Every essay or assignment you write must begin with an introduction. It might be helpful to think of the introduction as an inverted pyramid. In such a pyramid, you begin by presenting a broad introduction to the topic and end by making a more focused point about that topic in your thesis statement. The introduction has three essential parts, each of which serves a particular purpose.
- The first part is the “attention-grabber.” You need to interest your reader in your topic so that they will want to continue reading. You also want to do that in a way that is fresh and original. For example, although it may be tempting to begin your essay with a dictionary definition, this technique is stale because it has been widely overused. Instead, you might try one of the following techniques:
- Offer a surprising statistic that conveys something about the problem to be addressed in the paper.
- Perhaps you can find an interesting quote that nicely sums up your argument.
- Use rhetorical questions that place your readers in a different situation in order to get them thinking about your topic in a new way.
- If you have a personal connection to the topic, you might use an anecdote or story to get your readers emotionally involved.
- For example, if you were writing a paper about drunk drivers, you might begin with a compelling story about someone whose life was forever altered by a drunk driver: “At eighteen, Michelle had a lifetime of promise in front of her. Attending college on a track scholarship, she was earning good grades and making lots of friends. Then one night her life was forever altered…”
- From this attention grabbing opener, you would need to move to the next part of the introduction, in which you offer some relevant background on the specific purpose of the essay. This section helps the reader see why you are focusing on this topic and makes the transition to the main point of your paper. For this reason, this is sometimes called the “transitional” part of the introduction.
- In the example above, the anecdote about Michelle might capture the reader’s attention, but the essay is not really about Michelle. The attention grabber might get the reader thinking about how drunk driving can destroy people’s lives, but it doesn’t introduce the topic of the need for stricter drunk driving penalties (or whatever the real focus of the paper might be).
- Therefore, you need to bridge the gap between your attention-grabber and your thesis with some transitional discussion. In this part of your introduction, you narrow your focus of the topic and explain why the attention-grabber is relevant to the specific area you will be discussing. You should introduce your specific topic and provide any necessary background information that the reader would need in order to understand the problem that you are presenting in the paper. You can also define any key terms the reader might not know.
- Continuing with the example above, we might move from the narrative about Michelle to a short discussion of the scope of the problem of drunk drivers. We might say, for example: “Michelle’s story is not isolated. Each year XX (number) of lives are lost due to drunk-driving accidents.” You could follow this with a short discussion of how serious the problem is and why the reader should care about this problem. This effectively moves the reader from the story about Michelle to your real topic, which might be the need for stricter penalties for drinking and driving.
- Finally, the introduction must conclude with a clear statement of the overall point you want to make in the paper. This is called your “thesis statement.” It is the narrowest part of your inverted pyramid, and it states exactly what your essay will be arguing.
- In this scenario, your thesis would be the point you are trying to make about drunk driving. You might be arguing for better enforcement of existing laws, enactment of stricter penalties, or funding for education about drinking and driving. Whatever the case, your thesis would clearly state the main point your paper is trying to make. Here’s an example: “Drunk driving laws need to include stricter penalties for those convicted of drinking under the influence of alcohol.” Your essay would then go on to support this thesis with the reasons why stricter penalties are needed.
- In addition to your thesis, your introduction can often include a “road map” that explains how you will defend your thesis. This gives the reader a general sense of how you will organize the different points that follow throughout the essay. Sometimes the “map” is incorporated right into the thesis statement, and sometimes it is a separate sentence. Below is an example of a thesis with a “map.”
- “Because drunk driving can result in unnecessary and premature deaths, permanent injury for survivors, and billions of dollars spent on medical expenses, drunk drivers should face stricter penalties for driving under the influence.” The underlined words here are the “map” that show your reader the main points of support you will present in the essay. They also serve to set up the paper’s arrangement because they tell the order in which you will present these topics.
- A final note: In constructing an introduction, make sure the introduction clearly reflects the goal or purpose of the assignment and that the thesis presents not only the topic to be discussed but also states a clear position about that topic that you will support and develop throughout the paper. In shorter papers, the introduction is usually only one or two paragraphs, but it can be several paragraphs in a longer paper.
For Longer Papers
Although for short essays the introduction is usually just one paragraph, longer argument or research papers may require a more substantial introduction. The first paragraph might consist of just the attention grabber and some narrative about the problem. Then you might have one or more paragraphs that provide background on the main topics of the paper and present the overall argument, concluding with your thesis statement.
Below is a sample of an introduction that is less effective because it doesn’t apply the principles discussed above.
An Ineffective Introduction
Everyone uses math during their entire lives. Some people use math on the job as adults, and others used math when they were kids. The topic I have chosen to write about for this paper is how I use math in my life both as a child and as an adult. I use math to balance my checkbook and to budget my monthly expenses as an adult. When I was a child, I used math to run a lemonade stand. I will be talking more about these things in my paper.
In the introduction above, the opening line does not serve to grab the reader’s attention. Instead, it is a statement of an obvious and mundane fact. The second sentence is also not very specific. A more effective attention grabber may point out a specific, and perhaps surprising, instance when adults use math in their daily lives, in order to show the reader why this is such as important topic to consider.
Next the writer “announces” her topic by stating, “The topic I have chosen to write about…” Although it is necessary to introduce your specific topic, you want to avoid making generic announcements that reference your assignment. This technique is not as sophisticated and may distract the reader from your larger purpose for writing the essay. Instead, you might try to make the reader see why this is such an important topic to discuss.
Finally, this sample introduction is lacking a clear thesis statement. The writer concludes with a vague statement: “I will be talking more about these things in my paper.” This kind of statement may be referred to as a “purpose statement,” in which the writer states the topics that will be discussed. However, it is not yet working as a thesis statement because it fails to make an argument or claim about those topics. A thesis statement for this essay would clearly tell the reader what “things” you will be discussing and what point you will make about them.
Now let’s look at how the above principles can be incorporated more effectively into an introduction.
A More Effective Introduction
“A penny saved is a penny earned,” the well-known quote by Ben Franklin, is an expression I have never quite understood, because to me it seems that any penny—whether saved or spent—is still earned no matter what is done with it. My earliest memories of earning and spending money are when I was ten years old when I would sell Dixie cups of too-sweet lemonade and bags of salty popcorn to the neighborhood kids. From that early age, I learned the importance of money management and the math skills involved. I learned that there were four quarters in a dollar, and if I bought a non-food item—like a handful of balloons—that I was going to need to come up with six cents for every dollar I spent. I also knew that Kool-Aid packets were 25 cents each or that I could save money and get five of them for a dollar. Today, however, money management involves knowing more than which combinations of 10-cent, five-cent, and one-penny candies I can get for a dollar. Proper money management today involves knowing interest rates, balancing checkbooks, paying taxes, estimating my paycheck, and budgeting to make ends meet from month-to-month.
- In the first line the writer uses a well-known quotation to introduce her topic.
- The writer follows this “attention-grabber” with specific examples of earning and spending money. Compare how the specific details of the second example paint a better picture for the reader about what the writer learned about money as a child, rather than this general statement: “As a child, I used math to run a lemonade stand.” In the first introduction, this statement leaves the reader to guess how the writer used math, but in the second introduction we can actually see what the child did and what she learned.
- Notice, too, how the reader makes the transition from the lessons of childhood to the real focus of her paper in this sentence: “Today, however, money management involves knowing….”
- This transition sentence effectively connects the opening narrative to the main point of the essay, her thesis: “Proper money management today involves knowing interest rates, balancing checkbooks, paying taxes, estimating my paycheck, and budgeting to make ends meet from month-to-month." This thesis also maps out for the reader the main points (underlined here) that will be discussed in the essay.
What is a descriptive essay? A descriptive essay is a short paper which is all about describing or summarizing a topic. You don't need to collect responses from other people like you do when writing an argumentative essay. Based on my own experience, I can tell that expository essays barely occupy more than one page. They won't take a plenty of time. Still, if you have no desire to work on the stuff like that or you want to impress your essay reader even with such a simple assignment, contact academic writers for hire to have your vivid essay done in several hours.
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No details, no proofs, no special effort... It is the simplest academic homework essay. In general, students should illustrate a descriptive essay with words instead of using pictures. Describe whatever you see, feel, touch, taste, or hear about the target topic. Learn here how to write an A-level college essay.
A descriptive essay about a place, for instance, must provide author's impressions from attending a certain place in the world: from a small town to the biggest country. We explain how to write a descriptive essay based on its types.
How to Write a Descriptive Essay: Types to Consider
Study professional descriptive essay examples to understand each type listed below better. A descriptive essay can describe any of the following issues:
- Human essay. It is much harder to tell about a person. Overall, such task would mean telling about the appearance, actions, behaviors, mood, and qualities of the chosen individual.
- Place essay. The primary thing you should understand to find out how to write a descriptive essay about a place is the paper's focus. Focus on describing places with the most breathtaking sights; let your reader feel the might of such cities as New York or Rome in your description.
- Event essay. You can describe your last vacation, loud rock gig, summer music festival, graduation day, or Euro trip.
- Animal essay. Wild nature is full of wonders - choose the animal you like most of all or the one you can associate with yourself.
- Occupation essay. Writing about the job of your dream is good training before preparing an admissions essay or job resume.
- Behavior essay. If you want to describe the freaky behavior of your best friend to show how the same people act under different conditions, it's your chance!
We can explain just anything in details. The goal is to make it sound both artistically and officially.
Keep in mind you can count on help with writing a descriptive essay from academic experts who care about your performance.
100 Descriptive Essay Topics for Any Taste
We have selected 100 most outstanding descriptive essay topics most of the school and college tutors expect to see from each student. Mind that these are only the examples of the descriptive essay ideas; students can think of their own original topics by replacing some words with more suitable.
Despite there are many topics you might want to describe in detail, it is better to focus on a single person/place/event/object not to lose the point. Consider these 100 topics for your argumentative essay. A descriptive essay refers to showing than telling; deliver the main idea to your readers through drawing a picture of what you want to say.
Person/People Essay Ideas
- Make a detailed description of your mother (other relatives).
- Provide a vivid description of your role model. It could be your favorite actor, singer, movie director, fashion model, political figure, best friend, parents, etc.
- Why does Martin Luther King deserve respect?
- Describe a character from your favorite TV show (e.g. Buffy Summers, Piper Halliwell, Clark Kent, etc.)
- Choose a famous villain and reveal his personality.
- Describe specific traits you enjoy in one of your peers.
- List features of your boyfriend/girlfriend (fiancé/bride) which make this person so important in your life.
- Would you prefer Wonder Woman or Xena, Warrior Princess?
- Essay: Share a description of your most liked teacher.
- Why do you believe John Kennedy was a great political figure on the examples of his contribution to the US society?
- Explain why your favorite actress is better than the others.
- Why would a certain person behave in the way he/she does?
- Which psychological factors had the greatest impact on your own behavior?
- Describe a person whom you hate.
- Share description of your least favorite movie.
- Essay: Which horror film character has scared you to death?
- How would you act if you meet your favorite celebrity on the street one day?
- What traits belong to the term "best friend"?
- How would you define your potential enemies?
- Describe why you believe in a friendship between man and woman based on your own experience.
- Write who your favorite business manager is.
- Write how a perfect fashion model should look like today.
- Write why you think Abraham Lincoln deserves a special place in the history of the US.
- Essay: List specific features which make your mom stand out from the rest of the mothers.
- Why is your dad the kindest dad in the world?
Place/Location Descriptive Essay Examples
- Provide details on the house you're living in. Would you like to change something about it, move away to another location, or stay without fixing anything, and why?
- Where would you like to rest next winter and why?
- Share an example of a perfect summer location with your readers.
- Provide details on your favorite winter location.
- Some students want to describe the rooms they are living in on campus. Share ideas how the college/university community could unite to make this place better.
- Describe the top favorite place in your native country.
- Essay: How do you picture an ideal place to have a wedding ceremony?
- Write about the place where people can see the brightest stars in the sky.
- Think of the features of the perfect place to have the loudest rock gig ever!
- List the names of the countries you would like to visit.
- My hometown is in my heart and soul.
- Why has Melbourne the heart of Australia despite it is not even its capital city?
- Describe the loudest place you used to visit.
- Write about the place you think is the best in the whole world.
- Essay: Tell more about the place you're studying in.
- Describe the places you attended with your parents.
- Describe the most beautiful garden you have ever seen.
- Name the place you would choose for the summer festival.
- Write about 7 Wonders of the World.
- Write what you believe is the eighth Wonder of the World.
- Write how you feel when attending your childhood places.
- Essay: Write down why you prefer your native country over any other places in the world.
- Write how you can get to the certain destination.
- Describe a location for a perfect student party.
- Write about your favorite place which exists only in the fiction.
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Memory/Mind Essay Ideas
- Help your readers picture the best day of your life using vivid descriptions, different examples, original comparisons, and more attributes of the talented essay writer.
- What was the most special thing on your last trip to the sea?
- Do you remember the first birthday of your best friend?
- Create a map which would allow people to travel your mind to see a bit of your experience.
- Describe the introductory day in any of the existing educational institution - school, college, or university - using the entire spectrum of emotions.
- Essay: What would you call the ugliest experience in your life?
- Find proper words to describe the memories associated with the beloved person who used to die.
- List the things you like doing with your grandparents.
- Describe the event in your academic life which makes you proud enough to share it with the admissions officers later.
- Provide a description of the first time falling in love.
- Provide a description of the day in your life when something you like (e.g. hobby, art, music band, comic book, other objects) has almost changed your vision completely.
- Describe what you believe young children tend to memorize best of all.
- Essay: Help your readers understand how it feels like in the mountains.
- Do you like riding the bicycle?
- Describe the last time you were abroad.
- Share your feelings with the readers who wish to learn more about taking part in the exchange
- How did you feel during your English language exam?
- Which event from your life made you feel scared?
- Describe something that made you laugh to death.
- Offer details on your visit to London.
- Describe a silent place in the woods you love since your early ages.
- Write how you remember the first snow in your life.
- Write why it is important to keep a diary.
- Essay: Write down several things you remember from your tenth birthday.
- Write how it feels to attend the funeral based on your memory.
Object/Thing Descriptive Essay Topics
- Dedicate several powerful paragraphs to what you consider your family relict.
- Describe an object which you believe has once saved your life or prevented other adverse consequences for you or one of your close people.
- The Silk Road.
- Find appropriate words to describe something you wanted so bad you were ready to steal it due to the fact you did not have enough money to buy it.
- The most expensive painting ever sold.
- Pick one of the recent technological innovations. Make a description explaining why this particular thing plays in important role in the development of modern society.
- Essay: There is one more thing every writer should keep in mind to have a full vision of how to write a descriptive essay about yourself.
- Providing a description of distance and time from the physical aspect.
- Wonderful things every human should know from the Ancient World (choose Egypt, Greece, or Rome)
- How would you describe the icons in your home?
- The Empire State Building (or any other magnificent construction)
- Taj Mahal: historical value.
- Solar System and planets in it.
- The role of Bible in our life.
- Essay: A comfortable bed as a definition of good sleep.
- Can a dress make a man?
- Why do we love soft toys that much?
- Things to take with you on a sea trip.
- What can money change in the life of every person?
- The true value of vegetables in the markets.
- Essay: Write why your old Tamagotchi still matters to you.
- Write how your favorite video game has impacted you.
- Write down specific attributes which make your favorite doll special.
- Describe your living rooms in detail.
- Describe the neighboring house in detail.
Want to view several good descriptive essay examples from experts? We have attached the best samples to observe!
Common Structure: How to Write a Descriptive Essay
The structure of such essay depends on the topic. There is no need to follow strict chronology if you write about a person/object, but you should mind the order of events in the essay describing a place. Do not waste time on in-depth research or search for many sources - focus on writing about your feelings.
Work on the senses. To succeed, it is important to create 5 titled columns on a separate worksheet to list five human senses. Any good descriptive essay must cover each of the five senses, taste, sight, touch, smell and sound, to make the reader(s) feel the full spectrum of emotions associated with the chosen topic. It is obvious that some topics are better associated with certain feelings than others; focus on these feelings when describing the issue in detail.
Writing an outline. Create an outline to be your action plan during the entire writing process. No matter whether you're a high school student or the one studying in college, the teachers everywhere expect to see a 5-paragraph descriptive essay. Descriptive essays belong to the category of creative pieces. Use them to expand your imagination by lengthening the text. The standard outline covers five paragraphs: introduction, 3-5 body paragraphs, and conclusion. Descriptive essays do not have a reference page as the obligatory part. Add important sources if you're not reflecting personal experience.
Explore how a professional descriptive writing looks in several great descriptive essay examples!
Descriptive writing is not a piece of cake, but some expert recommendations help students to overcome different obstacles in their academic life:
"Most of my students wondered how to write a descriptive essay about a person, place, or object. The best topic is one that writer has a deep connection with. No matter whether you have a list of wonderful topics or the one your teacher expects to see: brainstorming is the key! I recommend this technique to every student. Once you master brainstorming, it would be easier for you to work in a team within any environment. I like original ideas such as Things to Do in Your City, The Funniest Memory, A Perfect Day with a Favorite Rock Star, Detailed Description of the Self-Invented Food, and more."
Lisa Head, Literature Professor at University College London (UCL)
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY FORMULA
- Pre-writing stage. Do you have a clear image of the object you’re going to describe? Look at all sources you have on hands to define whether they provide all important information on the topic of your choice. Mind that having an experience in the discussed field would be a plus. Focus on your own senses, taste, smell, and other feelings while recalling your example, and then create an action plan for further writing.
- How to start a descriptive essay? Start writing with a powerful, eye-catching hook to grab the reader's attention: simile, metaphor, literary quote, famous people quotations, poetry lines, interesting facts, jokes, etc.
- Create a draft of your expository essay. You may put all words that come to your mind; you'll have a chance to make your ideas shorter later. It's not enough to tell - show the image of the object with the help of words only. The way you create a mental image for the reader defines your ability to make up a good descriptive essay. It is the quality of a skilled narrator as well.
- Adding details to your essay with the help of enriched English vocabulary and online dictionaries. Use your English language vocabulary to add all missing feelings like hearing to the descriptive essay last Play with adjectives and adverbs. Mind your language when writing a descriptive paper - it must be lyrical to deliver all your feelings in full. Involve many different adjectives.
- Take time to revise and edit the paper with the help of various free online grammar checking tools. Once you have described your vivid place, check the structure of your essay again to answer several critical questions: Can the sentences or paragraphs be arranged in a better way? Are any transition words missing? Put down all sources used to describe your topic; make sure the descriptive essay is following the tutor's instructions in full.
- Edit the descriptive essay. Try to avoid any grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes to show how great your knowledge of the language is.
After completing your final descriptive essay draft, it is better to keep in touch with some experts to have the assignment fully checked. You should evaluate your work critically. Proofread and edit the descriptive essay to eliminate or fix any mistakes. You may be interested in adding some details in case you require telling something more about your main object.
- What does a general revision process involve?
- Are there enough details to make it possible for your readers to obtain a full and vivid perception?
- Have you missed any small but significant descriptive details?
- Are there words that convey the emotion, feeling (touch, smell, etc.) or perspective?
- Does your essay possess any unnecessary details in your description which can be thrown away or replaced by the more meaningful information?
- Does each section of your essay focus on one aspect of your description?
- Are all paragraphs arranged in the most efficient way; are they properly connected with the help of corresponding transition words?
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