Understanding Essay Structure
Now that you have understood academic essay writing organisation, let’s look at understanding essay structure for English academic writing.
An English academic essay will have a minimum of three paragraphs, and as with any paragraph, there are three parts to an academic essay:
- The Introductory Paragraph
- The Body Paragraphs
- The concluding Paragraph
The Introductory Paragraph
An academic essay introduction should attract the readers interest, and it should say what they are going to read. It is one of the most important paragraphs in your essay writing. It has a few general statements, and the last sentence in the introduction is usually the thesis statement, but not always.
Writing an academic essay introductory paragraph is similar to meeting somebody for the first time. It’s like saying hello to someone to make sure you leave a good impression with the person you meet. Similarly, an English essay writing introduction must leave a good impression and attract the readers interest.
The introductory paragraph should be short (but at least 50 words), and it has three functions:
- It briefly introduces the subject.
- It clearly states your position on the topic.
- It provides at least three main ideas.
There are few ways to write an academic essay introduction. These are the most common types of introductions in academic essay writing are:
- General statement introduction.
- Question introduction.
- Quotation introduction.
We will only look the general introduction. This type of introduction is the most commonly used way to start academic essay writing when learning English essay writing.
A general introduction has a few general statements providing the reader with the background of the topic. The first general statement introduces the subject of the essay. The following general statements should lead the reader gradually to the thesis statement. That means each general statement becomes more specific and more focused on the topic. The last sentence in a general introduction is the thesis statement. Remember to state your specific topic and controlling idea.
What is a thesis statement and what does it do?
The thesis statement is what defines the topic and controlling idea of your essay writing. In a thesis statement you name the topic and state the controlling idea. The controlling idea specifies the scope of the essay. It says what you are writing about. It restricts your essay to specific ideas on the theme of your subject.
The thesis statement has three purposes:
- It states the specific topic of the essay.
- It can list the main ideas of your topic.
- It can tell the reader the pattern of organization used.
The Body Paragraphs
Body paragraphs consist of one or more connected paragraphs which discuss the main ideas in more detail. They also include references to your examples, being either fact, real life examples, or reported detail from your research.
In the previous paragraph, I said, “… connected paragraphs…” This is where transition between paragraphs is essential to make sure the essay flows smoothly.
Transitions Between Paragraphs
Transitions between paragraphs of your essay play a very important role. As I stated earlier, sentence transition signals connect the ideas within a paragraph. Paragraph transition signals tell you if the main idea of the next paragraph continues with same line of thinking as the previous paragraph, or if the next paragraph changes to an opposite line of thinking.
The advantage of using prepositions as paragraph transition signals is you can repeat the topic of the previous paragraph, whilst naming the topic of the next paragraph. By using this method of transition, you can link your body paragraphs as a logical, connected, and coherent essay.
“For example: In addition to creating connected sentences, transition signals connect paragraphs.”
Supporting Evidence For the Body of Your Essay
A few ways to develop supporting detail for your academic essay writing is to use examples, quotations, and facts like statistics. These are very powerful ways to show your reader convincingly how you support your topic, opinion, or research.
Giving examples can be done by using words like for example, for instance, such as, or like. When using statistics you may quote information from magazines, books, newspapers, interviews, or the internet. If using quotes, make sure you follow the rules for reported speech.
Finally, a note on plagiarism. If you look up the word plagiarism on the internet or in a dictionary, it gives a very descriptive definition. All of this simply put means, if you plagiarise, you steal other people’s words, images, or ideas. When writing academically, it is OK to use other people’s work, but you must give credit to the source of the information. This is called citation.
The Concluding Paragraph
In academic essay writing, the concluding paragraph is the last paragraph, and it has three functions.
- It says the essay is finished.
- It helps the reader to remember your main ideas.
- It leaves the reader with your last thought about the subject.
Concluding paragraphs in English academic writing are similar to paragraph conclusions. They summarize or restate the main ideas of the essay. Note one difference is that you can use more than one sentence to write your conclusion in an essay. Also, sometimes writers leave a final thought to give readers something to think about when they have finished reading. This helps readers to remember what you have written, and it gets them to think more deeply about your ideas on the subject.
You can learn more about understanding essay structure by following the link below. It will take you my Amazon author page where you can buy one of my books in the series academic writing skills for International ESL Students.