, restaurant work is a great job for a student because the hours are different. Most restaurants are busiest during the weekends in the evening. Since students have to go to class during the week and during the day, a restaurant job gives them time for class.

The second reason why restaurant work suits students is that the student can eat at the restaurant. Students are short on time. They don’t want to go shopping, cook, or clean up, so they need to get meals in a hurry. It is perfect if they can eat at work.

Students can make money, eat, and still have time for class if they work in a restaurant. For this reason, many eating places are staffed by students. It’s a great job for those who need to work while they are in college.

A. A restaurant job is convenient choice for a college student for several reasons.

B. Many restaurants hire college students.

C. A college student can make a lot of money working in an expensive restaurant.

7. Read this short essay. The thesis statement is missing. Write a thesis statement on the lines provided. Make sure your thesis states a topic and controlling idea. Compare your answer with a partner.

I have many wonderful memories of my childhood in El Salvador, but I have one memory that still makes me shiver when I think about it. I lived with grandmother in a house in the country, and I had many cousins to play with. The neighbors all knew, and we children always felt safe. ………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

            My scary experience happened when I was about ten. I was playing hide and seek with some children from the neighborhood when my cousin and I discovered a dark abandoned warehouse. We were happy because we thought that no one would find us there. We went inside. There were boxes, and everything was covered with dust. Suddenly my cousin ran away. I though she was hiding, so I laughed and called her name, but she did not answer. I started to hide too, but  at that moment, I smelled a terrible ordor. I looked in the corner, and a bog shape was moving. It was dark, and I couldn’t see very well, but I knew it was big. I ran outside as fast as I could. My cousin was outside, and we ran back to our house as fast as we could.

I still do not know what was in the warehouse. My grandmother said she thought some thieves had been hiding there. She said it was a lucky thing that they didn’t see me. Her words made me more afraid. I thought, “what if they had caught me?” After that, I decided to stay away from that dark warehouse. I learned to be very careful and never go into empty buildings again, no matter what!

8. Write introductions based on the given outline.

Topic 1: Some people say that it is better to spend as you learn it, while others think it is better to save money. Which do you think is better: to spend money as you earn it or save it? Use reasons and details to support your answer.

The outline:

Introduction: Better to save

Development:

P1: For emergencies

-My high school car accident

P2: For declining years

-When my grandmother got stomach cancer

Conclusion: Restatement of thesis

Sample Introduction:

As constituents of society, people work in order to make money, and many people spend their money in order to enjoy their life. Some believe that their purpose in life is to enjoy every moment, and others say that certain things can be only enjoyed in certain stages in life. However, it is more important for people to save the money that they make instead of spending most of it because they must prepare for emergencies and their old age.

Your Own Introduction:

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Topic 2: There are people who learn about life by listening to their friends’ or families’ advice. On the other hand, there are those that learn from personal experience. In your essay, compare the advantages of both methods of learning and state which one you prefer. Support your answer with specific reasons and examples.

The outline

Introduction: Both have advantages but experience is better

Development:

            P1: Advantages of advice from friends and family

-Learning from advice is not dangerous

-Much information can be learned in short time

P2: Advantages of experience

-Many things cannot be learned from advice alone

-Experience makes the person, not advice

Conclusion: Restatement of thesis

Sample introduction

Life is like an enormous volume of books. There are innumerable lessons to learn, and through life, people gain wisdom and knowledge to prepare for tomorrow. As there are many things to learn in life, there are many ways to learn them. Among them, people choose to obtain such lessons through the counsels of friends or family members, or their daily experiences. Surely, both methods have their own merits, but the advantages of the latter outweigh those of the former.

 

Your Own Introduction:

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

PART II. How to Write a Good Concluding Paragraph.

Like a good story, a good essay should not stop in the middle. It should have a satisfying conclusion, one that gives the reader a sense of completion on the subject. Don’t allow your essay to drop off or fade out at the end- instead, use the concluding paragraph to emphasize the validity and importance of your thinking. Remember that the concluding paragraph is your last chance to convince the reader. (AS one cynical but realistic student pointed out, the conclusion may be the last part of your essay the teacher reads before putting a grade on your paper). Therefore, make your conclusion count.

Some people feel that writing an essay shares a characteristic with a romantic fling- both activities are frequently easier to begin than they are to end. If you find, as many writers do, that you often struggle while searching for an exit with the proper emphasis and grace, here are some suggestions, by no means exhaustive, that might spark some good ideas for your conclusions.

I. Some tips to write a good concluding paragraph.

1. A statement of the thesis and the essay’s major points (most useful in long essays)

The destruction of the rainforests must be stopped. Although developers protest that they are bringing much-needed financial aid into these traditionally poverty-stricken areas, no amount of money can compensate for what is being lost. Without the rainforests, we not only are contributing to the global warming of the entire planet, we are losing indigenous trees and plants that might someday provide new medicines or vaccines for diseases. Moreover, the replacement of indigenous peoples with corporation-run ranches robs the world of cultural diversity. For the sake of the planet’s well-being, Project Rainforest should be implemented.

2. An evaluation of the importance of the essay’s subject

These amazing, controversial photographs of the comet will continue to be the subject of debate because, according to some scientists, they yield the most important clues yet revealed about the origins of our universe.

3. A statement of the essay’s broader implications

Because these studies of feline leukemia may someday play a crucial role in the discovery of a cure for AIDS in human beings, the experiments, as expensive as they are, must continue.

4. A call to action

The specific details surrounding the death of World War II hero Raoul Wallenberg are still unknown. Although Russia has recently admitted- after 50 years of denial- that Wallenberg was murdered by the KGB in 1947, such a confession is not enough. WE must write our congressional representatives today urging their support for the new Swedish commission investigating the circumstances of his death. No hero deserves less.

5. A warning based on the essay’s thesis

Understanding the politics that led to Hiroshima is essential all Americans- indeed, for all the world’s peoples. Without such knowledge, the frightful possibility exists that somewhere, sometime, someone may drop the bomb again.

6. A quotation from an authority or someone whose insight emphasizes the main point

Even though I didn’t win the fiction contest, I learned so much about my own powers of creativity. I’m proud that I pushed myself in new directions. I know now I will always agree with Herman Meliville, whose writing was unappreciated in his own times, that “it is better to struggle with originality than to succeed in imitation”.

7. An anecdote or witticism that emphasizes or sums up the point of the essay

Bette Davis’s role on and off the screen as the catty, wisecracking woman of steel helped make her an enduring star. After all, no audience, past or present, could ever resist a dame who drags on a cigarette and then mutters about a passing starlet, “There goes a good time that was had by all”.

8. An image or description that lends finality to the essay

As the last of the Big Screen’s giant ants are incinerated by the army scientist, one can almost hear the movie audiences of the 1950s breathing a collective sigh of relief, secure in the knowledge that once again the threat of nuclear radiation had been vanquished by the efforts of the U.S. military

9. A rhetorical question that makes the readers think about the essay’s main point

No one wants to see hostages put in danger. But what nation can afford to let terrorists know they can get away with murder?

10. A forecast based on the essay’s thesis

Soap operas will continue to be popular not only because they distract us from our daily chores but also because they present life as we want it to be; fast-paced, glamorous, and full of exciting characters.

11. Common expressions used in writing a conclusion paragraph:

Finally, In a word, In brief, In conclusion, To conclude, In the end, In the final analysis, On the whole, Thus, To summarize, To encapsulate, In sum, In summary, In light of these facts, Considering these idea, In the final analysis, By and large, etc.

Ex: In a nutshell, parents are not just the best teachers but they are the best mentors in their children’s lives. Having raised and nurtured their kids for so long, parents can practically see through their kids and understand them. Also, there are hardly any parents who would want their kids to fall astray. After all, where would we be and what would we be doing right now, if it weren’t for our parents’ teachings?

II. Avoiding Errors in Conclusions

Try to omit the following common errors in your concluding paragraphs:

A. Avoid a mechanical ending. One of the most frequent weaknesses in student essays is the conclusion that merely restates the thesis, word for word. A brief essay of five hundred to seven hundred and fifty words rarely requires a flat, point-by-point conclusion – in fact, such an ending often insults the readers’ intelligence by implying that their attention spans are extremely short. Only after reading long essays do most readers need a precise recap of all the writer’s main ideas. Instead of recopying your thesis and essay map, try finding an original, emphatic way to conclude your essay – or as e well-known newspaper columnist described it, a good ending should snap with grace and authority, like the close of an expensive sports car door.

B. Don’t introduce new points. Treat the major points of your essay in separate body paragraphs rather than in your exit

C. Don’t tack on a conclusion. There should be a smooth, logical flow of thought from your last body paragraph into your concluding statements.

D. Don’t change your stance. Sometimes writers who have been critical of something throughout their essays will often their stance or offer apologies in their last paragraph. For instance, someone complaining about the poor quality of a particular college course might abruptly conclude with statements that declare the class wasn’t sp bad after all, maybe she should have worked harder, or maybe she really did learn something after all. Such reneging may seem polite, but in actuality it undercuts the thesis and confuses the reader who has taken the writer’s criticisms seriously. Instead of contradicting themselves, writers should stand their ground, forget about puffy clichés or “niceties”, and find an emphatic way to conclude that is consistent with their thesis.

E. Avoid trite expressions. Don’t begin your conclusions by declaring,” in conclusion”, “in summary”, or “as you can see, this easy proves my thesis that…” End your essay so that the reader clearly senses completion; don’t merely announce that you’re finished.

 

III. Suggested Tasks.

1. Answer the questions below about this conclusion.

Academic writing requires critical thinking skills, an understanding of the topic, high level vocabulary, and correct grammar. Having these skills is empowering since it has made me a better communicator and student. I have come a long way since I started college, and I am now proud of the writing that I produce.

A. How many sentences appear in the conclusion?

……………………………………………………………………………………………

B. The introduction ends with

a. some advice

b. a prediction

c. a warning

d. an insight

2. Read the following conclusion and answer the following sentence.

I remember because it taught me to be prepared and on time, and not to rush when I have an interview. In fact, everything that happened on that one day gave me the confidence to go forward and achieve my goals in the company. We never know when a negative experience can end up being a positive influence on our life and can stay in our minds forever.

A. How many sentences appear in the conclusion?

……………………………………………………………………………………………

B. The conclusion ends with

a. some advice

b. a prediction

c. a warning

d. an insight

3. Match each of these introduction thesis statements with its rewritten version for a conclusion.

a. Supermarkets are the best places to buy food because of their convenience and lower prices. 1. People can learn many things by traveling to other countries.
b. Traveling abroad is a valuable learning experience. 2. Despite the challenges, being an entrepreneur can offer more benefits than other tyres of employment.
c. Learning to play a musical instrument is very beneficial for children. 3. The fact that larger supermarkets offer cheap prices and a large selection of products makes them the best place for shoppers.
d. Creating and owning a business offers more advantages than working as an employee in a company. 4. The World Wide Web gives access to a huge amount of knowledge, but users shouldn’t believe everything they read there.
e. More houses should be adapted to use solar energy because it is clean and renewable. 5. When children are exposed to music and are taught to play instruments such as the piano or violin, there are many positive effects.
f. The world Wide Web can be very useful for research, but it also contains a lot of incorrect information. 6. The sun gives a constant, free supply of clean energy, which more homes should take advantage of it.

4. Read the following thesis statements. Circle the letter of the most appropriate concluding sentence. Notice that most of the concluding sentences begin with transition signals although it is not always necessary that they do so.

1. My greatest problem in learning English is oral communication.

A. Indeed, learning to read and write English is difficult.

B. Indeed, because I do not speak English enough, my listening and speaking   skills have  not improved.

C. Indeed, everyone should practice speaking English more.

2. Smoking is unhealthy because it can cause heart and lug disease; moreover, it is expensive.

A. In brief, buying cigarettes is a bad idea.

B. In brief, smoking affects your health, and it is also a waste of money.

C. In brief, smoking is a bad habit.

3. In my opinion, college grades are necessary because they motivate students to do their homework and to attend class regularly.

A. Therefore, college grades are important.

B. Therefore, students should be graded for their own good.

C. Therefore, college grades are important because they cause students to be more serious and to try harder.

4. My major goals are getting a part-time job and mastering the use of the English language.

A. In short, if I do not reach my goals, I will be happy.

B. In short, finding a job and using English well are important to me.

C. In short, my major goals are getting a part-time job and mastering the use of the English language.

5. London has excellent bus and subway systems.

A. It is clear that the public transportation system in London provides reliable service at all times.

B. It is clear that taking bus in London is convenient.

C. It is clear that taking public transportation is a good way to get round in London.

5. Read the following thesis statement. Write a concluding sentence based on the information in each thesis statement.

1. Drunk drivers are the greatest danger on our country’s roads.

Therefore, ………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

2. There are several disadvantages to owning a big car.

In brief, …………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

3. Smoking in restaurants should be banned because it clouds the air, it smells bad and it can ruin customers’ appetites.

It is clear that………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

4. Eating in a restaurant is better than eating in a fast-food place because the atmosphere is more pleasant, the food is more delicious, and the food is served to you at your table.

………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………………………………………………………….……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

6. Write conclusions based on the given outline.

Topic 1: Some people say that it is better to spend as you learn it, while others think it is better to save money. Which do you think is better: to spend money as you earn it or save it? Use reasons and details to support your answer.

The outline:

Introduction: Better to save

Development:

P1: For emergencies

-My high school car accident

P2: For declining years

-When my grandmother got stomach cancer

Conclusion: Restatement of thesis

 

Sample Conclusion:

In conclusion, no one knows what unpleasant surprises tomorrow may bring and the body is bound to become ill with age. Hence, people should make a habit of setting a portion of their salary aside rather than using all of it up. Can anyone really be confident that future will always be so kind to him?

Restatement: ……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Conclusion sentence: …………………………………………………………………………………………..

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Your Own Conclusion:

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Topic 2: There are people who learn about life by listening to their friends’ or families’ advice. On the other hand, there are those that learn from personal experience. In your essay, compare the advantages of both methods of learning and state which one you prefer. Support your answer with specific reasons and examples.

The outline

Introduction: Both have advantages but experience is better

Development:

            P1: Advantages of advice from friends and family

-Learning from advice is not dangerous

-Much information can be learned in short time

P2: Advantages of experience

-Many things cannot be learned from advice alone

-Experience makes the person, not advice

Conclusion: Restatement of thesis

Sample Conclusion:

In a nutshell, it is good to seek the advice of your friends and family to learn about life, but many times it is even better for you to try something out yourself. Either way, the lessons will be constructive; however, experience will enable you to learn not only more but also better.

Your Own Conclusion:

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………

7. Complete the following passage.

A strong introduction catches the reader’s (1)i………………….I can do this by including interesting (2)f …………………., a personal (3)s………………….an interesting (4)q………………….. It also gives the general (5) t………………….of the essay, several sentences of (6) ………………….about the topic, and states the (7)t………………….

A conclusion (8) s………………….the main points of the essay. It also (9) r………………….the thesis, makes a final (10) c………………….about eh essay’s main idea, and it may emphasize an (11) a………………….for the reader to take.

References

01. Steps to writing well by Jean Wyrick ( Professor Emerita – Colorado State University), the sixth edition.
02. The Practice of English Language Teaching by Jeremy Harmer, the third edition.

03. Academic Writing – from paragraph to essay by Dorothy E Zemach and Lisa A Rumisek.

04. Writing Academic English by Alice Oshima and Ann Hogue, the third edition.

05. Effective Academic Writing 1, 2, 3 by Allce Savage and Masoud Shaflel, Oxford University Press.

Teacher: Nguyễn Thành Đồng

7 phản hồi

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