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Explanatory Essay Examples and Guide to a Successful Expository Essay

Filed in Education by on June 9, 2021

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The explanatory essay (sometimes called an expository essay) is one of those standard essays that you’ve probably written at least a few times in your academic career. 

Explanatory Essay Examples and Guide to a Successful Expository Essay

About Explanatory Essay Examples

If you’re in that position right now and could use a little help, check out these two explanatory essay examples.

They will remind you of what a well-written explanatory essay looks like. The explanatory essay often takes the form of a cause and effect essay, a definition essay, a how-to essay, or a compare/contrast essay.

Perhaps you’ve written this type of essay before. But even if you think you can write an explanatory essay standing on your head or standing on one foot and blindfolded, every once in a while you find yourself with an essay assignment that you’re not quite sure you know how to handle.

What Is an Explanatory Essay

An explanatory essay is a type of writing in which the author presents some point of view on a certain topic, event, or situation. This view does not necessarily have to be one that the writer agrees with, but it must have some research and logic to make it feasible.

Explanatory essays show other people’s views or give reports of a certain event or situation. These are common in majors like history or journalism, where students explore facts and real situations, giving unbiased explanations based on facts and evidence.

Usually, as an author you will decide upon a set topic; then you will approach the issue from a specific angle. This angle is typically complicated, giving it room for discussion. At this point, you must present a point of view of your choice that sufficiently explains why a certain outcome was reached.

A mistake that many writers make comes from the belief that they are defending one side of an argument in a debate or criticizing some perspective.

Rather, explanatory writing is all about presenting a neutral point of view on the set topic by providing analysis from research and logically created self-theory.

The overall goal is to clear up any confusion and present a lucid explanation as to why things happened the way they did. After finishing the essay, the reader should have a clear understanding of your idea, even if they disagree with it.

Explanatory Essay: Explanatory Essay Outline

The outline of an explanatory essay will vary based on the length of the topic and the information you are trying to present. However, based on the explanatory essay format, most essays tend to be a page or two in length, so the overall essay will be around 5 paragraphs long.

The introduction will present the subject of discussion to the reader and the explanatory thesis. The body paragraphs will then follow, backing up the thesis statement with facts, logic, statistics, etc.

Lastly, the conclusion will summarize the main points of your essay and should present an overall concluding statement. Now, let’s break down each section into more detail.

1. Introduction

The explanatory essay introduction is made up of three main components: a hook, background information, and a thesis statement. It serves as a gateway for the actual content of the essay.

First of all, just like with most types of essays, get the reader interested in the topic by presenting a hook statement. This can be an interesting fact, relevant quote, or anything that would captivate the audience’s attention.

Afterward, offer any necessary background information that may not seem like general knowledge. This will help paint a clear picture for the reader to follow. Lastly, add the explanatory thesis at the end to fixate the focus of your essay. This should eliminate any confusion about what will be discussed in the body.

2. Body Paragraphs

Most likely, unless the topic is very in-depth, the body should contain three paragraphs, each with their point of approach. However, the general style of each body paragraph is identical.

First of all, present a topic sentence that precisely explains what information you will be introducing. At the same time, this sentence should smoothly transition the writing from the previous point to the next.

Afterward, present a position or claim that directly supports the thesis. It’s important to make sure that the connection is evident, so the audience can easily connect the dots. Then, present the evidence found from the research you have done.

This will validate your claim and enforce your position. Lastly, present a concluding statement that summarizes the significance of the claim in regards to the thesis statement. Follow this systematic approach three times for each one of your claims to complete your body.

3. Conclusion

When writing the conclusion, three main components are crucial to properly finishing an explanatory essay. First of all, restate your thesis statement. This will bring the audience’s attention back to the main focal point as well as add strength to your presented point of view.

Next, make sure to summarize your three supporting points presented in the body paragraphs accordingly. It’s essential to restate the significance of each one concisely. This will show you that you have logically and correctly defended your explanatory thesis, increasing the strength of your overall writing.

Last but not least, offer an overall concluding statement. This should explain the value of the specific point of view chosen from a global perspective. Leave your readers with a call to action, instinctively captivating them to study the subject further on. Once you have done that, you are almost finished with your explanatory essay.

Overall, your explanatory essay outline is going to look like this:

Introduction

  • An attention grabber; a hook.
  • Background information, presenting all sides of the argument.
  • Thesis statement.

Body (three paragraphs)

  • Identify the first argument with a topic sentence.
  • Provide evidence for this topic sentence using your sources.
  • Explain the evidence; connect it to your argument.
  • Conclude each paragraph by solidifying your argument and explaining why it’s important.
  • Use the conclusion to flow into the next paragraph.

Conclusion

Conclusion

  • Restate the thesis statement.
  • Sum up all the arguments and topic sentences of your essay.
  • Wrap the essay up with a conclusion and leave the audience with a final impression.

Expository Essay In Another Light

Expose means to uncover or lay something bare, or to discover something in a way that others know what it is. Expository is derived from exposition, which is a noun of ‘expose.’

An expository essay is a genre of writing which tends to explain, illustrate, clarify, or explicate something in a way that it becomes clear for readers. Therefore, it could be an investigation, evaluation, or even argumentation about an idea for clarification.

Types of Expository Essay

An expository essay is further divided into five major categories.

Descriptive Essay: A descriptive essay describes something, someplace, some experience, or some situation through sensory information.

Process Essay: A process essay explains or shows a process of making or doing something.

Comparison Essay: A comparison essay makes comparisons and contrasts between two things.

Cause/Effect Essay: A cause and effect essay finds out the cause of something and then its effects on something else.

Problem/Solution Essay: A problem/solution essay presents a problem and its solution for readers.

Difference between an Expository Essay and an Argumentative Essay

As is clear, an expository essay is an exposition, explanation, investigation, or illustration for clarification, therefore, its tone is often kept neutral. However, in an argumentative essay, a clear position about something is taken before the argument is presented. There is no issue of objectivity or neutrality.

Examples of Expository Essay in Literature

Example 1: How Chinese Mothers are Superior (by Amy Chua)

“I’m using the term ‘Chinese mother’ loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise.
I’m also using the term ‘Western parents’ loosely. Western parents come in all varieties. All the same, even when Western parents think they’re being strict, they usually don’t come close to being Chinese mothers.
For example, my Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and three that get tough.”

This is an excerpt from a comparison/contrast essay by Amy Chua, which explains how mothers are different in different cultures. This paragraph compares mothers from Chinese, Iranian, Jamaican, and Irish contexts.

Example #2: Learning to Read (by Malcolm X)

Example #2: Learning to Read (by Malcolm X)

“It was because of my letters that I happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of a homemade education.
I became increasingly frustrated at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote, especially those to Mr. Elijah Muhammad. In the street, I had been the most articulate hustler out there. I had commanded attention when I said something.
But now, trying to write simple English, I not only wasn’t articulate, I wasn’t even functional. How would I sound writing in slang, the way I would say it, something such as, ‘Look, daddy, let me pull your coat about a cat, Elijah Muhammad — ‘
Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I’ve said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my prison studies.”

This passage has been taken from a process essay. In this essay, Malcolm X tells the process of his learning. In this paragraph, he gives full detail about how he learns letters.

Example #3: Summer Ritual (by Ray Bradbury)

“About seven o’clock you could hear the chairs scraping from the tables, someone experimenting with a yellow-toothed piano, if you stood outside the dining-room window and listened. Matches being struck, the first dishes bubbling in the suds and tinkling on the wall racks, somewhere, faintly, a phonograph playing.
And then as the evening changed the hour, at house after house on the twilight streets, under the immense oaks and elms, on shady porches, people would begin to appear, like those figures who tell good or bad weather in rain-or-shine clocks.
Uncle Bert, perhaps Grandfather, then Father, and some of the cousins; the men all coming out first into the syrupy evening, blowing smoke, leaving the wSWomen’s voices behind in the cooling-warm kitchen to set their universe aright.
Then the first male voices under the porch brim, the feet up, the boys fringed on the worn steps or wooden rails where sometime during the evening something, a boy or a geranium pot, would fall off.”

This is an example of a passage from a descriptive essay. It has a full description that tells us about sounds and colors; a type of sensory information.

Functions of an Expository Essay

The function of an expository essay is to clarify and expose things, ideas, persons, and places through the description, process, comparison/contrast, or problem-solving.

The objective of this type of essay is to make readers aware of the things given in the essay. It proves full and detailed information in a way that readers become knowledgeable about the topic.

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