Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsYou have seen some of the features of introductions to essays. Let’s look at an example by returning to Patrick’s essay about food waste. Introductions to essays often start with a general statement, and this is what Patrick does here, by stating that food waste is a major nutritional and environmental problem. He supports this point with statistics. In the second paragraph of the introduction he focuses on the sources of food waste, before focussing more specifically on food waste at the retail stage of the food supply chain. As we have discussed before, this essay follows a situation - problem - solution structure, so Patrick then goes on to mention some of the negative impacts of food waste.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 secondsIn some kinds of essays, the writer is expected to express a viewpoint, and you often find one or two sentences in which this viewpoint is expressed. This is sometimes referred to as a thesis statement. Here Patrick’s thesis is that food which is usually wasted at the retail stage can be recycled, and can have considerable value. Notice also, that you do not have to use expressions like “In my opinion”, or “I believe” to express a personal opinion. By using subjective adjectives like “significant”, “considerable” and in this case “huge”, the writer expresses his own opinion. Finally, it is very common for introductions to essays to end with an outline of the structure of the essay.

Skip to 1 minute and 53 secondsWe now understand that the essay will focus on recycling food waste at the retail stage, firstly on why this is done, and then on how it can be done.To summarise, Patrick’s essay included many of the typical features of an essay introduction; a move from the general topic, food waste, to a focus on the main issue to be discussed

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 secondsin the essay: food waste at the retail stage. It includes supporting statistics, and a thesis statement in which he claims that recycling of food waste can have significant value. And finally, it includes an outline of the structure of the essay.

Patrick's essay: the introduction

In this video Jonathan returns to the example of Patrick’s essay about food waste, to examine and dissect the introduction.

As you will see, Patrick’s essay includes many of the typical features of an essay introduction including:

  • a move from a general topic to a focus on the main issue that will be discussed in the essay

  • supporting statistics

  • a thesis statement

  • an outline of the structure of the essay.

You can view the introduction in this PDF document.

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This video is from the free online course:

An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study

University of Reading