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What is an essay?

An essay is a group of paragraphs that develop one central idea.


They are The Introductory Paragraph, The Supporting
Paragraphs and The Concluding Paragraph. Each type of
paragraph has a specific function.
How many types of academic essays are there?
There are four main types of essays. They are:

Descriptive Essay
This essay paints a picture with words. The reader is able
to see what the writer is describing.

Narrative Essay
This essay tells a story of an experience, an event, or a sequence
of events.

Expository Essay
This essay gives information to explain or define a topic
using facts, statistics and examples. Expository writing
encompasses a wide range of essay variations, such as The
Comparison and Contrast Essay, The Cause and Effect Essay,
The Process Essay and many more.

Argumentative Essay
This essay tries to convince the reader to accept the writers point
of view on a topic or issue. The writer builds his case using facts

and logic, as well as examples, opinions and sound reasonings and


presents all sides of the argument clearly.

Read the following paragraphs and click to identify the types of essays used.

Expository Essay
Hot air balloons work on a very basic scientific theory: that warm air rises up through
cooler air. To keep the balloon airborne, the air inside the balloon needs to remain hotter
than the surrounding air, so a burner is positioned under an open balloon envelope. As the
air in the balloon cools, the pilot can reheat the air by firing the burner.

Source: Up, Up & Away, Just English Magazine, June 2004

Narrative Essay
However, on 5 December a naval ship spotted the Marie Celeste floating aimlessly near
Gibraltar. As the captain and crew of the naval ship approached the Marie Celeste, they
quickly became aware that something was wrong. There was no movement on board the
drifting ship. In fact there was nobody on board. The Marie Celeste was abandoned,
leaving no trace of her captain, crew or passengers. The fate of the people who sailed in
the ill-fated ship remains a mystery to this day.

Source: Phantom Vessels, Just English Magazine, Vol.2 Issue 4, 2005

Descriptive Essay
Many trips on foot up the hill to the site showed it was a haven for spiritual practices. The
place was quiet, the air pure, the springs sparkling and the views stupendous. This was an
ideal spot to inspire those who wanted to train in the spiritual path.

Source: One Monks Vision, Just English Magazine, Vol.1 Issue 4, 2005

Argumentative Essay

English is regarded as a global language but will this still be true for the 21st century?
The world in which it is used is going through such huge changes that there is a possibility
it will lose its place as the worlds most important language.

Source: Does English Have a Future? Just English Magazine, 2003

The Introductory Paragraph


The Introductory Paragraph is one of the most important
paragraphs of the academic essay because it provides a lead into
the essay. It serves two purposes: to attract the readers
attention and to introduce the central idea in the form of a
thesis statement. It consists of the lead, the bridging sentence
and the thesis statement.

The Lead is an interesting introductory sentence


that attracts the readers attention and arouses
his/her interest.
The Bridging Sentence is a sentence that is
written before the thesis statement. This is to
allow the lead to flow smoothly into the thesis
statement.
The Thesis Statement explicitly states the main
ideas/controlling ideas of the body paragraphs
or what is to come in the body of the essay. It is
usually written as the last sentence in the
introduction.

Click to label the parts of an introductory paragraph.


Over three thousand years ago, in the city of Thebes in Egypt, a man died. His
family walked through the streets wailing and calling out his name. They had to tell
everyone that he was dead. But they also had many other things to arrange. The ancient
Egyptians believed that a persons'ka', or spirit, could return and the person could live on
in the next life if the body still existed. Therefore, it was very important that the body be
preserved through a process called mummification.

Writing the Lead


In writing the introductory paragraph, make sure that the lead
comes first because it is the first few sentences that have the power
to determine whether your essay will attract or lose a reader.
A strong lead is important in order to hook your readers to
continue reading your essay.
An Amazing
or Ununsual
Fact

Whales vomit every 7 to 10 days as part of a regular


digestive process. A domestic cat vomits to dislodge
hairballs while an owl does it to regurgitate indigestible
bones and fur of its meal. But nothing beats the sea
cucumber it ejects its entire digestive tract when in
danger and grows another! Cool! When you almost
swallow a dead lizard in your food, you would want to be
able to do just that!

A Quote,
Proverb, or
Saying

There is an old English proverb that says, 'Breakfast like a


king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper'. This
proverb says that it is best for us to eat more at the
beginning of the day and to eat less as the day goes on.
According to this wisdom, the most important meal of the
day is breakfast. Interestingly, scientists are now agreeing
with the old English proverb.
Source: Eat a Big Breakfast, Just English Magazine, Vol7 Issue 6, 2011

A Question

Have you ever gagged so badly that your lungs and


stomach felt as if they were trying to fight their way out of
your body through your mouth? Well, I have the time
when I nearly swallowed a dead lizard concealed in my
food.

A Bold
Opinion

Bulimia is an eating disorder, but it can also be referred to


as a mental disorder.

A Statistic

Statistics show that 1 in 5 women suffer from an eating

disorder.
An Anecdote

It was Chinese New Year Reunion dinner and there was a


delicious dessert that my aunt had made. Moist chocolate
cake with whipped cream. But, after already having eaten
dinner and drinking large amounts of fizzy drink I was on
the verge of bursting. I couldn't eat another thing. I was so
upset that I couldnt eat the dessert. Then, I decided that I
would sneak into the toilet and throw up my food to make
more space in my tummy. So I did that...

Highlight the lead in the paragraphs and what type of lead is used.

Proverb

Interesting Fact

Question

Bold Opinion

Anecdote

Statistics

'One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters,' goes


the proverb. It aptly describes the kind of responsibility and
influence a father has on his children and family. It also
symbolises the strength and stability that a father is able to
provide his family. A father plays many important roles in a
family.
On average, women say 7,000 words per day, while men
manage just over 2,000. That says a lot about the inability of
men to communicate and to express themselves emotionally.
Their lack of communication skills causes problems both at work
and at home.
Have you ever wondered who actually created pasta or
noodles? There is a great deal of debate over who actually
invented pasta in recent years.
Drugs can never be eliminated completely from society.
However, there are measures to counter the devastating effects
of drugs.
It has been almost three years since I have come out to the
park. I can still remember very vividly the circumstances that led
to me being confined to this wheelchair. I clearly recall that
fateful day. I jumped out of bed at five-thirty in the morning to go
on a hiking trip with my friends. The last thing I remember was
being hit by an oncoming car. The rest as they say was just a
blur. I now sit here in the park and recollect that fateful day, my
struggle to recovery and my journey to becoming the worlds
paralympic gold medallist in the 100-metre dash.
Americans spend more than 5.4 billion dollars on their pets
each year. This goes to show how much Americans love their
pets. This is not surprising because pets make great
companions.

Writing the Bridging Sentence


The purpose of the bridging sentence is to connect theattentiongetting sentence(s) to flow smoothly to your thesis statement. This
is done by providing background information and adding detail to
the topic of your essay.
Over three thousand years ago, in the city of Thebes in Egypt, a
man died. His family walked through the streets wailing and calling
out his name. They had to tell everyone that he was dead. But they
also had many other things to arrange. The ancient Egyptians
believed that a persons 'ka', or spirit, could return and the person
could live on in the next life if the body still existed. Therefore, it
was very important that the body be preserved through a process
called mummification.
Lead

Over three thousand years ago, in the


city of Thebes in Egypt, a man died. His
family walked through the streets wailing
and calling out his name. They had to tell
everyone that he was dead.

Bridging Sentence(s)

But they also had many other things to


arrange. The ancient Egyptians believed
that a persons 'ka', or spirit, could return
and the person could live on in the next
life if the body still existed.

Thesis Statement

Therefore, it was very important that the


body be preserved through a process
called mummification.

Read the paragraphs below and highlight the bridging sentence(s).

1. 'One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters,' goes the


proverb. It aptly describes the kind of responsibility and
influence a father has on his children and family. It also
symbolises the strength and stability that a father is able
to provide his family. A father plays many important roles in a
family.
2. On average, women say 7,000 words per day, while men
manage just over 2,000.That says a lot about the inability of
men to communicate and to express themselves
emotionally. Their lack of communication skills causes problems
both at work and at home.
3. Americans spend more than 5.4 billion dollars on their pets each
year. This goes to show how much Americans love their
pets. This is not surprising because pets make great companions.
4. Mothers are like burning candles. They light up the lives of
everyone around them while making so much sacrifice. Mothers
are giving and loving in nature and, without a doubt, they bring
much joy and happiness into our lives. To me, my mother is an
angel that has come to this planet to love me and care for
me. I truly love my mother because she is both so giving and
loving.

Writing the Thesis Statement


The thesis statement states your attitude or your position towards a
subject or a topic. It needs to be given careful thought because
it controls the focus of the essay by giving it direction and tying
all its elements together.
Remember, the thesis statement is not a title, an announcement or
a statement of fact. A good thesis statement must be specific.It
consists of two parts: the topic and the controlling idea(s).
1. Therefore, it was very important that the body be preserved
through a process called mummification.
2. Global warming has serious physical, ecological and economic
effects.
The topic
Body preservation
Global warming

The controlling idea(s)


mummification process
serious physical, ecological and
economic effects

A. Highlight the thesis statements which are specific.


1. Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia.
2. Living in Kuala Lumpur is both exciting and expensive.
3. Studying abroad can be very expensive.
4. There are many students of the English language.
5. I am going to discuss the causes of drug abuse among students in this essay.
6. There are several causes of drug abuse among students.

B. Based on your answers in Exercise A, complete the table below.

The topic
Living in Kuala Lumpur
Studying abroad
Drug abuse

The controlling idea(s)


exciting
expensive
very expensive
several causes of drug abuse
among students

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