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What are the parts of an essay, how do i write an introduction, how do i write the body of my essay, how do i write the conclusion, how do i create a reference list, how do i improve my essay.

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  • Introduction
  • Each is made up of one or several paragraphs.
  • The purpose of this section is to introduce the topic and why it matters, identify the specific focus of the paper, and indicate how the paper will be organized.
  • To keep from being too broad or vague, try to incorporate a keyword from your title in the first sentence.
  • For example, you might tell readers that the issue is part of an important debate or provide a statistic explaining how many people are affected.  
  • Defining your terms is particularly important if there are several possible meanings or interpretations of the term.
  • Try to frame this as a statement of your focus. This is also known as a purpose statement, thesis argument, or hypothesis.
  • The purpose of this section is to provide information and arguments that follow logically from the main point you identified in your introduction. 
  • Identify the main ideas that support and develop your paper’s main point.
  • For longer essays, you may be required to use subheadings to label your sections.
  • Point: Provide a topic sentence that identifies the topic of the paragraph.
  • Proof: Give evidence or examples that develop and explain the topic (e.g., these may come from your sources).
  • Significance: Conclude the paragraph with sentence that tells the reader how your paragraph supports the main point of your essay.
  • The purpose of this section is to summarize the main points of the essay and identify the broader significance of the topic or issue.
  • Remind the reader of the main point of your essay (without restating it word-for-word).
  • Summarize the key ideas that supported your main point. (Note: No new information or evidence should be introduced in the conclusion.) 
  • Suggest next steps, future research, or recommendations.
  • Answer the question “Why should readers care?” (implications, significance).
  • Find out what style guide you are required to follow (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago) and follow the guidelines to create a reference list (may be called a bibliography or works cited).
  • Be sure to include citations in the text when you refer to sources within your essay.
  • Cite Your Sources - University of Guelph
  • Read assignment instructions carefully and refer to them throughout the writing process.
  • e.g., describe, evaluate, analyze, explain, argue, trace, outline, synthesize, compare, contrast, critique.
  • For longer essays, you may find it helpful to work on a section at a time, approaching each section as a “mini-essay.”
  • Make sure every paragraph, example, and sentence directly supports your main point.
  • Aim for 5-8 sentences or ¾ page.
  • Visit your instructor or TA during office hours to talk about your approach to the assignment.
  • Leave yourself time to revise your essay before submitting.
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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Essay Writing

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The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.

This resource begins with a general description of essay writing and moves to a discussion of common essay genres students may encounter across the curriculum. The four genres of essays (description, narration, exposition, and argumentation) are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres, also known as the modes of discourse, have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these genres and students’ need to understand and produce these types of essays. We hope these resources will help.

The essay is a commonly assigned form of writing that every student will encounter while in academia. Therefore, it is wise for the student to become capable and comfortable with this type of writing early on in her training.

Essays can be a rewarding and challenging type of writing and are often assigned either to be done in class, which requires previous planning and practice (and a bit of creativity) on the part of the student, or as homework, which likewise demands a certain amount of preparation. Many poorly crafted essays have been produced on account of a lack of preparation and confidence. However, students can avoid the discomfort often associated with essay writing by understanding some common genres.

Before delving into its various genres, let’s begin with a basic definition of the essay.

What is an essay?

Though the word essay has come to be understood as a type of writing in Modern English, its origins provide us with some useful insights. The word comes into the English language through the French influence on Middle English; tracing it back further, we find that the French form of the word comes from the Latin verb exigere , which means "to examine, test, or (literally) to drive out." Through the excavation of this ancient word, we are able to unearth the essence of the academic essay: to encourage students to test or examine their ideas concerning a particular topic.

Essays are shorter pieces of writing that often require the student to hone a number of skills such as close reading, analysis, comparison and contrast, persuasion, conciseness, clarity, and exposition. As is evidenced by this list of attributes, there is much to be gained by the student who strives to succeed at essay writing.

The purpose of an essay is to encourage students to develop ideas and concepts in their writing with the direction of little more than their own thoughts (it may be helpful to view the essay as the converse of a research paper). Therefore, essays are (by nature) concise and require clarity in purpose and direction. This means that there is no room for the student’s thoughts to wander or stray from his or her purpose; the writing must be deliberate and interesting.

This handout should help students become familiar and comfortable with the process of essay composition through the introduction of some common essay genres.

This handout includes a brief introduction to the following genres of essay writing:

  • Expository essays
  • Descriptive essays
  • Narrative essays
  • Argumentative (Persuasive) essays

How to Write an Essay/Parts

Parts of an Essay — Traditionally, it has been taught that a formal essay consists of three parts: the introductory paragraph or introduction, the body paragraphs, and the concluding paragraph. An essay does not need to be this simple, but it is a good starting point.

Introductory Paragraph [ edit | edit source ]

The introductory paragraph accomplishes three purposes: it captures the reader’s interest, it suggests the importance of the essay’s topic, and it ends with a thesis sentence. Often, the thesis sentence states a claim that consists of two or more related points. For example, a thesis might read:

You are telling the reader what you think are the most important points which need to be addressed in your essay. For this reason, you need to relate the introduction directly to the question or topic. A strong thesis is essential to a good essay, as each paragraph of your essay should be related back to your thesis or else deleted. Thus, the thesis establishes the key foundation for your essay. A strong thesis not only states an idea but also uses solid examples to back it up. A weak thesis might be:

As an alternative, a strong thesis for the same topic would be:

Then, you could separate your body paragraphs into three sections: one explaining the open-source nature of the project, one explaining the variety and depth of information, and a final one using studies to confirm that Wikipedia is indeed as accurate as other encyclopedias.

Tips [ edit | edit source ]

Often, writing an introductory paragraph is the most difficult part of writing an essay. Facing a blank page can be daunting. Here are some suggestions for getting started. First, determine the context in which you want to place your topic. In other words, identify an overarching category in which you would place your topic, and then introduce your topic as a case-in-point.

For example, if you are writing about dogs, you may begin by speaking about friends, dogs being an example of a very good friend. Alternatively, you can begin with a sentence on selective breeding, dogs being an example of extensive selective breeding. You can also begin with a sentence on means of protection, dogs being an example of a good way to stay safe. The context is the starting point for your introductory paragraph. The topic or thesis sentence is the ending point. Once the starting point and ending point are determined, it will be much easier to connect these points with the narrative of the opening paragraph.

A good thesis statement, for example, if you are writing about dogs being very good friends, you could put:

Here, X, Y, and Z would be the topics explained in your body paragraphs. In the format of one such instance, X would be the topic of the second paragraph, Y would be the topic of the third paragraph, and Z would be the topic of the fourth paragraph, followed by a conclusion, in which you would summarize the thesis statement.

Example [ edit | edit source ]

Identifying a context can help shape the topic or thesis. Here, the writer decided to write about dogs. Then, the writer selected friends as the context, dogs being good examples of friends. This shaped the topic and narrowed the focus to dogs as friends . This would make writing the remainder of the essay much easier because it allows the writer to focus on aspects of dogs that make them good friends.

Body Paragraphs [ edit | edit source ]

Each body paragraph begins with a topic sentence. If the thesis contains multiple points or assertions, each body paragraph should support or justify them, preferably in the order the assertions originally stated in the thesis. Thus, the topic sentence for the first body paragraph will refer to the first point in the thesis sentence and the topic sentence for the second body paragraph will refer to the second point in the thesis sentence. Generally, if the thesis sentence contains three related points, there should be three body paragraphs, though you should base the number of paragraphs on the number of supporting points needed.

If the core topic of the essay is the format of college essays, the thesis sentence might read:

The topic sentence for the first body paragraph might read:

Sequentially, the topic sentence for the second body paragraph might read:

And the topic sentence for the third body paragraph might read:

Every body paragraph uses specific details, such as anecdotes, comparisons and contrasts, definitions, examples, expert opinions, explanations, facts, and statistics to support and develop the claim that its topic sentence makes.

When writing an essay for a class assignment, make sure to follow your teacher or professor’s suggestions. Most teachers will reward creativity and thoughtful organization over dogmatic adherence to a prescribed structure. Many will not. If you are not sure how your teacher will respond to a specific structure, ask.

Organizing your essay around the thesis sentence should begin with arranging the supporting elements to justify the assertion put forth in the thesis sentence. Not all thesis sentences will, or should, lay out each of the points you will cover in your essay. In the example introductory paragraph on dogs, the thesis sentence reads, “There is no friend truer than a dog.” Here, it is the task of the body paragraphs to justify or prove the truth of this assertion, as the writer did not specify what points they would cover. The writer may next ask what characteristics dogs have that make them true friends. Each characteristic may be the topic of a body paragraph. Loyalty, companionship, protection, and assistance are all terms that the writer could apply to dogs as friends. Note that if the writer puts dogs in a different context, for example, working dogs, the thesis might be different, and they would be focusing on other aspects of dogs.

It is often effective to end a body paragraph with a sentence that rationalizes its presence in the essay. Ending a body paragraph without some sense of closure may cause the thought to sound incomplete.

Each body paragraph is something like a miniature essay in that they each need an introductory sentence that sounds important and interesting, and that they each need a good closing sentence in order to produce a smooth transition between one point and the next. Body paragraphs can be long or short. It depends on the idea you want to develop in your paragraph. Depending on the specific style of the essay, you may be able to use very short paragraphs to signal a change of subject or to explain how the rest of the essay is organized.

Do not spend too long on any one point. Providing extensive background may interest some readers, but others would find it tiresome. Keep in mind that the main importance of an essay is to provide a basic background on a subject and, hopefully, to spark enough interest to induce further reading.

The above example is a bit free-flowing and the writer intended it to be persuasive. The second paragraph combines various attributes of dogs including protection and companionship. Here is when doing a little research can also help. Imagine how much more effective the last statement would be if the writer cited some specific statistics and backed them up with a reliable reference.

Concluding Paragraph [ edit | edit source ]

The concluding paragraph usually restates the thesis and leaves the reader something about the topic to think about. If appropriate, it may also issue a call to act, inviting the reader to take a specific course of action with regard to the points that the essay presented.

Aristotle suggested that speakers and, by extension, writers should tell their audience what they are going to say, say it, and then tell them what they have said. The three-part essay model, consisting of an introductory paragraph, several body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph, follows this strategy.

As with all writing, it is important to know your audience. All writing is persuasive, and if you write with your audience in mind, it will make your argument much more persuasive to that particular audience. When writing for a class assignment, the audience is your teacher. Depending on the assignment, the point of the essay may have nothing to do with the assigned topic. In most class assignments, the purpose is to persuade your teacher that you have a good grasp of grammar and spelling, that you can organize your thoughts in a comprehensive manner, and, perhaps, that you are capable of following instructions and adhering to some dogmatic formula the teacher regards as an essay. It is much easier to persuade your teacher that you have these capabilities if you can make your essay interesting to read at the same time. Place yourself in your teacher’s position and try to imagine reading one formulaic essay after another. If you want yours to stand out, capture your teacher’s attention and make your essay interesting, funny, or compelling.

In the above example, the focus shifted slightly and talked about dogs as members of the family. Many would suggest it departs from the logical organization of the rest of the essay, and some teachers may consider it unrelated and take points away. However, contrary to the common wisdom of “tell them what you are going to say, say it, and then tell them what you have said,” you may find it more interesting and persuasive to shift away from it as the writer did here, and then, in the end, return to the core point of the essay. This gives an additional effect to what an audience would otherwise consider a very boring conclusion.

what are the parts of a essay

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What Are the Parts of an Essay?

What Are the Parts of an Essay

Components of an Essay

An essay is a piece of writing that is written to provide information about a certain topic or simply to convince the reader. In every effective essay writing , there are three major parts: introduction , body , and essay conclusion .

  • The introduction.  This is where the subject or topic is introduced. The big picture, points, and ideas are briefly written here.
  • The body.  All the main ideas, topics, and subject are discussed here in details. This also includes evidence or information that support the essay.
  • The conclusion.  The last part of an essay and usually summarizes the overall topic or ideas of an essay.

How to Write the Introduction Essay?

The introduction is the door to the whole essay outline . It must be convincing enough to get the attention of the readers. The following are the guidelines for writing the introduction of the essay.

  • It must contain an attention-getter sentence or statement.
  • The introduction must sound interesting to capture the attention of the reader.
  • You can quote a statement about a topic or something related to the whole point of your essay.
  • The intro must move from general to specific.
  • At the end, there must be a thesis statement that gives an insight to the author’s evidence.

What Does the Body of an Essay Contain?

The body is the longest part of the essay and commonly highlights all the topics and ideas. The body must include the following:

  • The evidence and supporting details of the expository essay in addition to the author’s ideas.
  • A topic or sentences that link the discussion back to the thesis statement.
  • The logical ordering of the ideas. The chronological of time, ideas, and evidence.
  • A set of transition statements or sentences to create a good flow of the essay.
  • Sufficient examples, evidence, data, and information that must be relevant to the particular topic of the essay.

The Conclusion of the Essay

The conclusion is the last part of the essay, and should:

  • Emphasize on the major takeaways of the essay.
  • Wrap up and summarize the essay, as well as the arguments, ideas, and points.
  • Restate the main arguments in a simplified and clear manner that must be understood by the reader.
  • Guarantee that the reader is left with something to think about, especially the main point of your essay.

The Elements of an Essay

  • Thesis statement.  It is the main proposition of an essay. The thesis statement must be arguable that differentiates it from a fact and must be in a persuasive writing style.
  • Problem or question.  The problem statements or the important issue of the essay that must be defined and described in the essay.
  • Motive.  The reason for writing the essay.
  • Evidence.  The facts and data or information that supports the whole essay and prove the main point of the essay.
  • Analysis & reflection.  In which the writer turns the evidence into an arguable statement that provides the reader how the evidence supports, develops, or explained the essay’s thesis statement.
  • Structure.  The work that the writer does to organize the idea, the series of sub-topics and sections through which it is explained and developed.

what are the parts of a essay

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  • Parts of an Academic Essay
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In a way, these academic essays are like a court trial.  The attorney, whether prosecuting the case or defending it, begins with an opening statement explaining the background and telling the jury what he or she intends to prove (the thesis statement).  Then, the attorney presents witnesses for proof (the body of the paragraphs).  Lastly, the attorney presents the closing argument (concluding paragraph).

The Introduction and Thesis

There are a variety of approaches regarding the content of the introduction paragraph such as a brief outline of the proof, an anecdote, explaining key ideas, and asking a question.  In addition, some textbooks say that an introduction can be more than one paragraph.  The placement of the thesis statement is another variable depending on the instructor and/or text.  The approach used in this lesson is that an introduction paragraph gives background information leading into the thesis which is the main idea of the paper, which is stated at the end.

The background in the introductory paragraph consists of information about the circumstances of the thesis. This background information often starts in the introductory paragraph with a general statement which is then refined to the most specific sentence of the essay, the thesis. Background sentences include information about the topic and the controversy. It is important to note that in this approach, the proof for the thesis is not found in the introduction except, possibly, as part of a thesis statement which includes the key elements of the proof. Proof is presented and expanded on in the body.

Some instructors may prefer other types of content in the introduction in addition to the thesis.  It is best to check with an instructor as to whether he or she has a preference for content. Generally, the thesis must be stated in the introduction.

The thesis is the position statement. It must contain a subject and a verb and express a complete thought. It must also be defensible. This means it should be an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree. The more focused and narrow the thesis statement, the better a paper will generally be.

If you are given a question in the instructions for your paper, the thesis statement is a one-sentence answer taking a position on the question.

If you are given a topic instead of a question, then in order to create a thesis statement, you must narrow your analysis of the topic to a specific controversial issue about the topic to take a stand. If it is not a research paper, some brainstorming (jotting down what comes to mind on the issue) should help determine a specific question.

If it is a research paper, the process begins with exploratory research which should show the various issues and controversies which should lead to the specific question.  Then, the research becomes focused on the question which in turn should lead to taking a position on the question.

These methods of determining a thesis are still answering a question. It’s just that you pose a question to answer for the thesis.  Here is an example.

Suppose, one of the topics you are given to write about is America’s National Parks. Books have been written about this subject. In fact, books have been written just about a single park. As you are thinking about it, you may realize how there is an issue about balancing between preserving the wilderness and allowing visitors. The question would then be Should visitors to America’s National Parks be regulated in order to preserve the wilderness?

One thesis might be There is no need for regulations for visiting America’s National Parks to preserve the wilderness.

 Another might be There should be reasonable regulations for visiting America’s National Parks in order to preserve the wilderness.

Finally, avoid using expressions that announce, “Now I will prove…” or “This essay is about …” Instead of telling the reader what the paper is about, a good paper simply proves the thesis in the body. Generally, you shouldn’t refer to your paper in your paper.

Here is an example of a good introduction with the thesis in red:

Not too long ago, everyday life was filled with burdensome, time-consuming chores that left little time for much more than completing these tasks.  People generally worked from their homes or within walking distance to their homes and rarely traveled far from them.  People were limited to whatever their physical capacities were.  All this changed dramatically as new technologies developed.  Modern technology has most improved our lives through convenience, efficiency, and accessibility.

Note how the background is general and leads up to the thesis.   No proof is given in the background sentences about how technology has improved lives.

Moreover, notice that the thesis in red is the last sentence of the introduction. It is a defensible statement.

A reasonable person could argue the opposite position:  Although modern technology has provided easier ways of completing some tasks, it has diminished the quality of life since people have to work too many hours to acquire these gadgets, have developed health problems as a result of excess use, and have lost focus on what is really valuable in life.

Quick Tips:

The introduction opens the essay and gives background information about the thesis.

Do not introduce your supporting points  (proof) in the introduction unless they are part of the thesis; save these for the body.

The thesis is placed at the end of the introductory paragraph.

Don’t use expressions like “this paper will be about” or “I intend to show…”

For more information on body paragraphs and supporting evidence, see Proving a Thesis – Evidence and Proving a Thesis – Logic, and Logical Fallacies and Appeals in Related Pages on the right sidebar.

Body paragraphs give proof for the thesis.  They should have one proof point per paragraph expressed in a topic sentence. The topic sentence is usually found at the beginning of each body paragraph and, like a thesis, must be a complete sentence. Each topic sentence must be directly related to and support the argument made by the thesis.

After the topic sentence, the rest of the paragraph should go on to support this one proof with examples and explanation. It is the details that support the topic sentences in the body paragraphs that make the arguments strong.

If the thesis statement stated that technology improved the quality of life, each body paragraph should begin with a reason why it has improved the quality of life.  This reason is called a  topic sentence .  Following are three examples of body paragraphs that provide support for the thesis that modern technology has improved our lives through convenience, efficiency, and accessibility:

     Almost every aspect of our lives has been improved through convenience provided by modern technology.  From the sound of music from an alarm clock in the morning to the end of the day being entertained in the convenience of our living room, our lives are improved.  The automatic coffee maker has the coffee ready at a certain time.  Cars or public transportation bring people to work where computers operate at the push of a button.  At home, there’s the convenience of washing machines and dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, and power lawn mowers.  Modern technology has made life better with many conveniences.

     Not only has technology improved our lives through convenience, it has improved our lives through efficiency. The time saved by machines doing most of the work leaves more time for people to develop their personal goals or to just relax.  Years ago, when doing laundry could take all day, there wasn’t time left over to read or go to school or even just to take a leisurely walk.  Nowadays, people have more time and energy than ever to simply enjoy their lives and pursue their goals thanks to the efficiency of modern technology.

     Accessibility to a wide range of options has been expanded through modern technology.  Never before could people cross a continent or an ocean in an afternoon.  Travel is not the only way technology has created accessibility.  Software which types from voice commands has made using computers more accessible for school or work.  People with special needs have many new options thanks to modern technology such as special chairs or text readers.  Actually, those people who need hearing aids as a result of normal aging have access to continued communication and enjoyment of entertainment they did not previously have.  There are many ways technology has improved lives through increased accessibility.

Notice how these proof paragraphs stick to one proof point introduced in the topic sentences in red. These three paragraphs, not only support the original thesis, but go on to give details and explanations which explain the proof point in the topic sentence.

Quick Tips on Body Paragraphs

The body of your essay is where you give your main support for the thesis.

Each body paragraph should start with a Topic Sentence that is directly related to and supports the thesis statement.

Each body paragraph should also give details and explanations that further support the poof point for that paragraph.

Don’t use enumeration such as first, second, and third. The reader will know by the topic sentence that it is a new proof point.

See Proving the Thesis in Related Pages on the right sidebar for more information on proof.

The Conclusion

Instructors vary of what they expect in the conclusion; however, there is general agreement that conclusions should not introduce any new proof points, should include a restatement of the thesis, and should not contain any words such as “In conclusion.”

Some instructors want only a summary of the proof and a restatement of the thesis. Some instructors ask for a general prediction or implication of the information presented without a restatement of thesis. Still others may want to include a restatement along with a general prediction or implication of the information presents. Be sure to review assignment instructions or check with instructor.  If your assignment instructions don’t specify, just sum up the proof and restate the thesis.

Example which sums up proof and restates thesis :

Modern technology has created many conveniences in everyday from waking up to music to having coffee ready to getting to work and doing a day’s work.  The efficiency provided by technology gives people more time to enjoy life and pursue personal development, and the accessibility has broadened options for travel, school, and work.  Modern technology has improved our lives through convenience, efficiency, and accessibility.

See how the thesis statement was restated in red. The two major arguments about the possible locations proven to be incorrect were also included to remind the reader of the major proof points made in the paper.

Example which makes a general prediction or implication of the information presented:

Modern technology has created many conveniences in everyday life from waking up to music to having coffee ready to getting to work and doing a day’s work.  The efficiency provided by technology gives people more time to enjoy life and pursue personal development, and the accessibility has broadened options for travel, school, and work.  Without it, everyday life would be filled with burdensome tasks and be limited to our neighborhood and our physical capacity. Here’s an example of a conclusion with a general prediction or implication statement with a restatement of thesis.

Modern technology has created many conveniences in everyday life from waking up to music to having coffee ready to getting to work and doing a day’s work.  The efficiency provided by technology gives people more time to enjoy life and pursue personal development, and the accessibility has broadened options for travel, school, and work.  Without it, everyday life would be filled with burdensome tasks and be limited to our neighborhood and our physical capacity. Modern technology has improved our lives through convenience, efficiency, and accessibility.

Quick Tips for Conclusions

  • The conclusion brings the essay to an end and is typically the shortest paragraph.
  • It is important to not introduce new ideas or information here.
  • Unless otherwise specified in your assignment, just sum up the proof and restate the conclusion.
  • Some instructors may want the concluding paragraph to contain a general prediction or observation implied from the information presented.
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David French

The Supreme Court Just Erased Part of the Constitution

A black and white photo of the U.S. Supreme Court with a flag flying at half staff.

By David French

Opinion Columnist

As of Monday, March 4, 2024, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution is essentially a dead letter, at least as it applies to candidates for federal office. Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that reversed the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision striking Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot, even insurrectionists who’ve violated their previous oath of office can hold federal office, unless and until Congress passes specific legislation to enforce Section 3.

In the aftermath of the oral argument last month, legal observers knew with near-certainty that the Supreme Court was unlikely to apply Section 3 to Trump. None of the justices seemed willing to uphold the Colorado court’s ruling, and only Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave any meaningful indication that she might dissent. The only real question remaining was the reasoning for the court’s decision. Would the ruling be broad or narrow?

A narrow ruling for Trump might have held, for example, that Colorado didn’t provide him with enough due process when it determined that Section 3 applied. Or the court could have held that Trump, as president, was not an “officer of the United States” within the meaning of the section. Such a ruling would have kept Trump on the ballot, but it would also have kept Section 3 viable to block insurrectionists from the House or Senate and from all other federal offices.

A somewhat broader ruling might have held that Trump did not engage in insurrection or rebellion or provide aid and comfort to the enemies of the Constitution. Such a ruling would have sharply limited Section 3 to apply almost exclusively to Civil War-style conflicts, an outcome at odds with the text and original public meaning of the section. It’s worth noting that, by not taking this path, the court did not exonerate Trump from participating in an insurrection.

But instead of any of these options, the court went with arguably the broadest reasoning available: that Section 3 isn’t self-executing, and thus has no force or effect in the absence of congressional action. This argument is rooted in Section 5 of the amendment, which states that “Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

But Section 5, on its face, does not give Congress exclusive power to enforce the amendment. As Justices Elena Kagan, Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson pointed out in their own separate concurring opinion, “All the Reconstruction amendments (including the due process and equal protection guarantees and prohibition of slavery) ‘are self-executing,’ meaning that they do not depend on legislation.” While Congress may pass legislation to help enforce the 14th Amendment, it is not required to do so, and the 14th Amendment still binds federal, state and local governments even if Congress refuses to act.

But now Section 3 is different from other sections of the amendment. It requires federal legislation to enforce its terms, at least as applied to candidates for federal office. Through inaction alone, Congress can effectively erase part of the 14th Amendment.

It’s extremely difficult to square this ruling with the text of Section 3. The language is clearly mandatory. The first words are “No person shall be” a member of Congress or a state or federal officer if that person has engaged in insurrection or rebellion or provided aid or comfort to the enemies of the Constitution. The section then says, “But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each house, remove such disability.”

In other words, the Constitution imposes the disability, and only a supermajority of Congress can remove it. But under the Supreme Court’s reasoning, the meaning is inverted: The Constitution merely allows Congress to impose the disability, and if Congress chooses not to enact legislation enforcing the section, then the disability does not exist. The Supreme Court has effectively replaced a very high bar for allowing insurrectionists into federal office — a supermajority vote by Congress — with the lowest bar imaginable: congressional inaction.

As Kagan, Sotomayor and Jackson point out, this approach is also inconsistent with the constitutional approach to other qualifications for the presidency. We can bar individuals from holding office who are under the age limit or who don’t meet the relevant citizenship requirement without congressional enforcement legislation. We can enforce the two-term presidential term limit without congressional enforcement legislation. Section 3 now stands apart not only from the rest of the 14th Amendment, but also from the other constitutional requirements for the presidency.

In one important respect, the court’s ruling on Monday is worse and more consequential than the Senate’s decision to acquit Trump after his Jan. 6 impeachment trial in 2021. Impeachment is entirely a political process, and the actions of one Senate have no bearing on the actions of future Senates. But a Supreme Court ruling has immense precedential power. The court’s decision is now the law.

It would be clearly preferable if Congress were to pass enforcement legislation that established explicit procedures for resolving disputes under Section 3, including setting the burden of proof and creating timetables and deadlines for filing challenges and hearing appeals. Establishing a uniform process is better than living with a patchwork of state proceedings. But the fact that Congress has not acted should not effectively erase the words from the constitutional page. Chaotic enforcement of the Constitution may be suboptimal. But it’s far better than not enforcing the Constitution at all.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

Follow the New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Instagram , TikTok , X and Threads .

David French is an Opinion columnist, writing about law, culture, religion and armed conflict. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a former constitutional litigator. His most recent book is “Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation .” You can follow him on Threads ( @davidfrenchjag ).

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The State of the Union… And A Biden-Trump Rematch | GoodFellows With Victor Davis Hanson

Following Super Tuesday’s results, with the US presidential election still the better part of eight months away, a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is all but certain. Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover senior fellow and author of the soon-to-be-released book  The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation , joins Hoover senior fellows John Cochrane and H.R. McMaster to discuss.

The State of the Union . . . and a Biden-Trump Rematch

Following Super Tuesday’s results, with the US presidential election still the better part of eight months away, a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is all but certain. Victor Davis Hanson, the Hoover Institution’s Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow and author of the soon-to-be-released book The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation , joins Hoover senior fellows John Cochrane and H.R. McMaster to discuss where Biden and Trump stand on “shrinkflation” and the US economy, America’s involvement in overseas conflicts, plus the likelihood of Democrats replacing a struggling Biden at their August national convention and Trump running a disciplined campaign despite his legal travails.

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  • How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples

How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.

The main goals of an introduction are to:

  • Catch your reader’s attention.
  • Give background on your topic.
  • Present your thesis statement —the central point of your essay.

This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

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Table of contents

Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.

Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.

Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.

Examples: Writing a good hook

Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.

  • Braille was an extremely important invention.
  • The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.

The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly  why the topic is important.

  • The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
  • The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.

Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.

  • Mary Shelley’s  Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.

Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.

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Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:

  • Historical, geographical, or social context
  • An outline of the debate you’re addressing
  • A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
  • Definitions of key terms

The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.

How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:

Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.

This is the most important part of your introduction. A  good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.

The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.

Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.

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what are the parts of a essay

As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.

For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.

When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.

It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.

To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .

You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.

Checklist: Essay introduction

My first sentence is engaging and relevant.

I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.

I have defined any important terms.

My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.

Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.

You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.

  • Argumentative
  • Literary analysis

This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).

In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.

This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

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  1. Essay Structure: The 3 Main Parts of an Essay

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    The essay writing process consists of three main stages: Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline. Writing: Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion. Revision: Check your essay on the content, organization, grammar, spelling ...

  9. What is the structure of an essay?

    The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement, a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas. The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ...

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  11. How to Write an Essay/Parts

    Parts of an Essay — Traditionally, it has been taught that a formal essay consists of three parts: the introductory paragraph or introduction, the body paragraphs, and the concluding paragraph. An essay does not need to be this simple, but it is a good starting point. Contents. 1 Introductory Paragraph.

  12. How to Write an Essay Outline in 4 Steps

    Basic parts of an essay. Although every essay is unique, they all adhere to the same basic essay structure. Every essay starts with an introduction section, follows it with at least one body paragraph that supports the points made in the introduction, then wraps up with a conclusion section that reiterates the author's thesis and summarizes ...

  13. What Are the Parts of an Essay?

    An essay is a piece of writing that is written to provide information about a certain topic or simply to convince the reader. In every effective essay writing, there are three major parts: introduction, body, and essay conclusion. The introduction. This is where the subject or topic is introduced. The big picture, points, and ideas are briefly ...

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    Parts of an Essay. Detailed below are the key components of an academic, college-level essay. As you draft and revise your essays, keep in mind these fundamental parts so you can construct a stronger, more effective, and convincing essay. Purpose and Audience—Virtually all aspects of writing are governed by these two concepts.

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    Overview of the Main Parts of an Essay: An introduction is the first paragraph or possibly several paragraphs of the paper. The introduction needs to keep the reader engaged, provide context or background information for what the essay says, and state the claim. The hook, background information, and thesis statement are the different parts of ...

  16. What Is an Essay? Structure, Parts, and Types

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  17. How to Write the Body of an Essay

    Start with an outline. Before you start, make a rough outline that sketches out the main points you want to make and the order you'll make them in. This can help you remember how each part of the essay should relate to the other parts. However, remember that the outline isn't set in stone - don't be afraid to change the organization if necessary.

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  27. How to Write an Essay Introduction

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