opening sentence of an essay

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How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)   

essay introduction

The introduction of an essay plays a critical role in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. It sets the stage for the rest of the essay, establishes the tone and style, and motivates the reader to continue reading. 

Table of Contents

What is an essay introduction , what to include in an essay introduction, how to create an essay structure , step-by-step process for writing an essay introduction , how to write an introduction paragraph , how to write a hook for your essay , how to include background information , how to write a thesis statement .

  • Argumentative Essay Introduction Example: 
  • Expository Essay Introduction Example 

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction Example

Check and revise – checklist for essay introduction , key takeaways , frequently asked questions .

An introduction is the opening section of an essay, paper, or other written work. It introduces the topic and provides background information, context, and an overview of what the reader can expect from the rest of the work. 1 The key is to be concise and to the point, providing enough information to engage the reader without delving into excessive detail. 

The essay introduction is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire piece and provides the reader with a roadmap of what to expect. Here are key elements to include in your essay introduction: 

  • Hook : Start with an attention-grabbing statement or question to engage the reader. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a compelling anecdote. 
  • Background information : Provide context and background information to help the reader understand the topic. This can include historical information, definitions of key terms, or an overview of the current state of affairs related to your topic. 
  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position on the topic. Your thesis should be concise and specific, providing a clear direction for your essay. 

Before we get into how to write an essay introduction, we need to know how it is structured. The structure of an essay is crucial for organizing your thoughts and presenting them clearly and logically. It is divided as follows: 2  

  • Introduction:  The introduction should grab the reader’s attention with a hook, provide context, and include a thesis statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.  
  • Body:  The body should consist of focused paragraphs that support your thesis statement using evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should concentrate on a single central idea or argument and provide evidence, examples, or analysis to back it up.  
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis differently. End with a final statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Avoid new information or arguments. 

opening sentence of an essay

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an essay introduction: 

  • Start with a Hook : Begin your introduction paragraph with an attention-grabbing statement, question, quote, or anecdote related to your topic. The hook should pique the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue reading. 
  • Provide Background Information : This helps the reader understand the relevance and importance of the topic. 
  • State Your Thesis Statement : The last sentence is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and directly address the topic of your essay. 
  • Preview the Main Points : This gives the reader an idea of what to expect and how you will support your thesis. 
  • Keep it Concise and Clear : Avoid going into too much detail or including information not directly relevant to your topic. 
  • Revise : Revise your introduction after you’ve written the rest of your essay to ensure it aligns with your final argument. 

Here’s an example of an essay introduction paragraph about the importance of education: 

Education is often viewed as a fundamental human right and a key social and economic development driver. As Nelson Mandela once famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is the key to unlocking a wide range of opportunities and benefits for individuals, societies, and nations. In today’s constantly evolving world, education has become even more critical. It has expanded beyond traditional classroom learning to include digital and remote learning, making education more accessible and convenient. This essay will delve into the importance of education in empowering individuals to achieve their dreams, improving societies by promoting social justice and equality, and driving economic growth by developing a skilled workforce and promoting innovation. 

This introduction paragraph example includes a hook (the quote by Nelson Mandela), provides some background information on education, and states the thesis statement (the importance of education). 

This is one of the key steps in how to write an essay introduction. Crafting a compelling hook is vital because it sets the tone for your entire essay and determines whether your readers will stay interested. A good hook draws the reader in and sets the stage for the rest of your essay.  

  • Avoid Dry Fact : Instead of simply stating a bland fact, try to make it engaging and relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of exercise, you could start with a startling statistic like, “Did you know that regular exercise can increase your lifespan by up to seven years?” 
  • Avoid Using a Dictionary Definition : While definitions can be informative, they’re not always the most captivating way to start an essay. Instead, try to use a quote, anecdote, or provocative question to pique the reader’s interest. For instance, if you’re writing about freedom, you could begin with a quote from a famous freedom fighter or philosopher. 
  • Do Not Just State a Fact That the Reader Already Knows : This ties back to the first point—your hook should surprise or intrigue the reader. For Here’s an introduction paragraph example, if you’re writing about climate change, you could start with a thought-provoking statement like, “Despite overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe in the reality of climate change.” 

Including background information in the introduction section of your essay is important to provide context and establish the relevance of your topic. When writing the background information, you can follow these steps: 

  • Start with a General Statement:  Begin with a general statement about the topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific focus. For example, when discussing the impact of social media, you can begin by making a broad statement about social media and its widespread use in today’s society, as follows: “Social media has become an integral part of modern life, with billions of users worldwide.” 
  • Define Key Terms : Define any key terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to your readers but are essential for understanding your argument. 
  • Provide Relevant Statistics:  Use statistics or facts to highlight the significance of the issue you’re discussing. For instance, “According to a report by Statista, the number of social media users is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025.” 
  • Discuss the Evolution:  Mention previous research or studies that have been conducted on the topic, especially those that are relevant to your argument. Mention key milestones or developments that have shaped its current impact. You can also outline some of the major effects of social media. For example, you can briefly describe how social media has evolved, including positives such as increased connectivity and issues like cyberbullying and privacy concerns. 
  • Transition to Your Thesis:  Use the background information to lead into your thesis statement, which should clearly state the main argument or purpose of your essay. For example, “Given its pervasive influence, it is crucial to examine the impact of social media on mental health.” 

opening sentence of an essay

A thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, or other type of academic writing. It appears near the end of the introduction. Here’s how to write a thesis statement: 

  • Identify the topic:  Start by identifying the topic of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the importance of exercise for overall health, your topic is “exercise.” 
  • State your position:  Next, state your position or claim about the topic. This is the main argument or point you want to make. For example, if you believe that regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health, your position could be: “Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health.” 
  • Support your position:  Provide a brief overview of the reasons or evidence that support your position. These will be the main points of your essay. For example, if you’re writing an essay about the importance of exercise, you could mention the physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and the role of exercise in disease prevention. 
  • Make it specific:  Ensure your thesis statement clearly states what you will discuss in your essay. For example, instead of saying, “Exercise is good for you,” you could say, “Regular exercise, including cardiovascular and strength training, can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.” 

Examples of essay introduction 

Here are examples of essay introductions for different types of essays: 

Argumentative Essay Introduction Example:  

Topic: Should the voting age be lowered to 16? 

“The question of whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 has sparked nationwide debate. While some argue that 16-year-olds lack the requisite maturity and knowledge to make informed decisions, others argue that doing so would imbue young people with agency and give them a voice in shaping their future.” 

Expository Essay Introduction Example  

Topic: The benefits of regular exercise 

“In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of regular exercise cannot be overstated. From improving physical health to boosting mental well-being, the benefits of exercise are numerous and far-reaching. This essay will examine the various advantages of regular exercise and provide tips on incorporating it into your daily routine.” 

Text: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee 

“Harper Lee’s novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is a timeless classic that explores themes of racism, injustice, and morality in the American South. Through the eyes of young Scout Finch, the reader is taken on a journey that challenges societal norms and forces characters to confront their prejudices. This essay will analyze the novel’s use of symbolism, character development, and narrative structure to uncover its deeper meaning and relevance to contemporary society.” 

  • Engaging and Relevant First Sentence : The opening sentence captures the reader’s attention and relates directly to the topic. 
  • Background Information : Enough background information is introduced to provide context for the thesis statement. 
  • Definition of Important Terms : Key terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the audience or are central to the argument are defined. 
  • Clear Thesis Statement : The thesis statement presents the main point or argument of the essay. 
  • Relevance to Main Body : Everything in the introduction directly relates to and sets up the discussion in the main body of the essay. 

opening sentence of an essay

Writing a strong introduction is crucial for setting the tone and context of your essay. Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3  

  • Hook the Reader : Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader’s attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. 
  • Provide Background : Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion. 
  • Thesis Statement : State your thesis, which is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be concise, clear, and specific. 
  • Preview the Structure : Outline the main points or arguments to help the reader understand the organization of your essay. 
  • Keep it Concise : Avoid including unnecessary details or information not directly related to your thesis. 
  • Revise and Edit : Revise your introduction to ensure clarity, coherence, and relevance. Check for grammar and spelling errors. 
  • Seek Feedback : Get feedback from peers or instructors to improve your introduction further. 

The purpose of an essay introduction is to give an overview of the topic, context, and main ideas of the essay. It is meant to engage the reader, establish the tone for the rest of the essay, and introduce the thesis statement or central argument.  

An essay introduction typically ranges from 5-10% of the total word count. For example, in a 1,000-word essay, the introduction would be roughly 50-100 words. However, the length can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the overall length of the essay.

An essay introduction is critical in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. To ensure its effectiveness, consider incorporating these key elements: a compelling hook, background information, a clear thesis statement, an outline of the essay’s scope, a smooth transition to the body, and optional signposting sentences.  

The process of writing an essay introduction is not necessarily straightforward, but there are several strategies that can be employed to achieve this end. When experiencing difficulty initiating the process, consider the following techniques: begin with an anecdote, a quotation, an image, a question, or a startling fact to pique the reader’s interest. It may also be helpful to consider the five W’s of journalism: who, what, when, where, why, and how.   For instance, an anecdotal opening could be structured as follows: “As I ascended the stage, momentarily blinded by the intense lights, I could sense the weight of a hundred eyes upon me, anticipating my next move. The topic of discussion was climate change, a subject I was passionate about, and it was my first public speaking event. Little did I know , that pivotal moment would not only alter my perspective but also chart my life’s course.” 

Crafting a compelling thesis statement for your introduction paragraph is crucial to grab your reader’s attention. To achieve this, avoid using overused phrases such as “In this paper, I will write about” or “I will focus on” as they lack originality. Instead, strive to engage your reader by substantiating your stance or proposition with a “so what” clause. While writing your thesis statement, aim to be precise, succinct, and clear in conveying your main argument.  

To create an effective essay introduction, ensure it is clear, engaging, relevant, and contains a concise thesis statement. It should transition smoothly into the essay and be long enough to cover necessary points but not become overwhelming. Seek feedback from peers or instructors to assess its effectiveness. 

References  

  • Cui, L. (2022). Unit 6 Essay Introduction.  Building Academic Writing Skills . 
  • West, H., Malcolm, G., Keywood, S., & Hill, J. (2019). Writing a successful essay.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education ,  43 (4), 609-617. 
  • Beavers, M. E., Thoune, D. L., & McBeth, M. (2023). Bibliographic Essay: Reading, Researching, Teaching, and Writing with Hooks: A Queer Literacy Sponsorship. College English, 85(3), 230-242. 

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WriterWiki

36 Engaging opening sentences for an essay

Last Updated on July 20, 2022 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

An essay’s opening sentence has a tremendous impact on the reader. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing an argumentative essay, a personal narrative, or a research paper; how your text begins will affect its tone and topic. You can write about anything as long as it is relevant to your thesis—starting with an engaging opening sentence may be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful essay.

An introduction is the first section of any paper that allows you to introduce your thesis and provide an overview of your argument or discussion. A good introduction should grab your audience’s attention and entice them to read on, summarising what you’re trying to say concisely. It’s a good idea to think of your introduction as a hook, writing an opening sentence that will leave your reader wanting more.

Writing a thesis statement is the first thing you need to do when planning your paper. Although there are multiple strategies for creating a thesis statement, you must express yourself clearly and answer three simple questions: What is the main idea of my essay? Why is it important? How do I plan to prove it in a paper?

There are countless ways to begin an essay or a thesis effectively. As a start, here are 36 introductory strategies accompanied by examples from a wide range of professional writers.

1. “Is it possible to be truly anonymous online?”

This is an engaging opening sentence because it immediately poses a problem that the reader will likely want answered. It’s also interesting that this question applies directly to internet usage, something everybody has experience with. The subject of the opening sentence is “online anonymity,” which allows the writer to discuss two related concepts.

2. “I was shocked to awake one morning to find I had turned into a snail.”

The opening sentence immediately grabs the reader’s attention with its play on words, leaving them unsure if it’s meant as a joke. It continues to entertain by combining an unlikely image (a person turning into a snail) with waking up more common. The sentence also establishes the essay’s tone, which is humorous and personal.

3. “I didn’t want to study abroad.”

This opening sentence immediately intrigues the reader because it presents an opinion that contradicts what would be expected in this type of assignment. The writer then follows with a statement about their decision to study abroad, discussing the reasons for this choice and explaining their position on the matter.

4. “The three dogs had been barking for over an hour before my neighbor finally came out to investigate.”

This opening sentence introduces a narrative about something that happened in the past, starting with dogs barking at night. The next sentence provides background information by revealing that the neighbor came out after an hour and then reasons for this delay. The fact that the writer does not reveal why this is significant until later on makes the opening sentence even more effective because it keeps the reader engaged with what will happen next.

5. “I have always been interested in fashion.”

This opening sentence immediately sets the topic for the entire paper by discussing interest in fashion. It also establishes the tone, clearly portraying the writer’s voice while informing the audience about their personal experience with the subject matter.

6. “I remember when I first realized I didn’t have a home.”

This opening sentence begins a personal narrative about a time before moving out of their family home when the writer realized they didn’t live there anymore. It uses flashbacks to set up the rest of the essay by showing what happened before they moved out and how this made them feel.

7. “When I was in middle school, my dad told me not to get into fights.”

This opening sentence establishes a relationship between the writer and the subject of their essay, creating a more personal tone. It also establishes an expectation for what will be discussed by telling something that happened in the past. The sentence ends with a twist, so it’s more interesting than just stating something that was told to them, making this opening sentence effective.

8. “When I first sat down to write this essay, I was absolutely certain of the thesis.”

This opening sentence immediately introduces conflict because it tells about something that didn’t occur as expected. It also implies that there will be an alternate solution or angle for this paper that will be explored in the following paragraphs. The vocabulary (like “absolutely”) suggests more certainty in this opening paragraph than presented, making it interesting to read.

9. “I remember the first time I killed a man.”

This opening sentence offers an unexpected statement that intrigues the reader and immediately draws them into the essay, wanting to know more about what happened. This type of sentence is called a gripping opener because it does just that. The sentence is also effective because it creates suspense and anticipation in the reader’s mind about what will happen next in this story .

10. “There are two sides to every story: my side and your side.”

This opening sentence introduces a topic that will be revisited multiple times throughout the essay, making it effective for an introduction. It also creates a sense of mystery about the two sides and how they relate to each other, which will be resolved later on once it becomes clear that there are three sides.

11. “I should start this essay by introducing myself.”

This opening sentence includes an explanation for why this paragraph is being written (to introduce oneself) before it ends with a question (“who am I?”). This is effective because it gets the reader to think critically about who the writer is and what they want to say. It also permits them to stop reading after this sentence if they don’t feel like it, making it one of the less intimidating opening sentences.

12. “At the age of seven, I knew my life was going to be amazing.”

This opening sentence establishes a confident, optimistic tone by mentioning something that happened in the past. It also implies that the writer had this positive outlook before anything particularly special happened to them yet, which will likely be mentioned later on, making it more interesting to read.

13. “I don’t know when I lost my sense of excitement for learning.”

This opening sentence presents a conflict that the writer will likely try to resolve in this essay, which gives the reader something to look forward to. It also establishes voice by expressing how they feel about their education so far and suggesting what could be done about it.

14. “Coming home after a long day of school and work is like walking into a warzone.”

This opening sentence creates a sense of conflict that will likely be discussed later on and establishes voice because it shows the writer’s attitude towards their environment. It provides an example of why this subject has been brought up by describing what happens during this “warzone” of a day.

15. “I’ve always loved school.”

This opening sentence is effective because it provides an example of how their life used to be before the issue was introduced (in the next few sentences), making it more interesting to read. It also creates a sense of nostalgia about how good things used to be, making it more engaging.

16. “I feel like I’m losing my mind.”

This opening sentence is effective because it creates a voice by describing the writer’s experience and establishes conflict, so the reader knows what to expect in this essay. It provokes an emotional response in the reader, making them more interested.

17. “On day two of our honeymoon, my wife passed out.”

This opening sentence creates suspense by mentioning what happens before revealing why this is significant. It also establishes conflict because it implies that the writer’s wife’s health will be an issue throughout the essay. This leads to a likely discussion about whether or not they should continue their honeymoon, making it engaging for the reader.

18. “I’m a college student, and I hate it.”

This opening sentence establishes conflict for the rest of the essay because it implies that something negatively affects their education. It also establishes voice by showing what they think about being a student and how they feel about college so far, which makes it more interesting to read.

19. “The first time I heard the word ‘stan’ was when Eminem released his song in 2000 by the same name.”

This opening sentence establishes conflict for what will likely be discussed later on and also creates a sense of nostalgia because it takes the reader back to a significant point in recent history that they might remember (rare for essays). It also establishes voice because it shows the writer’s knowledge about rap music.

20. “I used to hate when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up because I never knew how to answer them.”

This opening sentence helps the reader understand why this essay was written to tie into their own experiences. It also establishes conflict by revealing something that the writer used to be troubled by. It also makes them seem relatable because everyone has problems with their future at one point or another.

21. “All my life, I’ve been told I was destined for greatness.”

This opening sentence establishes that the writer had difficulties in their life despite being seen as destined for greatness so far. It also creates a sense of conflict because it implies that they will have to convince the reader otherwise, making it more interesting to read.

22. “My friend once told me that I should never say ‘I’m just being honest when discussing our differences, but I always do.”

This opening sentence creates conflict by showing the reader that there is always tension between the writer and their friend because of this issue. It also establishes voice because it shows how honest they are about their differences, which makes them more relatable. This makes it engaging for the reader to read on.

23. “I’ve never been one to keep my emotions bottled up, and now that I’m pregnant, that’s been amplified.”

This opening sentence establishes emotion from the writer because it shows that they are uncomfortable keeping their emotions to themselves and continue to do so even when they become pregnant. It also creates a sense of conflict because the reader will probably wonder how this lack of emotional inhibition might affect them later on.

24. “The first time I read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ it changed my life.”

This opening sentence grabs the reader’s attention and shows what impact this book has had on the writer so far. It also establishes how passionate the writer is towards literature and makes them more relatable because many people have been affected by great works of literature in some way. This is engaging for the reader to read on.

25. “As I walked out of class one day, my professor asked me what I wanted to do with my future.”

This opening sentence establishes conflict by showing that there was a time when the writer did not have an answer to this question despite being capable of doing anything in their mind. It also establishes voice by showing that the writer can stand up for themselves when pushed and makes them seem more relatable because everyone struggles with thinking about their future at some point or another. This is engaging for the reader to continue reading.

26. “I’ve always been taught that it’s impolite to talk about money, but I want to share my experience with you.”

This opening sentence establishes voice by showing that the writer does not abide by this code of conduct because they believe it’s more important to be open and honest. It also creates a sense of conflict so that the reader might have their own contrasting opinions, which will create tension while reading. This is engaging for the reader to continue reading.

27. “Growing up, I never liked math, and it wasn’t until college that I realized why.”

This opening sentence establishes voice because it shows how passionate the writer was about their dislike of math despite not knowing why. It also creates conflict because they will have to explain their reasoning to the reader, which makes it more interesting to read, and it is engaging for the reader to read on.

28. “There are so many factors that go into determining how much someone should be paid, but I believe that everyone deserves equal pay.”

This opening sentence establishes conflict because the writer believes in something that not many people support, and they will have to explain their reasoning. It also establishes voice because it shows that the writer is passionate about this belief and makes them more relatable for other people who share the same opinion. This is engaging for the reader to read on.

29. “Many things have been said about Millennials, but no one has asked us what we think.”

This opening sentence creates a sense of conflict because the reader might be wondering what this person thinks as a Millennial. It also establishes voice by using “us” to show that they are not alone in their beliefs and makes them seem more relatable. This is engaging for the reader to read on.

30. “I finally found a job that I love, and as it turns out, it’s located in a city that has been my dream destination since I was little.”

This opening sentence establishes voice because it shows how the writer feels about their new job and makes them sound passionate about their work which makes the reader want to read on. This is engaging for the reader to continue.

31. “It was the summer of 2001 when I first came across an anime dubbed in French.”

This opening sentence establishes voice through personal experience and makes it relatable because many people have watched their favorite movies or shows in another language. It also creates a sense of conflict by making the reader wonder why they continued watching even though they didn’t understand much of what was being said. This is engaging for the reader to read on.

32. “For years, I thought my life was perfect, until one day when I realized that there’s nothing more important than your mental health.”

This opening sentence establishes voice by showing that the writer used to have this belief but then had a heart change, making them more relatable because everyone’s beliefs change over time. It also creates a sense of conflict by questioning what the reader believes about their mental health, which will make them want to continue reading. This is engaging for the reader to read on.

33. “As children, it’s easy to dream about becoming an astronaut or a firefighter, but I never imagined that my greatest passion would be writing.”

This opening sentence establishes voice by showing how the writer is passionate about what they are currently doing. It also creates a sense of conflict because the reader may have different interests, making it more interesting to read. This is engaging for the reader to continue reading on.

34. “If you would’ve asked me a few months ago, I wouldn’t have said that my life was perfect. However, after some time and perspective, I’m grateful for the twists and turns.”

This opening sentence establishes voice by showing how this person’s perspective has changed over time. It also creates a sense of conflict because it questions what the reader thinks and makes them want to read on. This is engaging for the reader to read on.

35. “Everyone has goals in life, whether it’s saving up enough money to buy a house or finally writing that book.”

This opening sentence establishes conflict because it questions the reader’s goals and shows how they may be different from the writer’s. It also creates a sense of connection because many people share the same goals and make them want to keep reading. This is engaging for the reader to read on.

36. “I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you this, but my favorite show as a child was A Little Princess.”

This opening sentence establishes voice by showing that the writer shares a secret and makes them sound like they’re talking directly to someone. It also creates a sense of conflict because it’s difficult to imagine that the reader doesn’t know this information and makes them want to read on. This is engaging for the reader to read on.

Final Words

To conclude, there are countless ways to begin an essay or a thesis effectively. These 36 opening sentences for an essay are just a few examples of how to do so. There is no “right way” to start, but it will become easier to find your voice and style as you continue writing and practicing. Good luck!

Harvard University

Purdue University

Royal Literary Fund- Essay Writing Guide

University of Melbourne

Amherst College

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Sentence Starters: Ultimate List to Improve Your Essays and Writing

Ashley Shaw

Ashley Shaw

How to start a sentence

This blog post is going to be about … No. Too boring.

Today, I am going to talk to you about ... No. Too specific.

This is a blog post for all writers ... Nope. Too generic.

Has this ever been you while writing? I get it. Writing a good sentence can be hard, and when you have to string a whole lot of them together, the task can become daunting. So what do you do?

From the first sentence you write to the very last, you want each one to show your style and motivate your reader to keep reading. In this post, we are going to think about how you start your sentences.

sentence starter tip

What Is a Good Sentence Starter for an Essay Introduction?

What is a good sentence starter for a body paragraph, 25 useful transitions, can i repeat a sentence starter, how can i rephrase "in conclusion".

The first paragraph of a paper can make or break your grade. It is what gets your audience into the topic and sets the whole stage. Because of this, it is important to get your readers hooked early.

The first sentence of a paper is often called the hook. It shouldn’t be anything ordinary. It should have strong language and be a little surprising, with an interesting fact, story, statistic, or quote on the topic.

Because it is designed to pull the reader in and surprise them a little, it is often good to avoid pre-written sentence starter examples when writing your hook. Just get into it here, and worry about the flow later.

Here are some examples:

Spider webs were once used as bandages.

I taught myself to read when I was three. At least, that’s the story my parents tell.

Recent studies suggest that the average person lies at least once in every conversation.

“The world is bleeding and humans wield the knife,” or so says environmental scientist So Andso.

(P.S. Except for example 1, which is true, I just made all of these up to demonstrate my point. So, please don’t quote me on these!)

Once you jump right in with your hook, it is time to start working on ways to move sentences along. Here is where you may need some sentence starter examples.

In your first paragraph, you basically want to connect your hook to your thesis. You’ll do this with a few sentences setting up the stage for your topic and the claim you will make about it. To do that, follow the tips found in the next section on body paragraphs and general sentence starter tips.

Many of the tips I am about to discuss can be used anywhere in a paper, but they are especially helpful when writing body paragraphs.

Let’s start with one of the most important types of sentence starter in essay writing: transition words.

How Do I Use Transitions in an Essay?

Definition of Transitions

If you want to start writing terrific sentences (and improve your essay structure ), the first thing you should do is start using transition words.

Transition words are those words or phrases that help connect thoughts and ideas. They move one sentence or paragraph into another, and they make things feel less abrupt.

The good thing about transition words is that you probably know a lot of them already and currently use them in your speech. Now, you just need to transition them into your writing. (See what I did there?)

Before we get into examples of what a good transition word is, let’s look at a paragraph without any transitions:

I went to the store. I bought bacon and eggs. I saw someone I knew. I said hello. I went to the cashier. They checked me out. I paid. I got my groceries. I went to my car. I returned home.

Yikes! That is some boring writing. It was painful to write, and I am sure it is even worse to read. There are two reasons for this:

  • I start every sentence with the same word (more on this later)
  • There are no signposts showing me how the ideas in the paragraph connect.

In an essay, you need to show how each of your ideas relate to each other to build your argument. If you just make a series of statements one after the other, you’re not showing your instructor that you actually understand those statements, or your topic.

How do we fix this? Transition words. Roughly 25% of your sentences should start with a transition word. If you can hit that number in your essay, you’ll know that you’ve made meaningful steps towards demonstrating your understanding.

Of course, hitting that number isn’t enough—those transitions need to be meaningful. Let’s look at the different types of transitions and how you can use them.

What Are Words Like First , Next , and Last Called?

You probably already use some transitions in your essays. For example, if you start a paragraph with firstly , you’ve used a transition word. But transitions can do so much more!

Here are 25 common transitional words and phrases that you could use in your essay:

  • Additionally / In Addition
  • Alternatively / Conversely
  • As a result of
  • At this time
  • Consequently
  • Contrary to
  • First(ly), Second(ly), etc.
  • In contrast
  • Nonetheless
  • On the other hand
  • Particularly / In particular
  • In other words

Common Transitional Words

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it is a good start.

These words show different types of relationships between ideas. These relationships fall into four main categories: Emphasis , Contrast , Addition , and Order .

What Are Emphasis Transition Words?

These phrases are used when you want to highlight a point. Examples from my above list include clearly , particularly , and indeed . Want to see some more? Follow my bolded transitions: Undoubtedly , you understand now. It should be noted that you don’t need to worry.

How Do You Use Addition Transitions?

These words add on to what you just said. These are words like along with , moreover , and also . Here are some more: Not only are you going to be great at transitions after this, but you will also be good at writing sentences. Furthermore , everyone is excited to see what you have to say.

How Can I Use Transitions to Contrast Ideas?

This is the opposite of addition, and you use it when you want to show an alternative view or to compare things. Examples from my list include words like nonetheless , contrary to , and besides .

Here are some more: Unlike people who haven’t read this article, you are going to be really prepared to write great sentences. Even so , there is still a lot more about writing to learn.

How Do I Order Ideas in My Essay?

A good first step is using order transition words.

This set of transitions helps mark the passage of time or gives an order to events. From the list, think of things like first and finally . Now for some extras: At this time yesterday , you were worried about starting sentences. Following this , though, you will be an expert.

The four types of transitions

Now that you get the concept of transitions, let’s go back to that poorly written paragraph above and add some in to see what happens:

This morning , I went to the store. While I was there, I bought bacon and eggs. Then I saw someone I knew. So I said hello. After that , I went to the cashier. At that time , they checked me out. First , I paid. Next , I got my groceries. Following that , I went to my car. Finally , I returned home.

(Notice the use of commas after most of these transitions!)

This isn’t the best paragraph I’ve ever written. It still needs a lot of work. However, notice what a difference just adding transitions makes. This is something simple but effective you can start doing to make your sentences better today.

If you want to check your transition usage, try ProWritingAid’s Transitions report . You’ll see how many of each type of transition word you've used so you can pin-point where you might be losing your reader.

prowritingaid transitions report for essay

Sign up for a free ProWritingAid account to try it out.

What Are Some Linking Phrases I Can Use in My Essay?

As well as individual words, you can also use short phrases at the beginning of your sentences to transition between ideas. I just did it there— "As well as individual words" shows you how this section of the article is related to the last.

Here are some more phrases like this:

As shown in the example,

As a result of this,

After the meeting,

While this may be true,

Though researchers suggest X,

Before the war began,

Until we answer this question,

Since we cannot assume this to be true,

While some may claim Y,

Because we know that Z is true,

These short phrases are called dependent clauses . See how they all end with a comma? That's because they need you to add more information to make them into complete sentences.

  • While some may claim that chocolate is bad for you, data from a recent study suggests that it may have untapped health benefits .
  • Since we cannot assume that test conditions were consistent, it is impossible to reach a solid conclusion via this experiment .
  • As a result of this, critics disagree as to the symbolism of the yellow car in The Great Gatsby .

The bolded text in each example could stand on its own as a complete sentence. However, if we take away the first part of each sentence, we lose our connection to the other ideas in the essay.

These phrases are called dependent clauses : they depend on you adding another statement to the sentence to complete them. When you use a sentence starter phrase like the ones above in your writing, you signal that the new idea you have introduced completes (or disrupts) the idea before it.

Note: While some very short dependent clauses don’t need a comma, most do. Since it is not wrong to use one on even short ones (depending on the style guide being used), it is a good idea to include one every time.

Definition of a dependent clause

Along with missing transitions and repeating sentence structure, another thing that stops sentences from being great is too much repetition. Keep your sentences sharp and poignant by mixing up word choices to start your sentences.

You might start your sentence with a great word, but then you use that same word 17 sentences in a row. After the first couple, your sentences don’t sound as great. So, whether it is varying the transitional phrases you use or just mixing up the sentence openers in general, putting in some variety will only improve your sentences.

ProWritingAid lets you know if you’ve used the same word repeatedly at the start of your sentences so you can change it.

ProWritingAid's Repetition Report

The Repeats Report also shows you all of the repeats in your document. If you've used a sentence starter and then repeated it a couple of paragraphs down, the report will highlight it for you.

Try the Repeats Report with a free ProWritingAid account.

Now that you have your introduction sentences and body sentences taken care of, let’s talk a little about conclusion sentences. While you will still use transitions and clauses as in the body, there are some special considerations here.

Your conclusion is what people will remember most after they finish reading your paper. So, you want to make it stand out. Don’t just repeat yourself; tell them what they should do with what you just told them!

Use the tips from above, but also remember the following:

Be unique. Not only should you vary the words you use to start different sentences, but you should also think outside of the box. If you use the same conclusion sentence starter everyone else is using, your ideas will blend in too.

Be natural. Some of the best writing out there is writing that sounds natural. This goes for academic writing, too. While you won’t use phrases like "at the end of the day" in essay writing, stilted phrases like "in conclusion" can disrupt the flow you’ve created earlier on.

Here are some alternatives to "in conclusion" you could use in an essay:

  • To review, ... (best for scientific papers where you need to restate your key points before making your final statement)
  • As has been shown, ...
  • In the final analysis, ...
  • Taking everything into account, ...
  • On the whole, ...
  • Generally speaking, ...

If you’re looking for more ways to rephrase "in conclusion," take a look at our complete list of synonyms you can use.

in conclusion alternatives

There may not be a set word or words that you can use to make your sentences perfect. However, when you start using these tips, you’ll start to see noticeable improvement in your writing.

If you’ve ever heard people talk about pacing and flow in academic writing, and you have no idea what they mean or how to improve yours, then this is your answer. These tips will help your writing sound more natural, which is how you help your ideas flow.

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20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers

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Crafting Compelling Sentence Starters for Essays

opening sentence of an essay

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on mastering sentence starters for essays. Ever wondered how some writers effortlessly hook their readers from the first line, smoothly transition between ideas, and leave a lasting impression?

The secret lies in the artful use of sentence starters. These short phrases are more than just transition words; they're the key to making your paper engaging, coherent, and sophisticated.

In this blog post, we'll shed light on the importance of good sentence starters, provide examples, and guide you on how to use them effectively in different parts of your essay. Whether you're writing an introduction, body paragraph, or conclusion , we've got you covered. But that's not all.

We'll also delve into common mistakes to avoid when using sentence starters and how to adapt them for different types of essays. So, buckle up and get ready to elevate your essay writing skills to new heights. Let's get started!

Understanding the Importance of Good Sentence Starters

Whether you're crafting an academic text or writing a blog , the right sentence starter can make all the difference. It's not just about stringing words together; it's about choosing the right words that will hook the reader and keep them engaged. So, let's delve deeper into understanding the importance of good sentence starters and how they can elevate your writing.

Why Good Sentence Starters are Crucial for Your Writing

Good sentence starters are the backbone of compelling writing. They act as the gateway to your thoughts, guiding the reader through your narrative or argument. They're not just a fancy academic phrase or a tool to meet a word count. They're the key to making your writing flow, to connecting your ideas, and to keeping your reader engaged.

Imagine reading a text that jumps from one point to another without any clear transitions. It would be like trying to follow a map without any signposts. You'd likely get lost, frustrated, and give up. That's exactly what happens when you don't use sentence starters. Your readers can't follow your train of thought, and they lose interest.

When you use sentence starters effectively, you're laying out a clear path for your reader. You're telling them, "Pay attention, this is an important point," or "Here's a contrasting view," or "Let's move on to a new idea." You're hooking the reader, keeping them engaged, and making your writing more impactful.

Examples of Effective Sentence Starters

Here are some examples of effective sentence starters that can elevate your writing:

  • "Despite the common belief, ..."
  • "Drawing from the data, ..."
  • "Contrary to what one might think, ..."
  • "Given the circumstances, ..."
  • "Taking into account the evidence, ..."
  • "As a matter of fact, ..."
  • "In light of recent events, ..."
  • "Considering the implications, ..."
  • "Reflecting on the situation, ..."
  • "From a different perspective, ..."

These sentence starters are not just words or phrases; they are the hooks that grab your reader's attention. They are the bridges that connect your thoughts and ideas, making your academic text more coherent and engaging. So, the next time you sit down to write, pay close attention to your sentence starters. They might just be the key to taking your writing to the next level.

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opening sentence of an essay

Sentence Starters for Essay Introductions

In this section, we will explore how to use sentence starters effectively in essay introductions, providing you with practical tips and examples.

How to Use Sentence Starters in Essay Introductions

The art of crafting an engaging essay introduction lies in the strategic use of sentence starters. These are not just any random words, but carefully chosen transition words, short phrases, or clauses that guide the reader into the narrative. They serve as a bridge, connecting the title to the body of the essay, and setting the tone for what's to come.

To use a sentence starter effectively, you need to understand its purpose. It's not just about starting a sentence; it's about creating a smooth transition that guides the reader from one idea to the next. It's about shedding light on the purpose of your research, and preparing the reader for the arguments you're about to present.

The goal is to make your paper as readable and engaging as possible. So, don't overuse sentence starters. Use them sparingly, and only when necessary to enhance the clarity and coherence of your essay.

Examples of Sentence Starters for Essay Introductions

Here are some examples of sentence starters that can be used in essay introductions:

  • "The purpose of this research is to..."
  • "This essay will shed light on..."
  • "In answer to the top question..."
  • "To paraphrase the research findings..."
  • "The essay introduction starters are designed to..."
  • "Using a sentence starter, we can..."
  • "With the use of transition words, we can..."
  • "A short phrase can make your paper more engaging..."
  • "Here's a starter example to illustrate..."
  • "This sentence starter example will clarify..."

These starters not only grab the reader's attention but also provide a clear roadmap for the essay. They can be used to introduce a new argument, create a smooth transition between paragraphs, or emphasize key ideas. Remember, the goal is to make your writing more compelling and engaging for the reader.

Sentence Starters for Body Paragraphs

Understanding how to use these paragraph starters effectively is crucial in crafting a well-structured essay. They not only introduce new ideas but also create a seamless connection between the previous and the upcoming content.

How to Use Sentence Starters in Body Paragraphs

In essay writing, sentence starters for essays are the secret sauce that adds flavor to your content. They are the transition phrases that guide your reader from one idea to the next, ensuring a smooth journey through your thoughts. When it comes to body paragraphs, these starters play a pivotal role in maintaining the flow and coherence of your essay.

A good paragraph starter doesn't just introduce the next idea, it also ties in with the previous one. It's a bridge that connects the two, making your paper feel like a cohesive whole rather than a collection of disjointed thoughts. So, when you start a body paragraph, consider the content of the previous one and choose a transition that will smoothly carry your reader forward.

Sentence Starters for Essay Conclusions

Wrapping up an essay or research paper with a strong conclusion is just as important as having a compelling introduction. The conclusion is your final chance to leave a lasting impression on your reader, and using the right sentence starters can make all the difference.

These conclusion sentence starters not only help you summarize your findings but also add a touch of sophistication to your writing. They serve as a bridge, connecting your final thoughts and the main body of your work, ensuring a smooth transition that enhances the overall readability of your paper.

Whether you're looking to paraphrase research findings or shed light on the broader implications of your work, the right sentence starter can help you achieve your goal. So, let's delve into the art of using sentence starters for essay conclusions.

How to Use Sentence Starters in Essay Conclusions

When it comes to wrapping up your research paper or essay, the use of conclusion sentence starters can be a game-changer. These short phrases or transition words can help you summarize your findings, restate your thesis, and leave a lasting impression on your reader.

The key to using these sentence starters effectively is to use them sparingly. Overuse can make your paper sound repetitive and unprofessional. Instead, use them to introduce a new idea or to transition smoothly between thoughts.

Another effective way to use a sentence starter is to highlight something important. A well-placed sentence starter can draw the reader's attention to a key point or finding in your research.

Examples of Sentence Starters for Essay Conclusions

Here are some examples of conclusion sentence starters that can be used to wrap up your research paper or essay:

  • "In conclusion, it is evident that..." This starter is a classic way to summarize your findings. For instance, "In conclusion, it is evident that the purpose of this research was to shed light on the effects of climate change."
  • "Based on the findings, it can be concluded that..." This phrase is perfect for emphasizing the results of your research. For example, "Based on the findings, it can be concluded that regular exercise contributes to improved mental health."
  • "Overall, this research sheds light on..." This sentence starter is great for highlighting the broader implications of your work. For instance, "Overall, this research sheds light on the importance of early intervention in education."

The use of a sentence starter or transition word can make your paper more coherent and impactful.

Sentence Starters for Different Types of Essays

Let's explore the specifics of using sentence starters in different types of essays. Whether you're crafting an argumentative, descriptive, or narrative essay, we'll provide you with a starter example to shed light on how to make your paper more compelling. Let's dive in!

Sentence Starters for Argumentative Essays

  • "Despite the prevailing belief, I argue that..."
  • "The evidence strongly suggests that..."
  • "To shed light on this issue, consider the following..."
  • "The purpose of this research is to challenge the notion that..."
  • "One cannot ignore the fact that..."
  • "Drawing upon the data, it becomes clear that..."
  • "This argument is further strengthened by the fact that..."
  • "In response to this argument, one might assert that..."
  • "The crux of the matter is that..."
  • "This line of reasoning leads us to conclude that..."
  • "In the face of such compelling evidence, it is hard to dispute that..."

Sentence Starters for Descriptive Essays

Here are some sentence starters that can be effectively used in descriptive essays:

  • "As I stepped into the room, ..."
  • "The first thing that caught my eye was ..."
  • "I was immediately struck by ..."
  • "The sight that greeted me was ..."
  • "I couldn't help but notice ..."
  • "The aroma of ... filled the air."
  • "The sound of ... echoed in the distance."
  • "The taste of ... lingered on my tongue."
  • "The touch of ... sent shivers down my spine."
  • "The feeling of ... was overwhelming."

These sentence starters can help you set the scene and engage your reader's senses right from the start. Remember, the purpose of a descriptive essay is to paint a vivid picture in the reader's mind. Using these sentence starters can help you achieve that.

Sentence Starters for Narrative Essays

  • Setting the Scene : "The sun was setting, casting long shadows across the park as children's laughter echoed in the distance..."
  • Introducing a Character : "Meet John, a man of few words but with a story that could fill volumes..."
  • Creating Suspense : "As she turned the corner, her heart pounded in her chest, not knowing what she would find..."
  • Describing an Event : "The concert was a whirlwind of lights, music, and energy that swept everyone off their feet..."
  • Presenting Dialogue : "'I've never seen anything like it,' he whispered, his eyes wide with awe and wonder..."
  • Sharing an Inner Thought : "She couldn't help but wonder if this was the right decision, if she was on the right path..."
  • Ending with a Cliffhanger : "As the door slowly creaked open, he braced himself for what was to come..."

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Sentence Starters

It's not just about knowing a variety of good sentence starters, but also about knowing when and how to use them to hook the reader and emphasize important points. Let's explore these common mistakes and learn how to avoid them.

Overusing the Same Sentence Starters

One of the most common pitfalls when using sentence starters is overusing the same phrase or word. It's like a song on repeat; after a while, it loses its charm. This is especially true in academic texts, where the goal is to hook the reader and keep them engaged.

A good sentence starter can be a great way to introduce a new idea or point. However, if you use the same starter example repeatedly, it can make your writing sound monotonous and uninteresting. It's important to pay attention to this as it can detract from the important points you're trying to make.

Remember, variety is the spice of life, and this holds true for sentence starters as well. Mixing up your sentence starters not only makes your writing more engaging but also helps to maintain the reader's interest.

So, the next time you write, be mindful of the sentence starters you use. Try to incorporate different ones to keep your writing fresh and engaging. This is a great way to ensure that your writing is always at its best.

Using Inappropriate Sentence Starters

One of the most common mistakes that writers make is using inappropriate sentence starters. This usually happens when the writer is not fully aware of the context or the tone of the text. For instance, using a casual sentence starter in an academic text can disrupt the flow and confuse the reader.

It's important to pay attention to the type of text you're writing. If it's an academic paper, using academic phrases as sentence starters is a great way to maintain the formal tone. On the other hand, if you're writing a blog post or a novel, you might want to use more casual or creative sentence starters to hook the reader.

Another important point to remember is that not all sentence starters are suitable for all types of sentences. For example, using a contrasting sentence starter in a sentence that's supposed to add information can lead to misunderstandings.

Final Thoughts on Mastering Sentence Starters for Essays

Mastering the use of sentence starters is a crucial skill for any writer. These transition words and phrases serve as bridges, guiding your reader through your thoughts and arguments. They not only enhance the flow and coherence of your writing but also hook the reader's attention, making your work more engaging and compelling.

However, remember that the effective use of sentence starters requires balance.

Overuse can lead to redundancy, while inappropriate use can confuse your reader. Therefore, it's essential to understand the context and purpose of each sentence starter to use it appropriately.

In the end, the art of using sentence starters is about making your paper more readable and persuasive. So, keep practicing, and soon, you'll find that these handy tools have become an integral part of your writing toolkit.

If you need professional writing help , try Strategically AI for free today.

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Home ➔ How to Write an Essay ➔ Words to Use in an Essay ➔ Sentence Starters

Sentence Starters for Essays

A sentence starter is simply a word or a phrase that will help you to get your sentence going when you feel stuck, and it can be helpful in many different situations. A good sentence starter can help you better transition from one paragraph to another or connect two ideas. If not started correctly, your sentence will likely sound choppy, and your reader might not be able to follow your thoughts.

Below, we will explain when sentence starters for essays are used and what types of them exist. We will then give you plenty of examples of sentence-starter words and phrases that you can use in your writing.

Note: To learn more about word choice in academic writing, you can read our guide: Words to Use in an Essay

Why you need good sentence starters

In academic writing, sentence starters are usually used to connect one idea to another. Sentence starters make your essay coherent as they are often used to transition from one paragraph to another. In other words, they glue your writing together so that it makes sense and is easy to read.

You can also use sentence starters inside paragraphs. This will help you to better transition from one idea to another. It can make your writing flow better and sound more unified if done correctly.

When sentence starters are used

You don’t have to use them in every sentence, but they can be helpful if you feel like your ideas are choppy or you want to connect two thoughts. If overused, sentence starters can make your writing sound repetitive and distracting to the reader.

Here’s a list of cases where you should consider using sentence starters:

  • To transition from one paragraph or section of your writing to another
  • To introduce a new idea at the start of your essay or paragraph
  • To start the final paragraph and conclude the entire essay
  • To emphasize something important
  • To create a hook and grab your reader’s attention
  • To clarify something or give brief background information

These are just some common situations for using sentence starters, and this list is not definitive. If you can’t decide whether or not to use a sentence starter, it’s usually best to err on the side of not using one. If your paragraph flows nicely, don’t overthink it and move on with your essay writing .

What are the different types of sentence starters?

Sentence starters vary based on what you want to achieve in the sentence you’re starting. Here are some of the most common purposes that define what sentence starter you need to apply, along with some examples.

Starters for hooks

If you want to grab your reader’s attention in the first paragraph and make them want to read your essay, you need to use introduction sentence starters that are attention-grabbing and interesting. Some common sentence starters for essay hooks are:

  • Did you know that… (for a fact)
  • When I was… (for an anecdote)
  • Just as… (for an analogy)
  • According to… (for a statistic)

Starters to start a thesis statement

The thesis statement is the main idea of your essay. It’s what you want to prove or argue in your essay. You will need to use sentence starters that introduce your essay topic in a clear and concise way. For example:

  • This essay will discuss…
  • The purpose of this essay is to…
  • In this essay, I will argue that…
  • In my opinion…
  • I think that…

Starters for topic sentences

A topic sentence is the first sentence at the beginning of each body paragraph that introduces the main idea of the paragraph. You will want to use body paragraph starters that state the main idea of the paragraph in a clear and concise way. Some specific examples:

  • One reason why…
  • The most important thing to remember is that…
  • Another important factor to consider is…
  • The first thing to note is that…
  • It’s important to remember that…
  • Besides the previous point,…

Starters for concluding

When you’re concluding your essay , you need to use conclusion sentence starters that emphasize the main points of your argument and leave your reader with a strong impression. Here are some examples:

  • In conclusion,…
  • To sum up,…
  • Overall,…
  • To conclude,…
  • Finally,…
  • In the final analysis,…

Starters for lists

If you’re listing ideas or items, you will want to use sentence starters that introduce each item clearly. Some common list starters are:

  • The first…
  • The second…
  • Thirdly,…
  • Next,…
  • Lastly,…

Starters for comparing and contrasting

If you’re writing an essay that compares and contrasts two or more things, you will need to use sentence starters that introduce each item you’re discussing and emphasize the similarities and/or differences. For example:

  • Similarly,…
  • However,…
  • In contrast to…
  • On the other hand,…
  • Compared to…
  • Despite the fact that…

Starters for elaborating

If you want to elaborate on an idea, you need to use sentence starters that introduce the detail you’re going to include and how it relates to the main idea. Some common starters for elaborating are:

  • For example,…
  • In other words,…
  • That is to say,…
  • To elaborate,…
  • Another way to put it would be…
  • To put it more simply,…

Starters for giving background information

If you want to give some brief background information in your essay, you need to use sentence starters that introduce the information and explain why it’s relevant. For example:

  • As previously mentioned,…
  • As everyone knows,…
  • In today’s society,…

Starters for giving an example

If you want to give an example in your essay, you need to use sentence starters that introduce the example and explain how it supports your argument. For example:

  • For instance,…
  • To illustrate,…
  • Thus,…
  • In this case,…

Starters for introducing a quotation

If you want to include a quotation in your essay, you need to use sentence starters that introduce the quotation and explain its relevance. Some examples:

  • As John Doe said,…
  • According to Jane Doe,…
  • As the old saying goes,…
  • In Jane Doe’s words,…
  • To put it another way,…

Starters for introducing evidence

If you want to include evidence in your essay, you need to use sentence starters that introduce the evidence and explain its relevance. For example:

  • The data shows that…
  • This proves that…
  • This suggests that…
  • The evidence indicates that…

Starters for bridging

If you want to create a bridge sentence between two paragraphs, you need to use sentence starters that introduce the second paragraph and explain how it relates to the first. For example:

  • This leads to the question,…
  • This raises the issue,…
  • Another important point to consider is…
  • This brings us to the question of…

Starters to show causation

If you want to show causation in your essay, you need to use sentence starters that introduce the cause and explain its relationship to the effect. For example:

  • Because of this,…
  • As a result,…
  • Consequently,…
  • Due to the fact that…
  • Therefore,…

Starters to emphasize a point

If you want to emphasize a point in your essay, you need to use sentence starters that draw attention to the point and make it clear why it’s important. Examples of sentence starters to add emphasis:

  • Importantly,…
  • Significantly,…

Starters to express doubt

If you want to express doubt about an idea in your essay, you need to use sentence starters that make it clear you’re not certain and explain why you have doubts. For example:

  • It’s possible that…
  • It’s uncertain whether…
  • Some people might argue that…
  • There is evidence to suggest that…
  • Although it is debatable,…
  • It might be the case that…

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Key takeaways

  • Sentence starters are especially important in academic writing because they can help you make complex arguments and express yourself clearly.
  • There are many different types of sentence starters, each with its own purpose.
  • You need to choose the right sentence starter for the specific task you’re writing about.
  • When in doubt, err on the side of caution and choose a simpler sentence starter.

Now that you know the different types of sentence starters and how to use them effectively, you’ll be able to write clear, concise, and well-organized essays.

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How to Write a Great Opening Sentence

Examples of great first sentences (and how they did it), how to write a strong opening sentence & engage readers (with examples).

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“I’ve never met you, but I’m gonna read your mind.”

That’s the opening line to The Scribe Method . It does what great opening sentences should: it immediately captures the reader’s attention. It makes them want to read more.

The purpose of a good opening line is to engage the reader and get them to start reading the book. That’s it.

It’s a fairly simple idea, and it works very well—but there are still a lot of misconceptions about book openings .

Many first-time Authors think they have to shock the reader to make them take note.

That’s not true. There are many ways to hook a reader that don’t require shocking them.

I also see Authors who think the purpose of the first paragraph is to explain what they’ll talk about in the book .

Not only is that wrong, it’s boring.

Readers can sense bullshit a mile away, so don’t try to beat them over the head with shock. Don’t give them a tedious summary. Don’t tell your life story. Don’t go into too much detail.

Use your first sentence to connect to the reader and make them want to keep reading.

This guide will help you write a great opening line so you can establish that authenticity and connection quickly.

Everyone knows some of the great opening lines from fiction novels:

  • “Call me Ishmael.” – Herman Melville, Moby Dick​​​​
  • “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
  • “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” – Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

The common thread between these opening lines is that they create a vivid first impression. They make the reader want to know more.

They’re punchy, intriguing, and unexpected.

The first words of a nonfiction book work the same way. You want to create an emotional connection with the reader so they can’t put the book down.

In some ways, nonfiction Authors even have an advantage. They’re writing about themselves and their knowledge while having a conversation with the reader.

They can establish the connection even more immediately because they don’t have to set a fictional scene. They can jump right in and use the first person “I.”

Let’s go back to The Scribe Method ‘s opening paragraph:

I’ve never met you, but I’m gonna read your mind. Not literally, of course. I’m going to make an educated guess about why you want to write a book.

When you read that, at a minimum, you’re going to think, “All right, dude, let’s see if you really know why I want to write a book .” And you’re going to keep reading.

At best, you’re going to think, “Wow. He’s inside my head right now.” And you’re going to keep reading.

In both cases, I’ve managed to create an emotional connection with the reader. Even if that emotion is skepticism, it’s enough to hook someone.

So where do you start when you’re writing your book ? How do you form that connection?

The best hooks usually start in the middle of the highest intensity.

In other words, lead with the most emotional part of the story.

If you’re starting your book with a story about how you got chased by the police, don’t begin with what you had for breakfast that day. Start with the chase.

A good hook might also be a question or a claim—anything that will elicit an emotional response from a reader.

Think about it this way: a good opening sentence is the thing you don’t think you can say, but you still want to say.

Like, “This book will change your life.”

Or, “I’ve come up with the most brilliant way anyone’s ever found for handling this problem.”

Your opening sentence isn’t the time for modesty (as long as you can back it up!).

You want to publish a book for a reason . Now’s your chance to show a reader why they should want to read it.

That doesn’t mean you have to be cocky. You just have to be honest and engaging.

When you’re trying to come up with a great opening line, ask yourself these 3 things:

  • What will the audience care about, be interested in, or be surprised by?
  • What is the most interesting story or inflammatory statement in your book?
  • What do you have to say that breaks the rules?

The best opening lines are gut punches.

They summarize the book, at least in an oblique way. But they’re not dry facts. They’re genuine, behind-the-scenes glimpses into a human life. They establish who you are and what you’re about, right from the beginning.

Human beings respond to genuine connection. That means being vulnerable. You have to break down any barriers that you might usually keep around you.

That’s one of the hardest things to do as an Author, but it makes for a great book.

Reading about perfection is boring, especially because we all know there’s no such thing.

In the next section, I’ll go through examples of great first sentences and explain why they work.

Every one of these strategies helps create an instant, authentic connection with readers. You just have to pick the one that makes the most sense for your book.

1. Revealing Personal Information

When most people think about comedian Tiffany Haddish, they think of a glamorous celebrity.

They don’t think about a kid who had trouble in school because she had an unstable home life, reeked of onions, and struggled with bullying.

From the first line of her book, Tiffany reveals that you’re going to learn things about her that you don’t know—personal things.

I mean, really personal.

The book’s opening story concludes with her trying to cut a wart off her face because she was teased so much about it (that’s where the “unicorn” nickname came from).

That level of personal connection immediately invites the reader in. It promises that the Author is going to be honest and vulnerable, no holds barred.

This isn’t going to be some picture-perfect memoir. It’s going to be real, and it’s going to teach you something.

And that’s what forms a connection.

2. Mirroring the Reader’s Pain

Geoffrey and I chose this opening sentence because it let readers know right away that we know their pain.

Not only that, we knew how to fix it .

If a reader picked up the book and didn’t connect to that opening line, they probably weren’t our target audience.

But if someone picked it up and said, “This is exactly what I want to know!” we already had them hooked.

They would trust us immediately because we proved in the first sentence that we understood them.

In this sentence, Geoffrey and I are positioned as the experts. People are coming to us for help.

But you can also mirror your reader’s pain more directly. Check out this example from Jennifer Luzzato’s book, Inheriting Chaos with Compassion :

That’s a gut punch for anyone. But it’s an even bigger one for Jennifer’s target audience: people who unexpectedly lose a loved one and are left dealing with financial chaos.

Jennifer isn’t just giving the reader advice.

She’s showing that she’s been through the pain. She understands it. And she’s the right person to help the reader solve it.

3. Asking the Reader a Question

Readers come to nonfiction books because they want help solving a problem.

If you picked up a book about team-building, culture, and leadership, you likely want answers to some questions.

Daniel Coyle’s book shows the reader, right off the bat, that he’s going to give you answers.

His question also isn’t a boring, how-do-organizations-work type of question.

It’s compelling enough to make you keep reading, at least for a few more sentences. And then ideally, a few sentences, pages, and chapters after that.

Starting with a question is often a variation on tactic number 2.

If the reader picked up your book hoping to solve a certain problem or learn how to do something, asking them that compelling question can immediately show them that you understand their pain.

It can set the stage for the whole book.

You can also pique the reader’s interest by asking them a question they’ve never thought about.

Nicholas Kusmich ‘s book Give starts with the question,

It’s a unique question that hooks a reader.

But the answer still cuts straight to the heart of his book: “Both entrepreneurs and superheroes want to use their skills to serve people and make the world a better place.”

The unexpected framing gives readers a fresh perspective on a topic they’ve probably already thought a lot about.

4. Shock the Reader

I said in the intro to this post that you don’t have to shock the reader to get their attention.

I never said you couldn’t .

If you’re going to do it, though, you have to do it well.

This is the best opening to a book I’ve ever read. I’m actually a dog person, so this shocked the hell out of me. It was gripping.

As you read, the sentence starts making more sense, but it stays just as shocking. And you can’t help but finish the page and the chapter to understand why. But my God, what a way to hook a reader (in case you are wondering, the dogs were licking up blood from dead bodies and giving away the soldiers’ positions to insurgents. They had to kill the dogs or risk being discovered).

I read this opening sentence as part of an excerpt from the book on Business Insider .

I plowed through the excerpt, bought the book on Kindle, canceled two meetings, and read the whole book.

5. Intrigue the Reader

If you don’t read that and immediately want to know what the realization was, you’re a force to be reckoned with.

People love reading about drama, screw-ups, and revelations. By leading with one, Will immediately intrigues his readers.

opening sentence of an essay

They’ll want to keep reading so they can solve the mystery. What was the big deal?

I’m not going to tell you and spoil the fun. You’ll have to check out Will’s book to find out.

There are other ways to be intriguing, too. For example, see the opening line to Lorenzo Gomez’ Cilantro Diaries :

Again, the Author is setting up a mystery.

He wants the reader to rack his brain and say, “Well, if it’s not the famous stuff, what is it?”

And then, when Lorenzo gets to the unexpected answer—the H-E-B grocery store—they’re even more intrigued.

Why would a grocery store make someone’s top-ten list, much less be the thing they’d miss most?

That kind of unexpected storytelling is perfect for keeping readers engaged.

The more intrigue you can create, the more they’ll keep turning the pages.

6. Lead with a Bold Claim

There are thousands of books about marketing. So, how does an Author cut through the noise?

If you’re David Allison, you cut right to the chase and lead with a bold claim.

You tell people you’re going to change the world. And then you tell them you have the data to back it up.

If your reader is sympathetic, they’re going to jump on board. If they’re skeptical, they’re still going to want to see if David’s claim holds up.

Here’s the thing, though: only start bold if you can back it up.

Don’t tell someone you’re going to transform their whole life and only offer a minor life hack. They’ll feel cheated.

But if you’re really changing the way that people think about something, do something, or feel about something, then lead with it.

Start big. And then prove it.

7. Be Empathetic and Honest

One Last Talk is one of the best books we’ve ever done at Scribe. And it shows right from the first sentence.

Philip starts with a bold claim: “If you let it, this book will change your life.”

But then he gives a caveat: it’s not going to be fun.

That’s the moment when he forms an immediate connection with the reader.

Many Authors will tell their readers, “This book will change your life. It’s going to be incredible! Just follow these steps and be on your way!”

Not many Authors will lead with, “It’s going to be worth it, but it’s going to be miserable.”

By being this upfront about the emotional work the book involves, Philip immediately proves to his readers that he’s honest and empathetic.

He understands what they’re going to go through. And he can see them through it, even if it sucks.

One piece of advice we give at Scribe is to talk to your reader like you’re talking to a friend.

Philip does that. And it shows the reader they’re dealing with someone authentic.

8. Invite the Reader In

Joey starts the book by speaking directly to the reader.

He immediately creates a connection and invites the reader in. This makes the book feel more like a conversation between two people than something written by a nameless, faceless Author.

The reason this tactic works so well is because Joey’s whole book is about never losing a customer.

He immediately puts the book’s principles into action.

From the first sentence, Joey’s demonstrating exactly what the reader is there to learn.

opening sentence of an essay

The Scribe Crew

Read this next.

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Authors Receive Authority – What does ‘The Medium Is the Message’ Really Mean?

Audiobooks: Who Benefits Most and Why Authors Should Consider Them

Literacy Ideas

How to Start an Essay with Strong Hooks and Leads

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ALWAYS START AN ESSAY WITH AN ENGAGING INTRODUCTION

Getting started is often the most challenging part of writing an essay, and it’s one of the main reasons our students are prone to leaving their writing tasks to the last minute.

But what if we could give our students some tried and tested tips and strategies to show them how to start an essay?

What if we could give them various strategies they could pull out of their writer’s toolbox and kickstart their essays at any time?

In this article, we’ll look at tried and tested methods and how to start essay examples to get your students’ writing rolling with momentum to take them to their essays’ conclusion.

Once you have worked past the start of your essay, please explore our complete guide to polishing an essay before submitting it and our top 5 tips for essay writing.

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WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AN ESSAY’S INTRODUCTION?

 Essentially, the purpose of the introduction is to achieve two things:

 1. To orientate the reader

2. To motivate the reader to keep reading.

 An effective introduction will give the reader a clear idea of what the essay will be about. To do this, it may need to provide some necessary background information or exposition.

Once this is achieved, the writer will then make a thesis statement that informs the reader of the main ‘thrust’ of the essay’s position, the supporting arguments of which will be explored throughout the body paragraphs of the remainder of the essay.

When considering how to start an essay, ensure you have a strong thesis statement and support it through well-crafted arguments in the body paragraphs . These are complex skills in their own right and beyond the scope of this guide, but you can find more detail on these aspects of essay writing in other articles on this site that go beyond how to start an essay.

 For now, our primary focus is on how to grab the reader’s attention right from the get-go.

 After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step or, in this case, a single opening sentence.

A COMPLETE UNIT ON WRITING HOOKS, LEADS & INTRODUCTIONS

how to start an essay, hook, lead | Introductions Hooks Leads 2022 | How to Start an Essay with Strong Hooks and Leads | literacyideas.com

Teach your students to write  STRONG LEADS, ENGAGING HOOKS  and  MAGNETIC INTRODUCTIONS  for  ALL TEXT TYPES  with this engaging  PARAGRAPH WRITING UNIT  designed to take students from zero to hero over  FIVE STRATEGIC LESSONS.

WHAT IS A “HOOK” IN ESSAY WRITING?

how to start an essay, hook, lead | how to use hook sentences to write a good essay | How to Start an Essay with Strong Hooks and Leads | literacyideas.com

A hook is a sentence or phrase that begins your essay, grabbing the reader’s attention and making them want to keep reading. It is the first thing the reader will see, and it should be interesting and engaging enough to make them want to read more.

As you will learn from the how to start an essay examples below, a hook can be a quote, a question, a surprising fact, a personal story, or a bold statement. It should be relevant to the topic of your essay and should be able to create a sense of curiosity or intrigue in the reader. The goal of a hook is to make the reader want to read on and to draw them into the central argument or point of your essay.

Some famous examples of hooks in literature you may have encountered are as follows.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen” George Orwell in 1984
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” – Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice

how to start an essay, hook, lead | essay introduction guide | How to Start an Essay with Strong Hooks and Leads | literacyideas.com

HOW TO HOOK THE READER WITH ATTENTION-GRABBING OPENING SENTENCES

We all know that every essay has a beginning, a middle , and an end . But, if our students don’t learn to grab the reader’s attention from the opening sentence, they’ll struggle to keep their readers engaged long enough to make it through the middle to the final full stop. Take a look at these five attention-grabbing sentence examples.

  • “The secret to success is hidden in a single, elusive word: persistence.”
  • “Imagine a world without electricity, where the only source of light is the flame of a candle.”
  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but most importantly, it was the time that changed everything.”
  • “They said it couldn’t be done, but she proved them wrong with her grit and determination.”
  • “He stood at the edge of the cliff, staring down at the tumultuous ocean below, knowing that one misstep could mean certain death.”

Regardless of what happens next, those sentences would make any reader stop whatever else they might focus on and read with more intent than before. They have provided the audience with a “hook” intended to lure us further into their work.

To become effective essay writers, your students need to build the skill of writing attention-grabbing opening sentences. The best way of achieving this is to use ‘hooks’.

There are several kinds of hooks that students can choose from. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most effective of these:

 1. The Attention-Grabbing Anecdote

2. The Bold Pronouncement!

3. The Engaging Fact

4. Using an Interesting Quote

5. Posing a Rhetorical Question

6. Presenting a Contrast

 How appropriate each of these hooks is will depend on the essay’s nature. Students must consider the topic, purpose, tone, and audience of the essay they’re writing before deciding how best to open it.

 Let’s look at each of these essay hooks, along with a practice activity students can undertake to put their knowledge of each hook into action.

1: HOW TO START AN ESSAY WITH “THE ATTENTION-GRABBING ANECDOTE”

 Anecdotes are an effective way for the student to engage the reader’s attention right from the start.

When the anecdote is based on the writer’s personal life, they are a great way to create intimacy between the writer and the reader from the outset.

Anecdotes are an especially useful starting point when the essay explores more abstract themes as they climb down the ladder of abstraction and fit the broader theme of the essay to the shape of the writer’s life.

Anecdotes work because they are personal, and because they’re personal, they infuse the underlying theme of the essay with emotion.

This expression of emotion helps the writer form a bond with the reader. And it is this bond that helps encourage the reader to continue reading.

Readers find this an engaging approach, mainly when the topic is complex and challenging.

Anecdotes provide an ‘in’ to the writing’s broader theme and encourage the reader to read on.

Examples of Attention-grabbing anecdotes

  • “It was my first day of high school, and I was a bundle of nerves. I had always been a shy kid, and the thought of walking into a new school, surrounded by strangers was overwhelming. But as I walked through the front doors, something unexpected happened. A senior, who I had never met before, came up to me and said ‘Welcome to high school; it’s going to be an amazing four years.’ That one small act of kindness from a complete stranger made all the difference, and from that day on, I knew that I would be okay.”
  • “I was in my math class and having a tough day. I had a test coming up, and I was struggling to understand the material. My teacher, who I had always thought was strict and unapproachable, noticed that I was struggling and asked if I needed help. I was surprised, but I took her up on her offer, and she spent extra time with me after class, helping me to understand the material. That experience taught me that sometimes, the people we think we know the least about are the ones who can help us the most.”
  • “It was the last day of 8th grade, and we were all sitting in the auditorium, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Suddenly, the principal got on stage and announced that there was a surprise guest speaker. I was confused and curious, but when the guest walked out on stage, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was my favorite rapper who had come to speak to us about the importance of education. That moment was a turning point for me, it showed me that if you work hard and believe in yourself, anything is possible.”

Attention-Grabbing Anecdote Teaching Strategies

One way to help students access their personal stories is through sentence starters, writing prompts, or well-known stories and their themes.

First, instruct students to choose a theme to write about. For example, if we look at the theme of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, something like: we shouldn’t tell lies, or people may not believe us when we tell the truth.

Fairytales and fables are great places for students to find simple themes or moral lessons to explore for this activity.

Once they’ve chosen a theme, encourage the students to recall a time when this theme was at play in their own lives. In the case above, a time when they paid the cost, whether seriously or humorously, for not telling the truth.

This memory will form the basis for a personal anecdote that will form a ‘hook’. Students can practice replicating this process for various essay topics.

It’s essential when writing anecdotes that students attempt to capture their personal voice.

One way to help them achieve this is to instruct them to write as if they were orally telling their story to a friend.

This ‘vocal’ style of writing helps to create intimacy between writer and reader, which is the hallmark of this type of opening.

2: HOW TO START AN ESSAY WITH “THE BOLD PRONOUNCEMENT”

 As the old cliché “Go big or go home!” would have it, making a bold pronouncement at the start of an essay is one surefire way to catch the reader’s attention.

Bold statements exude confidence and assure the reader that this writer has something to say that’s worth hearing. A bold statement placed right at the beginning suggests the writer isn’t going to hedge their bets or perch passively on a fence throughout their essay.

The bold pronouncement technique isn’t only useful for writing a compelling opening sentence, the formula can be used to generate a dramatic title for the essay.

For example, the recent New York Times bestseller ‘Everybody Lies’ by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is an excellent example of the bold pronouncement in action.

Examples of Bold Pronouncements

  • “I will not be just a statistic, I will be the exception. I will not let my age or my background define my future, I will define it myself.”
  • “I will not be afraid to speak up and make my voice heard. I will not let anyone silence me or make me feel small. I will stand up for what I believe in and I will make a difference.”
  • “I will not be satisfied with just getting by. I will strive for greatness and I will not be content with mediocrity. I will push myself to be the best version of me, and I will not settle for anything less.”

Strategies for Teaching how to write a Bold Pronouncement

Give the students a list of familiar tales; again, Aesop’s Fables make for a good resource.

In groups, have them identify some tales’ underlying themes or morals. For this activity, these can take the place of an essay’s thesis statement.

Then, ask the students to discuss in their groups and collaborate to write a bold pronouncement based on the story. Their pronouncement should be short, pithy, and, most importantly, as bold as bold can be.

3: HOW TO START AN ESSAY WITH “THE ENGAGING FACT”

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In our cynical age of ‘ fake news ’, opening an essay with a fact or statistic is a great way for students to give authority to their writing from the very beginning.

Students should choose the statistic or fact carefully, it should be related to their general thesis, and it needs to be noteworthy enough to spark the reader’s curiosity.

This is best accomplished by selecting an unusual or surprising fact or statistic to begin the essay with.

Examples of the Engaging Fact

  •  “Did you know that the average teenager spends around 9 hours a day consuming media? That’s more than the time they spend sleeping or in school!”
  • “The brain continues to develop until the age of 25, which means that as a teenager, my brain is still going through major changes and growth. This means I have a lot of potential to learn and grow.”
  • “The average attention span of a teenager is shorter than that of an adult, meaning that it’s harder for me to focus on one task for an extended time. This is why it is important for me to balance different activities and take regular breaks to keep my mind fresh.”

Strategies for teaching how to write engaging facts

This technique can work well as an extension of the bold pronouncement activity above.

When students have identified each of the fables’ underlying themes, have them do some internet research to identify related facts and statistics.

Students highlight the most interesting of these and consider how they would use them as a hook in writing an essay on the topic.

4: HOW TO START AN ESSAY USING “AN INTERESTING QUOTATION”

This strategy is as straightforward as it sounds. The student begins their essay by quoting an authority or a well-known figure on the essay’s topic or related topic.

This quote provides a springboard into the essay’s subject while ensuring the reader is engaged.

The quotation selected doesn’t have to align with the student’s thesis statement.

In fact, opening with a quotation the student disagrees with can be a great way to generate a debate that grasps the reader’s attention from the outset.

Examples of starting an essay with an interesting quotation.

  • “As Albert Einstein once said, ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ As a 16-year-old student, I know how it feels to be judged by my ability to climb the “academic tree” and how it feels to be labeled as “stupid”. But just like the fish in Einstein’s quote, I know that my true potential lies in my unique abilities and talents, not in how well I can climb a tree.”
  • “Mark Twain once said, ‘Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.’ This quote resonates with me because as a teenager, I often feel pressure to conform to the expectations and opinions of my peers. But this quote reminds me to take a step back and think for myself, rather than blindly following the crowd.”
  • “As J.K. Rowling famously said, ‘It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.’ As a 16-year-old student, I often find myself getting lost in my dreams for the future and forgetting to live in the present. But this quote serves as a reminder to me to strive for my goals while also cherishing and living in the here and now.”

Teaching Strategies for starting an essay with an interesting quotation.

To gain practice in this strategy, organize the students into groups and have them generate a list of possible thesis statements for their essays.

Once they have a list of statements, they now need to generate a list of possible quotations related to their hypothetical essay’s central argument .

Several websites are dedicated to curating pertinent quotations from figures of note on an apparently inexhaustible array of topics. These sites are invaluable resources for tracking down interesting quotations for any essay.

5: HOW TO START AN ESSAY BY “POSING A RHETORICAL QUESTION”

What better way to get a reader thinking than to open with a question?

See what I did there?

Beginning an essay with a question not only indicates to the reader the direction the essay is headed in but also challenges them to respond personally to the topic.

Rhetorical questions are asked to make a point and to get the reader thinking rather than to elicit an answer.

One effective way to use a rhetorical question in an introduction is to craft a rhetorical question from the thesis statement and use it as the opening sentence.

The student can then end the opening paragraph with the thesis statement itself.

In this way, the student has presented their thesis statement as the answer to the rhetorical question asked at the outset.

Rhetorical questions also make for valuable transitions between paragraphs.

Examples of starting an essay with a rhetorical question

  • “What if instead of judging someone based on their appearance, we judged them based on their character? As a 16-year-old, I see the damage caused by judging someone based on their physical appearance, and it’s time to move away from that and focus on character.”
  • “How can we expect to solve the world’s problems if we don’t start with ourselves? As a 16-year-old student, I am starting to see the issues in the world, and I believe that before we can make any progress, we need to start with ourselves.”
  • “What would happen if we stopped labelling people by race, religion, or sexual orientation? As a teenager growing up in a diverse world, I see the harm caused by labelling and stereotyping people; it’s time for us to stop and see people for who they truly are.”

Teaching Students how to start an essay with a rhetorical question

To get some experience posing rhetorical questions, organize your students into small groups, and give each group a list of essay thesis statements suited to their age and abilities.

Task the students to rephrase each of the statements as questions.

For example, if we start with the thesis statement “Health is more important than wealth”, we might reverse engineer a rhetorical question such as “What use is a million dollars to a dying man?”

Mastering how to start an essay with a question is a technique that will become more common as you progress in confidence as a writer.

6: HOW TO START AN ESSAY BY “PRESENTING A CONTRAST”

In this opening, the writer presents a contrast between the image of the subject and its reality. Often, this strategy is an effective opener when widespread misconceptions on the subject are widespread.

For example, if the thesis statement is something like “Wealth doesn’t bring happiness”, the writer might open with a scene describing a lonely, unhappy person surrounded by wealth and opulence.

This scene contrasts a luxurious setting with an impoverished emotional state, insinuating the thrust of the essay’s central thesis.

Examples of Starting an essay by presenting a contrast

  • “On one hand, technology has made it easier to stay connected with friends and family than ever before. On the other hand, it has also created a sense of disconnection and loneliness in many people, including myself as a 16-year-old. “
  • “While social media has allowed us to express ourselves freely, it has also led to a culture of cyberbullying and online harassment. As a teenager, I have seen social media’s positive and negative effects.”
  • “On one hand, the internet has given us access to a wealth of information. On the other hand, it has also made it harder to separate fact from fiction and to distinguish credible sources from fake news. This is becoming increasingly important for me as a 16-year-old student in today’s society.”

Teaching Strategies for presenting a contrast when starting an essay.

For this activity, you can use the same list of thesis statements as in the activity above. In their groups, challenge students to set up a contrasting scene to evoke the essay’s central contention, as in the example above.

The scene of contrast can be a factual one in a documentary or anecdotal style, or a fictionalized account.

Whether the students are using a factual or fictional scene for their contrast, dramatizing it can make it much more persuasive and impactful.

THE END OF THE BEGINNING

These aren’t the only options available for opening essays, but they represent some of the best options available to students struggling to get started with the concept of how to create an essay.

With practice, students will soon be able to select the best strategies for their needs in various contexts.

To reinforce their understanding of different strategies for starting an introduction for an essay, encourage them to pay attention to the different choices writers make each time they begin reading a new nonfiction text.

Just like getting good at essay writing itself, getting good at writing openings requires trial and error and lots and lots of practice.

USEFUL VIDEO TUTORIALS ON WRITING AN ESSAY INTRODUCTION

how to start an essay, hook, lead | YOUTUBE 1280 x 720 4 | How to Start an Essay with Strong Hooks and Leads | literacyideas.com

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How to Start a College Essay Perfectly

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College Essays

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If you've been sitting in front of a blank screen, unsure of exactly how to start a personal statement for college, then believe me—I feel your pain. A great college essay introduction is key to making your essay stand out, so there's a lot of pressure to get it right.

Luckily, being able to craft the perfect beginning for your admissions essay is just like many other writing skills— something you can get better at with practice and by learning from examples.

In this article, I'll walk you through exactly how to start a college essay. We'll cover what makes a great personal statement introduction and how the first part of your essay should be structured. We'll also look at several great examples of essay beginnings and explain why they work, how they work, and what you can learn from them.

What Is the College Essay Introduction For?

Before we talk about how to start a college essay, let's discuss the role of the introduction. Just as your college essay is your chance to introduce yourself to the admissions office of your target college, your essay's beginning is your chance to introduce your writing.

Wait, Back Up—Why Do Colleges Want Personal Statements?

In general, college essays make it easier to get to know the parts of you not in your transcript —these include your personality, outlook on life, passions, and experiences.

You're not writing for yourself but for a very specific kind of reader. Picture it: your audience is an admissions officer who has read thousands and thousands of essays. This person is disposed to be friendly and curious, but if she hasn't already seen it all she's probably seen a good portion of it.

Your essay's job is to entertain and impress this person, and to make you memorable so you don't merely blend into the sea of other personal statements. Like all attempts at charm, you must be slightly bold and out of the ordinary—but you must also stay away from crossing the line into offensiveness or bad taste.

What Role Does the Introduction Play in a College Essay?

The personal statement introduction is basically the wriggly worm that baits the hook to catch your reader. It's vital to grab attention from the get-go—the more awake and eager your audience is, the more likely it is that what you say will really land.

How do you go about crafting an introduction that successfully hooks your reader? Let's talk about how to structure the beginning of your college essay.

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How to Structure a Personal Statement Introduction

To see how the introduction fits into an essay, let's look at the big structural picture first and then zoom in.

College Essay Structure Overview

Even though they're called essays, personal statements are really more like a mix of a short story and a philosophy or psychology class that's all about you.

Usually, how this translates is that you start with a really good (and very short) story about something arresting, unusual, or important that happened to you. This is not to say that the story has to be about something important or unusual in the grand scheme of things—it just has to be a moment that stands out to you as defining in some way, or an explanation of why you are the way you are . You then pivot to an explanation of why this story is an accurate illustration of one of your core qualities, values, or beliefs.

The story typically comes in the first half of the essay, and the insightful explanation comes second —but, of course, all rules were made to be broken, and some great essays flip this more traditional order.

College Essay Introduction Components

Now, let's zero in on the first part of the college essay. What are the ingredients of a great personal statement introduction? I'll list them here and then dissect them one by one in the next section:

  • A killer first sentence: This hook grabs your readers' attention and whets their appetite for your story.
  • A vivid, detailed story that illustrates your eventual insight: To make up for how short your story will be, you must insert effective sensory information to immerse the reader.
  • An insightful pivot toward the greater point you're making in your essay: This vital piece of the essay connects the short story part to the part where you explain what the experience has taught you about yourself, how you've matured, and how it has ultimately shaped you as a person.

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How to Write a College Essay Introduction

Here's a weird secret that's true for most written work: just because it'll end up at the beginning doesn't mean you have to write it first. For example, in this case, you can't know what your killer first sentence will be until you've figured out the following details:

  • The story you want to tell
  • The point you want that story to make
  • The trait/maturity level/background about you that your essay will reveal

So my suggestion is to work in reverse order! Writing your essay will be much easier if you can figure out the entirety of it first and then go back and work out exactly how it should start.

This means that before you can craft your ideal first sentence, the way the short story experience of your life will play out on the page, and the perfect pivoting moment that transitions from your story to your insight, you must work out a general idea about which life event you will share and what you expect that life event to demonstrate to the reader about you and the kind of person you are.

If you're having trouble coming up with a topic, check out our guide on brainstorming college essay ideas . It might also be helpful to read our guides to specific application essays, such as picking your best Common App prompt and writing a perfect University of California personal statement .

In the next sections of this article, I'll talk about how to work backwards on the introduction, moving from bigger to smaller elements: starting with the first section of the essay in general and then honing your pivot sentence and your first sentence.

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How to Write the First Section of Your College Essay

In a 500-word essay, this section will take up about the first half of the essay and will mostly consist of a brief story that illuminates a key experience, an important character trait, a moment of transition or transformation, or a step toward maturity.

Once you've figured out your topic and zeroed in on the experience you want to highlight in the beginning of your essay, here are 2 great approaches to making it into a story:

  • Talking it out, storyteller style (while recording yourself): Imagine that you're sitting with a group of people at a campfire, or that you're stuck on a long flight sitting next to someone you want to befriend. Now tell that story. What does someone who doesn't know you need to know in order for the story to make sense? What details do you need to provide to put them in the story with you? What background information do they need in order to understand the stakes or importance of the story?
  • Record yourself telling your story to friends and then chatting about it: What do they need clarified? What questions do they have? Which parts of your story didn't make sense or follow logically for them? Do they want to know more, or less? Is part of your story interesting to them but not interesting to you? Is a piece of your story secretly boring, even though you think it's interesting?

Later, as you listen to the recorded story to try to get a sense of how to write it, you can also get a sense of the tone with which you want to tell your story. Are you being funny as you talk? Sad? Trying to shock, surprise, or astound your audience? The way you most naturally tell your story is the way you should write it.

After you've done this storyteller exercise, write down the salient points of what you learned. What is the story your essay will tell? What is the point about your life, point of view, or personality it will make? What tone will you tell it with? Sketch out a detailed outline so that you can start filling in the pieces as we work through how to write the introductory sections.

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How to Write the First Sentence of Your College Essay

In general, your essay's first sentence should be either a mini-cliffhanger that sets up a situation the reader would like to see resolved, or really lush scene-setting that situates your audience in a place and time they can readily visualize. The former builds expectations and evokes curiosity, and the latter stimulates the imagination and creates a connection with the author. In both cases, you hit your goal of greater reader engagement.

Now, I'm going to show you how these principles work for all types of first sentences, whether in college essays or in famous works of fiction.

First Sentence Idea 1: Line of Quoted Direct Speech

"Mum, I'm gay." ( Ahmad Ashraf '17 for Connecticut College )

The experience of coming out is raw and emotional, and the issue of LGBTQ rights is an important facet of modern life. This three-word sentence immediately sums up an enormous background of the personal and political.

"You can handle it, Matt," said Mr. Wolf, my fourth-grade band teacher, as he lifted the heavy tuba and put it into my arms. ( Matt Coppo '07 for Hamilton College )

This sentence conjures up a funny image—we can immediately picture the larger adult standing next to a little kid holding a giant tuba. It also does a little play on words: "handle it" can refer to both the literal tuba Matt is being asked to hold and the figurative stress of playing the instrument.

First Sentence Idea 2: Punchy Short Sentence With One Grabby Detail

I live alone—I always have since elementary school. ( Kevin Zevallos '16 for Connecticut College )

This opener definitely makes us want to know more. Why was he alone? Where were the protective grown-ups who surround most kids? How on earth could a little kid of 8-10 years old survive on his own?

I have old hands. ( First line from a student in Stanford's class of 2012 )

There's nothing but questions here. What are "old" hands? Are they old-looking? Arthritic? How has having these hands affected the author?

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. (Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre )

There's immediately a feeling of disappointment and the stifled desire for action here. Who wanted to go for a walk? And why was this person being prevented from going?

First Sentence Idea 3: Lyrical, Adjective-Rich Description of a Setting

We met for lunch at El Burrito Mexicano, a tiny Mexican lunch counter under the Red Line "El" tracks. ( Ted Mullin '06 for Carleton College )

Look at how much specificity this sentence packs in less than 20 words. Each noun and adjective is chosen for its ability to convey yet another detail. "Tiny" instead of "small" gives readers a sense of being uncomfortably close to other people and sitting at tables that don't quite have enough room for the plates. "Counter" instead of "restaurant" lets us immediately picture this work surface, the server standing behind it, and the general atmosphere. "Under the tracks" is a location deeply associated with being run down, borderline seedy, and maybe even dangerous.

Maybe it's because I live in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where Brett Favre draws more of a crowd on Sunday than any religious service, cheese is a staple food, it's sub-zero during global warming, current "fashions" come three years after they've hit it big with the rest of the world, and where all children by the age of ten can use a 12-gauge like it's their job. ( Riley Smith '12 for Hamilton College )

This sentence manages to hit every stereotype about Wisconsin held by outsiders—football, cheese, polar winters, backwardness, and guns—and this piling on gives us a good sense of place while also creating enough hyperbole to be funny. At the same time, the sentence raises the tantalizing question: maybe what is because of Wisconsin?

High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. (David Lodge, Changing Places )

This sentence is structured in the highly specific style of a math problem, which makes it funny. However, at the heart of this sentence lies a mystery that grabs the reader's interest: why on earth would these two people be doing this?

First Sentence Idea 4: Counterintuitive Statement

To avoid falling into generalities with this one, make sure you're really creating an argument or debate with your counterintuitive sentence. If no one would argue with what you've said, then you aren't making an argument. ("The world is a wonderful place" and "Life is worth living" don't make the cut.)

If string theory is really true, then the entire world is made up of strings, and I cannot tie a single one. ( Joanna '18 for Johns Hopkins University )

There's a great switch here from the sub-microscopic strings that make up string theory to the actual physical strings you can tie in real life. This sentence hints that the rest of the essay will continue playing with linked, albeit not typically connected, concepts.

All children, except one, grow up. (J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan )

In just six words, this sentence upends everything we think we know about what happens to human beings.

First Sentence Idea 5: The End—Making the Rest of the Essay a Flashback

I've recently come to the realization that community service just isn't for me. ( Kyla '19 for Johns Hopkins University )

This seems pretty bold—aren't we supposed to be super into community service? Is this person about to declare herself to be totally selfish and uncaring about the less fortunate? We want to know the story that would lead someone to this kind of conclusion.

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. (Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude )

So many amazing details here. Why is the Colonel being executed? What does "discovering" ice entail? How does he go from ice-discoverer to military commander of some sort to someone condemned to capital punishment?

First Sentence Idea 6: Direct Question to the Reader

To work well, your question should be especially specific, come out of left field, or pose a surprising hypothetical.

How does an agnostic Jew living in the Diaspora connect to Israel? ( Essay #3 from Carleton College's sample essays )

This is a thorny opening, raising questions about the difference between being an ethnic Jew and practicing the religion of Judaism, and the obligations of Jews who live outside of Israel to those who live in Israel and vice versa. There's a lot of meat to this question, setting up a philosophically interesting, politically important, and personally meaningful essay.

While traveling through the daily path of life, have you ever stumbled upon a hidden pocket of the universe? ( First line from a student in Stanford's class of 2012 )

There's a dreamy and sci-fi element to this first sentence, as it tries to find the sublime ("the universe") inside the prosaic ("daily path of life").

First Sentence Idea 7: Lesson You Learned From the Story You're Telling

One way to think about how to do this kind of opening sentence well is to model it on the morals that ended each Aesop's fable . The lesson you learned should be slightly surprising (not necessarily intuitive) and something that someone else might disagree with.

Perhaps it wasn't wise to chew and swallow a handful of sand the day I was given my first sandbox, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. ( Meagan Spooner '07 for Hamilton College )

The best part of this hilarious sentence is that even in retrospect, eating a handful of sand is only possibly an unwise idea—a qualifier achieved through that great "perhaps." So does that mean it was wise in at least some way to eat the sand? The reader wants to know more.

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina )

This immediately sets readers to mentally flip through every unhappy family they've ever known to double-check the narrator's assertion. Did he draw the right conclusion here? How did he come to this realization? The implication that he will tell us all about some dysfunctional drama also has a rubbernecking draw.

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How to Write a Pivot Sentence in Your College Essay

This is the place in your essay where you go from small to big—from the life experience you describe in detail to the bigger point this experience illustrates about your world and yourself.

Typically, the pivot sentence will come at the end of your introductory section, about halfway through the essay. I say sentence, but this section could be more than one sentence (though ideally no longer than two or three).

So how do you make the turn? Usually you indicate in your pivot sentence itself that you are moving from one part of the essay to another. This is called signposting, and it's a great way to keep readers updated on where they are in the flow of the essay and your argument.

Here are three ways to do this, with real-life examples from college essays published by colleges.

Pivot Idea 1: Expand the Time Frame

In this pivot, you gesture out from the specific experience you describe to the overarching realization you had during it. Think of helper phrases such as "that was the moment I realized" and "never again would I."

Suddenly, two things simultaneously clicked. One was the lock on the door. (I actually succeeded in springing it.) The other was the realization that I'd been in this type of situation before. In fact, I'd been born into this type of situation. ( Stephen '19 for Johns Hopkins University )

This is a pretty great pivot, neatly connecting the story Stephen's been telling (about having to break into a car on a volunteering trip) and his general reliance on his own resourcefulness and ability to roll with whatever life throws at him. It's a double bonus that he accomplishes the pivot with a play on the word "click," which here means both the literal clicking of the car door latch and the figurative clicking his brain does. Note also how the pivot crystallizes the moment of epiphany through the word "suddenly," which implies instant insight.

But in that moment I realized that the self-deprecating jokes were there for a reason. When attempting to climb the mountain of comedic success, I didn't just fall and then continue on my journey, but I fell so many times that I befriended the ground and realized that the middle of the metaphorical mountain made for a better campsite. Not because I had let my failures get the best of me, but because I had learned to make the best of my failures. (Rachel Schwartzbaum '19 for Connecticut College)

This pivot similarly focuses on a "that moment" of illuminated clarity. In this case, it broadens Rachel's experience of stage fright before her standup comedy sets to the way she has more generally not allowed failures to stop her progress—and has instead been able to use them as learning experiences. Not only does she describe her humor as "self-deprecating," but she also demonstrates what she means with that great "befriended the ground" line.

It was on this first educational assignment that I realized how much could be accomplished through an animal education program—more, in some cases, than the aggregate efforts of all of the rehabilitators. I found that I had been naive in my assumption that most people knew as much about wildlife as I did, and that they shared my respect for animals. ( J.P. Maloney '07 for Hamilton College )

This is another classically constructed pivot, as J.P. segues from his negative expectations about using a rehabilitated wild owl as an educational animal to his understanding of how much this kind of education could contribute to forming future environmentalists and nature lovers. The widening of scope happens at once as we go from a highly specific "first educational assignment" to the more general realization that "much" could be accomplished through these kinds of programs.

Pivot Idea 2: Link the Described Experience With Others

In this pivot, you draw a parallel between the life event that you've been describing in your very short story and other events that were similar in some significant way. Helpful phrases include "now I see how x is really just one of the many x 's I have faced," "in a way, x is a good example of the x -like situations I see daily," and "and from then on every time I ..."

This state of discovery is something I strive for on a daily basis. My goal is to make all the ideas in my mind fit together like the gears of a Swiss watch. Whether it's learning a new concept in linear algebra, talking to someone about a programming problem, or simply zoning out while I read, there is always some part of my day that pushes me towards this place of cohesion: an idea that binds together some set of the unsolved mysteries in my mind. ( Aubrey Anderson '19 for Tufts University )

After cataloging and detailing the many interesting thoughts that flow through her brain in a specific hour, Aubrey uses the pivot to explain that this is what every waking hour is like for her "on a daily basis." She loves learning different things and finds a variety of fields fascinating. And her pivot lets us know that her example is a demonstration of how her mind works generally.

This was the first time I've been to New Mexico since he died. Our return brought so much back for me. I remembered all the times we'd visited when I was younger, certain events highlighted by the things we did: Dad haggling with the jewelry sellers, his minute examination of pots at a trading post, the affection he had for chilies. I was scared that my love for the place would be tainted by his death, diminished without him there as my guide. That fear was part of what kept my mother and me away for so long. Once there, though, I was relieved to realize that Albuquerque still brings me closer to my father. ( Essay #1 from Carleton College's sample essays )

In this pivot, one very painful experience of visiting a place filled with sorrowful memories is used as a way to think about "all the other times" the author had been to New Mexico. The previously described trip after the father's death pivots into a sense of the continuity of memory. Even though he is no longer there to "guide," the author's love for the place itself remains.

Pivot Idea 3: Extract and Underline a Trait or Value

In this type of pivot, you use the experience you've described to demonstrate its importance in developing or zooming in on one key attribute. Here are some ways to think about making this transition: "I could not have done it without characteristic y , which has helped me through many other difficult moments," or "this is how I came to appreciate the importance of value z, both in myself and in those around me."

My true reward of having Stanley is that he opened the door to the world of botany. I would never have invested so much time learning about the molecular structure or chemical balance of plants if not for taking care of him. ( Michaela '19 for Johns Hopkins University )

In this tongue-in-cheek essay in which Michaela writes about Stanley, a beloved cactus, as if "he" has human qualities and is her child, the pivot explains what makes this plant so meaningful to its owner. Without having to "take care of him," Michaela "would never have invested so much time learning" about plant biology. She has a deep affinity for the natural sciences and attributes her interest at least partly to her cactus.

By leaving me free to make mistakes and chase wild dreams, my father was always able to help ground me back in reality. Personal responsibilities, priorities and commitments are all values that are etched into my mind, just as they are within my father's. ( Olivia Rabbitt '16 for Connecticut College )

In Olivia's essay about her father's role in her life, the pivot discusses his importance by explaining his deep impact on her values. Olivia has spent the story part of her essay describing her father's background and their relationship. Now, she is free to show how without his influence, she would not be so strongly committed to "personal responsibilities, priorities and commitments."

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College Essay Introduction Examples

We've collected many examples of college essays published by colleges and offered a breakdown of how several of them are put together . Now, let's check out a couple of examples of actual college essay beginnings to show you how and why they work.

Sample Intro 1

A blue seventh place athletic ribbon hangs from my mantel. Every day, as I walk into my living room, the award mockingly congratulates me as I smile. Ironically, the blue seventh place ribbon resembles the first place ribbon in color; so, if I just cover up the tip of the seven, I may convince myself that I championed the fourth heat. But, I never dare to wipe away the memory of my seventh place swim; I need that daily reminder of my imperfection. I need that seventh place.

Two years ago, I joined the no-cut swim team. That winter, my coach unexpectedly assigned me to swim the 500 freestyle. After stressing for hours about swimming 20 laps in a competition, I mounted the blocks, took my mark, and swam. Around lap 14, I looked around at the other lanes and did not see anyone. "I must be winning!" I thought to myself. However, as I finally completed my race and lifted my arms up in victory to the eager applause of the fans, I looked up at the score board. I had finished my race in last place. In fact, I left the pool two minutes after the second-to-last competitor, who now stood with her friends, wearing all her clothes.

(From "The Unathletic Department" by Meghan '17 for Johns Hopkins University )

Why Intro Sample 1 Works

Here are some of the main reasons that this essay's introduction is super effective.

#1: It's Got a Great First Sentence

The sentence is short but still does some scene setting with the descriptive "blue" and the location "from my mantel." It introduces a funny element with "seventh place"—why would that bad of a showing even get a ribbon? It dangles information just out of reach, making the reader want to know more: what was this an award for? Why does this definitively non-winning ribbon hang in such a prominent place of pride?

#2: It Has Lots of Detail

In the intro, we get physical actions: "cover up the tip," "mounted the blocks," "looked around at the other lanes," "lifted my arms up," and "stood with her friends, wearing all her clothes." We also get words conveying emotion: "mockingly congratulates me as I smile," "unexpectedly assigned," and "stressing for hours." Finally, we get descriptive specificity in the precise word choice: "from my mantel" and "my living room" instead of simply "in my house," and "lap 14" instead of "toward the end of the race."

#3: It Explains the Stakes

Even though everyone can imagine the lap pool, not everyone knows exactly what the "500 freestyle" race is. Meghan elegantly explains the difficulty by describing herself freaking out over "swimming 20 laps in a competition," which helps us to picture the swimmer going back and forth many times.

#4: It Has Great Storytelling

We basically get a sports commentary play-by-play here. Even though we already know the conclusion—Meghan came in 7th—she still builds suspense by narrating the race from her point of view as she was swimming it. She's nervous for a while, and then she starts the race.

Close to the end, she starts to think everything is going well ("I looked around at the other lanes and did not see anyone. 'I must be winning!' I thought to myself."). Everything builds to an expected moment of great triumph ("I finally completed my race and lifted my arms up in victory to the eager applause of the fans") but ends in total defeat ("I had finished my race in last place").

Not only that, but the mildly clichéd sports hype is hilariously undercut by reality ("I left the pool two minutes after the second-to-last competitor, who now stood with her friends, wearing all her clothes").

#5: It Uses a Pivot Sentence

This essay uses the time expansion method of pivoting: "But, I never dare to wipe away the memory of my seventh place swim; I need that daily reminder of my imperfection. I need that seventh place." Coming last in the race was something that happened once, but the award is now an everyday experience of humility.

The rest of the essay explores what it means for Meghan to constantly see this reminder of failure and to transform it into a sense of acceptance of her imperfections. Notice also that in this essay, the pivot comes before the main story, helping us "hear" the narrative in the way she wants us to.

Sample Intro 2

"Biogeochemical. It's a word, I promise!" There are shrieks and shouts in protest and support. Unacceptable insults are thrown, degrees and qualifications are questioned, I think even a piece of my grandmother's famously flakey parantha whizzes past my ear. Everyone is too lazy to take out a dictionary (or even their phones) to look it up, so we just hash it out. And then, I am crowned the victor, a true success in the Merchant household. But it is fleeting, as the small, glossy, plastic tiles, perfectly connected to form my winning word, are snatched out from under me and thrown in a pile with all the disgraced, "unwinning" tiles as we mix for our next game of Bananagrams. It's a similar donnybrook, this time ending with my father arguing that it is okay to use "Rambo" as a word (it totally is not).

Words and communicating have always been of tremendous importance in my life: from silly games like Bananagrams and our road-trip favorite "word game," to stunted communication between opposing grandparents, each speaking a different Indian language; from trying to understand the cheesemonger behind the counter with a deep southern drawl (I just want some Camembert!), to shaping a script to make people laugh.

Words are moving and changing; they have influence and substance.

From an Essay by Shaan Merchant ‘19 for Tufts University

Why Intro Sample 2 Works

Let's take a look at what qualities make this essay's introduction particularly memorable.

With the first sentence, we are immediately thrust into the middle of the action —into an exciting part of an argument about whether "biogeochemical" is really a word. We're also immediately challenged. Is this a word? Have I ever heard it before? Does a scientific neologism count as a word?

#2: It Shows Rather Than Tells

Since the whole essay is going to be about words, it makes sense for Shaan to demonstrate his comfort with all different kinds of language:

  • Complex, elevated vocabulary, such as "biogeochemical" and "donnybrook"
  • Foreign words, such as "parantha" and "Camembert"
  • Colorful descriptive words, such as "shrieks and shouts," "famously flakey, "whizzes past," and "hash it out"
  • "Fake" words, such as "unwinning" and "Rambo"

What's great is that Shaan is able to seamlessly mix the different tones and registers these words imply, going from cerebral to funny and back again.

#3: It Uses a Pivot Sentence

This essay uses the value-extraction style of pivot: "Words and communicating have always been of tremendous importance in my life." After we see an experience linking Shaan's clear love of his family with an interest in word games, he clarifies that this is exactly what the essay will be about—using a very straightforward pivoting sentence.

#4: It Piles On Examples to Avoid Vagueness

The danger of this kind of pivot sentence is slipping into vague, uninformative statements, such as "I love words." To avoid making a generalization the tells us nothing, the essay builds a list of examples of times when Shaan saw the way that words connect people: games ("Bananagrams and our road-trip favorite ‘word game,'"), his mixed-language family ("grandparents, each speaking a different Indian language"), encounters with strangers ("from trying to understand the cheesemonger"), and finally the more active experience of performing ("shaping a script to make people laugh").

But the essay stops short of giving so many examples that the reader drowns. I'd say three to five examples is a good range—as long as they're all different kinds of the same thing.

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The Bottom Line: How to Start a College Essay

The college essay introduction should hook your reader and make her want to know more and read more.

Good personal statement introductions will contain the following features:

  • A killer first line
  • A detailed description of an experience from your life
  • A pivot to the bigger picture, in which you explain why and how this experience has shaped you, your point of view, and/or your values.

You don't have to write the introduction first, and you certainly don't have to write your first sentence first . Instead, start by developing your story by telling it out loud to a friend. You can then work on your first sentence and your pivot.

The first sentence should either be short, punchy, and carry some ambiguity or questions, or be a detailed and beautiful description setting an easily pictured scene. The pivot, on the other hand, should answer the question, "How does the story you've told connect to a larger truth or insight about you?"

What's Next?

Wondering what to make of the Common Application essay prompts? We have the complete list of this year's Common App prompts with explanations of what each is asking as well as a guide to picking the Common App prompt that's perfect for you .

Thinking of applying to the University of California system? Check out our detailed guide on how to approach their essay prompts and craft your ideal UC essay .

If you're in the middle of the essay-writing process, you'll want to see our suggestions on what essay pitfalls to avoid .

Working on the rest of your college application? Read what admissions officers wish applicants knew before applying .

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

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The writer of the academic essay aims to persuade readers of an idea based on evidence. The beginning of the essay is a crucial first step in this process. In order to engage readers and establish your authority, the beginning of your essay has to accomplish certain business. Your beginning should introduce the essay, focus it, and orient readers.

Introduce the Essay.  The beginning lets your readers know what the essay is about, the  topic . The essay's topic does not exist in a vacuum, however; part of letting readers know what your essay is about means establishing the essay's  context , the frame within which you will approach your topic. For instance, in an essay about the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech, the context may be a particular legal theory about the speech right; it may be historical information concerning the writing of the amendment; it may be a contemporary dispute over flag burning; or it may be a question raised by the text itself. The point here is that, in establishing the essay's context, you are also limiting your topic. That is, you are framing an approach to your topic that necessarily eliminates other approaches. Thus, when you determine your context, you simultaneously narrow your topic and take a big step toward focusing your essay. Here's an example.

 was published in 1899, critics condemned the book as immoral. One typical critic, writing in the  , feared that the novel might "fall into the hands of youth, leading them to dwell on things that only matured persons can understand, and promoting unholy imaginations and unclean desires" (150). A reviewer in the   wrote that "there is much that is very improper in it, not to say positively unseemly."

The paragraph goes on. But as you can see, Chopin's novel (the topic) is introduced in the context of the critical and moral controversy its publication engendered.

Focus the Essay.  Beyond introducing your topic, your beginning must also let readers know what the central issue is. What question or problem will you be thinking about? You can pose a question that will lead to your idea (in which case, your idea will be the answer to your question), or you can make a thesis statement. Or you can do both: you can ask a question and immediately suggest the answer that your essay will argue. Here's an example from an essay about Memorial Hall.

The fullness of your idea will not emerge until your conclusion, but your beginning must clearly indicate the direction your idea will take, must set your essay on that road. And whether you focus your essay by posing a question, stating a thesis, or combining these approaches, by the end of your beginning, readers should know what you're writing about, and  why —and why they might want to read on.

Orient Readers.  Orienting readers, locating them in your discussion, means providing information and explanations wherever necessary for your readers' understanding. Orienting is important throughout your essay, but it is crucial in the beginning. Readers who don't have the information they need to follow your discussion will get lost and quit reading. (Your teachers, of course, will trudge on.) Supplying the necessary information to orient your readers may be as simple as answering the journalist's questions of who, what, where, when, how, and why. It may mean providing a brief overview of events or a summary of the text you'll be analyzing. If the source text is brief, such as the First Amendment, you might just quote it. If the text is well known, your summary, for most audiences, won't need to be more than an identifying phrase or two:

, Shakespeare's tragedy of `star-crossed lovers' destroyed by the blood feud between their two families, the minor characters . . .

Often, however, you will want to summarize your source more fully so that readers can follow your analysis of it.

Questions of Length and Order.  How long should the beginning be? The length should be proportionate to the length and complexity of the whole essay. For instance, if you're writing a five-page essay analyzing a single text, your beginning should be brief, no more than one or two paragraphs. On the other hand, it may take a couple of pages to set up a ten-page essay.

Does the business of the beginning have to be addressed in a particular order? No, but the order should be logical. Usually, for instance, the question or statement that focuses the essay comes at the end of the beginning, where it serves as the jumping-off point for the middle, or main body, of the essay. Topic and context are often intertwined, but the context may be established before the particular topic is introduced. In other words, the order in which you accomplish the business of the beginning is flexible and should be determined by your purpose.

Opening Strategies.  There is still the further question of how to start. What makes a good opening? You can start with specific facts and information, a keynote quotation, a question, an anecdote, or an image. But whatever sort of opening you choose, it should be directly related to your focus. A snappy quotation that doesn't help establish the context for your essay or that later plays no part in your thinking will only mislead readers and blur your focus. Be as direct and specific as you can be. This means you should avoid two types of openings:

  • The history-of-the-world (or long-distance) opening, which aims to establish a context for the essay by getting a long running start: "Ever since the dawn of civilized life, societies have struggled to reconcile the need for change with the need for order." What are we talking about here, political revolution or a new brand of soft drink? Get to it.
  • The funnel opening (a variation on the same theme), which starts with something broad and general and "funnels" its way down to a specific topic. If your essay is an argument about state-mandated prayer in public schools, don't start by generalizing about religion; start with the specific topic at hand.

Remember.  After working your way through the whole draft, testing your thinking against the evidence, perhaps changing direction or modifying the idea you started with, go back to your beginning and make sure it still provides a clear focus for the essay. Then clarify and sharpen your focus as needed. Clear, direct beginnings rarely present themselves ready-made; they must be written, and rewritten, into the sort of sharp-eyed clarity that engages readers and establishes your authority.

Copyright 1999, Patricia Kain, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

Starting Sentences for Essays

Starting Sentences for Essays & Tips for Opening Sentences

Starting sentences for essays.

A good opening sentence can make or break your essay. It’s what catches the reader’s attention and makes them want to keep reading. Before you start writing, here are some tips to help you come up with a great opening sentence for your essay:

Make it clear what the essay is about

State your main argument clearly in this sentence. This will help the reader understand what they’re going to read, and it will set the tone for the rest of your essay.

Make it interesting

Your first sentence needs to grab the reader’s attention, so think about how you can make it interesting. A good way to do this is by using an anecdote or story as part of your opening sentence.

Start with action

Sometimes it can be hard to come up with a catchy opening line that also includes some action. Try starting with something like “I remember the first time I ever set foot on an airplane…” or “When I was a kid, my mom always told me…”

Topic Sentence

A topic sentence can be an anecdote, a quote or an interesting fact. It can be a question that you raise in your essay and answer throughout the rest of your essay.

The topic sentence should be placed at the beginning of your paragraph to create interest and draw readers in. In order to do that, it needs to be relevant and specific enough to relate only to the following paragraphs, but broad enough that it provides an overview of everything that follows.

A good essay starts with a strong introduction. Here are some examples of introductory sentences that you can use to get your reader interested in your topic:

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How to Structure an Essay | Tips & Templates

Published on September 18, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction , a body , and a conclusion . But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body.

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Table of contents

The basics of essay structure, chronological structure, compare-and-contrast structure, problems-methods-solutions structure, signposting to clarify your structure, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay structure.

There are two main things to keep in mind when working on your essay structure: making sure to include the right information in each part, and deciding how you’ll organize the information within the body.

Parts of an essay

The three parts that make up all essays are described in the table below.

Part Content

Order of information

You’ll also have to consider how to present information within the body. There are a few general principles that can guide you here.

The first is that your argument should move from the simplest claim to the most complex . The body of a good argumentative essay often begins with simple and widely accepted claims, and then moves towards more complex and contentious ones.

For example, you might begin by describing a generally accepted philosophical concept, and then apply it to a new topic. The grounding in the general concept will allow the reader to understand your unique application of it.

The second principle is that background information should appear towards the beginning of your essay . General background is presented in the introduction. If you have additional background to present, this information will usually come at the start of the body.

The third principle is that everything in your essay should be relevant to the thesis . Ask yourself whether each piece of information advances your argument or provides necessary background. And make sure that the text clearly expresses each piece of information’s relevance.

The sections below present several organizational templates for essays: the chronological approach, the compare-and-contrast approach, and the problems-methods-solutions approach.

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The chronological approach (sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach) is probably the simplest way to structure an essay. It just means discussing events in the order in which they occurred, discussing how they are related (i.e. the cause and effect involved) as you go.

A chronological approach can be useful when your essay is about a series of events. Don’t rule out other approaches, though—even when the chronological approach is the obvious one, you might be able to bring out more with a different structure.

Explore the tabs below to see a general template and a specific example outline from an essay on the invention of the printing press.

  • Thesis statement
  • Discussion of event/period
  • Consequences
  • Importance of topic
  • Strong closing statement
  • Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages
  • Background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press
  • Thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation
  • High levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe
  • Literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites
  • Consequence: this discouraged political and religious change
  • Invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg
  • Implications of the new technology for book production
  • Consequence: Rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible
  • Trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention
  • Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation
  • Consequence: The large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics
  • Summarize the history described
  • Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period

Essays with two or more main subjects are often structured around comparing and contrasting . For example, a literary analysis essay might compare two different texts, and an argumentative essay might compare the strengths of different arguments.

There are two main ways of structuring a compare-and-contrast essay: the alternating method, and the block method.

Alternating

In the alternating method, each paragraph compares your subjects in terms of a specific point of comparison. These points of comparison are therefore what defines each paragraph.

The tabs below show a general template for this structure, and a specific example for an essay comparing and contrasting distance learning with traditional classroom learning.

  • Synthesis of arguments
  • Topical relevance of distance learning in lockdown
  • Increasing prevalence of distance learning over the last decade
  • Thesis statement: While distance learning has certain advantages, it introduces multiple new accessibility issues that must be addressed for it to be as effective as classroom learning
  • Classroom learning: Ease of identifying difficulties and privately discussing them
  • Distance learning: Difficulty of noticing and unobtrusively helping
  • Classroom learning: Difficulties accessing the classroom (disability, distance travelled from home)
  • Distance learning: Difficulties with online work (lack of tech literacy, unreliable connection, distractions)
  • Classroom learning: Tends to encourage personal engagement among students and with teacher, more relaxed social environment
  • Distance learning: Greater ability to reach out to teacher privately
  • Sum up, emphasize that distance learning introduces more difficulties than it solves
  • Stress the importance of addressing issues with distance learning as it becomes increasingly common
  • Distance learning may prove to be the future, but it still has a long way to go

In the block method, each subject is covered all in one go, potentially across multiple paragraphs. For example, you might write two paragraphs about your first subject and then two about your second subject, making comparisons back to the first.

The tabs again show a general template, followed by another essay on distance learning, this time with the body structured in blocks.

  • Point 1 (compare)
  • Point 2 (compare)
  • Point 3 (compare)
  • Point 4 (compare)
  • Advantages: Flexibility, accessibility
  • Disadvantages: Discomfort, challenges for those with poor internet or tech literacy
  • Advantages: Potential for teacher to discuss issues with a student in a separate private call
  • Disadvantages: Difficulty of identifying struggling students and aiding them unobtrusively, lack of personal interaction among students
  • Advantages: More accessible to those with low tech literacy, equality of all sharing one learning environment
  • Disadvantages: Students must live close enough to attend, commutes may vary, classrooms not always accessible for disabled students
  • Advantages: Ease of picking up on signs a student is struggling, more personal interaction among students
  • Disadvantages: May be harder for students to approach teacher privately in person to raise issues

An essay that concerns a specific problem (practical or theoretical) may be structured according to the problems-methods-solutions approach.

This is just what it sounds like: You define the problem, characterize a method or theory that may solve it, and finally analyze the problem, using this method or theory to arrive at a solution. If the problem is theoretical, the solution might be the analysis you present in the essay itself; otherwise, you might just present a proposed solution.

The tabs below show a template for this structure and an example outline for an essay about the problem of fake news.

  • Introduce the problem
  • Provide background
  • Describe your approach to solving it
  • Define the problem precisely
  • Describe why it’s important
  • Indicate previous approaches to the problem
  • Present your new approach, and why it’s better
  • Apply the new method or theory to the problem
  • Indicate the solution you arrive at by doing so
  • Assess (potential or actual) effectiveness of solution
  • Describe the implications
  • Problem: The growth of “fake news” online
  • Prevalence of polarized/conspiracy-focused news sources online
  • Thesis statement: Rather than attempting to stamp out online fake news through social media moderation, an effective approach to combating it must work with educational institutions to improve media literacy
  • Definition: Deliberate disinformation designed to spread virally online
  • Popularization of the term, growth of the phenomenon
  • Previous approaches: Labeling and moderation on social media platforms
  • Critique: This approach feeds conspiracies; the real solution is to improve media literacy so users can better identify fake news
  • Greater emphasis should be placed on media literacy education in schools
  • This allows people to assess news sources independently, rather than just being told which ones to trust
  • This is a long-term solution but could be highly effective
  • It would require significant organization and investment, but would equip people to judge news sources more effectively
  • Rather than trying to contain the spread of fake news, we must teach the next generation not to fall for it

Signposting means guiding the reader through your essay with language that describes or hints at the structure of what follows.  It can help you clarify your structure for yourself as well as helping your reader follow your ideas.

The essay overview

In longer essays whose body is split into multiple named sections, the introduction often ends with an overview of the rest of the essay. This gives a brief description of the main idea or argument of each section.

The overview allows the reader to immediately understand what will be covered in the essay and in what order. Though it describes what  comes later in the text, it is generally written in the present tense . The following example is from a literary analysis essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .

Transitions

Transition words and phrases are used throughout all good essays to link together different ideas. They help guide the reader through your text, and an essay that uses them effectively will be much easier to follow.

Various different relationships can be expressed by transition words, as shown in this example.

Because Hitler failed to respond to the British ultimatum, France and the UK declared war on Germany. Although it was an outcome the Allies had hoped to avoid, they were prepared to back up their ultimatum in order to combat the existential threat posed by the Third Reich.

Transition sentences may be included to transition between different paragraphs or sections of an essay. A good transition sentence moves the reader on to the next topic while indicating how it relates to the previous one.

… Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

However , considering the issue of personal interaction among students presents a different picture.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

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How to Write a Good Conclusion: Outline and Examples

How to Write a Good Conclusion: Outline and Examples

Writing a well-structured and insightful concluding paragraph is akin to putting the final cherry on top of a delicious cake – it completes the experience and leaves a lasting impression. Whether you are crafting a paper, a report, or research, creating a persuasive closing paragraph can significantly enhance your work’s influence. This guide delineates the specifics of how to write a conclusion, explores the essential elements of a closure, offers strategies for writing one that resonates, and shares practical tips to sidestep common errors. Read on if writing a summative and logical ending seems challenging to you.

What is a Conclusion Paragraph and Why is it Important?

At its core, a paragraph conclusion serves to recap the major points of your paper and synthesize your primary argument. It serves as a final opportunity to make a memorable impact on your audience. Crafting a logical closure requires skillfully integrating key elements to reinforce the main argument and connect with the wider significance explored in the essay.

Types of concluding paragraphs include:

  • Summative Conclusion : This kind of closing paragraph briefly sums up the central points of the composition or report without adding new details.
  • Synthetic Closure : In this paragraph, the wrap-up statement goes beyond summarization to discuss the more extensive implications or relevance of the concepts expressed.
  • Final Comment : This type of summation, often used in persuasive or argumentative papers, makes a final appeal or recommendation based on the claims presented.

Different kinds of ending paragraphs fulfill various purposes, each aimed at making a strong impression on the reader. For additional assistance with essay writing, let’s say, generating ideas on how to start a conclusion paragraph, consider exploring AI tools such as the Aithor essay generator, available at https://aithor.com/ai-essay-generator .

Conclusion Paragraph Outline

Concluding paragraphs play a vital role in wrapping up an essay or report effectively. If you are wondering how to write a conclusion paragraph, follow our instructions: recap your central idea and major arguments, adding insight. A carefully constructed summation typically consists of three key elements:

  • Thesis Restatement : Begin writing your final paragraph by paraphrasing your central idea in a slightly different way than you did in the intro to reaffirm it.

Example : In a composition advocating for the significance of renewable energy, the summary statement may begin with: "Throughout history, energy sources have been central in shaping societies..."

  • Summary of Key Points : Next, recap the prime points or views earlier discussed in the body sections. This highlights the thesis and briefly reminds the audience of the path taken through your writing.

Example : From solar and wind to hydroelectric power, each renewable energy source offers distinct benefits in mitigating environmental change and reducing dependence on mineral fuels.

  • Final Comment : End your paper with a sentence that leaves a lasting impression or motivates the reader to act, based on the essay's purpose.

Example : As we look ahead to a sustainable future, utilizing sustainable energy not only helps the environment but also boosts the economy and enhances energy security.

To master writing a well-rounded conclusion, remember these essential steps. This conclusion paragraph structure effectively wraps up your paper, reinforces your primary ideas, and leaves an insight.

Strategies for Writing an Effective Conclusion

Crafting a captivating concluding section that resonates with your readers, is crucial for leaving a long-lasting impression. When writing your closing paragraph, consider employing these strategies:

Circle Back to the Intro : Referencing a key phrase or reasons from your opening paragraph can create a sense of cohesion and closure.

Example : If your introduction highlighted a current environmental crisis, your final paragraph could explore how renewable energy could offer a solution to this crisis.

Pose a Thought-Provoking Query : Encourage deeper contemplation by posing an intriguing question related to your essay topic.

Example : How can people and governments work together to speed up using renewable energy technologies?

Offer a Prediction or Recommendation : Based on your central points, suggest what might happen over time or recommend a course of action.

Example : Investing in renewable energy now can pave the way for a more sustainable and cleaner planet for prospective generations.

Connect to a Broader Context: Relate your paper’s topic to a larger issue or ongoing discussion to underscore its significance and relevance.

Example: The shift to renewable energy is not just about reducing emissions; it's part of a global movement towards sustainable development and ecological stewardship.

Avoid Overly Emotional Call-to-Action: While urging action, maintain a balanced tone to avoid coming across as overly emotional or sensational.

Example: Let's come together to adopt renewable energy and forge a more promising tomorrow for future generations.

By employing these techniques, make sure that your ending paragraph not only recaps your central arguments smoothly but also leaves a sense of purpose and inspiration to your readers.

What to Avoid While Writing a Conclusion

When composing your final paragraph, it's crucial to avoid typical pitfalls that may weaken your closing remarks. Consider some common errors:

Adding Fresh Details : Avoid presenting completely new thoughts or examples that haven’t been addressed in the body parts.

Example : In brief, whereas renewable energy has many benefits, nuclear power remains a controversial alternative.

Overusing Clichés or Generalizations : Keep your language fresh and related to your essay’s topic. Avoid clichéd phrases like "In conclusion," as they add unnecessary redundancy to the text.

Example : In essence, it is obvious that renewable energy is the path of the future.

Undermining Your Efforts : The essay’s last paragraph should assert the validity of the thesis, not undermine it.

Example : While my research has limitations, I believe renewable energy is still a practical alternative.

Overly Emotive Call-to-Action: Balance emotional appeal and confidence and avoid being overly dramatic while encouraging action.

Example: We must act now to embrace renewable energy for a sustainable future.

Confusing Summary with Analysis: Differentiate between recapping key points and providing deeper analysis. Reflect on your insights rather than repeating facts.

Example: Briefly, renewable energy benefits the environment and promotes economic stability.

Avoiding such pitfalls ensures – your closing statements contribute positively to the quality of your assignment. How to write a conclusion paragraph efficiently? Stay concentrated, specific, and assertive to generate an insightful closure that enhances your paper's impact.

Useful Phrases When Starting the Conclusion

Transitioning smoothly into your recap can enhance the influence and clarity of your final comments. Check out some useful phrases categorized by their purpose:

1.       Summarizing : "To sum up,...", "In summary,..."

2.       Reaffirming : "It is evident that...", "This reinforces the notion that..."

3.       Reflecting : "Considering these arguments,...", "Taking this into account,..."

4.   Looking Forward : "Considering the future,...", "Moving forward,..."

By using these connectors, you will write a paragraph that coherently wraps up your ideas and leaves stimulating thoughts.

Conclusion Samples with Explanation

Ending your composition and highlighting your focal points is essential to effectively generate a solid final paragraph. Here are two A-level samples, each crafted for different assignment types:

  • Summative Conclusion : To sum up, the investigation of renewable energy sources underscores their key role in addressing environmental change and lessening our reliance on limited resources. Solar, hydroelectric, and wind power – each provide distinct benefits that contribute to sustainability.

Explanation : This closing paragraph summarizes the central points discussed throughout the paper highlighting the paper’s thesis, without presenting new details.

  • Final Comment : As global energy requirements continue to rise, embracing renewable energy not only addresses environmental concerns but also opens avenues for financial prosperity and energy self-sufficiency. By putting resources into renewable technologies today, we set the stage for a more promising future for coming generations.

Explanation : This paragraph goes beyond summarization to underscore the wider implications and prospects specific to the main idea in the final part.

These conclusion examples illustrate how to create a memorable impression by briefly repeating key points and emphasizing broader implications.

In a nutshell, a meticulously crafted summary paragraph comprises three essential elements that elevate the essay’s impact and overall coherence. A well-structured conclusion paragraph outline involves skillfully recapping the central points, reaffirming your thesis, and forming a strong final impression. Also, the assignment’s ending represents your final occasion to provide insight, so make it count. By avoiding typical errors and employing effective tactics, you can guarantee that the closure not only ties your writing together but also resonates with the audience.

Now that you've learned the secrets of writing a closing paragraph, this guide has equipped you with the essential tools to navigate the process, ensuring your piece is succinct, coherent, and insightful. By adhering to these principles, your finale not only serves to reinforce the topic’s relevance but also inspires thoughtful reflection on its critical role in shaping a brighter future for upcoming generations.

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Compare and contrast essay is an academic text that encourages authors to take a look at the differences between two or more subjects. Read this article to find out how to write a comparative essay for your assignment. What is a compare and contrast essay? As the name suggests, compare and contrast papers aim to provide two main perspectives on separate subjects by finding their similarities and dissecting their differences. Oftentimes, the purpose of compare and contrast essays is to presen ...

Write an Attention-Grabbing Opening Sentence for an Essay

  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

You can think of the first sentence of your essay as you would a fishing hook. It grabs your reader and allows you reel the person into your essay and your train of thought. The hook for your essay can be an interesting sentence that captures a person's attention, it can be thought-provoking, or even, entertaining.

The hook for your essay often appears in the first sentence . The opening paragraph includes a thesis sentence . Some popular hook choices can include using an interesting quote, a little-known fact, famous last words, or a statistic .

A quote hook is best used when you are composing an essay based on an author, story, or book. It helps establish your authority on the topic and by using someone else's quote, you can strengthen your thesis if the quote supports it.

The following is an example of a quote hook: "A man's errors are his portals of discovery." In the next sentence or two, give a reason for this quote or current example. As for the last sentence (the thesis) : Students grow more confident and self-sufficient when parents allow them to make mistakes and experience failure.

General statement

By setting the tone in the opening sentence with a uniquely written general statement of your thesis, the beauty is that you get right to the point. Most readers appreciate that approach.

For example, you can start with the following statement: Many studies show that the biological sleep pattern for teens shifts a few hours, which means teens naturally stay up later and feel alert later in the morning. The next sentence, set up the body of your essay, perhaps by introducing the concept that school days should be adjusted so that they are more in sync with the teenager's natural sleep or wake cycle. As for the last sentence (the thesis) :  If every school day started at ten o'clock, many students would find it easier to stay focused.

By listing a proven fact or entertaining an interesting statistic that might even sound implausible to the reader, you can excite a reader to want to know more. 

Like this hook: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics , teens and young adults experience the highest rates of violent crime. Your next sentence can set up the argument that it's dangerous for teenagers to be on the streets at late hours. A fitting thesis statement might read: Parents are justified in implementing a strict curfew, regardless of a student's academic performance.

The Right Hook for Your Essay

The good news about finding a hook? You can find a quote, fact, or another type of hook after you determine your thesis. You can accomplish this with a simple online search about your topic after you've developed your essay .

You can nearly have the essay finished before you revisit the opening paragraph. Many writers polish up the first paragraph after the essay is completed.

Outlining the Steps for Writing Your Essay

Here's an example of the steps you can follow that help you outline your essay.

  • First paragraph: Establish the thesis
  • Body paragraphs: Supporting evidence
  • Last paragraph: Conclusion with a restatement of the thesis
  • Revisit the first paragraph: Find the best hook

Obviously, the first step is to determine your thesis. You need to research your topic and know what you plan to write about. Develop a starting statement. Leave this as your first paragraph for now.

The next paragraphs become the supporting evidence for your thesis. This is where you include the statistics, opinions of experts, and anecdotal information.

Compose a closing paragraph that is basically a reiteration of your thesis statement with new assertions or conclusive findings you find during with your research.

Lastly, go back to your introductory hook paragraph. Can you use a quote, shocking fact, or paint a picture of the thesis statement using an anecdote? This is how you sink your hooks into a reader.

The best part is if you are not loving what you come up with at first, then you can play around with the introduction. Find several facts or quotes that might work for you. Try out a few different starting sentences and determine which of your choices makes the most interesting beginning to your essay.

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Yellowlees Douglas Ph.D.

Understanding Continuity: An Important Feature of Writing

Here are 4 ways to connect sentences and ideas seamlessly..

Updated July 10, 2024 | Reviewed by Davia Sills

  • Continuity is the most important and often the least understood aspect of writing.
  • Readers may struggle with comprehension when sentences lack transitions.
  • Using recency positions in sentences can bolster readers' memory of the most important content in sentences.
  • Primacy and recency positions in sentences help readers to identify clauses and concepts as strongly linked.

Mark Cruzat/Pexels

English paragraphs typically contain more gaps than Swiss cheese. Why? In languages like Chinese, sentences end when an author’s meaning is complete. In contrast, in English, grammar mostly determines when sentences end. As a result, English’s sentence structure naturally introduces gaps between sentences.

And these gaps sow confusion in readers and create the greatest slow-downs in reading speeds of any aspect of writing. On the other hand, when readers recognize simple connections between clauses and sentences , they perform better on comprehension and recall of material, helping them to perform better on standardized tests and to receive higher grades.

Meet continuity, the most important and least-understood aspect of writing you’ve likely never heard of.

1. When you use transitions to tie sentences together, you make reading easier and meaning clearer.

Without explicit connections between sentences, readers have difficulty understanding stories, let alone more abstract arguments. Readers spend more time trying to understand sentences that lack a clear relationship to the sentences around them and also encounter difficulty in recalling the meaning of discontinuous sentences. On the other hand, transitions like because, since, and then speed up reading and sharpen recall.

Transitions create bridges between sentences across gaps readers would otherwise struggle to understand. Notice the difference that transitions (in bold in the second example) make to a student’s essay on Jane Eyre :

Before: Mr. Brocklehurst then punishes Jane by making her stand in public, and does not allow anyone to speak to her, and it was Helen’s words that give her the courage and strength to get back on her feet. Miss Temple helped her get rid of the unnecessary “ crime .” Jane admired Helen’s broad mind and profound knowledge, and she worked harder to learn. She thought Lowood was better than Mrs. Reed’s.

After: Despite Lowood starving and humiliating the girls, Jane still thinks Lowood is better than Mrs. Reed’s. However, at Lowood, Mr. Brocklehurst punishes Jane by making her stand in public and does not allow anyone to speak to her. Nevertheless, even when Jane feels miserable, Helen’s words give Jane the courage and strength to get back on her feet. In a few days, Miss Temple also corrects the picture Mr. Brocklehurst painted of Jane’s conduct, the unnecessary “crime” of lying that Mr. Brocklehurst accused Jane of. Over the first months of her time at Lowood , Jane grows to admire Helen’s broad mind and profound knowledge, which inspire Jane to work harder to learn.

Yaroslav Shuraev/Pexels

2. Reserve the endings of sentences for your most important points.

In writing, where you put information trumps what you say. For example, a positive performance evaluation strongly influenced overall ratings of a video lecture—but only when the evaluation came last in a series of four. Similarly, poor performance also swayed students’ evaluations of lecture quality—but only when that performance also came last. Researchers have likewise discovered that, when asked to memorize lists of items or even of nonsense syllables, experimental subjects have the clearest recall of the last items.

As writers, we typically end sentences with a whimper, not a bang, usually by providing a rationale for an action at the end of sentences or insignificant details about time or place. For example, the writer of the email excerpt below ended a sentence with the reason for a requested deadline—presumably to show other employees that administrators created the deadline for a specific purpose. However, the underlined words in the sentence’s stress position strand the deadline in the sentence’s dead zone, far away from either primacy or recency effects in memory . As a result, readers may register the deadline but are less likely to recall it than they would be if they received the revised example, which shunts the deadline into the sentence’s recency position in boldface.

Before: We need your response about scheduling preferences before Friday at noon at the latest to ensure we can finalize the schedule prior to early registration .

After: So we can finalize the schedule prior to early registration, we need your response about scheduling preferences before Friday at noon .

Lina Kivaka/Pexels

3. Limit the lengths of sentences to reduce readers’ cognitive overhead.

Long sentences challenge readers’ ability to connect ideas across sentences because lengthy sentences strain readers’ working memories . Even strong readers can face too many demands on verbal working memory from long sentences. Moreover, we also recall less content when writers cram more clauses into sentences. In sentences with more than two clauses, make one clause independent and turn it into a short sentence, which helps readers recall a greater amount of specific content .

opening sentence of an essay

For example, this example, ironically about improving students’ reading and writing skills, tries to cram too many ideas into a single sentence.

Before: But if we are seeking to boost our students' learning of course content, to improve their basic intellectual skills—such as writing, speaking, and critical thinking—and to prepare them for success in their careers, then I believe we can find in small teaching an approach to our shared work of educating students that is effective for our students and accessible to the largest number of working college and university teachers.

After: As educators, we seek to boost our students’ learning of course content and to improve their basic intellectual skills—such as writing, speaking, and critical thinking—and to prepare them for success in their careers. And, with these goals , small teaching can prove effective for our students and accessible to the largest number of working college and university teachers.

4. Create bridges between the endings and beginnings of sentences with common words.

To create the strongest ties between ideas, link concepts through common phrases shared across sentences. This use of referential continuity builds bridges between sentences by placing new information in the recency position in sentences and then beginning the next sentence with a reference to one or more words from the recency position. This strategy for tying sentences together boosts reading speed and comprehension alike. Moreover, readers easily identify these links at the outsets of sentences because the final clause of the preceding sentence occupies a privileged place in their working memory.

Writers will find these short sequences, linking recency and primacy positions in sentences, most useful in technical explanations, particularly for non-expert audiences, like the first description of deep-brain stimulation below. This excerpt challenges readers because its sentences lack any explicit links to tie its sentences together. On the other hand, the second example links the recency position of the first sentence with the primacy position of the second and continues this (bolded) sequencing of ideas through every sentence.

As the second example also reveals, you can either use the same words, like the initial repetition of pacemaker . Or you can use a related word, as in the transformation of electrical stimulation into electrode .

Before: Deep Brain Stimulation is sometimes described as a pacemaker for the brain. Electrical stimulation of the heart has a longer history, the first pacemaker having been implanted in 1958. An electrode is threaded inside the heart, which gives small shocks at a rate of about 60 per minute in order to stimulate the muscle to pump normally. The technology owes its success largely to the invention of a commercially viable transistor, in 1948, which made possible the miniaturization of electronics. Today, some three million Americans are estimated to have a cardiac pacemaker.

After: Deep Brain Stimulation is sometimes described as the brain’s pacemaker. Pacemakers for hearts rely on similar technology, using electrical stimulation. An electrode is threaded inside the heart, which gives small shocks at a rate of about 60 per minute, stimulating the muscle to pump normally. This form of stimulation owes its success largely to the invention of a commercially viable transistor in 1948, which miniaturized electronics. These electronics today power the cardiac pacemakers of an estimated three million Americans.

Yellowlees Douglas Ph.D.

Yellowlees Douglas, Ph.D. , is a consultant on writing and organizations. She is also the author, with Maria B. Grant, MD, of The Biomedical Writer: What You Need to Succeed in Academic Medicine .

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  2. Starting Sentences for Essays & Tips for Opening Sentences

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  3. An Academic Essay: The Opening Paragraph

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  5. How To Make An Opening Statement Amazing In Essay Writing by Elbert Roy

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write an Essay Introduction

    Step 1: Hook your reader. Step 2: Give background information. Step 3: Present your thesis statement. Step 4: Map your essay's structure. Step 5: Check and revise. More examples of essay introductions. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.

  2. How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)

    Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3. Hook the Reader: Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader's attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. Provide Background: Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion.

  3. 36 Engaging opening sentences for an essay

    An essay's opening sentence has a tremendous impact on the reader. It doesn't matter if you're writing an argumentative essay, a personal narrative, or a research paper; how your text begins will affect its tone and topic. You can write about anything as long as it is relevant to your thesis—starting with an engaging opening sentence ...

  4. How To Start a College Essay: 9 Effective Techniques

    For many, getting started is the hardest part of anything. And that's understandable. First, because it turns whatever you're doing into a reality, which raises the stakes. Second, because where you start can easily dictate the quality of where you end up. College essays have their own special brand of DTDT.

  5. 13 Engaging Ways to Begin an Essay

    Use the Historical Present Tense. An effective method of beginning an essay is to use historical present tense to relate an incident from the past as if it were happening now. "Ben and I are sitting side by side in the very back of his mother's station wagon.

  6. Sentence Starters: Ultimate List to Improve Your Essays and Writing

    If you want to start writing terrific sentences (and improve your essay structure ), the first thing you should do is start using transition words. Transition words are those words or phrases that help connect thoughts and ideas. They move one sentence or paragraph into another, and they make things feel less abrupt.

  7. Crafting Compelling Sentence Starters for Essays

    How to Use Sentence Starters in Essay Introductions. The art of crafting an engaging essay introduction lies in the strategic use of sentence starters. These are not just any random words, but carefully chosen transition words, short phrases, or clauses that guide the reader into the narrative. ... "The first thing that caught my eye was ...

  8. How to Write a Great College Essay Introduction

    Writing a great college essay introduction can make or break your application. Learn how to craft a distinctive and specific opening that hooks your reader and showcases your personality. Find examples and tips from Scribbr, the expert in academic writing.

  9. Sentence Starters ⇒ Words and Phrases to Start Sentences

    A sentence starter is simply a word or a phrase that will help you to get your sentence going when you feel stuck, and it can be helpful in many different situations. A good sentence starter can help you better transition from one paragraph to another or connect two ideas. If not started correctly, your sentence will likely sound choppy, and ...

  10. How to Write a Strong Opening Sentence & Engage Readers (With Examples)

    How to Write a Great Opening Sentence. Everyone knows some of the great opening lines from fiction novels: "Call me Ishmael.". - Herman Melville, Moby Dick . "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.". - Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina.

  11. How to Write an Introduction Paragraph in 3 Steps

    Intro Paragraph Part 3: The Thesis. The final key part of how to write an intro paragraph is the thesis statement. The thesis statement is the backbone of your introduction: it conveys your argument or point of view on your topic in a clear, concise, and compelling way. The thesis is usually the last sentence of your intro paragraph.

  12. How to Start an Essay with Strong Hooks and Leads

    To become effective essay writers, your students need to build the skill of writing attention-grabbing opening sentences. The best way of achieving this is to use 'hooks'. There are several kinds of hooks that students can choose from. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the most effective of these: 1. The Attention-Grabbing ...

  13. How to Start a College Essay Perfectly

    The Bottom Line: How to Start a College Essay. The college essay introduction should hook your reader and make her want to know more and read more. Good personal statement introductions will contain the following features: A killer first line. A detailed description of an experience from your life.

  14. Beginning the Academic Essay

    The writer of the academic essay aims to persuade readers of an idea based on evidence. The beginning of the essay is a crucial first step in this process. In order to engage readers and establish your authority, the beginning of your essay has to accomplish certain business. Your beginning should introduce the essay, focus it, and orient ...

  15. Examples of Great Introductory Paragraphs

    An introductory paragraph, as the opening of a conventional essay, composition, or report, is designed to grab people's attention. It informs readers about the topic and why they should care about it but also adds enough intrigue to get them to continue to read. In short, the opening paragraph is your chance to make a great first impression.

  16. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    Come up with a thesis. Create an essay outline. Write the introduction. Write the main body, organized into paragraphs. Write the conclusion. Evaluate the overall organization. Revise the content of each paragraph. Proofread your essay or use a Grammar Checker for language errors. Use a plagiarism checker.

  17. Great Opening Lines: Examples of How to Begin an Essay

    In contrast to the leads seen in Hookers vs. Chasers: How Not to Begin an Essay, here are some opening lines that, in various ways, "whack" the reader at once and encourage us to read on. I hadn't planned to wash the corpse. But sometimes you just get caught up in the moment. . . . (Reshma Memon Yaqub, "The Washing."

  18. Starting Sentences for Essays & Tips for Opening Sentences

    A good opening sentence can make or break your essay. It's what catches the reader's attention and makes them want to keep reading. Before you start writing, here are some tips to help you come up with a great opening sentence for your essay: Make it clear what the essay is about. State your main argument clearly in this sentence.

  19. Paragraph Starters for Essays

    Type - The starting sentences will look very different in different types of essays, so choose an opening sentence that fits the type. Persuasive essays often begin with an opinion by the author ...

  20. How to Structure an Essay

    The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body. This article provides useful templates and tips to help you outline your essay, make decisions about your structure, and ...

  21. 5 Ways to Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out

    Start writing essays early to allow time for research and editing. Grab the reader's attention immediately with a compelling story. Answer questions directly with sound grammar and style. With so ...

  22. How to Write a Good Conclusion: Outline and Examples

    Final Comment: End your paper with a sentence that leaves a lasting impression or motivates the reader to act, based on the essay's purpose. Example : As we look ahead to a sustainable future, utilizing sustainable energy not only helps the environment but also boosts the economy and enhances energy security.

  23. How to Write the Hook of an Essay

    Here's an example of the steps you can follow that help you outline your essay. First paragraph: Establish the thesis. Body paragraphs: Supporting evidence. Last paragraph: Conclusion with a restatement of the thesis. Revisit the first paragraph: Find the best hook. Obviously, the first step is to determine your thesis.

  24. Understanding Continuity: An Important Feature of Writing

    English paragraphs typically contain more gaps than Swiss cheese. Why? In languages like Chinese, sentences end when an author's meaning is complete. In contrast, in English, grammar mostly ...