Set V, 9


This handout will show you how to write an introduction paragraph to an essay. An essay is a piece of writing that contains a number of paragraphs. The first paragraph of an essay is called the introduction. The paragraphs that come after the introduction are called body paragraphs. The introductions contains the thesis sentence, which is the main idea of the essay. Each body paragraph contains a topic sentence, which is the main idea of that paragraph.

The purpose of an introduction is

1. To get the reader's attention.

2. To move the reader into your paper, while showing what you are writing about before you state the thesis, which is the essay's main idea.

3. To limit your essay by moving from a general discussion of the subject to the specific thesis that your paper wants to illustrate.

4. To state your thesis before moving to the body paragraphs that illustrate it.

Sample Introduction with annotations:

1. In the National Football League today, there are many excellent excellent coaches.

2. Anyone who has ever seen a Dallas Cowboy's game has heard the announcers praise Tom Landry and has seen Landry calmly send in the plays that lead his team to victory.

3. Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers is less well known, but sportswriters recognize him as an offensive genius.

4. And most fans could add to this list of great coaches. 5. However the best coach in the NFL today is Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins.

1. Sentence one introduces the subject of the essay great coaches in the NFL today. It limits the topic too, revealing that the essay will stick to great coaches.

2. Sentence two gives an example of one widely known coach in order to catch the attention of readers who might not be dedicated NFL fans.

3. Sentence three, of course, adds another example. We could perhaps cut this one if we wanted a shorter introduction, but its purpose is to establish the writer's authority. If he knows about Walsh, who is not as well known, the writer must be qualified to discuss football coaches.

4. Sentence four is a summary example to show that there are other great coaches. It also points out that different people have different opinions about which coaches are among the best. Thus the sentence leads to the writer's thesis which is his opinion.

6. This is the thesis sentence of the essay. Note the transitional word however. It is used to contrast the thesis to the introductory examples; that is, it selects Shula of all coaches and limits the paper to him. Also it states an opinion. That opinion will then have to be supported by the evidence of the body paragraphs.

Relationship of Introduction and Thesis to body paragraphs.

Once we wrote the introduction above, we could then develop body paragraphs to support its thesis.

I. Body paragraph #1

Topic Sentence: Shula consistently picks "sleepers" in the college, draft, taking players other teams do not want but who turn out to be stars. Add examples.

II. Body paragraph #2

Topic sentence: Shula has the ability to make young offensive players into stars quickly because he designs his offense to fit their talents. Now add examples.

III. Body paragraph #3

Topic sentence: Don Shula's records stand out among NFL coaching records. Add examples.

IV. Conclusion: Restate the thesis in different words.

Types of Introductions:

Note that in each example below, the thesis statement is underlined.

1. Use an example paragraph as I did above, and then move down to your thesis. This is sometimes called the funnel method because you begin with a broad statement and funnel down to a more narrowed thesis--for instance, from excellent coaches to Don Shula.

2. Anecdote (a brief story from your personal experience):


Last summer while working construction, I met a lot of guys who were going to college. They knew I would be attending NCWC in the fall, so when we would take a break from pouring concrete or framing houses, they would always try to impress me by telling me how hard college was. They spoke of impossibly difficult tests, hours upon hours of homework, and stern professors who cared nothing for their students. I must admit that they had me scared, but now that I have been at NCWC for a year, I know that students can do well in their studies if they discipline themselves to study regularly, take good class notes, and miss class only for illness and emergencies.

3. Description (of person or place).

Sample A:

He was a fairly large man, who always appeared in dark suits that made his cocoa brown skin seem even darker. He had a kind face with a high forehead and sensitive eyes. While he looked like a man with a great capacity for love and understanding, he also projected an image of strength with his sturdy body and determined walk. His voice could be soft and soothing, or it could be so powerful that it could rouse a thousand people to action. This man was Martin Luther King, and no educated person in America should be ignorant of his contributions to our nation.

Sample B:

The room was about ten by twelve feet, with bare walls of a light indefinite color, which may have been green or blue, or even a sick beige. On each side against the wall was a bunk of plain wood with an uncovered mattress. I could not believe that this stark room was to be my home for the next nine months. I wondered if my folks had tricked me and sent me to prison rather than college. As the semester passed by, though, with a little work and imagination, I was able to turn my room into a home I was proud of.

3. Start with a question.


Did you ever see a soft drink commercial that talked about soft drinks? Well, some might tell us that the drink being advertised will quench our thirst, or that a particular diet pop has only so many calories or contains no caffeine. But most of the time the emphasis in soft drink ads is on the people--surfers on the beach, slim sexy women doing aerobic dances, carloads of preppies waving pop cans, or break-dancers hip-hopping down a city street. These ads are not selling pop; they are selling images. Most soft drink companies want us to believe that if we drink their product we will be part of a happy crowd.

4. Startling statement

Only about half of each freshman class that enters NCWC each year ever graduates. It is not that freshmen students are not intelligent, and the reasons half drop out are many. Some merely get homesick, others transfer to different colleges, and still others leave for personal or economic reasons. Yet a large number of students do leave for academic reasons, and most of these students never graduate because they do not realize the time and dedication to study that success in college requires.

5. Epigram/Proverb (an old saying)

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be." Most students have heard this old saying, either from parents or grandparents. But in this day and age, with credit cards accounting for a large part of our purchases, few people can say they never borrow. In fact, credit has become part of the American way. While a credit card can cause trouble in the hands of a spendthrift, when used wisely credit cards can help provide for a student's needs while also teaching him or her how to manage money.

6. Famous Quotation

The American philosopher John Dewey once said that the job of the educational system in a democracy is "to teach students how to think, not what to think." Dewey's point, however, is not always upheld in our schools as teachers sometimes impose their own political and even religious beliefs on unsuspecting students.

7. Reference to another essay.

In Banesh Hoffman's essay "My Friend Albert Einstein," Hoffman tell of how, as a student, he was intimidated by Einstein and afraid to approach him. When Hoffman finally did call on Einstein in his office, he found a kind and simple man who was glad to help him. While all teachers are not as kind as Einstein, students should not be afraid of calling on teachers during office hours because the students can benefit greatly from individual conferences.


On the next page are some thesis statements. Choose ONE and then write TWO different kind of introductions to introduce it. For example, you could write one with a famous quote and another with the question method. That is just an example, choose any two kinds of introductions you want, but make sure you choose only one thesis. NOTE: Just write one draft of each. No rough draft needed. If the thesis sentences have blanks, fill them in with whatever you want. Example for #7: South High School's English courses do a good job of preparing students for college English.

REMEMBER: The introduction leads up to your thesis; therefore the thesis is the last sentence of the introduction.


1. The memories may not always be fond, but we all remember our first date.

2.___________blank is the toughest course for entering freshman at NCWC.

3. It is necessary that every education person have experience and skill in ____________.

4. _______________is the best athlete in_______________.

5. Peer pressure can cause teens to have sexual relations before they are ready.

6. Some television preachers pervert Christian principles.

7. ____________ high school's ________ program does a poor (or good) of preparing students for college _________.

8. A student's parents are the most important influence on his or her education during elementary and high school.

9. Most young people today have more concern for others than most people think.

10. Most young people today seem to care only about themselves.

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