Expository Essay: 3 Building Blocks to Propose an Idea and Defend It

The article Expository Essay: 3 Building Blocks to Propose an Idea and Defend It appeared first on The Write Practice.

This post is written by guest writer Dixie-Ann Belle. You can learn more about Dixie-Anne at the end of this article.

If you saw the words “expository essay” on a writing assignment, would your mind draw a blank? Would you immediately feel as if you had stumbled into unexplored territory?

Well there’s good news.

You might not realize it, but chances are this is not your first encounter with this type of essay. Once you have been writing essays in academic environments, you have probably already worked on expository writing.

In this article, I hope to help you recognize this essay type and understand the expository essay outline. Comprehending the building blocks is instrumental in knowing how to construct an exceptional expository essay.

Lay a Strong Foundation

Over the years, I have taught and tutored college students one on one, in face to face classrooms and online, and I have noticed a pattern. They often approach essays in one of two ways.

Some consider them with apprehension and are fearful of making mistakes. Others feel confident that they have written many essays before and think they have already mastered expository writing.

Interestingly, it’s the latter who often end up the most shaken when they realize that they are not as familiar as they think with this type of writing.

What I hope to instill in my students is that they should not feel intimidated whatever their situation.

I encourage them to make sure they understand the foundations of the expository essay structure. I try to get them to grasp the basic blocks that need to be there, and once they do, they have a good chance of crafting a substantial piece of writing.

What is an Expository Essay?

Students can end up writing four types of essays: the persuasive/argumentative essay, the descriptive essay, the technical essay, or the expository essay.

Writing an expository essay is one of the most important and valuable skills for you to master.

According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab:

The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner.

Keep in mind that your expository writing centers on giving your reader information about a given topic or process. Your goal is to inform, describe or define the subject for your readers.

As you work to achieve this, your essay writing must be formal, objective and concise. No matter what your discipline, it’s almost guaranteed that you will be required to write this essay type one day.

Some expository essay examples could include:

  • Define the term ‘democracy’
  • Compare and contrast the benefits of cable television vs streaming
  • Outline the process that generates an earthquake
  • Classify the different types of tourism
  • Outline the aspects of a good fitness program

The possibilities are endless with expository writing, and it can cover a wide variety of topics and specialties.

3 Building Blocks of a Great Expository Essay

To make sure you’re on the right track with this type of paper, it helps to understand the three building blocks of the expository essay format and how to apply them to the final expository essay structure .

There are three major building blocks to an expository essay. Learn what they are and how to outline them in this article.
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1. Write an introduction

Most students know that an introductory paragraph should grab the interest of the reader. However, they might not realize that it should also provide context for the essay topic.

Ask yourself: What are you talking about in this essay? Why is this topic important? Some background details could help to establish the subject for your reader.

For example:

If you were writing an essay on the impact smartphones have on society, you might want to start with some information on the evolution of smartphones, the number of smartphones in society, the way people use the phones and more.

The introduction should start off with general information.

You then work your way down to the more specific and principal part of your introduction and the crown of your whole essay, the thesis statement.

What is the thesis statement?

Your thesis statement is you telling the reader in concise language what this essay is going to be about. It is one clear sentence which expresses the subject and the focus of this piece of writing.

For example:

Our smart phones topic might create a thesis statement like: Smart phones have many positive impacts for adults in the business world.

Right away the reader has some idea of what’s ahead.

2. Write your body paragraphs

With your thesis statement clear in your mind and your introduction setting the scene, it is time to write your body paragraphs.

Each body paragraph contains supporting information for your essay topic. They should each focus on one idea.

Depending on your word count and the teacher requirements, you can write any number of body paragraphs, but there are usually at least three, the basic five paragraph essay.

Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence. A topic sentence is one single statement that explains the point of the paragraph. It directly refers to your thesis statement and tells you what the body paragraph is going to be about.

Remember our smart phone thesis statement? You need something that will relate to that thesis sentence and will alert the reader to what is to come.

Here’s one possibility: 

Smart phones can help increase productivity  for professional adults.

This topic sentence not only reminds us that you are talking about positive impacts for adults with smart phones, it now shows us what the following paragraph will cover.

The best body paragraphs will go on to include different types of details, all of which would support your topic sentence. A good abbreviation to encapsulate the different details is spelt TEEES.

TEES: An abbreviation for the different details in an expository essay

T: Topic sentence

E: Explanation

This is where you expand on your topic and include additional supportive information. If you were talking about smart phones and productivity, maybe you could start mentioning what elements of the smart phone makes it optimal for productivity.

E: Evidence

This would be the information from reputable sources you researched for your topic.  Here’s where you can talk about all the information you have discovered from experts who have carefully studied this subject. Perhaps you could mention a quote from a a technology reporter who has been following the rise of smart phones for years.

E: Examples

This would be concrete subject matter to support your point. Maybe here you can list some of the smart phone apps which have been proven to increase productivity in the workplace.

S: Significant/Summarizing sentence

This is the last sentence in the body paragraph which summarizes your point and ends this part of your essay. There should be no doubt in the reader’s mind that you have finished talking about your topic, and you are moving on to another in the next paragraph.

For example:

This hypothetical paragraph could be. “Smart phones have transformed the productivity of the modern workforce.”

3. Write the conclusion

Once you have written your body paragraphs, you’re on the home stretch. You have presented all of your points and supported them with the appropriate subject matter. Now you need to conclude.

A lot of students are confused by conclusions. Many of them have heard different rules about what is supposed to be included.

One of the main requirements to keep in mind when ending an expository essay is that you do not add new information.

This is not the time to throw in something you forgot in a previous body paragraph. Your conclusion is supposed to give a succinct recap of the points that came before.

Sometimes college students are instructed to re-state the thesis, and this puzzles them. It doesn’t mean re-writing the thesis statement word for word. You should express your thesis statement in a new way.

For example:

With our smart phone topic, you would have come up with three points to support your thesis statement.

After brainstorming, you might decide the benefits of smart phones in the workplace are improved productivity, better communication and increased mobility.

Your conclusion is the time t

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