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Purpose of an Essay - definition

To Entertain

  • Goal: provide emotional experience to reader.
  • Can be an account of a personal experience or a fictional story.
  • For reader's amusement. Not to teach them.
  • For example: an essay on your most embarrassing moment.

To Inform

  • Give new information to the reader.
  • Provide facts.
  • Use recognized sources for research (not blogs or wikipedia).
  • For example an essay on types of communicable diseases that spread during the monsoon for public awareness.

To Persuade

  • You must give your opinion/argument.
  • Prove your point so that the reader will agree with you.
  • Provide logical and factual information to support your argument.
  • Example: An essay on how participation in cultural activities can lead to a students intellectual and psychological development.

Target Audience of the Essay - definition

Just as how your style of speech and the way you dress for a presentation changes according to your audience, your writing style and the key words that you use depends on who your readers are. When thinking about the audience you are writing for, think of these four aspects:

  1. Demographic
  2. Education
  3. Prior knowledge
  4. Expectations

Thesis Statement - definition

What is a thesis statement?

First of all, what is a thesis? According to Oxford Dictionary a thesis is a statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved. The thesis statement is an argument that needs to be supported with research-based logic.

Most argumentative essays/papers require a thesis statement. A thesis statement:

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Creates an expectation in the reader about the scopepurpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be "proven" within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Transition Words/Phrases - definition

Here is the table of transition words/phrases:
IndexCategory of UseTransitional Words/Phrases
1AdditionFurthermore; moreover; too; also; again; next; further; last, lastly; finally; besides;
and, or, nor; first; second, secondly, in the second place; in addition; even more, etc.
2TimeWhile; immediately; never; after; later, earlier; always; when; soon; whenever; meanwhile; in the meantime; sometimes; during; afterwards; now, until now; next; following; once; then; at length; simultaneously; so far; this time; subsequently
3PlaceHere; there; nearby; beyond; wherever; opposite to; adjacent to; neighbouring on; above, below
4ComparisonIn the same way; by the same token; similarly; in like manner; likewise; in similar fashion
5ContrastYet; and yet; nevertheless; nonetheless; after all; but; however; though; otherwise; on the contrary; in contrast; notwithstanding; on the other hand; at the same time
6CauseBecause; since; on account of; for that reason
7EffectTherefore; consequently; accordingly; thus; hence; as result
8ClarificationThat is to say; in other words; to explain; i.e., (that is); to clarify; to rephrase it; to put it another way
9QualificationAlmost; nearly; probably; never; always; frequently; perhaps; maybe; although
10IntensificationIndeed; to repeat; by all means; of course; undoubtedly; certainly; without a doubt; yes, no; in fact; surely
11ConcessionTo be sure; granted; of course, it is true
12PurposeIn order that; so that; to that end, to this end; for this purpose; with this in mind; inasmuch as
13SummaryTo summarize; in sum; in brief; to sum up; in short; in summary
14ConclusionIn conclusion; to conclude; finally
15DemonstrativesThis; those; these; that
16PronounsHis; its; theirs; it; their; your; her; they; our
17Exemplification/IllustrationTo illustrate; to demonstrate; specifically; for instance; as an illustration; e.g., (for example); for example

Appropriate Voice and Tone throughout the Essay - definition


  • The tone of your writing identifies your attitude towards the subject.
  • Your tone can transmit a range of attitudes such as serious, flippant, satirical, critical, etc. For example, research papers call for a serious tone and formal language.
  • Tones create connections among the audience, the author and the subject; builds a relationship between the reader and the text.

How to create the tone of your essay:

  • Sentence structure
  • Word choice and punctuation
  • Formal or informal language

Examples:

  • Writing a personal journal may be like a conversation with a friend where there is freedom to use informal and casual language, including slang.
  • A column for a newspaper is more formal, but can still be funny and casual.
  • An academic paper like giving a speech at a conference: sophisticated and formal language; interesting, but without the use of informal language.

Varied and Relevant Word Choice - definition

It is important to choose your words carefully when writing an essay. Varying sentence structure, key words, and vocabulary depending on the type of audience you are writing for.

  • Avoid repeating words in sentences. One way is to use synonyms or restructuring the sentence.
  • Do not write a sentence that is too long. Often, you can reduce a phrase into one word to convey the same meaning.
  • Avoid using clichs like up in the air or dead as a doornail, particularly in secondary school essays.

What are Transition Words/Phrases? - definition

What are transition words/phrases?

  • Transitional words and phrases create links between ideas in your essay and can also help the reader understand the logic of your paper.
  • These words and phrases have different meanings and are thus dependent on the context. 
  • It is important to use these words wisely and sparingly. The words can be divided into different categories of use. 

What is a Conclusion? - definition

What is a conclusion?

  • It is a summary of your three main ideas written in the body of your essay.
  • The last chance to justify your thesis. Rephrase your thesis statement with a deeper understanding and meaning.
  • The paragraph is an echo of the introduction (though not in the same words).
  • The last sentence is usually a call to action, implications for the future, or even a food for thought as long as it leaves a lasting impression on the reader.
  • It is fine to use transition phrases like in conclusion for school essays, but for degrees, it is a clich that you should avoid.

Structuring a Conclusion - definition

Structuring a conclusion:

  • Summarize each of your points in the order in which you presented them
  • State your main conclusions based on the evidence you presented in the body of your essay.
  • Link your conclusions back to your title or thesis statement by reiterating a phrase of key word that you used at the beginning.
  • Make sure you have directly answered the question and that your reader is left with a clear sense of your viewpoint on the topic.

Example of a Good Essay - example

Examinations  good or bad ?

"Examinations" - This is a word that causes sleepless nights, a word can change a cheerful person into a nervous wreck. So, what are examinations, and how can they be any good?

An examination can be defined as a detailed inspection or analysis of an object or person. For example, an engineer will examine a structure, like a bridge, to see if it is safe. A doctor may conduct a medical examination to gauge whether a patient is healthy. In the school context, it is the students who take the examinations. These are usually a series of comprehensive tests held at the end of each term, year or, in the case of public examinations, after a few years.

One of the main purposes of school examinations is to improve the quality of education. From the results of the examinations, the teachers and planners of the curriculum will be able to gauge the extent to which the students have acquired the knowledge and skills of the course material. This would, first of all, provide an evaluation of their teaching methods, so they can improve them, if necessary.

Examinations are also used as a yardstick for measuring the capability of the candidate, for further education or employment. For example, examination results are the main criteria when selecting students for entrance into universities. It is assumed that the examination results would indicate whether or not the student will be able to handle the course. In the case of employment, it is felt that the examination results will indicate whether or not the job seeker has the skills or intelligence to handle the job.

However, does the school examination system provide an accurate yardstick of the candidate's ability? Albert Einstein, at the age of 16, took the entrance exam to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, but failed and so was rejected by this elite school. Yet, Einstein went on to develop the theory of relativity and quantum theory, winning the Nobel Prize in Physics at the age of 42. Other examples of famous achievers who failed in school examinations would include Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison and Bill Gates.

One may also question whether the present examination system results in better teaching in schools. In fact, some teachers are so pressured to produce good examination results that they are forced to practise poor teaching methods. They may race through the syllabus, ignoring the fact that the weaker students have not grasped some of the concepts. Some other teachers may concentrate on popular examination topics, ignoring the topics which are rarely tested in the examinations.

Pressure to succeed in examinations may also be detrimental to the students. They may be so filled with anxiety and stress that they do not enjoy their school years. They may be studying only to get good examination results, rather than a rounded education. Some of the weaker students, who cannot seem to achieve good examination results, may lose interest in their studies. In extreme cases, students may be so frustrated or disappointed in their results that they may consider ending their lives.

In conclusion, I realise that examinations are necessary and useful in many areas of our lives. However, within the school system, they should be given less emphasis or conducted in a different way. Furthermore, educationists, employers and students themselves should be reminded that examination results may not provide the best assessment of an individual's talents and capabilities.


Steps to Write Great Essay - shortcut

Steps to write Great Essay:
  1. Pick a topic.
  2. Prepare an outline or diagram of your ideas.
  3. Write your thesis statement.
  4. Write the body.
  5. Write the introduction.
  6. Write the conclusion.
  7. Add the finishing touches.

Structure of an Essay - example

In the above image, we've taken an example of a topic 'Healthy Habits to Improve Focus' to understand the structure of an essay:

Topic Sentence

  • Topic sentence is a part of the introduction.
  • It expresses the main idea of the paragraph. It gives the reader an idea of what will follow in the succeeding sentences of that paragraph.
  • The topic is followed by your personal opinion (controlling idea) on that topic.
  • Example, Raising the legal driving age to twenty-one would decrease road traffic accidents. Here the topic is traffic accidents while the controlling idea is raising the legal driving age.

Body

  • It proves, explains or enhances the controlling idea.
  • It is made up of three or four supporting sentences.
  • Supporting sentence can offer one or more of the following: a reason, fact, statistic, quotation, an example.

Conclusion

  • It is usually the last sentence in a short paragraph. 
  • It reminds the reader of your topic and controlling idea by restating it in different words.

Why should We Use the Right Words? - example

Example:

Repeating certain pronouns makes your essay sound repetitive and boring. Study the two versions of the same paragraph:

My philosophy of education is derived from my personal experiences. I have been an educator for 4 years, and I have learned a lot from more experienced teachers in my district. I also work mainly with students from a low socioeconomic background; my background was quite different. I will discuss how all of these elements, along with scholarly texts, have impacted my educational philosophy.

(Notice the number of times personal pronouns such as I and my appear in every sentence. To avoid this, try adjusting some of the prepositional phrases or dependent clauses.)

My philosophy of education is derived from my personal experiences. Having been an educator for 4 years, I have learned a lot from more experienced teachers in my district. I also work mainly with students from a low socioeconomic background that is quite different from mine. In this paper, I will discuss how all of these elements, along with scholarly texts, have impacted my educational philosophy.

Common Mistakes to Avoid Redundancy - example

Sometimes, you may unknowingly use words that are unnecessary and wind up making the sentence sound too wordy. Here are some common mistakes you can avoid to make your sentences concise:

Instead of.

Use

I came to the realisation that

I realised that

She is/was of the opinion that

She thinks/thought that

Concerning the matter of

About

During the course of

During

In the event that

If

In the process of

During, while

Regardless of the fact that

Although

Due to the fact that

Because

In all cases

Always

At that point in time

Then

Prior to

Before

Use Sentences of Varying Lengths - definition

An essay written mostly in short sentences can make it look rushed and lacking, whereas one written mostly in long sentences can overshadow your main topic and overwhelm the reader.

Using sentences of varying lengths allows the writer to let the reader know which ones are important and which are supporting sentences. Basically, it makes the information you want to convey digestible.

  • Short sentences can be used to make important statements.
  • Long sentences are suitable for narrating stories and anecdotes.

Overusing Long Sentences - example

The company reported that yearly profit growth, which had steadily increased by more than 7% since 1989, had stabilized in 2009 with a 0% comp, and in 2010, the year they launched the OWN project, actually decreased from the previous year by 2%. This announcement stunned Wall Street analysts, but with the overall decrease in similar company profit growth worldwide, as reported by Author (Year) in his article detailing the company's history, the company's announcement aligns with industry trends and future industry predictions.

Various Sentence Types - definition

Just like length, repeating a particular sentence type can shift the focus of the reader from the subject of your essay to its structure instead.

Understanding the sentence types can help you decide where you should use clauses, conjunctions, and so on. To understand the various sentence types, let's take a look at the image above.

Various Sentence Types - example

Understanding the sentence types can help you decide where you should use clauses, conjunctions, and so on.

Study the two examples where the first one consists is a repetition of complex sentences while the second one uses different sentence types. The second one sounds much better, right?

In her article, Author (Year) noted that the participants did not see a change in symptoms after the treatment. Even during the treatment, Author observed no change in the statements from the participants regarding their symptoms. Based on these findings, I will not use this article for my final project. Because my project will rely on articles that note symptom improvement, Authors work is not applicable.


In her article, Author (Year) noted that the participants did not see a change in symptoms after the treatment. Author observed, even during treatment, no change in the statements from the participants regarding their symptoms, and based on these findings, I will not use this article for my final project. Because my project will rely on articles that note symptom improvement, Authors work is not applicable.

Use Examples to Illustrate the Points in the Essay - definition

In both daily conversations and school essays, explanatory examples, i.e. details, particulars, and specific instances can:

  • Help us see for ourselves any truth in our opinions.

  • Help our reading audience fully understand our points.

  • Add interest to our paper or argument. Examples are more entertaining and involving than generalizations.

How to Use Examples in your Essay - definition

How to use examples in your essay:

  • Whenever you make a statement or give your opinion, always follow it up with an example that illustrates that point. In an essay about a poem, for example, it isn't enough to say that the author's language creates a dark, gloomy atmosphere. You should identify and quote particular words and images that demonstrate this effect.

  • When writing an essay, you will have to decide how many examples will be enough to make your point and then, if you use more than one, in what order should you use them. It is up to you whether you want to start with the strongest example and fill in with more details or save the best for last.

  • Ideally, you should provide three examples (one in each paragraph), but in some cases, two are enough. You need enough examples to make a valid point, but not so many that your reader will put down the essay and walk away.

  • Use linking or transitional words to connect your examples to your topic sentence. Consider this:

Children often learn behaviour from the adults around them subconsciously. To illustrate, around 50% of children who are brought up be aggressive parents often use aggression to solve their own problems later in life.

Where to look for Examples - shortcut

When writing an essay as homework, the reader will expect your examples to be from trustworthy sources. The most trustworthy source for a literature assignment is your primary text, i.e. the poem or novel or short story your essay is based on. Other subjects may require you to look for examples elsewhere such as:

  • Newspapers.

  • Statistic reports by recognized organizations. For example, a UNICEF report on the infant mortality rate in India.

  • Magazines.

  • Your own anecdote for a personal essay.

Include a 'hook' in the Introduction - definition

An essay hook is the first one or two sentences of your essay. It serves as an introduction and works to grab the readers attention. The first couple sentences will help your reader decide whether they want to continue reading your essay or not.

Before coming up with a hook, think about these questions:

  • What type of essay are you writing?

  • What type of writing style and tone will you need to use?

  • Who is your intended audience?

  • What kind of structure do you need to establish?

What can you use as a 'hook'? - shortcut

Example of a Hook - A Literary Quote - example

A literary quote:

       This type of hook is appropriate when your essay is on a poem, novel, short story, a genre of literature (eg fantasy) or an author. For example,

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. Agree or not, but these words from The Alchemist determine

Example of a Hook - Set a Scene - example

Set a scene:

       Taking the time to set a detailed scene will help your reader have a clear picture in their minds and create an effective hook. You can describe an incident or detail the particular features of a person or a character to help the readers become immersed in your writing.

The day of his birth began with Hurricane Charlie pounding at our door in Charleston, South Carolina.

Use of Signposts - definition

Signposting sentences explain the logic of your argument. They tell the reader what you are going to do at key points in your assignment. They are most useful when used in the following places:

  • In the introduction

  • At the beginning of a paragraph which develops a new idea

  • At the beginning of a paragraph which expands on a previous idea

  • At the beginning of a paragraph which offers a contrasting viewpoint

  • At the end of a paragraph to sum up an idea

  • In the conclusion

Signposting Stems for an Introduction - example

Signposting stems for an introduction:

  • To understand the role of ... (your topic) this essay aims to provide a discussion of ... (the ideas you will develop).
  • This essay seeks to investigate/evaluate/illustrate/discuss the impact of ... (your topic) in relation to ... (the ideas you will develop).

Linking Words - definition

Linking words

Linking words and phrases show a connection between sentences in a paragraph and also between two paragraphs. Here are a few linking words you can use in your essay (notice some of the linking words used in the examples above):

  • Listing:          

  • first(ly), / second(ly), / finally, /

  • Indicating addition or similarity:

  • also, ; besides, ; in addition, ; furthermore, ; as well; similarly,

  • Indicating contrast:

  • however, ; nevertheless, ; on the other hand,

  • Giving a reason:

  • for this reason, ; because ; because of ; due to

  • Indicating result or consequence:

  • therefore, ; thus, ; as a result, ; consequently,

  • Reformulating an idea:

  • in other words, ; to put it simply, ; that is ...       

  • To illustrate:

  • for example, ; for instance, ; to exemplify,

Example of a Hook - Quotes from Famous People - example

Quotes from famous people:

       Including a quote from an authoritative or influential person can help support your argument and create an intriguing hook. The key is to make sure that you clearly show how the quote is relevant to your essay. Consider the following,

If you can laugh at yourself, you can forgive yourself, were the words of Susan Sparks when I attended her workshop on

Example of a Hook - Anecdote - example

Anecdote

        Dont be afraid to employ this type of hook. Remember, even if you start with a funny anecdote, it doesnt mean that your entire essay has to be funny. A bit of humour can help you grab a readers attention and spark their interest in the topic. Keep in mind that most essay assignments discourage writing in the first person. Check for any requirements before using I in your writing.

Example of a Hook - Pose a Question - example

Pose a Question:

       A well-constructed question will tempt the audience to continue reading in order to discover the answer. Avoid a yes-or-no question and instead pose one that forces the reader to think critically. For example,

What would you do if you could play God for a day? Thats exactly what the leaders of the tiny island nation of Guam tried to answer.

Example of a Hook - Include an Interesting Fact or Definition - example

Include an interesting fact or definition

These types of hooks start by surprising the reader with something that they may not have known. Provide an interesting fact about something you are going to discuss in your essays body and your audience will want to keep reading to learn more. Example:

Spain, though hardly a literary juggernaut, translates more books in one year than the entire Arab world has in the past one thousand years.

Example of a Hook - State your Thesis - example

State your thesis

       There is no harm in starting the essay with your main argument. If you have an interesting take on a subject, the reader will want to keep reading to see where you came up with the idea.

Example of a Hook - Reveal a Common Misconception - example

Reveal a Common Misconception

       The most interesting essays will teach the readers something new. If you start your introduction by showing that a commonly accepted truth is actually false, your readers will be instantly hooked. For example,

While most coffee enthusiasts would tell you that their favorite drink comes from a bean, they would be wrong. Coffee is actually made from a seed that is simply called a bean.

Example of a Hook - Statistics - example

Statistics

By listing proven facts at the very beginning of your paper, you will create interest that can be carried throughout the rest of the essay. For example,

80% of todays jobs are landed through networking

Signposting Stems for a Paragraph which Introduces or Develops a New Idea - example

Signposting Stems for a Paragraph which Introduces or Develops a New Idea:
  • One aspect which illustrates ... (your topic) can be identified as ... (the idea you want to develop).
  • The current debate about ... (your topic) identifies an interesting viewpoint on ...(the idea you want to develop).

Signposting Stems for a Paragraph which Expands upon a Previous Idea: - example


Signposting stems for a paragraph which expands upon a previous idea:
  • Building on from the idea that ... (mention previous idea), this section illustrates that ... (introduce your new idea).
  • Another line of thought on ... (your topic or your previous idea) demonstrates that ... (introduce your new idea).

Signposting Stems for a Paragraph which Offers a Contrasting View - example

Signposting stems for a paragraph which offers a contrasting view:
  • However, another angle on this debate suggests that ... (introduce your contrasting idea).
  • However, not all research shows that ... (mention your previous idea). Some evidence agrees that ... (introduce your contrasting idea).

Signposting Stems to Sum Up an Idea in a Paragraph - example

Signposting stems to sum up an idea in a paragraph:
  • This evidence highlights that ... (sum up your idea).
  • There is general agreement that ... (sum up your idea).
  • The strength of such an approach is that ...(sum up your idea).

Signposting Stems for a Conclusion - example

Signposting stems for a conclusion:

  • Clearly, this essay has shown that the main factors which impact upon ... (your topic) are ...(summarize your main ideas).
  • The evidence presented in this assignment has shown that ... (mention the conclusions you have drawn).
  • To conclude, this assignment has addressed a number of significant issues which show that ... (mention the conclusions you have drawn).

Use Correct Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation in the Essay - definition

Incorrect use of grammar, punctuation, and spelling are glaringly obvious and can easily reduce your marks. It is important that you take great care in checking these three aspects both while and after writing your essay. 

You must remember that English is language and a language is never rigid. There are many rules in spellings but there are an equal number of exceptions as well. The best example is the rule: i before e except after c. This does not apply to words like neighbour, glacier, seize, fancier, height and many more.

For e.g., 

If you write 'your' instead of 'you're', it'll change the meaning of your entire sentence and the intended person may get the wrong message, which can even lead to a misunderstanding.

Basic Spelling Rules - shortcut

Basic Spelling Rules:

These rules will help in improving your spelling, but remember that there are always exceptions in each of them:

Omitting E

It depends on the suffix.

You keep the final E when adding suffixes that begin with consonants. For example, fate becomes fateful by adding -ful.

fate + -ful fateful

Suffixes that begin with a vowel, such as -able, require you to eliminate the final E. For example, love becomes lovable by adding -able.

love + -able lovable

Changing y to ies

How do you know when to change y to ies? Look at the letter before the y to find out.

If it is a vowel, then add s.

essay  essays; ploy  ploys; key keys

If there is a consonant before the Y, replace the y with ies.

daisy daisies; sky skies

Q always comes with U

In English, the letter Q is always followed by U. Thats not the case in other languages, so borrowed words like Qatar, the name of a country, dont follow the English pattern.

Adding all as a prefix

When adding all- as a prefix, you usually shorten it to al-.

all + together altogether all + ready already

Overusing Short Sentences - example

In 2010, the company's yearly profit growth decreased from the previous year by 2%. This was the year they launched the OWN project. The profit growth had steadily increased by more than 7% since 1989. (They stabilized in 2009.) This announcement stunned Wall Street analysts. However, it aligns with the decrease in similar company profit growth worldwide. It also supports future predictions for the industry (Author, Year).

Alternating Lengths - example

The company reported that profit growth stabilized in 2009, though it had steadily increased by more than 7% since 1989. In 2010, the year they launch the OWN project, company profit growth decreased from the previous year. This announcement stunned Wall Street analysts. According to Author (Year), however, this decrease is an exemplar of a trend across similar company profit growth worldwide; it also supports future predictions for the industry.

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