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Do you want to know how to write an effective essay introduction? Are you unsure of where to start? Don’t worry; we are here to help! We will explore what makes a good introduction, how to structure your introduction and what to include in it. We will also consider what not to include when writing one, so you know how to improve your work and avoid common mistakes.
A definition of an essay introduction is
An opening paragraph that states the purpose and outlines the main objectives of your essay. This is followed by the main body of your essay and then a conclusion.
Think of an introduction as the starting line.
There are different types of essay introductions, depending on what you are writing about and the goal of your essay. Some examples of different introduction purposes include:
- Explaining why your chosen topic is interesting or important.
- Explaining how your essay will change misconceptions about your topic.
- Explaining the elements of your topic that may be unusual to the reader.
It is important to note that there are many different ways to write an essay introduction. This is simply a suggested structure for your paragraph. Your introduction may closely follow this structure, or it could differ from it. The choice is up to you - it depends on what you feel is the best way to present your writing to the reader.
An example of an introduction paragraph structure contains the following aspects:
1. A hook
2. Background information
3. Introduction of essay brief and outline of your argument's main goal.
Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
This is a memorable opening line that draws the reader in and intrigues them. It is important to catch the reader's attention from the beginning, as this sets the tone for the rest of the essay to follow. A hook could be written in a variety of ways, such as:
A statement can be used to make a declaration that will either support your argument or go against it.
‘Comprehensible input is considered one of the most effective ways to learn a language.’
A question is an excellent way to interest the reader and suggests that the reader will find out the answer to the question if they keep reading. This will keep them engaged throughout your essay.
‘How does the language used in the media affect the way we communicate daily?’
A quotation provides the reader with information from a source that relates to your brief
‘According to linguist David Crystal (2010), "most people entering their teens have a vocabulary of at least 20,000 words."'
A fact/statistic could immediately impress the reader as it shows knowledge of the topic and provides them with real evidence from the start. You should ensure that the quote is from a reliable source and is relevant to your thesis statement and argument.
'Worldwide, around 1.35 billion people speak English.’
Background information provides the reader with context, so they gather more of an understanding of the topic you are exploring. This could be done in a variety of ways, for example:
An essay brief refers to the main idea of your essay. When introducing your essay brief, think of the following questions:
What is my essay about?
What is the purpose of this essay?
Outlining the main goal of your argument will let the reader know what to expect in the body of the essay and will give your essay a structure to follow. When doing this, think of the following questions:
Am I arguing for or against something?
What am I trying to prove to the reader?
What are the key points that I can further expand on in the body of my essay?
Which theories am I going to be discussing/analysing?
It is important to remember that this part of your introduction provides a summary of the essay by outlining the main points that you will develop in the main body of your essay. For example, stating something like this:
This essay will discuss the positives and negatives of deductive learning. It will critically analyse Sinclair and Coulthard's IRF model and provide some future recommendations.
Although it is helpful to know examples of effective introduction paragraphs, it is also important to be aware of what not to include in your introduction. This will give you a clearer idea of how to improve your writing.
Don't make your introduction too long.
Your introduction should be brief and concise. If you go into too much detail straight away, this leaves you no opportunity for you to expand on ideas and develop your argument further in the body of your essay.
Don't be too vague
You want to make it clear to the reader that you know what you are talking about and are sure of your argument. If you don't make your intentions clear from the beginning, it may confuse the reader or imply that you are unsure of the direction of your essay.
Depending on how long your essay is, your introduction could vary in length. In relation to the other parts of your essay (main body and conclusion paragraphs), it should be roughly the same length as your conclusion. It is suggested that your introduction (and conclusion) should each be around ten percent of the total word count. For example, if you write 1000 words, your introduction and conclusion should be around 100 words each. Of course, this may vary depending on how detailed your essay is and what you are writing about.
Below is an example of an essay introduction. It has been colour coded in the following way:
Blue = Hook
Pink = Background information
Green = Essay brief and goal of argument
Essay question example: Explore the ways in which the English language has either positively or negatively impacted the world.
Worldwide, around 1.35 billion people speak English. The use of the English language is becoming increasingly prominent, particularly within political and economic communication around the world. Due to its global influence, English is now regarded as a lingua franca (global language). But how and why has English become so powerful? Through the analysis of language globalisation, this study will explore the positive effect English has on both global communication and language learning. It will also consider the ways in which English could be used in the future to further develop learning potential.
An opening paragraph that states the purpose and outlines the main objectives of your writing.
To write an introduction, you could include the following elements:
A hook can be written in multiple ways, e.g. a statement, a question, a quotation, a fact/statistic. It should be memorable for the reader and relevant to the topic of your essay!
An introduction is followed by the main body of the essay, which expands on the points made in the introduction and develops your argument.
An introduction should be around 10% of your whole word count.
What is an introduction?
An opening paragraph that states the purpose and outlines the main objectives of your work.
What is an introduction followed by?
Main body and conclusion
What is a hook?
A memorable opening line that draws the reader in and intrigues them.
A hook can be written in a variety of ways. What are they?
Statement, question, quotation, fact/statistic
What does background information do?
Provide the reader with context.
Fill in the blanks:
Background information allows the reader to gain more of an ________ of the _____ you are exploring.
What does an essay brief refer to?
The main idea of your essay.
Outlining the main goal of your argument lets the reader know what?
What to expect in the body of the essay.
Your introduction should be long.
True or false?
Your introduction should be brief and concise, not too long.
An introduction should be around __% of your overall word count.
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