The Basic Elements of an English Essay

The Basic Elements of an English Essay

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Every great story has a good beginning, but it goes further than that. Writing a story involves following through on ideas and taking them to their conclusions. The same is true of creating compelling arguments for English essays.

One of the common assignments in English classes is the essay. Teachers ask their students to write essays on all kinds of topics, like summer vacation or an analysis of a poem or novel. What do you do when you receive an assignment like that?

The first step in writing an essay is to research the topic and to decide on your main point, often called a thesis. You might find that a poem that seems to be about animals is actually about how people relate to each other. Maybe you discover that a novel about working conditions in nineteenth century England reflects what life is like in parts of the world today. Even if you write about your own life, you need to have a main point that ties the whole essay together.

Some experts believe that the introduction and conclusion are the most important part of any essay. The introduction often begins with a general statement of common knowledge that most people would agree with. The thesis statement comes after a few more sentences and gives the main point of what the essay is going to say. With a good first statement and logical thesis, the essay will be off to a good start.

The next part of the essay is the body, which can be only a few paragraphs or several pages long, depending on the assignment. This section sets out the supporting points which help to prove the thesis. You might find this information in reference books, the Internet, or your own experiences. Having a logical progression and using clear language will help to make this section compelling.

Suppose that you had to write an essay on Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. You could write about the different characters in the play and about how their different personalities led to Caesar’s assassination. That would be a fairly basic level of analysis, and maybe that would be all that your teacher wants. On the other hand, you could tie the play in to current politics or maybe an event like the French Revolution. In that case, readers would be able to see how a four hundred year old play relates to modern life.

The last part of the essay is the conclusion. This part ties all of the points together and says what the essay proves. The conclusion should not be a just repetition of what you have already said, but it should include your main idea and possibly a quotation that fits with what you have to say. It can be long or short, but it should join the whole essay together.

The most important aspect of writing a compelling English essay is to have a good idea that you can prove to readers. With that and a good introduction and conclusion, drawing readers into what you say should be easy.


Fleming, Grace. “How to Write an Argumentative Essay.” https://www.thoughtco.com/write-an-argument-essay-1856986.

Freedman, Leora and Jerry Plotnik. “Introductions and Conclusions.” http://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/planning/intros-and-conclusions/

Oxford Royale Academy. “9 Ways to Construct a Compelling Argument.” https://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/construct-compelling-argument.html.

Rodriguez, Malia. “How Should I Write a Compelling Essay?” https://www.quora.com/How-should-I-write-a-compelling-essay.

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