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Chapter two writing tips introductions


Introduction

An introduction is the first part in a composition. It is an important part in the composition because it is the part that the reader reads first. In the introduction, the writer aims to do two things: (1) to attract, and hold, the reader’s attention. This could be achieved by providing some interesting, informative background. (2) to tell the reader clearly the purpose of the composition. This could be achieved by providing a concise, specific thesis statement.


The Purpose of Background Information The background information aims to prepare the reader for the specific thesis statement that comes immediately after it. For example, background information can provide a definition if the topic is new to the reader. It could also consist of a brief description, classification or partition of the topic. Sometimes, it may be appropriate to give the reader some historical or theoretical information or to provide him/her with an interesting or surprising fact that will arouse his/her curiosity.


Background Information: Example The following example is the background part of an introduction for a composition about the likely effects on the earth of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (“the greenhouse effect”). It gives some brief historical background and prediction: A century ago, carbon dioxide concentration in the earth’s atmosphere was less than 300 parts per million (ppm). Currently, it is 340 ppm, and this figure is expected to double within the next 50 years if the current rate of fossil fuel consumption continues.


The Thesis Statement The thesis statement is the second part of the introduction. It can be defined as a sentence whose aim is to state clearly and concisely the specific purpose of the composition. The thesis statement consists of two distinct parts: the subject of the composition and the specific focus (or controlling idea) of the composition. In the following examples of thesis statements, the subject is in italics and the focus is in boldface: 1- Diamond and graphite are different in three main ways. 2- There are four fundamental forces in nature: strong, electromagnetic, weak, and gravitational.


The two examples above show how thesis statements reflect the basic pattern of development that will be used in the composition. The first: “Diamond and graphite are different in three main ways.“ is contrast based. The second: “There are four fundamental forces in nature: strong, electromagnetic, weak, and gravitational.” involves partition.


The Elements of a Good Thesis Statement

The thesis statement has a number of important features:

-It is concise, i.e. a single sentence - It is specific, i.e. deals with a defined topic - It has limited scope, i.e. focus that can be handled within the time frame, e.g. 50 minutes composition - It is precise, i.e. thesis statements clearly identify the main idea that is discussed in the body of the composition. The two parts of the introduction are connected either grammatically or by the repetition of key words. When writing a thesis statement, avoid set phrases such as “This composition will discuss…” or “In this paper I am going to write about…”. Always try to use your original wording.


The following two introductory paragraphs have both a background and a thesis statement. How have these two elements been connected? (background) A century ago, carbon dioxide concentration in the earth’s atmosphere was less than 300 parts per million (ppm). Currently, it is 340 ppm, and this figure is expected to double within the next 50 years if the current rate of fossil fuel consumption continues. (thesis statement) Such an increase will have a major adverse effect on the global climate. (background) Natural

resources can be defined as supplies that are obtained from the earth and which are put to use by man. Examples include water, minerals, crops and forests. (thesis statement) This type of resource is generally classified into two basic types: renewable and nonrenewable natural resources.


Introduction  

The introduction

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