Introduction Sentences for Essays: Examples & Overview

Introduction Sentences for Essays: Examples & Overview
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  • 0:01 Why Are Introductory…
  • 1:03 Common Introduction Mistakes
  • 2:09 Proper Ways to Begin an Essay
  • 4:09 Audience Is Important
  • 4:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debbie Notari
Sometimes it is hard to know how to start an essay, but capturing a reader's attention is very important. In this lesson, we will explore various effective ways to begin essays, and also look at common mistakes to avoid.

Why Are Introductory Sentences Important?

If you have ever written an essay, and most people have, you know how difficult it can be to get started! Those first few sentences can be difficult to construct. In this lesson, let's take a look at some effective ways to write introductory sentences, or the first sentences of an essay.

Introductory sentences are really important, because if a reader loses interest after reading the first few sentences of your essay, he or she may not keep reading. It is really important to begin our essays in fresh, interesting ways. Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds. While you don't want to have to do gymnastics or flash neon signs, as it were, to catch your audience's attention, you do want to make this beginning portion of your essay interesting.

Also, the entire introductory paragraph lets your reader know what your paper is about and why it is important to read your paper. Your first paragraph clearly indicates the purpose of your essay. Without a clearly stated purpose, your reader will have no idea why he or she should take the time to read your essay.

Common Introduction Mistakes

First, we are going to take a look at ways NOT to start an essay! For instance, you never want to say: 'Today, I am going to write about... whatever the topic is.' Just write it! Starting this way can make your writing seem childish. Also, never say, 'Hi, my name is... and today I am going to write about...' Beginning writers sometimes make these mistakes, but these types of introductions are not the most effective. Remember that your introduction gives your reader a first impression of your paper. You don't want that first impression to be that you're not very professional or that you are unsure of how to start your paper effectively.

Another common mistake when starting essays is to skip the introduction altogether. Students are sometimes so eager to jump into their writing that they begin talking about the subject without providing an introduction at all. Imagine if you were meeting someone for the first time and you just walked up to them and began randomly talking about something without introducing yourself. The other person would probably be confused and would not be prepared for such a discussion. You get the idea!

Proper Ways to Begin an Essay

Now that we've gone over some ways not to start your essay, we're going to go over some strategies for writing effective introductory sentences when starting an essay. First, when you are writing about another piece of literature, what we call literary analysis, probably the best and most straightforward way to start your paper is to begin by stating the author and title. This launches the reader right into the focus of your paper.

For instance, you might say something like: 'In Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, we are introduced to two characters who are outcasts in society.' Right away, the audience knows where this paper is headed. This type of introduction is also very useful for on demand or timed writes about literature. When time is tight, it is good to have a way to start quickly.

Another way you can start your essay is to ask a thoughtful question. Get your reader thinking about what he or she would do in a given situation. For instance, in any essay on Romeo and Juliet, you might want to start with a question such as: 'Have you ever fallen in love with someone you knew you shouldn't?'

You can also start essays with a brief example or anecdote - a short story. The emphasis here is on the word 'short.' Remember that the idea is to catch your reader's interest, and then lead him or her to the main gist of your paper or thesis statement.

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