Article of the Week

Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences occur when writers try to combine more than one idea into a single sentence. They cause confusion because readers are not sure when one idea ends and the next one begins. Read our entry and test your knowledge with our quiz!


Basic Structure of an Introduction

Every persuasive essay is a response to a problem. But where do these problems come from, and why should we be worried about them? Before your readers will want to read your argument, they should be aware of what’s at stake. Use your introduction to hook your readers with a clever way to present the problem and its consequences. You can tell a brief story, or deliver surprising facts or statistics. An introduction (1) establishes a status quo (a current state of things), (2) brings up a problem that disrupts this status quo, (3) lists potential consequences of this disruptive problem, and (4) gives readers a solution to this problem in the form of a thesis statement. Here’s one silly introduction broken up into these separate parts:

Everybody loves ice cream (Status Quo). But demand for ice cream taxes America’s working cows (Problem Statement). If we eat too much ice cream, cows will go on strike, and then we won’t have any dairy products (Consequences). We should limit our consumption of ice cream to save cows udder embarrassment (Thesis Statement).

Tips for Writing an Introduction

If you’re stuck, try writing your introduction after you have written your body paragraphs. Putting your ideas into writing can help clarify them. You’ll have a better idea of what information should be in your introduction after you have written the body paragraphs.

Use a "hook" to capture your readers' attention at the very beginning of the introduction. Think about what inspired you to choose your paper topic. Maybe you read a shocking fact, or perhaps you have been embroiled in debates around the subject for years. Try to describe this inspirational context in your introduction.

Avoid an uninteresting introduction. 

You have probably read a few papers that began, “in this paper, I will . . .” or that started with a dictionary definition of an important term. Instead of meeting your readers’ expectations, exceed them. Steer clear of an overly general introduction. We have all read introductions that begin at the origins of civilization or the founding of the country. While your readers will need an easy entry point to your topic, you will risk overstating the importance of it. Read opinion columnists in newspapers for inspiration. Their columns will follow a rigid formula for writing an introduction, but they find ways to inflame their readers’ passions with great examples and word choices.