Introduction Paragraphs

The introduction paragraph is the first paragraph of an essay. This paragraph helps your reader be ready to understand your main idea.

Your introduction paragraph should—

—grab your reader’s attention

—introduce the topic of your essay

—present your thesis

You can visualize the ideas in your introduction paragraph by thinking about an inverted triangle. The ideas in the beginning of your introduction paragraph are general. Then you narrow down the topic to a specific idea.

intro.png

Grab the reader’s attention and introduce the topic

The very first sentence of your introduction should get your reader interested in your topic. The first sentence of an introduction is called a “hook.” There are many types of hooks: facts, questions, problems, descriptions, etc. There is not one “perfect” hook for each essay. Your hook can help you introduce the general topic of your essay.

Type of Hook Example
Fact Everyone needs to exercise
Question Do you like to exercise?
Problem It can be difficult to find time for exercise
Description Exercise is a sweaty, tiring way to spend your time.

As you introduce your topic, make sure to give the reader enough background information about the topic that the reader will be able to understand the thesis.

Exercise: Identify hooks and general topics.

Present your thesis

The thesis states the main idea, or focus, of the essay. The rest of the essay will give evidence and explanations that show why or how your thesis is true. Your reader will expect to find the main idea in the introduction paragraph, rather than later in the essay.

An effective thesis—

—addresses the prompt if there is one* (i.e., answers the question).

—is usually at the end of the introduction paragraph.

—controls the content of all of the body paragraphs.

—is a complete sentence.

—does not announce the topic (e.g., “I’m going to talk about exercise.”).

—should not simply be a fact (e.g., “Many people exercise.”).

—should not be too general (e.g., “Exercise is good.”).

—should not be too specific (e.g., “Exercise decreases the chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, asthma, osteoporosis, depression, and anxiety.”).

—may state main points (e.g., “Exercise is essential because it improves overall physical and mental health.”).

—may imply main points (e.g., “Exercise is essential for improving our well-being.”)

*In some essays you write, you will not have a specific question to answer. Instead, you may need to choose your own topic. Your essay should still answer a question (e.g., how are typical Japanese and Chinese birthday celebrations similar or different?).

Exercise: Analyze a thesis.

Exercise: Identify effective thesis statements.

Exercise: Evaluate thesis statements.

Which sentences are effective thesis statements?

Which sentences are effective thesis statements? Which sentences are not effective thesis statements? On a piece of paper, write “yes” if you think the thesis is effective or “no” if you think it is ineffective. Discuss why each thesis is (or is not) effective.

Prompt: Where is the best place for students to study?

1. Now I will show you the best place to study.

2. The benefits of studying in the library.

3. The library is the best place to study due to its many resources and quiet environment.

4. The BYU library is the best place to study because it is open very late most nights, usually until midnight, and students have busy schedules due to work, family, school, friends, and church activities.

5. Why study in the library?

6. Libraries are quiet

7. In this essay, we will see how libraries are useful for many students.

8. There are many features of typical libraries that make a library the best place for students to study.

9. Is because library spaces are quiet and comfortable.

10. Studying is important.

Which sentences are effective thesis statements? Which sentences are not effective thesis statements? On a piece of paper, write “yes” if you think the thesis is effective or “no” if you think it is ineffective. Discuss why each thesis is (or is not) effective.

Exercise: Write a thesis.

On a piece of paper, write a thesis for each prompt. Make sure the thesis addresses the prompt clearly.

On a piece of paper, write a thesis for each prompt. Make sure the thesis addresses the prompt clearly.

1. What are weddings like in your country?

2. What problems do smartphones cause in our lives?

3. What are qualities of a true friend?

4. Should video games be prohibited?

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