Expository Essay
Sophomore Essay #1
Choose one of the following topics:
1. Life is full of momentous events that change the course of our
futures. These events may occur because of a decision that
someone makes or because of uncontrollable circumstances.
Describe a momentous event in your life and explain how it
affected your future in a multiple-paragraph short essay.
2. Think of something that is important to you that you learned in
school or outside of school.
In several paragraphs, write a letter to your teacher explaining
what you learned and why it is important to you.
The essay is the basic form of writing assigned in all academic areas. You write essays
about important concepts covered in your reading and class discussion. You research
related topics. You compose procedure (how-to) papers. You take essay tests. Anytime
you are asked to inform, explain, analyze or write persuasively about a subject, you are
developing an essay. Basic essays usually contain at least three to five paragraphs.
The purpose of an expository essay is to present important information about a
specific subject.
On the following slides the basic expository is explained in detail: Introduction, body
paragraphs, and conclusion.
This paragraph is 40-80 words or four to five sentences in length.
Body Paragraph:
Each paragraph contains these parts.
Each is also about 100-150 words or ten or more sentences.
Essays can contain as many body paragraphs as necessary to prove the
This paragraph contains 40-80 words or three to five sentences.
Key Terms
Hook - catches reader’s attention
Link – explains hook, gives background or summary information transitions to …
THESIS STATEMENT (subject + opinion)
Topic sentence for each body paragraph relates directly to proving thesis. Gives argument that will be
presented in that body paragraph.
The rest of the paragraph offers evidence (concrete detail) to support the topic sentence and
explains its importance (commentary).
Transitions are used between sentences.
The concluding sentence
Wraps up the paragraph and leads to the next body paragraph or to the conclusion.
Restates the thesis in different words.
Summarizes the main points of each body paragraph.
State the significance or importance for the thesis. Goes further in your thinking about the thesis.
Expository Holistic Scoring Guide
4 -
Demonstrates insightful and consistent purpose; focused on thesis
Reveals critical analysis of topic through well-selected examples,
data, and
2 -
Have vague purpose and may stray from thesis
Uses irrelevant or insufficient examples, data, and/or commentary;
understanding of material evident
Is clearly and logically organized into well-developed introduction,
Shows an attempt at organization, but is missing one or more parts
of the
and conclusion
introduction, body, or conclusion
Includes a variety of transitions which further ideas and paragraphs
Provides transitions which are weak or repetitive
Uses 3 rd person point of view consistently with a unique or
engaging voice
Uses 3 rd person point of view inconsistently; voice inconsistent
Chooses words purposefully and precisely to fit content area
May have awkward word choice
Follows rules of standard written English for capitalization,
Contains noticeable errors in standard written English:
spelling, and sentence formation; complex forms risked
3 -
Maintains a clear purpose and generally remains focused on thesis
Has relevant and sufficient examples, data, and/or commentary;
understanding of material evident; may have uneven development of
Is organized into sequential introduction, body, and concluding
punctuation, spelling, and sentence formation
1 -
Uses few examples, data, and/or minimal commentary; little
of material evident
Contains only one or two paragraphs
No transitions are evident
Uses 1 st or 2 nd person point of view (I, you); flat or lifeless voice
Uses words which are simple or inappropriate
Contains frequent errors in standard written English: capitalization,
Provides transitions to connect main ideas and paragraphs
Uses 3 rd person point of view consistently with an appropriate
Uses words which are clear and effective for content area
0 -
Follows rules of standard written English for capitalization,
spelling, and sentence formation
Has no evident purpose or thesis
punctuation, spelling, and/or sentence formation
No paper, off-task, or acts of plagiarism
An introductory paragraph catches the reader’s attention, gives some
background information about the topic in general, and states the thesis.
This paragraph can be divided into three parts.
1. Introductory Technique – Some teachers call this “the Hook” or “Attention
Whichever technique you use, it must focus attention on the essay’s topic.
2. Link – This section explains the hook and leads the reader to the thesis
statement. Its length depends on the type of essay. For example, if you are
writing a literary analysis essay, you need to give a brief summary of the
book as you lead to the thesis.
3. Thesis Statement – This is the topic sentence for the essay. It has two
parts: a specific topic and your attitude about it
(subject + opinion)
More On Introductory Techniques
1. Definition: Explain a term that is central to the thesis. This may be a dictionary definition or the
writer’s definition.
2. Rhetorical Question: This question needs to be central to the thesis and answered in the essay.
3. Startling Statement or Relevant Fact: Either one can serve to interest the reader and direct attention
to the thesis.
4. Quotation: A quotation from the book works especially well when writing a literary analysis essay.
Remember a quotation may be any section of the book, dialogue, description, or narration.
5. Anecdote: A short interesting or humorous incident is another popular introductory technique. With
this hook, the writer must be careful to keep it short in relation to the overall length of the essay.
6. History or Background Information: This type or hook gives information that establishes context for
the paper.
Never start an essay with a statement such as “In this essay I am going to write about …”
Organizing Your Position
Step 1: Figure out exactly what your answer
is to the topic question and phrase it as a
 Step 2: Decide who your audience is.
 Step 3: Brainstorm points/arguments that
support your position. What is true about
the topic that supports your point of view?
 Step 4: Brainstorm/research facts that
prove each of your points/arguments.
Constructing a Thesis Statement
What do you believe to be true?
 What do you want your audience to
agree to?
 Is there an opposing viewpoint?
 Is your topic specific enough to argue in a
short paper but broad enough to allow at
least three distinct points/arguments to
be made?
Constructing Points/Arguments
Brainstorm points that are true about
your topic that support your point of
 All three points should be different from
one another and support the point of
view you have taken with your thesis.
 Choose your three strongest or combine
to create three and rank from strongest
to weakest.
Fact Finding
Research and brainstorm concrete
details/examples that support each of your
three points.
 Possible evidence includes the following:
quotes from others, past events, facts,
personal anecdotes.
 Evaluate the examples
 Separate fact from opinion; only expert
opinions carry weight in an argument.
 Confirm that evidence is directly relevant
to your point and does not contradict your
point of view.
The body paragraphs provide proof and support for the thesis statement. A
typical expository essay includes three or more body paragraphs. The
more evidence the writer can provide, the more likely the reader will
accept the validity of the thesis statement.
Organization of body paragraphs in a particular essay generally follows one of
the patterns listed below.
1. Chronological Order – time order
2. Order of Importance – least to most important argument
second strongest, least strong, strongest argument
3. Comparison/Contrast – showing similarities and differences
4. Cause and Effect – relationship between event and outcome
Body Paragraph Structure
The topic sentence of each body paragraph must help prove the thesis statement.
Supporting sentences give concrete proof, examples, details, and/or facts that prove the thesis
(concrete details).
The writer must explain the importance of each specific piece of evidence in one or two
sentences following the evidence. This is often referred to as “commentary” about the evidence.
Commentary means that the writer explains why the evidence helps prove the thesis in his or
her own words.
The paragraph’s last or “concluding” sentence brings the paragraph to a conclusion and
transitions to the topic sentence of the next paragraph.
Each paragraph of the essay is linked to the next one by various kinds of transitions; the
sentences within each paragraph are also smoothly connected to one another by transitional
words and phrases.
English teachers often ask students to write body paragraphs of ten or more sentences or 100 –
150 words. The purpose of this is to make sure the paragraphs will be specific and well
developed. It is a good idea to remember this when writing your essay.
On the following page is a simple pattern that shows exactly how a body paragraph is structured.
Sample Body Paragraph
Each line represents one sentence in the body paragraph.
1. Topic sentence (TS) – This idea helps prove that the thesis statement is true.
2. Concrete Detail (CD) – A fact, example, quotation, paraphrase, or piece of evidence to back up the topic sentence.
3. Commentary (CM) – Shows why CD provides proof.
4. Commentary (CM) – Shows why CD provides proof.
5. Concrete Detail (CD) – A fact, example, quotation, paraphrase, or piece of evidence to back up topic sentence.
6. Commentary (CM) – Shows why CD provides proof.
7. Commentary (CM) – Shows why CD provides proof.
8. Concrete Detail (CD) – A fact, example, quotation, paraphrase, or piece of evidence to back up topic sentence.
9. Commentary (CM) – Shows why CD provides proof.
10. Commentary (CM) – Shows why CD provides proof.
11. Concluding sentence (CS) – This sentence is tied directly to the topic sentence, brings the paragraph to a close and serves as a transition to the next
The concluding paragraph effectively ends the essay by summing
up the discussion in a few sentences. It gives the writer one
last chance to make the point.
For the beginning writer, a three part conclusion is often taught.
1. Restate the thesis in slightly different words.
2. Summarize the main points of the body paragraph.
3. Go further in explaining the significance or importance of
the thesis.
Six ways to write a concluding
1. The paragraph emphasizes the main points by summarizing them. This could be used
for a fairly complex, long essay or a research paper.
2. The paragraph draws a conclusion from the body paragraphs.
3. The paragraph evaluates what has been done. This works when the essay is describing
a process or a historical event.
4. The paragraph answers the question posed by the thesis statement.
5. The paragraph recommends a specific course of action. This works for a persuasive or
reflective essay.
6. The paragraph gives a final powerful example to emphasize the main point. This, too,
works for a persuasive essay.
Transitions are very important in writing paragraphs and essays. They are the links that
hold the chain of ideas together. These links occur in the manners shown below.
1. Use pronouns to refer to ideas or people previously mentioned (he, she, it, you, I, etc.).
Pronouns must agree with their noun antecedent in gender and number.
Example: When the children left the bus, they discovered that they were in an
unfamiliar neighborhood. This place had bright lights and tall trees.
2. Repeat words or phrases from one sentence to the next. This method is especially
effective between the last sentence of one paragraph and the first sentence (topic
sentence) of the next paragraph.
Example: In this situation, Jacques was very jealous. (last sentence of paragraph)
Another time, he became jealous when his mother brought his brother a gift.
(first sentence of next paragraph)
Various Purposes of Transitions
a. To introduce an example: thus, for example, for instance, to illustrate
b. To add an idea or fact: again, also, besides, furthermore, in addition, moreover, similarly
c. To establish spatial order: above, below, here, there, inside, outside, nearby, beyond,
over, under
d. To establish time order: first, then, before, after, finally, meanwhile, later, second, next
e. To tie together several reasons and show cause-and-effect relationship: because, for, in
the second place, since, inasmuch as, to that end
f. To restrict, to contradict, to show contrast: although, however, nevertheless, on the
contrary, otherwise, instead, yet, on the other hand, despite this fact
g. To indicate a conclusion or result: therefore, in conclusion, to sum up, consequently, as
a result, accordingly, in other words