So much is at stake in writing a conclusion. This is, after all, your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view, to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker. And the impression you create in your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they've finished the essay.
The end of an essay should therefore convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of the lingering possibilities of the topic, its larger meaning, its implications: the final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off.
To establish a sense of closure, you might do one or more of the following:
- Conclude by linking the last paragraph to the first, perhaps by reiterating a word or phrase you used at the beginning.
- Conclude with a sentence composed mainly of one-syllable words. Simple language can help create an effect of understated drama.
- Conclude with a sentence that's compound or parallel in structure; such sentences can establish a sense of balance or order that may feel just right at the end of a complex discussion.
To close the discussion without closing it off, you might do one or more of the following:
- Conclude with a quotation from or reference to a primary or secondary source, one that amplifies your main point or puts it in a different perspective. A quotation from, say, the novel or poem you're writing about can add texture and specificity to your discussion; a critic or scholar can help confirm or complicate your final point. For example, you might conclude an essay on the idea of home in James Joyce's short story collection, Dubliners, with information about Joyce's own complex feelings towards Dublin, his home. Or you might end with a biographer's statement about Joyce's attitude toward Dublin, which could illuminate his characters' responses to the city. Just be cautious, especially about using secondary material: make sure that you get the last word.
- Conclude by setting your discussion into a different, perhaps larger, context. For example, you might end an essay on nineteenth-century muckraking journalism by linking it to a current news magazine program like 60 Minutes.
- Conclude by redefining one of the key terms of your argument. For example, an essay on Marx's treatment of the conflict between wage labor and capital might begin with Marx's claim that the "capitalist economy is . . . a gigantic enterprise ofdehumanization"; the essay might end by suggesting that Marxist analysis is itself dehumanizing because it construes everything in economic -- rather than moral or ethical-- terms.
- Conclude by considering the implications of your argument (or analysis or discussion). What does your argument imply, or involve, or suggest? For example, an essay on the novel Ambiguous Adventure, by the Senegalese writer Cheikh Hamidou Kane, might open with the idea that the protagonist's development suggests Kane's belief in the need to integrate Western materialism and Sufi spirituality in modern Senegal. The conclusion might make the new but related point that the novel on the whole suggests that such an integration is (or isn't) possible.
Finally, some advice on how not to end an essay:
- Don't simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long--more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
- Avoid phrases like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up." These phrases can be useful--even welcome--in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
- Resist the urge to apologize. If you've immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you've finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you've produced. (And if you haven't immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don't undercut your authority by saying things like, "this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . ."
Copyright 1998, Pat Bellanca, for the Writing Center at Harvard University
An essay is a type of writing which is supposed to include three main parts: an introduction, a main body, which in its turn may consist of two or three paragraphs, and a conclusion. There are several types of essay and each of them is characterized by certain peculiarities. These include not only the essay structure but style and vocabulary. Therefore, the choice of good words and phrases for compositions is important. To find good phrases for composition writing any essay writer should read a lot of samples written by experts so that he could easily use them in appropriate situations. Good phrases for composition writing include those which express one’s opinion, present an opposite point of view, provide examples or introduce some new ideas. Being a piece of academic writing an essay should provide well-grounded justification, explanation and reasoning which involves using specific vocabulary. Thus, specific linking elements are considered to be helping words for composition.
Starting an essay can be quite challenging and choosing the right words and phrases may take time. There are several tips on how to begin an introductory paragraph effectively. To start with, an introduction should be catchy as its main purpose is to grab the attention of the readers from the very beginning. Thus, the words to start an essay should be strong and persuasive rather than neutral. What is more, an introductory paragraph should not be too long. Three or four fully-developed sentences are quite enough. Furthermore, the choice of words and phrases depends on whether you state your opinion in the introduction or express it in a summarising paragraph. In the first case the expressions to start an essay should include opinion phrases such as “From my point of view” or “It is my firm belief”. Otherwise, such phrases are not typically used in introductions as the author’s opinion is stated in a concluding paragraph. Finally, it is not a good idea to copy the title of an essay in an introductory paragraph. Paraphrasing is an efficient way of creating a good introduction using specific essay introduction phrases.
Techniques to start an essay
There are several techniques to start an essay the choice of which depends on the topic and the purpose of an essay. Below are listed several of such techniques.
The technique which is widely used in essay introductions is the background technique. It means that an essay starts with providing the readers with some historical facts which are relevant for introducing an essay topic. The words to begin an essay using background information may include historic dates, the names of places or public figures etc. This way, the readers get a vivid picture of what an essay is going to dwell upon.
Another good technique includes providing a definition. Such type of an introduction is good for an essay which considers some abstract notions and ideas. Thus, words for introduction in essay are given the definitions either taken from a dictionary or developed by an author based on his own experience. Such words to be defined may include the following: happiness, health, life or success.
Interrogatory sentence technique
Good sentences to start an essay are interrogatory sentences. Starting an essay with a question or several questions in a row gives the readers a possibility to think over the topic of an essay as they are not just given the information but are asked to provide the answer together with the writer. Having started an essay with a question, the author should answer it in the main paragraph providing enough justification to support his arguments. However, the question asked must not contain an answer leaving no alternative for a reader. The question asked at the beginning of an essay may be a rhetorical one. Although it does not require an answer, a rhetorical question gives a good ground for contemplation. The introduction may as well start with addressing the readers directly. It sounds persuasive and is good to start an essay providing some suggestions or giving advice.
Bright quotations by famous people may be great expressions to start an essay. A quotation should be brief but catchy and closely correlate with the topic of an essay. Its meaning should be discussed immediately so that the readers could understand its significance for developing the essay topic.
Description or an anecdote
A description or an anecdote is widely used to start an essay. Whatever strategy is used, it creates a bright vivid picture of what is going to be discussed in an essay. There are a great number of effective introduction strategies to be used. The introductory words and phrases list is quite long. It is up to an individual writer to choose a good introductory phrase to make an essay engaging and easy to follow.
Also read: 42 Interesting Persuasive Essay Topics
How to start a conclusion for an essay
Concluding an essay appropriately is as significant as starting it. The purpose is to remind the readers of what was discussed in the main body, summarize all the arguments and provide the author’s opinion of the topic under discussion. The same as with the introduction, there are several ways to write a conclusion. The following are the tips on how to start a conclusion for an essay. It is a good idea to leave the readers with some things to think over after reading an essay. A conclusion is not a mere summary of what has been written above. It is the author’s reflection on the topic of an essay. As an introduction, a conclusion is a well-developed paragraph whose length depends on the length of an essay. Its significance is hard to be overestimated, so the choice of good conclusion phrases is important.
Words to finish an essay typically include linkers used for concluding, for instance, “To sum up”, “All things considered” etc. As in the case with an introduction, a good conclusion may be started with a quotation which supports the idea of entire essay. It should be the same quotation used in an introductory paragraph. Besides, if an essay is started with a quotation, it is not a good idea to conclude it the same way. Besides, using too many quotations and referring too much to the views of others may be regarded as the writer’s inability to present his own arguments and the absence of his own point of view on the topic discussed in an essay. Therefore, a quotation should be used either in an introductory paragraph or in a conclusion.
An essay conclusion may contain some information which provides the readers with food for meditation. Such type of conclusion may contain some predictions about life in future or the events which would take place if the circumstances were different. This way, the readers have an opportunity to come up with their own ideas on a suggested topic.
The words to start a conclusion may have an objective character in case the author of an essay finishes it with an objective sentence. Such conclusion provides a serious ground for the arguments discussed in an essay as objective statements usually include the facts or ideas which are generally believed and accepted.
Conclusion phrases and conclusion words for essays should not contain any new information. No new arguments and justifications should be included in a concluding paragraph as it will leave an essay unfinished and lacking the logical ending.