Using Voice In An Essay

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You see, the conventions of English essays are more formulaic than you might think – and, in many ways, it can be as simple as counting to five.

Though more advanced academic papers are a category all their own, the basic high school or college essay has the following standardized, five paragraph structure: Paragraph 1: Introduction Paragraph 2: Body 1 Paragraph 3: Body 2 Paragraph 4: Body 3 Paragraph 5: Conclusion Though it may seem formulaic – and, well, it is - the idea behind this structure is to make it easier for the reader to navigate the ideas put forth in an essay.

For proof of this, consider examples from both science and everyday experience.

Because this is the first paragraph of your essay it is your opportunity to give the reader the best first impression possible.

The first sentence – the topic sentence - of your body paragraphs needs to have a lot individual pieces to be truly effective.

Not only should it open with a transition that signals the change from one idea to the next but also it should (ideally) also have a common thread which ties all of the body paragraphs together.

Active voice, wherein the subjects direct actions rather than let the actions "happen to" them – "he scored a 97%" instead of "he was given a 97%" – is a much more powerful and attention-grabbing way to write.

At the same time, unless it is a personal narrative, avoid personal pronouns like I, My, or Me.

A one sentence body paragraph that simply cites the example of "George Washington" or "Le Bron James" is not enough, however.

No, following this an effective essay will follow up on this topic sentence by explaining to the reader, in detail, who or what an example is and, more importantly, why that example is relevant. For example, George Washington’s life was extremely complex – by using him as an example, do you intend to refer to his honesty, bravery, or maybe even his wooden teeth?

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