Many students don’t know how to write an English essay correctly, and instead settle for essays that won’t pass muster with their teachers.
By learning how to write an English essay properly and avoid common writing pitfalls, you can ensure that you’re always putting your best foot forward in your essays and papers.
How to Write an introduction for your English Essay
The introduction is where you set the tone of your paper, so it should be engaging enough to capture the reader’s attention.
Try including a quote or a provocative question from the text as a way of making sure the reader is engaged right off the bat.
You should also provide a concise summary of what will be discussed in the paper- this is usually done at the end of your introduction but could also be included at the beginning if it makes sense.
A good essay introduction should do more than just summarize the main idea of the piece; it should engage readers by introducing them to compelling ideas.
Avoid cliché introductions like “In my opinion, In this essay, I am going to discuss… or I’ll start by saying”.
These are phrases used by everyone else, which means they’re not interesting on their own and they’re not very original either.
How to Write an English Essay Thesis Statement
Once you have a solid introduction, it’s time to work on your thesis statement.
At first, glance, writing a thesis statement may seem like one of those things that you can put off until the last minute, but in reality, it’s important that you do it early on.
A thesis statement acts as the backbone of your entire essay, and having one that is solid before you get started will make all the difference in your final product.
Your thesis statement should be one or two sentences that summarize the point of your argument.
There are many other different ways to go about constructing a thesis statement, depending on the type of argument you want to make.
Some approaches involve summarizing the points that will be made later in the essay while others state your position upfront.
No matter what approach you take, however, it’s important that your thesis statement is focused and specific so it doesn’t waver when discussing other points throughout the paper.
Here are some general guidelines for writing thesis statements :
- Developing a thesis statement before you start writing your essay ensures that you’re addressing all the points that need to be made, rather than accidentally leaving something out
- Having a strong thesis statement will help frame your arguments and keep them organized
- It’s important to choose something that you feel passionately about and care deeply about
- Think critically about whether or not your current topic is interesting for both yourself and the reader. If it’s not, find another subject.
- Proofread your thesis statement carefully before submitting it because spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can really detract from your argument
- Make sure that the sentence form of your thesis is parallel to the rest of your essay
- Keep your audience in mind. You might have a passionate stance on abortion, but chances are someone reading your paper isn’t likely to share that opinion.
How to Write Body Paragraphs for an English Essay
Body paragraphs should be roughly four to six sentences long and contain a clear, coherent transition that connects it to the thesis statement.
Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence, then present a few facts, examples, or quotations to support that statement.
Support for the topic sentence should be substantial and not simply repeating the same thing.
The paragraph should conclude with a concluding sentence that sums up its key point in relation to the essay’s thesis statement.
Effective use of transition words and phrases in the body paragraphs of your English essay will help to create a cohesive essay.
There are plenty of other transitions you can use to connect your body paragraphs to the thesis statement.
For example, let’s say you wanted to write about the fact that human beings cannot survive without air. Your thesis statement could be “Air is necessary for human life,” and your first paragraph could start with;
There are several theories that postulate why we need air, but the simplest explanation comes down to this: we cannot survive without it. Air enters our bodies through our lungs and helps us maintain healthy cell function. Every day, the average person takes between 20,000 and 30,000 breaths. When you breathe out, you exhale carbon dioxide and water vapor. This process is called respiration. However, there are times when the amount of oxygen that reaches your cells becomes too low to maintain normal function and these periods become even more intense at high altitudes or in areas with a lack of oxygen. In response to these environments, your body triggers the fight-or-flight response by pumping blood faster and expanding blood vessels.
In the above example, transitions such as “however” and “in response to” signal to the reader that the content in the second paragraph has been indirectly connected to the first.
A transitional word or phrase also allows you to pause and change gears, which prevents your readers from getting bored.
That said, you don’t want to mix too many different transitions in one paragraph.
This is a difficult balance to strike and it often takes practice to do so.
How to Write the Conclusion
A good English essay conclusion is essential to the success of your essay.
The conclusion should be a brief summary of the main points you have discussed in your essay, and it should not introduce any new ideas.
One of the most effective ways to structure the essay conclusion is to answer the following question: What are my main insights and deductions?
After answering that question, you should summarize those conclusions in a sentence or two and follow with a final sentence that leaves the reader with a positive impression.
An effective conclusion should serve to help the reader understand how your essay fits into the greater context of what is already known.
The best essays are the ones that make people think, but they should never be so heavy-handed that they cause the reader to stop caring about what you have to say.
You should try to keep your language simple and avoid complicated jargon.
Remember that you’re writing in a manner that is understandable to the majority of your audience, and most importantly, remember to proofread!
Here are more tips to help you write effective English essay conclusions:
- Try to leave the reader with a feeling of understanding and appreciation for the topic.
- Summarize your arguments.
- Write in a style that is accessible to your audience.
- Proofread your essay thoroughly.
- Use transitions to help link your summaries to the thesis statement.
- If you are unsure of the right words to use, you can always look back on your introduction and see if the words that you used in that section are appropriate for the conclusion.
- If you are using a quote, then it is usually appropriate to end your essay with a quotation.
- It is also important to check your grammar and spelling before sending off your essay.
Maintaining your focus
Remaining focused during the essay writing process is crucial. Make sure you understand what is being asked of you so that you don’t stray from your point.
In order to do this, make sure that your thesis statement is clear and concise.
It will be easier for you to stick with it if it isn’t too vague or too broad in scope.
There are a few other things that will help maintain focus as well.
For example, break up your paper into three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.
Start by outlining each paragraph and note how many sentences go into each one.
While writing, make sure that every sentence follows logically from the previous one.
Avoid trying to change topics within a paragraph (unless they’re related) because it can create confusion in terms of how each sentence relates to one another.
Maintaining clarity throughout is very important when you’re trying to keep your reader focused on what you’re saying!
Here are more tips to help you maintain when focus when writing an English essay :
- Keep track of time.
- Read over what you’ve written periodically to ensure that there are no mistakes.
- Make changes as necessary–but only after reading through everything once first!
- Proofread at least twice before submitting your work.
Supporting your arguments with evidence
Most English essays must be supported with evidence. When writing your essay, you should use different sources in order to prove your point.
However, it is important that you do not plagiarize. If you are citing a source, make sure that the source is not copyrighted or that the copyright has expired.
You can find out if a source is copyrighted by looking at the copyright information at the bottom of the page of your textbook or at the top of the webpage when browsing online.
Even if the content on a website is original and does not infringe on any copyrights, this does not mean that other people will feel the same way about it.
They may report you for plagiarism without giving much thought as to whether or not what they have reported is actually true.
To avoid this possibility, make sure that every sentence which you have copied from another source also includes quotation marks as well as including a citation.
Be sure to include all necessary information such as the author, title, publication date, and publisher. Sometimes you may need to cite your work more than once throughout the paper.
These citations are used for cross-referencing purposes so that readers know where else in the paper they can find more detailed information on specific topics.
In addition, these citations serve as a backup if someone were to accuse you of plagiarizing.
Here are some tips to help you keep track of where you have cited your work:
- Make sure that your citations are formatted correctly
- Be consistent with formatting throughout the paper
- Keep copies of your research materials handy so that you can quickly refer back to them if needed
- Double-check before submitting anything to see if there are any citations left out.
Finally, remember that a paragraph should never consist solely of quotes unless those quotes are being analyzed in detail and presented as evidence.
Quotes should only appear within paragraphs where the goal is to analyze their meaning through textual analysis.
For example, if I am trying to argue that William Faulkner was against slavery, I would use quotes like Slavery’s not natural and It was wrong then.
Then I would spend the next few sentences discussing how slavery is contrary to nature.
My concluding sentences would summarize my position on the issue.