Your introduction paragraph should grab your reader's attention, introduce the topic of your essay, and present your thesis. (The thesis is the main idea of the essay.) 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 diets similar or different?).
Exercise: Evaluate thesis statements.
Discuss each thesis statement with a partner. Which sentences are effective thesis statements? Which sentences are not effective thesis statements? Be prepared to explain why it is not effective.
Prompt 1: What causes poverty?
- Poverty is caused by many forms of economic instability including unemployment, crop failure, and scarcity of resources.
- The causes of poverty
- Poverty is completely devastating to the people who suffer from it.
- Poverty is caused by a slow economy where people don't spend money, so stores start to fail and then the employees are laid off as well as when the weather is really extreme and farmers can't produce a good crop, so the prices of the other crops increase.
- Now I will explain the causes of poverty and the devastating effects that come when poverty is widespread in a community.
- Governmental failures including political corruption and the misuse of foreign aid can lead a country into poverty.
Prompt 2: Does advertising encourage us to buy things we do not need, or does it tell us about new products that may improve our lives?
- I agree that sometimes people buy things because they are new.
- Many shoppers are persuaded to buy things they do not need because of the convincing power of advertisements.
- The influence that the advertising has in our life, the huge information that the advertising gives us to compare with other products, and the way the advertising shows information.
- Products such as technology, clothes, and toys are the most common in advertisements.
- Advertisements play an important role in informing consumers about new products they would not know about otherwise.
- I will show how advertisements help us to know about products that we need, and those products can change our way of living because they are innovative.