Expository Essay

Writing an Expository Essay #

Exposition is concerned with analysis and interpretation. In an expository essay an argument may be advanced or justified or a particular viewpoint may be asserted (persuasion).


Exposition (argument) may begin by setting out the parameters of the argument, followed by the justifications of the argument set out in logical order. It usually finishes up with a summing up of the argument.  Ex: editorials, discussions, letters to the editor or some essays.   Tell them what you are going to say; elaborate in detail with evidence, anecdotes, illustrations and detail; then summarise what you have said.

 Exposition (persuasion) may begin by attracting the reader’s/listener’s attention, and go on to emotive devices to assert a viewpoint and to persuade the reader or listener to a course of action.  These texts often use visual elements as a means of persuasion.  Ex:  advertisements, debates, essays.  Great Speeches of history include Antony’s tribute to Caesar, Henry V’s call to arms, Churchill’s “We shall fight them on the beaches.. Martin Luther’s  “I have a dream” and many others.

What do expositions look like?     (Structure) 

Thesis - introduction

This section of the essay states the author’s position on the issue to be argued and previews the arguments that will follow.  

Arguments - body

This section states the arguments (climactically) to be presented.  An argument is comprised of a series of points and elaborations.   Each paragraph contains a (topic/lead) sentence which previews the remainder of the paragraph.  Each assertion or argument must be substantiated and supported by evidence.  In English, the mode should be interpretive and analytical rather than narrative and be supported by references to, and short quotes from,          the textbook(s) concerned. 

Reinforcement of thesis - conclusion

The final stage restates the author’s position more forcefully and sums up the arguments in the light of the issues raised. 

What are the language features of an exposition?

·      emotive words such as:  alarmed,  clones, stalking, pithy ...

·      Qualified statements:   usually, probably, in my opinion, generally...

·      Link words:   for example, such as, furthermore*, whereas, similarly, conversely..*

·      Nominalisations:  verbs, adjectives, adverbs made into nouns:  brevity, inhibition, diffidence..

·      Deductive logic: moving from the general to the particular.

·      Definitive literary terminology - jargon:  conflict, metaphors, onomatopoeia, structure..

·      Evaluative assessments or personal judgments integrated as adverbs.

·      Personal interpretative ownership of response.  “I” statements. 


If the question demands a discussion, (a discursive essay) you should look at both sides of an issue and provide a balanced open minded view of the issues raised.  You may eventually side with a point of view or you may present both sides dispassionately and not reach a conclusion. 

**There are many ways to improve your essay skills.  Wide reading and taking note of other writers flair will benefit your.  There are also exercises you can do to improve your style.  **


**I find that students who work hard at practicing essay writing get much better at it.  **

**To improve your vocabulary, you should do some of the exercises on this site.    Charles Klassen