We have this far had thousands of students confess that expository writing confuses them. No matter how hard an instructor tries, writing an expository essay needs time, patience, and resilience. That said, many students worry about how to write an expository essay.
So what is expository writing? Expository writing is also referred to as exposition and is a term used for “to explain,” “define, inform,” “make a clarification,” or “to describe.” Exposition can be both in writing and oral discourses, however, for the prime purpose of this article, we stick to expository writing.
If you are a movie die-hard, then you are privy of the term exposition. In the movie context, it refers to a technique used by film directors to bring the audience up to speed with the significant points in the plot of a movie in question. Now, here, we will look at some basics, structure, and how to write a good exposition essay.
Keep this in mind: Being asked to write an expository essay means you are asked to present evidence or facts objectively.
For a perfect expository writing mastery, we need to get the real definition of what an expository essay is. Well, an expository essay is a type of academic writing task or an essay that involves exploring a given topic from various points of view and giving comprehensive information objectively to the intended audience.
Put simply; expository essays help the readers to understand a given subject or topic. It merely investigates and reports on something. So, this type of essay involves the analysis of evidence, expounding of ideas, and presentation of concepts in a logical sequence.
Mostly, an expository essay adheres to the 5-paragraph essay structure (as we will explore shortly).
Here are salient features of expository writing every college student must master:
There are different types of expository essays. To avoid asking the question “how do you write n expository essay?” let us explore them. Here are the five major types of expository writing approaches:
It is very easy to confuse expository and argumentative/persuasive essays, and thus the expository vs. argumentative essay debate. Well, an argumentative essay or a persuasive essay takes one side of the view on a topic and defends it. Besides, argumentative essays focus on convincing readers to adopt the writers’ point of view, which makes them subjective.
For instance, if the topic is on private prisons, an argumentative essay writer will convince the readers how the new private prison model works best compared to the traditional government-controlled prison model. On the other hand, the expository essay will explore what private prison model entails, its pros and cons, and the view of the public on the same. While doing so, an expository essay writer will be using facts and evidence from peer-reviewed journals, books, government websites, and other credible sources, just the same way as the former.
Here is some summarized version of the differences between argumentative and expository essays.
Focuses on the different points of views or angles on a given topic in an unbiased manner.
Takes one side or position from the onset either for or against a topic and defends it entirely.
The thesis outlines the topic of focus in the expository essay.
The thesis is usually the argument the writer seeks to defend.
Mostly written in the third person.
Can be written either in first or third persons depending on the instructions.
Objective as it presents facts, evidence, and information without taking sides.
Is subjective as it picks a side and defends it with facts.
So, the next time you get an expository essay at the end of an exam or even a semester, do not take an argumentative approach.
Related: How to write an argumentative essay (guide and examples).
We began by stating that expository essays are written mostly in the five-paragraph format. They can be 500-word essays or 1000-words essays or even 2000 or 2500-word essays. So, that means it has an introduction, three body paragraphs, and the conclusion.
The introduction comprises of the hook sentence or attention grabber, the background information or the connecting sentences, and the thesis. Mostly, expository essays are part of an exam and are written in MLA format. Therefore, you need to write the essay fact and use reliable sources as your references.
The body is divided into three parts. The first paragraph gives an example that supports the thesis. The second paragraph has a second set of example that supports the thesis. Finally, the third paragraph also has some points that support the thesis.
Your expository essay conclusion wraps the essay by carefully summarizing the major points in the essay. It should have a strong and memorable statement.
Hooks for expository essay writing are similar to those used in argumentative essays. Therefore, when writing an expository essay, you could use anecdotes, statistics, catchy phrases, rhetorical questions, noises, riddles, etc. The table below demonstrates some examples of effective and creative ways to begin expository essays.
Expository writing Hooks
“Give me liberty or give me death.”
What do you call an eight-legged
In Richmond county, the number of obese people has reached an all-time high in the last half a decade.
Stepping and stomping. Whirling and
Whew! And you thought cancer could be the top killer globally!
Slurp, slurp. Glug, glug. On a hot day
“The entire nation watched in dismay..” or “With the new law, apprehended terrorist suspects felt a sigh of relief..”
Statistic or fact
Americans and Europeans spend $17 billion on pet food, $4 billion over the estimated amount needed to offer basic health and nutrition to the rising global population.
“Have you wondered why you keep adding weight despite being very keen on your diet?”
Are pets better than other humans considering they receive better treatment?
“America should outlaw all guns held by civilians.”
The essay hook is always part of the introduction, but it comes before the thesis. Some literature refers to it as an attention grabber. A bridge sentence serves to connect the two to make a loaded introduction paragraph.
Related: how to generate good essay hooks.
After writing your outline, you are ready to begin writing your essay. Your introduction lays the foundation of the paper. The introduction of an expository essay comprises of a hook/attention grabber, bridge or connecting sentences, and the thesis (the closing sentence of your first paragraph).
Remember, expository writing is meant to inform your readers on a chosen topic – nothing less, nothing more! Therefore, the first or opening sentence should be an attention grabber or a hook (check examples above).
For instance, when writing about Apple’s iPhone as a popular smartphone brand, you should state a very important fact about the brand. For example, you could focus on its sales forecast, customer base, and unique customer segment. Your opening sentence should not be dull or just a set of stuffed words.
The opening sentence is successes by a set of connecting sentences, which serve as the background of your chosen topic. The background elucidates or introduces facts on the topic. You can take the funnel approach.
After the connecting sentence comes the thesis statement. It is always the last sentence in your introductory paragraph. The thesis statement should state the topic that is of focus in your paper. So, if it is iPhone, focus more on the youthful vibe of the iPhone that makes it attractive to millennials.
Related: How to write a thesis statement for an essay.
When all is said and done, you will need to learn how to write the best conclusion for an expository essay. Now, there is no dispute over the importance of having a strong conclusion.
Expository writing does not want an ad hoc and hurried conclusion. Instead, the conclusion should be thorough rather than just being a summary of the entire essay.
The conclusion should clearly state what the reader should believe or do. It is a chance to call the reader to action or make a strong statement on the topic.
You can always use a prediction or forecast, recommendation, quotation, visual description, setting a scene, or even a question approach.
It should answer the question of “what then?” that lingers in the mind of the reader soon as they are done with your essay.
Related: How to write a strong and convincing conclusion.
It is wise to acquaint yourself with some of the dos and don’ts when it comes to writing an excellent expository essay. Here are some Dos.
Dos for Expository writing:
In a similar vein, when doing expository writing, do not do these things (the don’ts):
If you were initially wondering how to write a good expository essay introduction, we believe that by this far you are half-way a polished expository essay writer.
This list is not exhaustive. Here is an expert tip.
Professional tip: whatever the case, choose an expository essay topic that interests you, has content and supporting sources online and offline, and one you can articulately present facts and information on.