What is an explanatory essay?

If you are a student, chances are that you have come across an article that was too informative and interesting to forget. An explanatory essay is one of the most common papers that students are required to produce in their academic undertakings. Referred to by some as expository essays, explanatory essays present the views of others or report on events or situations. This type of essay explains the information of others, elucidating and analyzing the material without criticism or argument. The goal of the explanatory essay is to explain a topic or to inform readers. The text is often organized around one theme or topic, and is developed in line with a pattern or a combination of patterns.

An explanatory essay often requires the author to avoid an overt expression of opinions relating to bad and good. The writer is required to either offer an analysis or information. Although you may not have an overt central argument, you could set of points or view on the topic. In the sense of the level of argument and research employed, the explanatory essay differs from the persuasive research paper. Although the expository essay ought to focus on a specific topic and elucidate its points using particular examples, it often lacks the depth of argument and research that characterizes major research papers. Like all other forms of academic writing, explanatory essays must adhere to the rules of grammar and syntax, meaning that your paper could benefit from careful proofreading and editing.

So when do we use explanatory essays?

The explanatory essay can be used to write about almost any topic in any subject. Explanatory writing differs according to purpose. Here are the common types of explanatory writing:

Cause and Effect

Explanatory cause-and-effect essays explain the reasons behind events. The reasons why events happen are causes, while the actual event is the effect. Please note that simple events tend to only have one cause, although some complex events can have multiple causes. It is also possible for a single cause to be linked to many events. Cause-effect writing is mostly common in social studies and sciences as they often explain human and natural events. When writing a cause-effect paper, the most common words to use include if … then, due to, because, thus, therefore, and consequently.

Compare and Contrast

One of the most powerful and flexible uses of the explanatory essay is to contrast and compare two sets of places, events, people, or things. In general, compare and contrast explanatory essays look at the differences and similarities between the subjects. The explanation may cover all the attributes in one item followed by another, or may explore the similarities and differences in the two items simultaneously. This type of writing is flexible and can be used in any subject.

Classify and Divide Exposition

Another common type of explanatory essay is the one that requires students to sort places, events, people, actions, ideas or objects into groups, according to differences and similarities. The main goal in this type of writing is to use as few categorizations as possible without overlapping between the categories. To be effective, a classification exposition should serve a purpose. The student is often expected to clearly group the material, while keeping the writing as concise and coherent as possible. It also helps to pick a topic that can be easily split into more refined and smaller categories.

Definition explanatory essays

In most cases, definition expositions explain the most significant attributes of a group, person, place, or object. This type of writing explains what makes the item unique, defining it a way that cannot be confused with something else. From your writing, your audience ought to be able to identify the item even without looking at the topic of exposition

Process exposition

Process explanatory essays inform the audience on how to complete an action. Such a writing follows a sequence from the beginning to a point of successful completion. The main goal of process exposition is to explain the process in a way that allows the audience to follow the sequence without mistakes or missteps. This type of writing is particularly common in the sciences and math, and can be used to explain how to carry out an experiment or solve a problem.

Please note that, while there are characteristics unique to the individual types of explanatory essays, some characteristics are shared across all types. For instance, the purpose of all forms of explanatory essays is to describe, inform and explain. Please note that, if the goal of your essay is not to inform or explain, but rather to analyze or persuade, then it is possible that you are looking at the wrong essay category.

An important piece of information when looking at explanatory essays is the structure of the essay. An explanatory essay comprises several paragraphs, with each paragraph playing a particular role in the overall paper. in a five-paragraph essay, for instance, the initial paragraph serves as an introduction, while the next three paragraphs for the essay body, and the final paragraph the conclusion. While explanatory essays tend to vary in terms of length, the five-paragraph structure in the figure below can be adapted for shorter or longer texts.

Writing a captivating and concise introduction

The introduction is perhaps the most general and most important element of your explanatory essay. It is highly likely that your instructor may not go beyond the first paragraph, meaning that a strong first impression is critical. The introduction offers your audience a roadmap on how you approach the rest of the paper. A simple way of approaching the introduction of the explanatory essay is by starting the first sentence by introducing your audience to the essay topic. The initial paragraph should pique the reader’s interest and outline the key ideas presented in the paper. In general, the introductory paragraph ought to comprise three main elements, including a hook, building sentences, and a tentative thesis.

The hook is the very first sentence, and is intended to catch the attention of your audience. The hook introduces the essay topic in a way the is interesting. After the hook, include building sentences that offer background information on the issue. This way, you readers get the context relating to the topic. The building sentences should pave way for the thesis statement.

The thesis statement is, arguably, the most important sentence in an explanatory essay. The thesis statement explicitly states the main point and purpose of the essay, laying the groundwork for the rest of the paper. A good thesis statement should include the essay topic, the position of the author and approach to the topic, and the main ideas used to support that position. It is also important to note that the thesis statement appear at the end of the introduction, and is often just a sentence long.

Writing the Body of the Essay

The body of your explanatory essay should proceed from the introduction, and is the most detailed element of the whole text. The body paragraphs address each supporting detail separately. In other words, each main idea should be covered in a separate paragraph. In an explanatory essay, ensure that you use necessary examples and evidence from research to support the ideas.

Make sure that there is coherence and transition between the paragraphs. Like changing from one gear to another, transition helps shift from one idea to another. This is the glue that holds your essay together.

It also helps your writing if you ensure that every supporting detail be introduced or announced within the text. This introductory aspect is referred to as a topic sentence, located at the beginning of each paragraph. In summary, the topic sentence is a statement made relating to the supporting detail. The other parts of a body paragraph include supporting sentences, body sentences, and concluding sentences. The supporting sentences present logical thoughts, explanations, and evidence supporting the main idea. In the body paragraph, the concluding sentence can either offer your thought on the main idea, or may be a transition to the next idea or paragraph.

Writing the Conclusion

The conclusion is your chance to provide a scholarly end to the paper. the conclusion is somewhat similar to the introduction, although worded in a different way. In an explanatory essay, the conclusion is where you reiterate and summarize the key points in the essay, and offer your final thought. The sound conclusion comprises three key elements, including a summary of the key ideas, a restated thesis, and a final thought. The restated thesis comes at the beginning of the conclusion paragraph. The final though could be your opinion, prediction or a solution to a problem identified in the essay. Your final thought ought to leave a sting impression on your audience and should encourage the reader to consider the topic further.

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