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Sentence Starters: Ultimate List to Improve Your Essays and Writing

Ashley Shaw

Ashley Shaw

How to start a sentence

This blog post is going to be about … No. Too boring.

Today, I am going to talk to you about ... No. Too specific.

This is a blog post for all writers ... Nope. Too generic.

Has this ever been you while writing? I get it. Writing a good sentence can be hard, and when you have to string a whole lot of them together, the task can become daunting. So what do you do?

From the first sentence you write to the very last, you want each one to show your style and motivate your reader to keep reading. In this post, we are going to think about how you start your sentences.

sentence starter tip

What Is a Good Sentence Starter for an Essay Introduction?

What is a good sentence starter for a body paragraph, 25 useful transitions, can i repeat a sentence starter, how can i rephrase "in conclusion".

The first paragraph of a paper can make or break your grade. It is what gets your audience into the topic and sets the whole stage. Because of this, it is important to get your readers hooked early.

The first sentence of a paper is often called the hook. It shouldn’t be anything ordinary. It should have strong language and be a little surprising, with an interesting fact, story, statistic, or quote on the topic.

Because it is designed to pull the reader in and surprise them a little, it is often good to avoid pre-written sentence starter examples when writing your hook. Just get into it here, and worry about the flow later.

Here are some examples:

Spider webs were once used as bandages.

I taught myself to read when I was three. At least, that’s the story my parents tell.

Recent studies suggest that the average person lies at least once in every conversation.

“The world is bleeding and humans wield the knife,” or so says environmental scientist So Andso.

(P.S. Except for example 1, which is true, I just made all of these up to demonstrate my point. So, please don’t quote me on these!)

Once you jump right in with your hook, it is time to start working on ways to move sentences along. Here is where you may need some sentence starter examples.

In your first paragraph, you basically want to connect your hook to your thesis. You’ll do this with a few sentences setting up the stage for your topic and the claim you will make about it. To do that, follow the tips found in the next section on body paragraphs and general sentence starter tips.

Many of the tips I am about to discuss can be used anywhere in a paper, but they are especially helpful when writing body paragraphs.

Let’s start with one of the most important types of sentence starter in essay writing: transition words.

How Do I Use Transitions in an Essay?

Definition of Transitions

If you want to start writing terrific sentences (and improve your essay structure ), the first thing you should do is start using transition words.

Transition words are those words or phrases that help connect thoughts and ideas. They move one sentence or paragraph into another, and they make things feel less abrupt.

The good thing about transition words is that you probably know a lot of them already and currently use them in your speech. Now, you just need to transition them into your writing. (See what I did there?)

Before we get into examples of what a good transition word is, let’s look at a paragraph without any transitions:

I went to the store. I bought bacon and eggs. I saw someone I knew. I said hello. I went to the cashier. They checked me out. I paid. I got my groceries. I went to my car. I returned home.

Yikes! That is some boring writing. It was painful to write, and I am sure it is even worse to read. There are two reasons for this:

  • I start every sentence with the same word (more on this later)
  • There are no signposts showing me how the ideas in the paragraph connect.

In an essay, you need to show how each of your ideas relate to each other to build your argument. If you just make a series of statements one after the other, you’re not showing your instructor that you actually understand those statements, or your topic.

How do we fix this? Transition words. Roughly 25% of your sentences should start with a transition word. If you can hit that number in your essay, you’ll know that you’ve made meaningful steps towards demonstrating your understanding.

Of course, hitting that number isn’t enough—those transitions need to be meaningful. Let’s look at the different types of transitions and how you can use them.

What Are Words Like First , Next , and Last Called?

You probably already use some transitions in your essays. For example, if you start a paragraph with firstly , you’ve used a transition word. But transitions can do so much more!

Here are 25 common transitional words and phrases that you could use in your essay:

  • Additionally / In Addition
  • Alternatively / Conversely
  • As a result of
  • At this time
  • Consequently
  • Contrary to
  • First(ly), Second(ly), etc.
  • In contrast
  • Nonetheless
  • On the other hand
  • Particularly / In particular
  • In other words

Common Transitional Words

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it is a good start.

These words show different types of relationships between ideas. These relationships fall into four main categories: Emphasis , Contrast , Addition , and Order .

What Are Emphasis Transition Words?

These phrases are used when you want to highlight a point. Examples from my above list include clearly , particularly , and indeed . Want to see some more? Follow my bolded transitions: Undoubtedly , you understand now. It should be noted that you don’t need to worry.

How Do You Use Addition Transitions?

These words add on to what you just said. These are words like along with , moreover , and also . Here are some more: Not only are you going to be great at transitions after this, but you will also be good at writing sentences. Furthermore , everyone is excited to see what you have to say.

How Can I Use Transitions to Contrast Ideas?

This is the opposite of addition, and you use it when you want to show an alternative view or to compare things. Examples from my list include words like nonetheless , contrary to , and besides .

Here are some more: Unlike people who haven’t read this article, you are going to be really prepared to write great sentences. Even so , there is still a lot more about writing to learn.

How Do I Order Ideas in My Essay?

A good first step is using order transition words.

This set of transitions helps mark the passage of time or gives an order to events. From the list, think of things like first and finally . Now for some extras: At this time yesterday , you were worried about starting sentences. Following this , though, you will be an expert.

The four types of transitions

Now that you get the concept of transitions, let’s go back to that poorly written paragraph above and add some in to see what happens:

This morning , I went to the store. While I was there, I bought bacon and eggs. Then I saw someone I knew. So I said hello. After that , I went to the cashier. At that time , they checked me out. First , I paid. Next , I got my groceries. Following that , I went to my car. Finally , I returned home.

(Notice the use of commas after most of these transitions!)

This isn’t the best paragraph I’ve ever written. It still needs a lot of work. However, notice what a difference just adding transitions makes. This is something simple but effective you can start doing to make your sentences better today.

If you want to check your transition usage, try ProWritingAid’s Transitions report . You’ll see how many of each type of transition word you've used so you can pin-point where you might be losing your reader.

prowritingaid transitions report for essay

Sign up for a free ProWritingAid account to try it out.

What Are Some Linking Phrases I Can Use in My Essay?

As well as individual words, you can also use short phrases at the beginning of your sentences to transition between ideas. I just did it there— "As well as individual words" shows you how this section of the article is related to the last.

Here are some more phrases like this:

As shown in the example,

As a result of this,

After the meeting,

While this may be true,

Though researchers suggest X,

Before the war began,

Until we answer this question,

Since we cannot assume this to be true,

While some may claim Y,

Because we know that Z is true,

These short phrases are called dependent clauses . See how they all end with a comma? That's because they need you to add more information to make them into complete sentences.

  • While some may claim that chocolate is bad for you, data from a recent study suggests that it may have untapped health benefits .
  • Since we cannot assume that test conditions were consistent, it is impossible to reach a solid conclusion via this experiment .
  • As a result of this, critics disagree as to the symbolism of the yellow car in The Great Gatsby .

The bolded text in each example could stand on its own as a complete sentence. However, if we take away the first part of each sentence, we lose our connection to the other ideas in the essay.

These phrases are called dependent clauses : they depend on you adding another statement to the sentence to complete them. When you use a sentence starter phrase like the ones above in your writing, you signal that the new idea you have introduced completes (or disrupts) the idea before it.

Note: While some very short dependent clauses don’t need a comma, most do. Since it is not wrong to use one on even short ones (depending on the style guide being used), it is a good idea to include one every time.

Definition of a dependent clause

Along with missing transitions and repeating sentence structure, another thing that stops sentences from being great is too much repetition. Keep your sentences sharp and poignant by mixing up word choices to start your sentences.

You might start your sentence with a great word, but then you use that same word 17 sentences in a row. After the first couple, your sentences don’t sound as great. So, whether it is varying the transitional phrases you use or just mixing up the sentence openers in general, putting in some variety will only improve your sentences.

ProWritingAid lets you know if you’ve used the same word repeatedly at the start of your sentences so you can change it.

ProWritingAid's Repetition Report

The Repeats Report also shows you all of the repeats in your document. If you've used a sentence starter and then repeated it a couple of paragraphs down, the report will highlight it for you.

Try the Repeats Report with a free ProWritingAid account.

Now that you have your introduction sentences and body sentences taken care of, let’s talk a little about conclusion sentences. While you will still use transitions and clauses as in the body, there are some special considerations here.

Your conclusion is what people will remember most after they finish reading your paper. So, you want to make it stand out. Don’t just repeat yourself; tell them what they should do with what you just told them!

Use the tips from above, but also remember the following:

Be unique. Not only should you vary the words you use to start different sentences, but you should also think outside of the box. If you use the same conclusion sentence starter everyone else is using, your ideas will blend in too.

Be natural. Some of the best writing out there is writing that sounds natural. This goes for academic writing, too. While you won’t use phrases like "at the end of the day" in essay writing, stilted phrases like "in conclusion" can disrupt the flow you’ve created earlier on.

Here are some alternatives to "in conclusion" you could use in an essay:

  • To review, ... (best for scientific papers where you need to restate your key points before making your final statement)
  • As has been shown, ...
  • In the final analysis, ...
  • Taking everything into account, ...
  • On the whole, ...
  • Generally speaking, ...

If you’re looking for more ways to rephrase "in conclusion," take a look at our complete list of synonyms you can use.

in conclusion alternatives

There may not be a set word or words that you can use to make your sentences perfect. However, when you start using these tips, you’ll start to see noticeable improvement in your writing.

If you’ve ever heard people talk about pacing and flow in academic writing, and you have no idea what they mean or how to improve yours, then this is your answer. These tips will help your writing sound more natural, which is how you help your ideas flow.

Take your writing to the next level:

20 Editing Tips From Professional Writers

20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers

Whether you are writing a novel, essay, article, or email, good writing is an essential part of communicating your ideas., this guide contains the 20 most important writing tips and techniques from a wide range of professional writers..

essay claim sentence starters

Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.

Ashley Shaw is a former editor and marketer/current PhD student and teacher. When she isn't studying con artists for her dissertation, she's thinking of new ways to help college students better understand and love the writing process.

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How to Write an Effective Claim (with Examples)

Formulating a claim for your essay can be difficult even if you are already a masterful debater — especially if you are not quite sure what a claim is, and how it may differ from a counterclaim or thesis statement. This guide will make it easy to decide on your claim!

Essay Claim Basics

In essay writing, a claim can most succinctly be defined as "a debatable statement" — which the writer then defends with supporting evidence and rhetoric. It is easy to confuse a claim and a thesis statement, because the thesis is indeed a type of claim as well. Essays can contain further claims that orbit the topic of the thesis statement, however.

Claims straddle the line between opinion and fact. If you're hoping to make a strong claim that seamlessly fits into a powerful essay, you will need to make sure that your claim ticks the right boxes:

  • Your claim can debated — solid arguments can be made both in favor and against. Therefore, statements such as "I live in Queens" or "Joe Biden is the President" are not claims. In an argumentative essay, "the death penalty should be abolished" is an example of a claim. Even scientific papers make claims, such as "Keyboards contain more germs than toilet seats", which can be tested. These are called hypotheses.
  • You will state your claim as a matter of fact. "Many people oppose the death penalty, and with good reason" is not a good claim, but "the death penalty is no longer an appropriate punishment in modern America" can be.
  • Your claim is sufficiently specific to allow you to explore all aspects that you intend to tackle. "The Victorian era was Britain's darkest era" give you more bite than you can comfortably chew. "Fast food should be taxed to reduce obesity rates" is more specific.

Types of Claim (With Examples!)

Claims are debatable statements, but there are numerous different types. If you have specifically been asked to present a claim in an essay, you may be able to choose what kind of claim you would like to work with.

1. Claim of Fact or Definition

In research essays, a claim of fact or definition is one that defines a fact, as you see it, and proceeds to lay out the evidence in favor of the claim. Here are some examples to show you how it works:

  • Plant species are becoming extinct at a faster rate than animal species, yet the plight of plants has been overlooked.
  • Amazon's Alexa has revolutionized many people's daily lives — but this appliance also makes us vulnerable to new forms of hacking.
  • Commercial air travel transformed the way in which we do business.

2. Claim of Cause & Effect

In a claim of cause and effect, you argue that one thing causes another, such as:

  • Internet gaming has a widespread negative effect on students' grades.
  • Lax enforcement of preventative measures against Covid has enabled the pandemic to continue for much longer than it need have.
  • Playing jigsaw puzzles leads to novel cognitive connections that help senior citizens stay sharp.

3. Claim of Value

Claims of value are more heavily opinion-based than other types of claims. If you are making a claim of value, you will usually want to compare two things. For example:

  • George W Bush was a better President than George W H Bush.
  • Emotional health is just as important as physical health.
  • Stephen King is the best horror writer of al time.

4. Claim of Solution or Policy

Claims of solution or policy state a position on a proposed course of action. In high school and college essays, they typically focus on something that should be done, or something that should no longer be done. Examples might include:

  • Depressed patients should always be offered talk therapy before they receive a prescription for antidepressants.
  • The United States should not accept refugees from Afghanistan.
  • First-time offenders should be given lighter sentences.

Claim vs. Counterclaim vs. Thesis Statement

If you've been told to make an essay claim, you may be confused about the differences between a claim, counterclaim, and thesis statement. That's understandable, because some people believe that there's no difference between a claim and a thesis statement.

There are important distinctions between these three concepts, however, and if you want to write a killer essay, it's important to be aware of them:

  • A thesis statement is the very foundation of your essay — everything else rests on it. The thesis statement should contain no more than one or two sentences, and summarize the heart of your argument. "Regular exercise has consistently been shown to increase productivity in the workplace. Therefore, employers should offer office workers, who would otherwise be largely sedentary, opportunities to work out."
  • A claim is a statement you can defend with arguments and evidence. A thesis statement is a type of claim, but you'll want to include other claims that fit neatly into the subject matter as well. For instance, "Employers should establish gyms for employees."
  • A counterclaim is a statement that contradicts, refutes, or opposes a claim. Why would you want to argue against yourself? You can do so to show that arguments that oppose the claim are weak. For instance, "Many employers would balk at the idea of facilitating costly exercise classes or providing a gym space — employees can work out in their own time, after all. Why should the boss pay for workers to engage in recreational activities at work? Recent studies have shown, however, that workplaces that have incorporated aerobics classes enjoy 120% increase in productivity, showing that this step serves the bottom line."

Together, a thesis statement, claims, and some well-placed counterclaims make up the threads of your story, leading to a coherent essay that is interesting to read.

How to Write an Effective Claim

Now that you've seen some examples, you are well on your way to writing an effective claim for your essay. Need some extra tips? We've got you covered.

First things first — how do you start a claim in an essay? Your claim sentence or sentences should be written in the active voice, starting with the subject, so that your readers can immediately understand what you are talking about.

They'll be formulated as an "[Subject] should be [proposed action], because [argument]. You can stay with this general structure while making different word choices, however, such as:

  • It is about time that
  • We have an obligation to
  • Is the only logical choice
  • It is imperative that

Once you have formulated a claim, you will want to see if you can hook your readers with an interesting or provocative statement that can really get them thinking. You will want to break your argument down into sections. This will lead you to sub-claims. If your claim is your main argument, your sub-claims are smaller arguments that work to support it. They will typically appear naturally once you contemplate the subject deeply — just brainstorm, and as you research, keep considering why your claim is true. The reasons you come up with will sprout sub-claims.

Still not sure what to write? Take a look at these examples of strong claim statements:

  • A lack of work experience has proven to be the main barrier to finding satisfying employment, so businesses should be incentivized to hire recent graduates.
  • The rise in uncertified "emotional support animals" directly causes suffering for people suffering from severe pet dander allergies. Such pets must be outlawed in public places to alleviate the very real harm allergy patients now experience on a daily basis.
  • Emerging private space exploration ventures may be exciting, but they greatly increase CO2 emissions. At a time when the planet is in crisis, private space exploration should be banned.

Additional Tips in Writing a Claim the Right Way

You now know what you need to include in a claim paragraph to leave a strong impression. Understanding what not to do is equally important, however.

  • Take a stand — if you're writing an argumentative essay, it is perfectly OK to take a controversial opinion, and no matter what you write, it is bound to have the potential to offend someone . Don't sit on the fence. Even when you're defending a position you disagree with, embrace it wholeheartedly.
  • Narrow your claim down. The more specific you can get, the more compelling your argument can be, and the more depth you can add to each aspect of your argument.
  • Have fun! You want your essay to be interesting to read, and any genuine passion you have will be apparent.
  • Choose the right subject — one about which you can find a lot of data and facts.

What should you avoid in writing a claim, you wonder? Don't:

  • Use any first-person statements. The claim is about your ideas, not about you.
  • Base your claim on emotional appeal. You can work some pathos in, but don't make feelings your center.
  • Clutter your claim with too many separate ideas, which will make the rest of your essay harder to read, less powerful, and unwieldy for you to develop.

How do you use a claim?

When you're writing your essay, you can think of the thesis statement as the spine. The claims you make are, then, your "ribs", so to speak. If you prefer a different analogy, the thesis is your trunk, and the claims branches. You use them to build a strong final product that shows you have considered all aspects of your argument, and can back them up with evidence and logic.

What is a good way to start a claim?

You can start with a shocking fact, objective data from a reliable source, or even an anecdote — or, if you prefer, you can simply offer your argument without bells and whistles.

Can a claim be in a paragraph or is it a single sentence only?

Claims are almost always limited to a single sentence. It can be a long compound sentence, though! The claim does not have to remain all alone in the paragraph. You can immediately surround it with rhetorical punches or further facts.

What are some examples of argumentative claims?

So, you want to learn to argue like a pro? Watching speeches politicians make is a great way to look out for claims, and court transcripts and academic debates are two other places you can look for great argumentative claims.

Is there a claim generator you can use?

Yes! Some claim generators are free to use, while others require a subscription. These tools can be interesting to play with, and can serve as inspiration. However, it's always best to tweak your final claim to fit your needs.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Developing Strong Thesis Statements

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These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.

The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable

An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.

Another example of a debatable thesis statement:

In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.

The thesis needs to be narrow

Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.

Example of a thesis that is too broad:

There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.

Example of a narrow or focused thesis:

In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.

We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:

Narrowed debatable thesis 1:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.

Narrowed debatable thesis 2:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.

Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.

Types of claims

Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.

Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:

Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:

Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:

Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:

Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.

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Claim, Evidence, Reasoning: What You Need to Know

Claim, Evidence, Reasoning: What You Need to Know

Has an instructional coach or administrator told you to start using a claim, evidence, and reasoning (or C-E-R) framework for writing in your classroom?

Maybe you need to closely adhere to the Common Core State Standards but aren’t quite sure where to begin.

If you’re like me, your whole school may be committing to using a C-E-R language in all classes to build consistency and teacher equity for students.

Regardless, here you are wondering, what the heck is claim, evidence, and reasoning anyway ? In this post, I aim to break it down for you.

There are plenty of science examples out there, but that is not my specialty. For this post, I’ll focus on my subject area, high school English, but know that the C-E-R framework can be applied to multiple content areas. 

If you’d like to teach the C-E-R writing framework to your students, I have a whole bundle of resources right here.

Claim, Evidence, Writing or C-E-R Writing: What You Need to Know Pinterest Pin

C-E-R Writing Overview

C-E-R writing is a framework that consists of three parts: Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning. Science classes use it frequently, but it works well in any content area. In fact, my entire school uses it–down to the gym classes!

The cover image for the Teachers Pay Teachers product by It's Lit Teaching: FREE C-E-R (claim, evidence, and reasoning) writing handout

A C-E-R writing framework works especially well for teachers adhering to the Common Core State Standards. The words “claim”, “evidence”, and “reasoning” are directly from the standards themselves. 

C-E-R writing works especially well for argumentative or persuasive writing, but also holds true for research-based writing.

Note that these are academic forms of writing. You wouldn’t, for instance, probably use claims, evidence, or reasoning in a creative writing class or with a narrative or poetry unit.

While C-E-R may seem formulaic at first, it does come from a natural flow of solid arguments. Any attempt at persuasion must take a stance, support it with logic, and make a case.

The formulaic nature of C-E-R writing makes it a helpful writing scaffold for students who struggle to organize their ideas or generate them in the first place.

Claim, Evidence, Writing or C-E-R Writing: What You Need to Know Pinterest Pin

The claim sets the tone for the rest of the writing.

It is the argument, the stance, or the main idea of the writing that is to follow. Some may say that in C-E-R writing, the claim is the most important piece.

I have found that the placement and length of the claim will vary according to the length of the writing. 

Cover for the Teachers Pay Teachers product by It's Lit Teaching: Task Cards for Claim Practice. This is for students to practice claim as part of C-E-R or claim, evidence, and reasoning writing.

For a paragraph, I feel the claim makes a great topic sentence and thus, should be the first sentence. The body of the paragraph then will aim to support the topic sentence (or claim).

In a standard five-paragraph essay, the first introductory paragraph may build to the claim: the thesis. The body paragraphs then will each contain a sub-claim so-to-speak that supports the overarching claim or thesis.

Claims, while logical, should present an arguable stance on a topic. 

I often have to remind my students that if they are writing in response to a question, restating the question in the form of a sentence and adding their answer is an easy way to write a claim.

A Claim Example for an English Class

Let’s use a Shakespearian example. A popular essay topic when reading Romeo and Juliet poses the following question: who is to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

A claim that answers this question might read:

“Friar Laurence is most to blame for Romeo and Juliet’s deaths.”

This claim is strong for multiple reasons. First, it is direct. There’s no question about what the rest of the writing will be about or will be attempting to support. Second, this claim is arguable –not provable–but also logical. The idea can be supported by examples from the text. 

A claim is not a fact. Evidence should support it, which we’ll discuss in a moment, but ultimately, it should not be something that can be proven . 

An infographic explaining C-E-R writing including why to use it, and an overview of claim, evidence, and reasoning

The next step in the C-E-R writing framework is evidence.

Evidence is the logic, proof, or support that you have for your claim. I mentioned earlier that your claim, while arguable, should be rooted in logic. Evidence is where you present the logic you used to arrive at your claim.

Cover for the Teachers Pay Teachers product by It's Lit Teaching: Evidence Task Cards. This is part of a set of claims, evidence, and reasoning or C-E-R writing resources.

This can take a variety of forms: research, facts, observations, lab experiments, or even quotes from interviews or authorities. 

For literary analysis, evidence should generally be textual in nature.

That is, the evidence should be rooted–if not directly quoted from–in the text. For example, the writer may want to use quotes, paraphrasing, or a summary of events from the text. 

I encourage my students to use word-for-word textual evidence quoted and cited from the text directly. This creates evidence with which it is difficult to argue.  

An Evidence Example for an English Class

If we continue with the Romeo and Juliet example, we could support our previous claim that Friar Laurence is most to blame for the couple’s death by presenting several pieces of evidence from the play.

Our evidence may then read as follows:

“ In the play, Friar Laurence says to Juliet, ‘Take thou this vial, being then in bed/ And this distilled liquor drink thou off;/ …The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade/ … And in this borrow’d likeness of shrunk death/ Thou shalt continue two and forty hours,/And then awake as from a pleasant sleep ’ (4.1.93-106).”

This is strong evidence because the text proves it. This quote comes directly from Shakespeare; you can’t argue with it.

It is also on-topic. it shows a piece of the play that supports the idea that Friar Laurence is most to blame for Romeo and Juliet’s deaths. 

For claim, evidence, and reasoning writing, the strength of the argument depends on its evidence. 

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Reasoning is the thinking behind the evidence that led to the claim. It should explain the evidence if necessary, and then connect it to the claim.

Cover for the Teachers Pay Teachers product by It's Lit Teaching: Reasoning Task Cards. This is part of a series of claim, evidence, and reasoning or C-E-R writing resources available.

In a one paragraph response, I usually recommend that students break down their reasoning into three sentences:

Personally, this is where my students struggle the most. They have a hard time understanding how to explain the evidence or connect it to their claim because it’s obvious to them.

  • Explain or summarize the evidence that was just used
  • Explain or show how this evidence supports the claim
  • Finish with a conclusion sentence

If your students, like mine, struggle with crafting reasoning, I recommend giving them sentence starters like “This shows that…” or “This quote proves that….”

I also go over different ways to approach writing conclusion sentences, as my students often struggle in ending their writing.

(If you’d like help breaking this down for your students, my C-E-R Slideshow covers reasoning–including what to include and three different ways to write a conclusion sentence.)

A Reasoning Example for An English Class

For our Romeo and Juliet example, it may read something like this:

“This quote shows that Friar Laurence is the originator of the plan for the two lovers to fake their deaths. Had he not posed this plan, Romeo could not have mistaken Juliet for dead. Thus, he would never have committed suicide, nor Juliet. As the adult in the situation, Friar Laurence should have acted less rashly and helped the couple find a more suitable solution to their problems.”

This reasoning is strong for several reasons.

First, note the transition in the beginning. It discusses the textual evidence–the quote presented earlier–directly and explains what is happening in the quote.

Next, it walks the reader step-by-step through the writer’s rationale about the evidence that led her to believe the claim. Even if the reader does not agree with the reader’s claim, he or she must concede that the writer has a point. 

You may have noticed that in this example, the reasoning tends to be longer than either the claim or the evidence. The length of the reasoning will vary according to the assignment, but I have found that good reasoning does tend to be the bulk of C-E-R writing. 

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And there you have it! An overview of the C-E-R writing framework. No doubt, you can see how this framework can easily be applied to a myriad of assignments in any content area. 

If you need help getting started in using the C-E-R writing framework in your English class, I have a few resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store that can help you. Check them out! Start with a FREE student guide to claim, evidence, and reasoning!

Photo of It's Lit Teaching's claim, evidence, and reasoning free student handout. It is a guide to C-E-R writing at a glance.

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  • 40 Useful Words and Phrases for Top-Notch Essays

essay claim sentence starters

To be truly brilliant, an essay needs to utilise the right language. You could make a great point, but if it’s not intelligently articulated, you almost needn’t have bothered.

Developing the language skills to build an argument and to write persuasively is crucial if you’re to write outstanding essays every time. In this article, we’re going to equip you with the words and phrases you need to write a top-notch essay, along with examples of how to utilise them.

It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and there will often be other ways of using the words and phrases we describe that we won’t have room to include, but there should be more than enough below to help you make an instant improvement to your essay-writing skills.

This article is suitable for native English speakers and those who are  learning English at our Oxford Summer School or San Francisco Summer School and are just taking their first steps into essay writing.

General explaining

Let’s start by looking at language for general explanations of complex points.

1. In order to

Usage: “In order to” can be used to introduce an explanation for the purpose of an argument. Example: “In order to understand X, we need first to understand Y.”

2. In other words

Usage: Use “in other words” when you want to express something in a different way (more simply), to make it easier to understand, or to emphasise or expand on a point. Example: “Frogs are amphibians. In other words, they live on the land and in the water.”

3. To put it another way

Usage: This phrase is another way of saying “in other words”, and can be used in particularly complex points, when you feel that an alternative way of wording a problem may help the reader achieve a better understanding of its significance. Example: “Plants rely on photosynthesis. To put it another way, they will die without the sun.”

4. That is to say

Usage: “That is” and “that is to say” can be used to add further detail to your explanation, or to be more precise. Example: “Whales are mammals. That is to say, they must breathe air.”

5. To that end

Usage: Use “to that end” or “to this end” in a similar way to “in order to” or “so”. Example: “Zoologists have long sought to understand how animals communicate with each other. To that end, a new study has been launched that looks at elephant sounds and their possible meanings.”

Adding additional information to support a point

Students often make the mistake of using synonyms of “and” each time they want to add further information in support of a point they’re making, or to build an argument . Here are some cleverer ways of doing this.

6. Moreover

Usage: Employ “moreover” at the start of a sentence to add extra information in support of a point you’re making. Example: “Moreover, the results of a recent piece of research provide compelling evidence in support of…”

7. Furthermore

Usage:This is also generally used at the start of a sentence, to add extra information. Example: “Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that…”

8. What’s more

Usage: This is used in the same way as “moreover” and “furthermore”. Example: “What’s more, this isn’t the only evidence that supports this hypothesis.”

9. Likewise

Usage: Use “likewise” when you want to talk about something that agrees with what you’ve just mentioned. Example: “Scholar A believes X. Likewise, Scholar B argues compellingly in favour of this point of view.”

10. Similarly

Usage: Use “similarly” in the same way as “likewise”. Example: “Audiences at the time reacted with shock to Beethoven’s new work, because it was very different to what they were used to. Similarly, we have a tendency to react with surprise to the unfamiliar.”

11. Another key thing to remember

Usage: Use the phrase “another key point to remember” or “another key fact to remember” to introduce additional facts without using the word “also”. Example: “As a Romantic, Blake was a proponent of a closer relationship between humans and nature. Another key point to remember is that Blake was writing during the Industrial Revolution, which had a major impact on the world around him.”

12. As well as

Usage: Use “as well as” instead of “also” or “and”. Example: “Scholar A argued that this was due to X, as well as Y.”

13. Not only… but also

Usage: This wording is used to add an extra piece of information, often something that’s in some way more surprising or unexpected than the first piece of information. Example: “Not only did Edmund Hillary have the honour of being the first to reach the summit of Everest, but he was also appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.”

14. Coupled with

Usage: Used when considering two or more arguments at a time. Example: “Coupled with the literary evidence, the statistics paint a compelling view of…”

15. Firstly, secondly, thirdly…

Usage: This can be used to structure an argument, presenting facts clearly one after the other. Example: “There are many points in support of this view. Firstly, X. Secondly, Y. And thirdly, Z.

16. Not to mention/to say nothing of

Usage: “Not to mention” and “to say nothing of” can be used to add extra information with a bit of emphasis. Example: “The war caused unprecedented suffering to millions of people, not to mention its impact on the country’s economy.”

Words and phrases for demonstrating contrast

When you’re developing an argument, you will often need to present contrasting or opposing opinions or evidence – “it could show this, but it could also show this”, or “X says this, but Y disagrees”. This section covers words you can use instead of the “but” in these examples, to make your writing sound more intelligent and interesting.

17. However

Usage: Use “however” to introduce a point that disagrees with what you’ve just said. Example: “Scholar A thinks this. However, Scholar B reached a different conclusion.”

18. On the other hand

Usage: Usage of this phrase includes introducing a contrasting interpretation of the same piece of evidence, a different piece of evidence that suggests something else, or an opposing opinion. Example: “The historical evidence appears to suggest a clear-cut situation. On the other hand, the archaeological evidence presents a somewhat less straightforward picture of what happened that day.”

19. Having said that

Usage: Used in a similar manner to “on the other hand” or “but”. Example: “The historians are unanimous in telling us X, an agreement that suggests that this version of events must be an accurate account. Having said that, the archaeology tells a different story.”

20. By contrast/in comparison

Usage: Use “by contrast” or “in comparison” when you’re comparing and contrasting pieces of evidence. Example: “Scholar A’s opinion, then, is based on insufficient evidence. By contrast, Scholar B’s opinion seems more plausible.”

21. Then again

Usage: Use this to cast doubt on an assertion. Example: “Writer A asserts that this was the reason for what happened. Then again, it’s possible that he was being paid to say this.”

22. That said

Usage: This is used in the same way as “then again”. Example: “The evidence ostensibly appears to point to this conclusion. That said, much of the evidence is unreliable at best.”

Usage: Use this when you want to introduce a contrasting idea. Example: “Much of scholarship has focused on this evidence. Yet not everyone agrees that this is the most important aspect of the situation.”

Adding a proviso or acknowledging reservations

Sometimes, you may need to acknowledge a shortfalling in a piece of evidence, or add a proviso. Here are some ways of doing so.

24. Despite this

Usage: Use “despite this” or “in spite of this” when you want to outline a point that stands regardless of a shortfalling in the evidence. Example: “The sample size was small, but the results were important despite this.”

25. With this in mind

Usage: Use this when you want your reader to consider a point in the knowledge of something else. Example: “We’ve seen that the methods used in the 19th century study did not always live up to the rigorous standards expected in scientific research today, which makes it difficult to draw definite conclusions. With this in mind, let’s look at a more recent study to see how the results compare.”

26. Provided that

Usage: This means “on condition that”. You can also say “providing that” or just “providing” to mean the same thing. Example: “We may use this as evidence to support our argument, provided that we bear in mind the limitations of the methods used to obtain it.”

27. In view of/in light of

Usage: These phrases are used when something has shed light on something else. Example: “In light of the evidence from the 2013 study, we have a better understanding of…”

28. Nonetheless

Usage: This is similar to “despite this”. Example: “The study had its limitations, but it was nonetheless groundbreaking for its day.”

29. Nevertheless

Usage: This is the same as “nonetheless”. Example: “The study was flawed, but it was important nevertheless.”

30. Notwithstanding

Usage: This is another way of saying “nonetheless”. Example: “Notwithstanding the limitations of the methodology used, it was an important study in the development of how we view the workings of the human mind.”

Giving examples

Good essays always back up points with examples, but it’s going to get boring if you use the expression “for example” every time. Here are a couple of other ways of saying the same thing.

31. For instance

Example: “Some birds migrate to avoid harsher winter climates. Swallows, for instance, leave the UK in early winter and fly south…”

32. To give an illustration

Example: “To give an illustration of what I mean, let’s look at the case of…”

Signifying importance

When you want to demonstrate that a point is particularly important, there are several ways of highlighting it as such.

33. Significantly

Usage: Used to introduce a point that is loaded with meaning that might not be immediately apparent. Example: “Significantly, Tacitus omits to tell us the kind of gossip prevalent in Suetonius’ accounts of the same period.”

34. Notably

Usage: This can be used to mean “significantly” (as above), and it can also be used interchangeably with “in particular” (the example below demonstrates the first of these ways of using it). Example: “Actual figures are notably absent from Scholar A’s analysis.”

35. Importantly

Usage: Use “importantly” interchangeably with “significantly”. Example: “Importantly, Scholar A was being employed by X when he wrote this work, and was presumably therefore under pressure to portray the situation more favourably than he perhaps might otherwise have done.”


You’ve almost made it to the end of the essay, but your work isn’t over yet. You need to end by wrapping up everything you’ve talked about, showing that you’ve considered the arguments on both sides and reached the most likely conclusion. Here are some words and phrases to help you.

36. In conclusion

Usage: Typically used to introduce the concluding paragraph or sentence of an essay, summarising what you’ve discussed in a broad overview. Example: “In conclusion, the evidence points almost exclusively to Argument A.”

37. Above all

Usage: Used to signify what you believe to be the most significant point, and the main takeaway from the essay. Example: “Above all, it seems pertinent to remember that…”

38. Persuasive

Usage: This is a useful word to use when summarising which argument you find most convincing. Example: “Scholar A’s point – that Constanze Mozart was motivated by financial gain – seems to me to be the most persuasive argument for her actions following Mozart’s death.”

39. Compelling

Usage: Use in the same way as “persuasive” above. Example: “The most compelling argument is presented by Scholar A.”

40. All things considered

Usage: This means “taking everything into account”. Example: “All things considered, it seems reasonable to assume that…”

How many of these words and phrases will you get into your next essay? And are any of your favourite essay terms missing from our list? Let us know in the comments below, or get in touch here to find out more about courses that can help you with your essays.

At Oxford Royale Academy, we offer a number of  summer school courses for young people who are keen to improve their essay writing skills. Click here to apply for one of our courses today, including law , business , medicine  and engineering .

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  • Knowledge Base
  • How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples

How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.

The main goals of an introduction are to:

  • Catch your reader’s attention.
  • Give background on your topic.
  • Present your thesis statement —the central point of your essay.

This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

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Table of contents

Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.

Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.

Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.

Examples: Writing a good hook

Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.

  • Braille was an extremely important invention.
  • The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.

The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly  why the topic is important.

  • The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
  • The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.

Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.

  • Mary Shelley’s  Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.

Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.

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Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:

  • Historical, geographical, or social context
  • An outline of the debate you’re addressing
  • A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
  • Definitions of key terms

The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.

How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:

Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.

This is the most important part of your introduction. A  good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.

The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.

Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.

As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.

For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.

When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.

It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.

To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .

You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.

Checklist: Essay introduction

My first sentence is engaging and relevant.

I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.

I have defined any important terms.

My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.

Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.

You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.

  • Argumentative
  • Literary analysis

This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).

In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.

This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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  • Write a College Essay
  • Write a Diversity Essay
  • College Essay Format & Structure
  • Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay

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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, July 23). How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/introduction/

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Starter Sentences for Essays: Examples and How to write them

Starter phrases

Starter Sentences for Essays

Starter sentences are very important when aiming to write an essay that will guarantee excellent grades. They help your essay to sound good and flow well since they make your work engage more with the writer while making it interesting to read. You might be wondering what I’m talking about.

Well, in simple terms, sentence starters or starter sentences are phrases that are placed at the beginning of a sentence to introduce the content or information that is contained within the sentence. They can also be placed at the start of a paragraph to introduce the paragraph’s content.

While there are various combinations of starter sentences that can be used, it is important to avoid repeating the same combination of words or phrases while starting every sentence. Your essay will be interesting instead of sounding repetitive. 

essay claim sentence starters

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Importance of good essay starters, 1. they bring out richer ideas.

One of the major importance of good essay starters is helping you come up with richer and more nuanced ideas. Without them, you will find that your essays will have a regular habit of containing simple subject-verb sentence structures that are not only uninteresting but also unstimulating to the creative mind. 

Good essay starters can stimulate your mind in such a way that you come up with better ideas to support your claims in your academic essays. They also ensure that your work is more refined.

2. Starter sentences Link Ideas 

importance of linking clauses

When good essay starters are used, they can help in linking ideas from one paragraph to the other.

They can also aid in transitioning from one section of your essay, let’s say the introduction, to the body paragraphs, and finally to the conclusion. 

Good essay starters can act as transitions and sentence-starting phrases that transition from one idea to the next smoothly.

They are capable of linking ideas in such a way that the reader will effortlessly flow with the essay from the start to the end.

3. They increase Credibility and Professionalism

As aforementioned, sentence or essay starters are made up of words that introduce the ideas that will be presented within a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire essay.

As such, those words should be carefully selected so that they can effectively serve their intended purpose of introducing, transitioning, and making the essay more interesting and flowing.

Therefore, if you carefully select the appropriate words to act as essay starters, then your academic paper will sound more professional and credible. If such phrases achieve their intended use, the reader will automatically notice and appreciate your essay.

4. Arouse the Reader’s Attention and Anticipation

Good essay starters will ensure that the reader is attentive throughout the essay. Since you will be using different essay starters in different sections or paragraphs of your essay, it means that their attention will be renewed every time they start reading the next paragraph or section. They will anticipate the information that has been introduced by the essay/sentence starter. 

Your readers will be curious and engaged concerning your next claim or argument. Your essay will not be plain and predictable as in the case of essays that lack essay starters.

5. They make Essays Stand Out

When good essay starters are appropriately used, they make your essay stand out from the rest. This is because they make your essay interesting, flowing, professional, and well-researched.

When you are about to make an important point, it is good to use linking and transitional words to start your essay. Your concepts and ideas will be better understood when essay starters are used. 

6. Understanding the Content

For those who are reading an essay, good essay starters will help you understand the type of content you are about to read and think about. You can be told to write an essay based on some specific reading.

Essay starters will help you understand the content better so that you can be able to come up with your essay. 

7. Helps Simplify Linguistically Complex Ideas

Some essays will require you to tackle complex linguistic ideas. Good essay starters can help simplify such ideas in such a way that you, as a writer, can produce a coherent essay, and the readers can comprehend your claims and arguments.

As such, good essay starters are very instrumental when writing persuasive essays, argumentative essays, analytical essays, and contrast essays. They can be used to analyze/predict, explain, and demonstrate cause and effect. 

Tips when Starting Essays

When starting essays, it is important to consider the topic or the subject of your essay and your audience. In writing good essays , one step is starting with an interesting piece that grabs the reader’s read.

ideas to begin an essay

As such, you should first pose a specific question concerning the topic and suggest a correct answer in anticipation of what your audience or readers might respond to.

A strong thesis statement should follow so that you can base your claims and arguments on them.

Your entire essay will be based on the question/answer and the strong thesis statement.

To effectively start an essay, take note of the tips below to deliver a perfect essay introduction.

1. Start with Something Interesting

If you wish to start an essay well, ensure that you share some interesting or shocking facts concerning your topic. Here, you will have to consider your audience’s perspective towards the interesting or shocking fact.

Ensure that the fact is appropriate and relevant to your topic or subject. In our guide on how to write a good paragraph , we explained the importance of such interesting starts because they grab the reader’s attention.

2. Asking a Relevant Question

You can also start your essay by posing a relevant question and immediately answering it. Such a question should be posed in such a way that the readers would want to answer it while still anticipating your answer.

When you immediately answer the question, you invite your audience to consider your response.

3. The Thesis Statement

It is very important to have a strong thesis statement while starting your essay. In most cases, academic papers should have a strong thesis statement in the introduction paragraph.

Some instructors can downgrade you if your essay does not contain a thesis statement in the introduction paragraph.

Once you have identified the thesis statement, place it in the last sentence of the introduction paragraph because the rest of the essay will be based on it. Credible arguments within the body paragraphs will support the claims stated by the thesis statement. 

4. Be Descriptive

When starting your essay, dedicate a few sentences to describe things. You can use anecdotes, quotes, and other relevant rhetorical features to make your readers understand what your essay will be discussing. 

While doing all this, make sure that you have selected the most intriguing topic. Evaluate all the options given to you by your instructor so that you can define the key purpose of your essay.

Once this is done, study the most appropriate literature and conduct thorough research. Come up with a proper outline. Outlines will help you organize your ideas and thoughts into categories to make your writing process easier. 

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36 Examples of Starter Sentences for Different Essays

The section below will give a number of examples that we think will help you get a direction of what to do. To do that, we have divided these examples into 4 categories; persuasive essays, argumentative, analytical, and contrast essays.

9 Good Examples of Starter Sentences for Persuasive Essays

  • In my opinion…
  • I’m sure of…
  • We all know…
  • I feel that…
  • We all agree…
  • While I agree…
  • You must agree that…

Nine Good Starter Sentences for Argumentative Essays

starter phrases

  • In addition to…
  • For example…
  • As well as…
  • Furthermore…
  • Coupled with…
  • Correspondingly…
  • One other thing is that…

9 Good Starter Sentences for Analytical Essays

  • As a result…
  • Accordingly…
  • Consequently…
  • For this reason….
  • This is why…
  • As you can see/notice…
  • For all of this…
  • For all of those reasons…
  • Because of/due to the reason that…

9 Good Starter Sentences for Contrast Essays

  • In contrast to…
  • Nevertheless…
  • On the one hand…
  • On the contrary…
  • Even though this is the case…
  • Conversely,
  • On the other end,

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Josh Jasen or JJ as we fondly call him, is a senior academic editor at Grade Bees in charge of the writing department. When not managing complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In his spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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Sentence Starters To Broaden Your Vocabulary in Analysing Argument

June 8, 2022

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Writing an Analysing Argument (or Language Analysis) essay can be difficult, and sometimes selecting language that won’t sound repetitive is the tricky part. If you’re looking for ways to overcome that hurdle and make your writing sound more formal, then this is the blog for you. 

In these tables are simple sentence starters you can use to formalise and clarify your ideas in a non-repetitive way. This blog takes into account the most important elements of a Language Analysis, such as analysing visuals and connecting a technique back to the author’s intention (that is, what they want the audience to think/feel/do). 

Within these tables, I’ve included a sentence example for each phrase. The examples are in response to a fictional article by Samantha Pearson, What’s wrong with using online lingo in everyday life?. The article is about Gen Z's use of online lingo and argues that the concern surrounding its potential implications is unfounded. If you’d like to see the entire original article and an A+ essay written in response (along with a number of other sample articles and high-scoring essays), you’ll find all of this and more in How To Write A Killer Language Analysis .

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If you’d like to see a detailed guide on Language Analysis, including what you're expected to cover, how to prepare for your SAC and Exam and more, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis .

Get our FREE VCE English Text Response mini-guide

Now quite sure how to nail your text response essays? Then download our free mini-guide, where we break down the art of writing the perfect text-response essay into three comprehensive steps. Click below to get your own copy today!

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Access a FREE sample of our How To Write A Killer Language Analysis study guide

  • Learn LSG's unique SIMPLICITY and SPECIFICITY strategy which has helped hundreds of students achieve A+
  • Includes annotated sample A+ essays (including responses to past VCAA exams)
  • Learn how to analyse single articles and visuals , and comparative analysis (analysing 2 or 3 articles/visuals together)
  • Different types of essay structures broken down so you understand what to do and what not to do with confidence

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For a step-by-step explanation of everything you need to know to ace your SAC or exam, check out our How To Write A Killer Language Analysis ebook.

For many students, Language Analysis is their downfall. Here is the main reason why: Lots of students don’t think about  how language is used to persuade , instead they rely on lists of language techniques to tell them the answer. These sheets are usually distributed by teachers when you first start language analysis – see below.

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Whether or not you’ve seen that particular document before, you’ve probably got something similar. You’ve also probably thought, ‘this sheet is absolutely amazing – it has everything I need  and  it tells me how language persuades!’ – I know I did. Unfortunately, this mindset is wrong. Don’t fall into the trap like so many other students have over the years. For a detailed guide on Language Analysis including how to prepare for your SAC and exam, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis .

The following comes from VCAA 2009 English Assessment Report:

…some students presented a simple summary [when analysing]…with little development. These responses did not score well as they did not fulfil the task as required.

The ‘simple summary’ refers to students who rely on those technique sheets to paraphrase the explanations regarding how language persuades. There is ‘little development’ because copying the explanations provided on these sheets doesn’t demonstrate enough insight into the article you’re analysing. Let’s have a look at the VCAA English Practice Exam published in 2009, ‘Chickens Range Free’ so that we can demonstrate this point. We will look at two students, both analysing the same technique. Compare the two and determine who you believe provides the better analysis.

Student 1:  Emotive language such as “abominably cruel” and “dire plight” is intended to stimulate strong emotional reactions that manipulate readers’ responses.

Student 2:  The use of emotive language such as “abominably cruel” and “dire plight” intends to appeal to people’s instinctive compassion for the chickens by describing their dreadful treatment, hence causing readers to agree with Smith that urgent action is required to save these animals.

It should be clear that Student 2’s example is best. Let’s see why.

Student 1 has determined the correct language technique and found suitable evidence from the article. This is a good start. However, Student 1 goes on to merely reiterate the explanations provided by language technique sheets and as a result, their analysis is too broad and non-specific to the article.

Student 2 conversely, understands that this last step – the analysing part – is the most important and vital component that will distinguish themselves from others. Instead of merely quoting that the article ‘manipulates the reader response’ like student 1, they provide an in-depth analysis of  how   and why  reader feelings are manipulated because of this technique. Student 2 was able to use the information to illustrate the author’s contention that we should feel sorry for these caged chickens – and we do because of our ‘instinctive compassion.’ They explain that the sympathy expressed from readers encourages them to agree that some action needs to be taken to help the chickens. As you can see, Student 2 has gone beyond identifying that ‘strong emotional reactions’ will be displayed by readers, to  establishing  what emotions are involved, and the consequences of those emotions.

This is why it’s best to avoid paraphrasing language technique sheets. By all means, don’t totally disregard them altogether. They’re definitely great for learning new language techniques – just be mindful of the explanations given. The part regarding  how the author persuades  is the downfall of many students because even though teachers tell you to analyse more, they often don’t show you the difference between what you’re doing wrong and what you should be doing right.

Whether Language Analysis (or Analysing Argument) is your favourite section of the English course or you just wish you could read an article without analysing the effect of a generalisation, here are some quick and simply tips to ensure you can maximise your marks in Section C! For a detailed guide on Language Analysis including how to prepare for your SAC and exam, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis .

Improve your metalanguage

What is Metalanguage?

Words that describe language!

For example:

  • The words  infer
  • The words  insinuate
  • The words  suggest

Create a word bank full of different words you can interchange throughout your analysis to eliminate any repetition!

If you’d like to see a list of sentence starters to help you broaden your vocabulary for Analysing Argument, check out this blog .

Do not reiterate what the writer is saying

Remember you are analysing the language the writer uses, not arguing the contention of the writer!

Therefore avoid words such as: states, highlights, uses, utilises, shows etc.

What not to do:  The writer states that creating a community garden will make people “healthier and happier”

What to do:  The words “healthier and happier” suggest that creating a community garden will improve the lifestyles of citizens.

Analyse the language not the technique

By now we are probably aware that puns are “often humorous” and “gain the reader’s attention”. However instead of using these generalised textbook effects, analyse the words WITHIN the pun and see how these words may affect readers.

What not to do:  The pun “A new cycle” in the headline is humorous and therefore captures the attention of the reader.

What to do:  The pun “A new cycle” draws a direct link between cycling and advancement in society urging readers to view cycling in a positive light.

Always ask yourself: why?

Why is the writer using particular language? Why may the reader react with concern?

Make sure the answers to these questions are in your analysis!

What not to do:  Consequently readers may feel concerned.

What to do:  Readers may feel concerned due to the increase in fast food consumption.

If you'd like to see exactly how to achieve this within your essays, check out our How To Write A Killer Language Analysis ebook for a step-by-step explanation of how to clearly and effectively answer 'why' and nail Analysing Argument!

Don’t forget the visual

As silly as it may sound, it is quite easy to forget to analyse the visual when you’re under pressure. The visual can either complement the article or oppose the views of the writer.

Mention what the visual:

  • And how readers may react to the visual ‍

Keep your introduction and conclusions as brief as possible

Most of your marks will come from your analysis so there is no need to spend copious amounts of time perfecting your introductions and conclusions. Keep them short and concise!

Pick and choose what to analyse

It is simply impossible to analyse every single technique the writer uses in their article. Therefore pick the words/phrases that you find most persuasive. You will not be marked down for what you do not analyse!

“Once upon a time…”

The fairy tale of Cinderella is a well-known, well-loved and well-ingrained story that was always told to me as a bedtime story. Who could forget the mean-spirited stepsisters who punished and ruined Cinderella’s life to no end? According to the dark Brothers Grimm version, the stepsisters mutilated their feet by cutting off their heels and toes to fit into the infamous shoe, and their eyes were pecked away by birds until they were blinded! It’s definitely one way to send a message to children… don’t be bullies or you’ll be punished. Which is exactly what the Brothers Grimm’s views and values were. Their construction of their fairy tale to send a message of what they viewed as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is simplistically shown through the writers’ choice in determining the characters’ fate. The evil stepsisters are punished, while Cinderella receives happiness and riches because she remained kind and pure. A clear and very simple example of how texts reflect the beliefs, world views and ethics of the author, which is essentially the author’s views and values!

What are the views and values of a text?

Writers use literature to criticise or endorse social conditions, expressing their own opinions and viewpoints of the world they live in. It is important to remember that each piece of literature is a deliberate construction. Every decision a writer makes reflects their views and values about their culture, morality, politics, gender, class, history or religion. This is implicit within the style and content of the text, rather than in overt statements. This means that the writer’s views and values are always open to interpretation, and possibly even controversial. This is what you (as an astute literature student) must do – interpret the relationship between your text and the ideas it explores and examines, endorses or challenges in the writer’s society.

How do I start?

Consider the following tips:

  • What does the writer question and critique with their own society? What does this say about the writer’s own views and the values that uphold?
  • For example,  “Jane Austen in Persuasion recognises the binding social conventions of the 19th century as superficial, where they value wealth and status of the utmost priority. She satirises such frivolous values through the microcosmic analysis of the Elliot family.”
  • The writer’s affirming or critical treatment of individual characters can be a significant clue to what values they approve or disapprove of. What fate do the characters have? Who does the writer punish or reward by the end of the text?
  • Which characters challenge and critique the social conventions of the day?
  • Look at the writer’s use of language:
  • Characterisation
  • Plot structure
  • Description
  • In other words …what are the possible meanings generated by the writer’s choices?
  • Recognition and use of metalanguage for literary techniques is crucial because you are responding to a work of literature. Within literature ideas, views and values and issues do not exist in a vacuum. They arise out of the writer’s style and create  meaning .
  • How do the writer’s choices make meaning?
  • How are the writer’s choices intended to affect the reader’s perception of social values?
  • Weave views and values throughout your close analysis essays, rather than superficially adding a few lines at the conclusion of the essay to indicate the writer’s concerns.
  • Using the writer’s name frequently will also assist in creating a mindset of analysing the writer’s commentary on society.

Below are some examples from an examiner report of successful and  insightful  responses reflecting the views and values of the writer:

(Another tip is to go through examiner’s reports and take note of high quality responses, even if they are not the text you’re studying)

When contrasted with the stark, blunt tone of Caesar throughout the play ‘You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know...’ the richness of Shakespeare’s poetry with regard to his ‘couple so famous’  denotes how the playwright himself ultimately values the heroic age  to which his protagonists belong over the machinations of the rising imperial Rome.

It is the word ‘natural’ here through which Mansfield crafts a sharp irony that invites us to rate Edna’s obsession with her own performance.... It is this satiric impulse that also leaps to the fore through the image of Edna, ‘clasping the black book in her fingers as though it were a missal’...the  poignant economy of Mansfield’s characteristic style explores her views on the fragility of the human condition .   

‘In Cold Blood’ provides a challenging exploration of the value placed on human life. The seemingly pointless murders undermine every concept of morality that reigns in Middle America, the ‘Bible Belt’, as well as the wider community.  Capote insinuates his personal abhorrence of the death penalty and the disregard of mental illness in the justice system .

Why are views and values important in literature, and especially for close analysis?

Every year, the examiner reports emphasise how the best close analysis responses were ones that “showed how the text endorsed and reflected the views and values of the writer and were able to weave an understanding of these through the essay” (2013 VCAA Lit examiner report). By analysing HOW the text critiques, challenges or endorses the accepted values of the society in the text, you are demonstrating an understanding of the social and cultural context of the text, thus acknowledging the multifaceted layers that exist within literature. You are identifying the writer’s commentary of humanity through your own interpretation. Bring some insight into your essays!

Updated 08/01/2021

For a detailed guide on Language Analysis, including how to prepare for your SAC and exam, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis .

Often, beginning a Language Analysis essay can be tough. How do you start? Do you even need to write an introduction? There are many answers to these questions- some say that because an introduction is not explicitly worth any marks, you don’t need to bother. However, an introduction can be a great way to organise your thoughts and make sure you set up your analysis properly…as long as you don’t waste a lot of time writing unnecessary sentences. 

If you'd like to see exactly what goes into an A+ Analysing Argument response, from the introduction to body paragraphs and beyond, check out our How To Write A Killer Language Analysis ebook!

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You can use a simple, easy to remember formula that will help you to identify the key aspects of the piece very early on, and this will show your examiner that you know exactly what you’re talking about- all you have to do is to remember the acronym "CDFASTCAT”.

Here is a breakdown of each aspect and its importance:

This gives the audience some background information on the issue, and “sets the scene” for the article or text. In ANY language analysis article/piece you come across (whether it be in the exam or in practice), there is always a box with the context of the article explained. ALWAYS read it and let it influence your analysis. If you exemplify consideration of the information provided to you in your analysis, you will show a deeper understanding of the issue, and your analysis will be more accurate and detailed. Aim to demonstrate that you understand why the article was written, and its surrounding circumstances.

This gives the article a wider context, and helps the audience understand why the author may have a certain viewpoint. It is also good practice to properly reference the article in your analysis, which includes the date, author, source and title.

The form of a Language Analysis text can vary, from newspaper articles, blogs, comics or even speeches. Each form has its own set of conventions which can help you identify language techniques, and can change the way the message is communicated to the audience. For example, in a speech, the speaker is more likely to directly address their audience than the editor of a newspaper may in an editorial.

When writing a Language Analysis essay (or any essay for that matter), always refer to the author by either their full name, their surname only, or a title and a surname - NEVER by their first name alone. For example: 'Lyle Shelton', 'Mr. Lyle Shelton', 'Mr. Shelton' and 'Shelton' are all okay to use in your essay. However, you would never use 'Lyle' on its own.

The source of a text can influence your understanding of the audience. For example, an article written on a blog about gardening is likely to have a different audience to a financial journal. Including the source is also an important so that the article is properly referenced.

Including the title in the introduction is critical to properly introducing the article. Remember to analyse major techniques in the title if there are any during the body of your essay!

Contention ‍

Identifying the author’s contention can be the most difficult aspect of Language Analysis for many students. The trick is to ask yourself the question 'What is the author’s argument?' If you want to break it down even further, try asking 'What does the author want to change/why/what is it like now/what do they want it to be?'

Depending on the audience, different techniques and appeals may work in different ways. For example, an appeal to the hip-pocket nerve is more likely to have an effect on single parents who are struggling financially than it is on young children or very wealthy people.

You should not include a tone word in your introduction as the author’s tone will shift throughout the text. However, identifying the tone early on is important so that you can later acknowledge any tonal shifts.

Often, articles will include some sort of graphic; it is important that you acknowledge this in your introduction and give a brief description of the image - enough so your analysis can be read and understood on its own. The description of the image is the equivalent of an embedded quote from an article; both are used to provide evidence to support your analysis.

10 Things to Look for in Cartoons is a great resource to help you learn what to look for in graphics. Don't be put-off by the name; you don't need to be studying cartoons specifically in order to learn heaps from this blog post.

If you follow the CDFASTCAT approach, your Language Analysis introductions will become easy to write, straight to the point and full of all the most important information - good luck! ☺

Written expression is often overlooked in our essays. Often, if we are made aware of clunky or awkward expression, we are also not quite sure how to go about improving it. Although sophisticated and pertinent ideas serve as the foundation of a successful essay, how we construct our sentences and express these ideas may be what distinguishes a good essay from a great essay.

These differences can be rather subtle, but the small things can and do matter.


(to read out loud, not sing… unless you really want to)

Take your essay and read it out loud. Let your own conscience guide you in terms of whether a particular sentence flows well, is complete and makes sense. Keep your eye out for these small errors in particular: Grammar: Does your sentence actually make sense? Let’s have a look at an example: Although Funder suggests that the act of telling one’s story, especially one of victimisation, can catalyse the internal confrontation and healing required to move on.

(This is not grammatically correct! This is because this example only contains a subordinate clause and is lacking a main clause.)

But wait… what is this ‘subordinate clause’ and ‘main clause’?

A clause includes a subject and a verb .

Melissa ate an apple.After Wendy ate an apple.

What is the difference between the two clauses above?

‘Melissa ate an apple’ makes grammatical sense on its own. This is what we call a main clause (or an independent clause). On the other hand, ‘ After Wendy ate an apple’ is an incomplete sentence as it does not make sense. What happened after Wendy ate her apple? This is the information that is missing from the latter clause, making this a subordinate clause (or a dependent clause).

So now let’s try again…

Although Funder suggests that the act of telling one’s story, especially one of victimisation, can catalyse the internal confrontation and healing required to move on, ultimately, these individuals can never be truly free from the past that has irrevocably defined them.  

(Hooray! This is a complete sentence now.)

Spelling : Are the title of the text, the author or director’s name, characters’ names, publisher’s name, etc. all spelt correctly (and capitalised, underlined, and italicised appropriately)?

Did you use the correct there, their and they’re? How about it’s and its? (and so on).

Sentence length: Did that sentence just go on for 5 lines on a page and you are out of breath now? You can most probably split that overloaded sentence into two or more sentences that make much more sense. Check whether you have a clear subject in your sentence. If you have three different ideas in one sentence, give each idea its own opportunity (ie. sentence) to shine. The opposite also applies: if it is for a very short sentence, did that sentence pack enough content or analysis?

One spelling error or half-finished sentence in an essay will not severely affect your mark, but they can easily add up if they occur often enough. Consequently, this will distract the reader from engaging with your ideas fully and thus disrupt the flow of your essay.

By being aware of these aspects, you are now able to easily fix them and boost your writing.


Try not to be casual or overt in your writing as it can be quite jarring to read and unfortunately give readers a potentially negative impression of your piece.

Try not to use phrases such as:

- In my opinion… (You do not need it as your entire essay should be your implicit opinion!)

- This quote shows that… (Embed the quote and link to its implication instead)

- This technique is designed to… (Identify the technique and be specific, especially in Language Analysis)

- I think that…, I believe… (Avoid using first person in a formal essay. Use of first person in creative writing is fine though if required)

They are redundant and do not add much to your ideas and analysis. Try omitting them and see whether that helps your sentence flow better and seem more formal.


Sentences that seem disjointed or a clear connection can make it difficult for your teacher or the assessor to join the dots between an idea and an implication or consequence. Use linking words as they are fantastic for explicitly showing the reader how your ideas are related and thus allow your writing to proceed smoothly.

Therefore, hence, thus, thereby, consequently, subsequently, in addition, additionally, furthermore, moreover, on the other hand, on the contrary, however, henceforth, and so on… The list is endless!

4) ADD OOMPH (through vocabulary)

In general, having a wide vocabulary will allow you to express your ideas and analysis more accurately as you are likely to have access to a precise word that can capture the essence of your idea. Make a vocabulary list for a particular text or for Language Analysis (such as tone words) and aim to use varied language to convey yourself well.

If you’d like to see a list of sentence starters and essay phrases to help you get a headstart on expanding your vocabulary, check out this blog .

Focus on verbs and expanding your list of synonyms for words such as shows, demonstrates, highlights, emphasises, suggests and so on. An individual, character, author or director may not only be conveying but also denigrating or remonstrating or bolstering or glorifying or insinuating . Adding precision to your writing through careful vocabulary choice will distinguish your writing and also add complexity.

BEWARE! There is a fine line to tread with sophisticated vocabulary - do not overload your writing as you can risk writing convoluted sentences that hinder the reader’s ability to understand your piece. Also make sure that you understand the nuances of each synonym and that they are used in the correct context! (They are synonyms after all - not the same word!)

If you are debating whether to use a word, ask yourself: do you know what it means? 

If yes: Go for it!

If no: Do not use it until you know what it means.

Reading sample essays, The Age Text Talks, reviews and more of the texts you are currently studying will expose you to not only a multitude of interpretations of your text, but also to different sentence structures, writing styles or vocabulary that you could incorporate into your own writing.

I would also highly recommend that you read outside of the texts you are studying if you have time, whether that may be novels by the same author or even newspapers. Your written expression will only benefit from this exposure as the ways you can express yourself through writing continue to increase upon seeing others’ eloquence.


If you do not write, you will never be able to improve your written expression. Put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard) and start constructing that essay. You can only fix your writing once you have writing to fix.

Regardless of whether you’re writing a Text Response , Comparative , or even an Argument Analysis essay, it is easy to see the introduction as something inconsequential, that won’t change your overall mark. And as a result, far too many students view the intro as a mere convention of writing that simply needs to ‘tick off’ certain criteria before they get into the ‘meat’ of the essay. But, from my experiences in VCE English, I’ve found taking some time to write a concise, yet original, considered, and insightful intro (with a bit of flair when appropriate) can be hugely beneficial. 

Why Your Teacher Says You Can’t Earn Any Marks in an Introduction

‍ Everyone has heard it before:

You can’t win/lose marks in an introduction or conclusion

I’ll be the first to admit that in some ways, this is true. The purpose of a Text Response essay is to show an understanding of a text through analysis. So, it is natural that your essay is marked based on the quality of your analysis of the text. And, because very little of this analysis occurs in the introduction, it’s easy to think that an intro can’t influence or change your final mark. While this may be true in theory, the reality is that your introduction serves as a foundation for your analysis...and just like a house, without a solid foundation coming first the rest of your essay is more liable to be weak and fragile. In my mind, the introduction provides a basis for everything that you’re going to analyse in your body-paragraphs which can build upon the assertions you have made regarding the topic in your intro. In other words, the introduction sets the direction for your essay, which overall acts as a backbone allowing for a cogent argument to be presented in your piece.

How an Introduction Can Help You

‍ Now that we have established how an introduction helps contribute to the overall cohesiveness of an essay, let’s have a look at how an intro can help you while you’re writing. Especially when writing under timed conditions, it can be difficult to produce a detailed plan which lays out the structure of an essay. Here's where your intro can be of great help. When considered carefully, your introduction can set the parameters within which your essay will be contained. In other words, your intro can define the scope of your essay, outlining which themes and characters you are going to explore, and most importantly what arguments you are going to posit throughout your script. This means that if you get lost, or go blank trying to figure out what you should write next you can refer back to your intro to find a sense of direction and regain a foothold in your essay and. In this way, the intro not only acts as a foundation for your body-paragraphs but also provides a blueprint for them which can guide you from point to point. 

At the same time, although an introduction cannot explicitly earn you marks, I would argue that a quality introduction can help position your assessor to immediately categorise your essay as belonging in a higher mark bracket. At the end of the year, exam assessors have hundreds of scripts to mark. And the truth is, they will not dedicate more than a couple of minutes to read your essay. As such, if you can impress your assessor with a powerful opening, they are more likely to see your piece as one that should earn a high mark. The reality is that assessors can often tell a lot about an essay based on the quality of its introduction. Therefore, if you can write a 9-10/10 introduction, your assessor will already be leaning towards awarding you a mark in that range without even having read your body-paragraphs yet. 

So, How Can You Write an Original Introduction That Doesn’t Sound Like Everyone Else's?

If there’s one thing English teachers and assessors hate, it’s reading essays that have been memorised and recited (though, if you absolutely insist, then here's a middle-ground option where you could use' templates' ). What is crucial, then, is that from the very first line of your introduction you are responding directly and unswervingly to the topic. I would suggest trying to avoid starting with a cliche contextual statement in favour of a bold response to the topic. 

For example, in response to the topic ‘Shakespeare’s Vienna is a world devoid of balance.’ I would try to avoid starting my introduction with a vague and easily memorisable statement such as... 

‘ Shakespeare’s Jacobean tragicomedy Measure for Measure explores the concept of balance in his extremest characters.’ 

Instead, a bold opening statement is preferable... 

‘Whether it is in Vienna’s abject lasciviousness, Angelo’s ascetic self-governance, or even Isabella’s hyper-rectitude, Shakespeare’s conception of Vienna in Measure for Measure is one laced with problematic extremism.’ 

Consider opening with a quote which captures your take on the topic. In the Comparative task, most definitely try to avoid staring with the word ‘Both’, and instead consider shedding light on a theme or concept common to both texts. 

For example, in response to the topic ‘ Both Invictus and Ransom suggest empathy is key to creating unity.’... 

Whether it is between African and Afrikaner or Trojan and Achaean, the capacity for human understanding is upheld as paramount to overcome societal fissures.  After you have put forward a broad response to the topic in your opening sentence, your introduction can then proceed to ‘zoom in’ and offer more specific arguments. These specific ideas should essentially signpost the distinct arguments you are going to present in each of your body paragraphs.

And, as suggested in the 2019 VCAA Exam Report : 

‘ One characteristic of high-scoring essays was recognition of the ways in which the ideas the student intended to discuss were connected.’ 

This means that the ideas you flag for discussion in your intro, should be logically connected to both the prompt and each other, and you should aim to outline these connections.

The specific ideas which you offer set the parameters for the rest of your essay, so it is a good idea to ensure that these insights take into consideration the implications of the key-terms of the topic, and attempt to take the topic further. This allows you to consider the text in a sophisticated and conceptual way while maintaining rock-solid links to the topic.

After you have ‘zoomed into’ the specific arguments you will be mounting in your essay, the final step is to ‘zoom back out’ and offer an incisive, and powerful overall contention which responds explicitly to the terms of the topic. We talk about this 'zoom in' and 'zoom out' technique in How To Write A Killer Text Response .

Ultimately, the introduction provides you with a great opportunity to show off to your assessors that you can write incisively, fluently, and with confidence.

How To Write an A+ Language Analysis Introduction

Introductions for EAL Language Analysis, To Write or Not To Write?

VCE Literature Close Analysis: Introduction

5 Tips For A Mic-Drop Worthy Essay Conclusion

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis ‍

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Literature

The Ultimate Guide to VCE EAL

The life of an English teacher during assessment time is miserable. This is great for us! If you know how to use their misery to your advantage.

Hello, I am here to teach you how you can claim some easy English points off these poor, poor, professors. Let’s begin 😊

1. Engage with the historical context

This should be a baseline expectation! Yet, if I had a dollar for every student I see launching into an essay not even considering the socio-cultural context in which their book was written, I’d have enough to purchase the VCAA institution and have historical context made mandatory with the punishment being immediate expulsion from VCE.

Just put some historical context into your introduction, it’ll make it beefier and add some spice to your essay. Historical context generally entails listing the form (novella, play, etc…) of your text; the time period in which it was written (Victorian, 20th century, etc…), its genre (Gothic, biographical, etc…), and finally, any of the relevant literary titles it could be classed under (Romantic, Feminist, post-colonial, etc…)

For example: “Mary Shelley’s Victorian Gothic Romantic novella Frankenstein…”

Bonus points if you can actively engage in a set of philosophical ideas that were present at the time, eg: “Age of Enlightenment values”, or the “Feminist movement”.

2. Write a strong introduction

You must impress an assessor within two minutes. With this in mind, what do you think looks better: a little five-line intro vaguely outlining your points and just barely tickling on the structure and context of the texts; or a sprawling introduction which hits the historical context on the head and articulates beautifully the direction your essay is going and how it plans to get there. It’s a simple Virgin vs Chad dichotomy, be a chad, write a strong introduction.

essay claim sentence starters

3. Clear and concise topic sentences

Your topic sentences NEED to be easy to read and easy to follow. Apply the K.I.S.S rule here (Keep it Simple, Stupid). State the point of your paragraph with clarity, there should be nothing too complex or vague about it. For example: “The architecture of Frankenstein enables the story to act as a cautionary tale”. If you feel you cannot encapsulate your topic within a single sentence, then I suggest dialling back the complexity of your paragraph topic. Remember, text response is a process of stating a concept, then proving it – nothing more, nothing less.

You know ‘Grammar Nazis’? Well English assessors are Grammar Hitler’s. Make sure your expression is on point. Avoid run on sentences, break them up with full stops, a comma is not a substitute for a period.

5. Understand language

I’m hoping we all know what verbs, adjectives, adverbs, nouns, conjunctions and etcetera are here? This kind of rather basic English knowledge can seriously pepper up your analysis once you understand how language works. Begin by simply noting how an adjective modifies a verb within a sentence and what affect that has. Once you master this, you can move onto actually classifying the language under specific tones; for example: a pejorative verb, or a superlative adjective of degree. I’ll throw a few free ones your way! A pejorative verb is a doing word with negative connotations, such as: “penetrate” or “molest”. Whilst a superlative adjective is a describing word of the highest degree, for example: “grandest” or “calmest” (as opposed to simply “grand” or “calm”. Although this language seems complex, it’s deceivingly simple once you understand some basic English rules.

6. Write about structure

Structure is the ‘secret high scoring English students don’t want you to know!!’ If you aren’t writing about structure, then you are missing out on an absolute gold mine of analysis. If you understand how structure works within a text and can write it out coherently you’re essentially guaranteed a 40+. Y’all may call that an exaggeration, but knowing how to write about structure in an essay is like crossing the threshold, your eyes become open – you attain nirvana. Structure is the Bifrost which separates the land of Gods from the land of mortals. Some good ways to begin thinking about structure include: pondering how the text begins and ends, does it begin as a jovial and upbeat story and end as a depressing mess, why might the author have structured the text this way? Or, think about which characters we follow throughout the text and what journey they undergo, are their multiple narrators? Why might this be relevant or what may the author be trying to emphasise? Another great one is just looking for recurring themes and motifs across the text, such as a repeated phrase or similarities between characters. The key to writing on structure is understanding how the text has been structured, and then connecting that to a meaning or using it to support your contention.  

7. Structure your essays

PSYCHE I’M STILL NOT DONE TALKING ABOUT STRUCTURE. Structure. Your. Essays. I cannot stress this enough, use TEEL (topic sentence, evidence, elaboration, link), use whatever your teacher taught, but use it! This one is especially important in language analysis, legit, lang anal essays are almost 100% structure, just WHW (what, how, why) your way through that essay. Once you understand how to structure an essay, everything else improves. So, structure your essays!! 

8. Write about allusions

Now we’re getting into the big boy material. An allusion is any reference within a text to another text. So when Peter Griffin from Family Guy pokes fun at the Simpsons, he is making an allusion to the Simpsons. Or when your protagonist happens across a bible verse, that is a biblical allusion. Whenever I hear a student mention a literary allusion, my day improves and so does their mark. Most every text has allusions in it somewhere, do your research. Frankenstein has Rime of the Ancient Mariner, about half the books on the planet have biblical allusions, just ask your teacher or research online and you’re bound to come up with some excellent analysis material. Bonus points for allusions to classic texts such as: the Faust mythos, Greek/Roman tales such as Prometheus, the Bible, Paradise Lost, etc…

9. Reference influential philosophical ideas

This one is eating from the tree of knowledge. Including a philosophical concept in your essay immediately places you in the upper echelons. It separates plebs from patricians. You’ll have to do a bit of research here, but it is well worth it. Once you can mention that an idea is “characteristic of the Romantic period”, or that a concept is “Lockean (referring to John Locke)”, you’re balling, you’ll be hustling A+s in no time. Bonus points for philosophical ideas that were relevant to the time period (historical context, remember). 

10. Authorial Agenda

Referencing the authorial agenda is just minty fresh, it demonstrates a clear understanding of concepts even beyond just the text itself. Guaranteed to put a sparkle in your teachers’ eye. Although adding authorial agenda augments your essay extraordinary, don’t overdo it. 

If you made it to the end of this then great work! Proud of you <3. Including these tips in your essays is a surefire way to push them to the next level. For sticking through, I’ll give you a few quick bonus tips. Have pre-prepared zingers: you should write out and memorise a few bits of analysis that are intensely high quality, (do it in your own writing) this not only helps with ironing out your language, it also ensures you’ll have some mic drops in your essays. Analyse all included images and titles: this one’s just for language analysis, but you should analyse everything, including logos! And finally… RESPOND TO THE ESSAY QUESTION, this should be a given but there are hordes of people just spewing out words which are absolutely irrelevant to the actual essay topic.

 Thanks again for getting this far, unless you just scrolled to the bottom hoping for a TLDR. I wish you all best of luck in your VCE and the exam season, try to make it enjoyable 😊

Updated on 15/12/2020.

  • Summary: A Brief Snapshot
  • Character Analysis
  • Stage Directions
  • Essay Topics

Essay Topic Breakdown

Extinction is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

1. Summary: A Brief Snapshot

At the heart of innovative technology and products lies exceptional human creativity. Our brains are practically wired to create and innovate newness. Naturally, the influx of products entering the market creates a consumer frenzy. Suddenly, everything is a commodified entity with a dollar-sign attached to it. Its inherent value lies in how much consumers covet the item. 

Let’s take the iPhone for example! An idea of a communication device - both sleek in its functionality and aesthetic - is mass produced, consumed by millions and the cycle perpetuates itself. It is an item so coveted and desired, a 17-year-old boy from China sold a kidney to buy the iPad and iPhone. This phenomenon of consumerism is symptomatic of a contemporary world’s obsession with vanity and aesthetic. Our fixation on the surface-level and glossy facades is similarly echoed by Extinction ’s main protagonist, Professor Heather Dixon-Brown, who criticises the ‘charismatic fauna push’ where we are ‘making celebrities out of pandas and polar bears’. While those campaigns are successful in raising better awareness and positivity in the realm of conservation, they do not change the ways in which we live and consume.

How we live today is inflicting a deep ecological impact on planet earth. Furthermore, as urban landscapes inevitably expand, we continue to encroach on the territory of the natural world.

These are the kind of thoughts that popped into my mind after reading Extinction . Hannie Rayson’s provocative play delves deep into the central question of what it means to uphold a personal conviction in the face of self-interest and necessity. Casual flings, extinguishing of life and the friction between ‘ideological purity’ and functionality threatens to unhinge even seemingly robust characters such as Heather Dixon-Brown, an ecologist who preaches that she ‘uses her head, not her heart’. Rayson’s literary work endeavours to capture how the human character is, in fact, multidimensional and never static! As the passionate environmentalists and pragmatic ecologists are entangled in ethical quandaries, the playwright also illustrates how divorcing your mindset from emotion is a universal struggle. Furthermore, she explores how moral conviction is consistently at odds with the demands of the personal and professional domains we inhabit.

Throughout the drama encapsulating mining magnates, environmentalists and ecologists, Rayson combines their fictional voices to echo a cautionary tale of how self-interest and misconception about ‘the other’ may distort rationality. When the CEO of Powerhouse mining, Harry Jewell, bursts into a wildlife rescue centre in Cape Otway, holding a critically injured and endangered tiger quoll, he inadvertently catalyses a conflict that will draw out the prejudices withheld by the trio of environmentalists.

I encourage you to think about the lessons embedded in the play. What are the take-home messages YOU have discovered?

Guiding Questions:

  • What is the message the playwright is attempting to deliver to her audiences?
  • When you finished the play, what feelings were you left with?
  • Which characters did you find likeable? Who aggravated you the most? And most importantly, provide evidence for why you felt that way! Was it because of their problematic ways of dealing with an ideological crisis? Or their fierce passion towards upholding moral conviction?

2. Character Analysis

Let's take a look at these deeply flawed human beings:

Professor Heather Dixon-Brown ‍

  • Director of the CAPE institute 
  • Interested in only saving species that are ‘statistically saveable'.
  • Bureaucrat with the realism to match.
'I am an ecologist, not an environmentalist. I use my head, not my heart.'
'Species are like commodities…I just don’t approve of this ‘charismatic fauna’ push - making celebrities out of pandas and polar bears.' (p. 99) 
'You want me to close the CAPE. Is that what you want? Then we can bask in ideological purity…' (p. 120)

The never-ending struggle between heart and mind is central theme in the play.

Harry Jewell

  • An idealist with the knack for alluring women to fall for him.
'You don’t serve your cause by being indifferent to the interest of working people.' 
'I know his type: the kind of greenie who’s always saying no. No dams. No mines. No roads.' (p. 114)
'I am not some multinational corporation devouring the Amazon. I’m just a bloke who’s come back home.' (p. 114)

Piper Ross ‍

  • Zoologist from San Diego Zoo (temporarily transferred) 
  • Andy Dixon’s girlfriend 
  • Gets entangled in a romp with Harry Jewell aka Mr. Evil
'They are all 'worth saving''. (p. 83)
  • A vet who is extremely pragmatic in his mindset towards his work and personal life
  • Slight aversion to technology
  • The inevitability of technology supplanting certain occupations 
  • Technological evolution? (Is it the kind of evolution we want?)
'…the great advocate for our native flora and fauna… ' (p. 118)
'You should see this dairy farm. It’s all computerised. They’ve got one bloke managing a thousand cows. No human supervision of the milking. No-one to check the udders. I’m just there, doing the rounds. Like a robot.' (p. 82)

Logic vs. Emotion (Pragmatism vs. Ideological Purity)

To divorce your emotions from affecting your decision-making capacity is a universal struggle aptly captured by Rayson’s depiction of Dixon-Brown’s gradual inclination towards the tiger quoll project funded by a coal company. In this case, we can argue that her objectivity and ‘her head’ is seemingly beguiled by the charms of Harry Jewell. 

Early in the play, Professor Dixon-Brown is anchored to her desk, filing applications and paperwork instead of ‘getting back to her own research’. This prospect changes when Harry - big coal - offers 'two million dollars on the table' to fund the tiger quoll campaign. Nonetheless, we see the two unexpected collaborators setting a dangerous precedent where one can simply equate a species’ livelihood to ‘commodities’ and ‘a good return’ of profit.

What is compelling about Harry’s character is that he combines both pragmatism and ideological purity. Firstly, Harry has the means and business acuity to manoeuvre a board of directors bent on exploring coal ‘right on the edge of the national park’. However, ‘Mr Evil’ is also inspired by nostalgia and sentimentality over a childhood memory where a tiger quoll steals his drumstick.

Conversely, Andy Dixon-Brown’s stance against the mining industry and automated dairy farms is admirable considering how technology has become a central cornerstone of modern-day life. His partner Piper Ross, a zoologist, echoes similar distaste for mining companies, however, her passion for ‘saving’ all animals eclipses her own presumptions towards ‘Mr Evil’. She is eventually persuaded to head the tiger quoll project.

Whereas, Professor Dixon-Brown enjoys the uncomplicatedness of numbers and statistics. However, her carefully crafted algorithm fails to differentiate between the diversity of animals within the ecosphere. Instead, it filters out populations of 5000 and above to collate only the ‘statistically saveable’.

In this respect, Harry’s actions showcase how a striking a balance between pragmatism and emotion is important.

Unity in a Socially Divisive World

In this play, the ‘us vs. them’ mentality pervades the minds of the protagonists. Through the heated dialogue between environmentalists, ecologists and mining moguls, Hannie Rayson delivers the message that as a society we should not be so reliant on simplifying individuals based on age-old presumptions and surface-level characteristics. Harry Jewell echoes a similar sentiment as he discusses his company’s plans to Piper: 'Who’s this ‘we’? You don’t serve your cause by being indifferent to the interests of the working people.' (p. 92)

Zooming in: Andy & Harry: Let's explore the volatile dynamic between the two males

Andy’s indignant stance against collaborating with the mining industry showcases his resilience in sticking to his moral code. One can argue that his immediate demonisation of Harry Jewell, as evidenced by the nickname ‘Mr. Evil’, is a symptom of Andy’s oversimplified thinking. It is through Andy’s inflammatory and infantile language towards the Mining CEO that Rayson articulates how the politics of conservation is in shades of grey. Conversely, Harry’s admits that he knew Andy was ‘the type of greenie who’s always saying no [from the moment he came through that door]’. In highlighting the binary oppositions of the two men working in different fields, the play acknowledges how prejudice inhibits potential collaborations.

Harry and Andy showcase how our own misconceptions about ‘the other’ detract from our own moral causes - such as in this case, saving the forest. Both men are committed to the same cause. However, Andy’s antagonistic approach towards Harry undercuts his own integrity as he willingly allows prejudice to cloud his thinking simply because it is the more convenient thing to do, as opposed to collaborating and accommodating each other’s interests.

Categorising strangers into convenient stereotypes is pure laziness.

  • Andy: 'Hope he didn’t damage that cruise missile he’s got out there?' (p. 73)
  • Harry: 'I know the type - knew him the moment he came through that door. He’s the kind of greenie who’s always saying no. No dams. No mines. No roads.' (p. 114)

Romanticism vs. Reality

Against the backdrop of familial arguments and budding romances, Extinction ’s Professor Dixon-Brown’s blunt dialogue about conservation reveals its politicised nature. Her heated dialogue with Piper echoes her frustration at ‘writing [Stuart Decker’s] applications so he can get ‘a sun tan’ conducting research on The Great Barrier Reef and win accolades for it'. Furthermore, she satirically exclaims that ‘[the institute] needs to defend its territory’. Her mocking of the vice-chancellor who acted like they were in a ‘White House Situation Room’ implicitly demonstrates her growing disdain towards the tenuous politics of her workplace. Essentially, Heather’s realist approach exposes what lies beneath the glossy exterior of conservation efforts.

I’ve seen quite a few videos of baby pandas circulating on my Facebook feed, most of them are part of a conservation effort or campaign. The comment section of these videos is like a medley of heart-eyes and exclamations of ‘How cute!!’ This relatively harmless sentiment is dismissed by Professor Dixon-Brown when she states that she is completely disengaged with ‘charismatic fauna’ (p. 99) push - making celebrities out of pandas and polar bears’. Our overwhelmingly positive reactions towards such campaigns is based on a societal gravitation towards the aesthetically pleasing which bleeds into the next thematic idea revolving around our fixation on appearance (surface-level).

Essentially, in the context of this play, the preferential treatment of endangered animals reflects our own biased thinking.

Vanity and Our Obsession With Appearance

The idea of vanity also pervades the sub-consciousness of both male and female protagonists. Against the backdrop of environmental conservation dilemmas, Hannie Rayson manages to entwine a secondary story strand which captures the insecurities peppering the female experience in this contemporary age. The audience learns that Heather Dixon-Brown spends $267 on hair removal every five weeks. Interestingly, her brother, ‘a screaming heterosexual’ (p. 95), likens the hair removal process to ‘getting a tree lopped’. The destructive and almost violent imagery of chopping down a tree echoes the crippling pressure for Heather to ‘sculpt’ herself into a particular ideal of femininity.

It is in this way that Rayson articulates a broader thematic idea that womanhood is still being defined in terms of attractiveness and perseveration of youth. Heather’s internalised insecurities resurface in her heated confrontation with Harry. She accuses him of ‘prefer[ing] a younger woman’ and having ‘never been with a woman with pubic hair’. Both of which Harry indignantly refutes. Through this heated dialogue, audiences gain an insight into Heather’s vulnerability as a divorcee-to-be and interestingly, we are exposed to her assertiveness as she questions 'can’t [you] stomach a woman who stands up to you?'

Her conflicting ideologies on womanhood are best exemplified through Harry who almost admonishes her for embodying ‘some nineteen-fifties idea of relationships’ where ‘sex with someone’ does not necessarily entail ‘a lifelong commitment’. This is also the central conflict faced by all the characters who engage in seemingly non-committal relationships and false expectation. It is through these failed trysts that Rayson disapproves of uninhibited sexual impulses and by extension, criticises the increasing promiscuity in contemporary times. Essentially, Rayson’s fixation on causal sexual relationships mirrors her own opinion that there has been a paradigm shift in how we govern our sexuality and bodies since the 1950s.

Conservation in a World of Destruction

You can define conservation in terms of ‘preservation of… ’, ‘sustaining…’.

In the personal domain, Piper maintains that she and Harry ‘slept in separate tents’ to her boss Professor Dixon-Brown who also doubles as her potential sister-in-law. Conversely, Professor Dixon-Brown is forced to make an ethical compromise to prevent a career besmirching orchestrated by a mass-email insinuating a sordid romance between her and her newest collaborator, Harry Jewell. Her reputation as CAPE’s director is nearly tarnished by the vengeful force of a fling’s ex-wife.

Do I preserve my moral compass or my professional reputation?

Other thematic ideas that relate to this umbrella phrase include: misuse of authority and ethics of the digital world.  

Deleting emails is tantamount to rewording/reworking history. Professor Dixon-Brown’s attempt at salvaging/restoring her pristine moral code of ‘using her head, not her heart’ is encapsulated in her desperate dash to the IT servers at 1am in the morning to delete the incriminating email detailing her illicit relationship with Harry Jewell. This, undoubtedly, compromises both of their careers as professionals. Furthermore, their intimate fling casts Dixon-brown as a seducer/a woman who is easily compromised, which is untrue. However, it is the facades that count in the play.

4. Symbolism

Euthanising the female tiger quoll.

In this case, by virtue of being female, we can assume the tiger quoll ‘with a crushed spine’ has reproductive capabilities. The injured tiger quoll was a life-giving entity. Technically, if she recovered fully, the tiger quoll could be the solution to its endangered status. 

Andy’s swift decision to euthanise the animal in great pain could be in reference to his own desire to ‘make [his life] over’. He has inadvertently projected his own fears and anxieties over his GSS diagnosis onto the critically injured creature. Essentially, in the moment of mutual pain, Andy could resonate with the tiger quoll. 

One-Night Stands/Casual Sex/Non-Committed Relationships

My theory is that the images of casual sex serve as an ironic layer to a play titled Extinction . Both Piper and Heather unwittingly develop sexual relations with Jewell on a casual basis which symbolises how intercourse is no longer purely valued as a means for continuing the species. These ‘efforts’ for reproduction are fruitless. 

1. They show how mankind is centred on pleasure and instant gratification, prioritising the self above all matters. 

2. They demonstrate how modern living expectations, consumerism and the perpetuation of gluttony have led to a plateau in human evolution.

Real-life Amanda -> Tutor comment translation:

As I was reading the text, a recurring question kept nagging at me: Why are there intimate scenes sandwiched between the layers of ideological conflict and tension?

Tutor -> real-life Amanda translation:

Oh my goodness, are these characters THAT sexually frustrated? Someone’s heart is going to get broken and then we will have to analyse that in our essays. Ughhhhhh.

5. Stage Directions

Weather transitions.

1. The opening scene showcases how vets and environmentalists alike are surprised by the first sighting of a tiger quoll in a decade. Their surprise at this unprecedented occurrence is reinforced by the ‘wet and windy’ conditions. Typically, stormy weather is symbolic of chaos and unpredictability. 

2. During a particularly heated exchange between Andy and Piper, the interjection of ‘ thunder’ intensifies rising temperament in both characters. (p. 73)

3. When Andy discovers who ‘Harry bloody Jewell’ is, his growing disbelief and rising temperament are complemented by the off-stage sound of ‘ the roar of the motorbike’. The audiological stage cue characterises Jewell as an unwanted presence of chaos and noise. As the motorbike’s roar is a sound incongruent with the natural environment encapsulating Harry.

The Meaning of Fire

In Act Two: Scene One, the secretiveness of Harry and Piper’s tryst is underlined by the ‘vast blackness’ and their figures ‘in silhouette’. Furthermore, its fragile and tenuous connection is symbolically related to how both counterparts repeatedly ‘poke[] the fire’ to ensure its longevity through the night. Perhaps, this imagery is referring to how all temptation and sexual energy need to be moderated, which complements Piper’s reluctance to continue their budding relationship.

6. Sample Essay Topics

We've offered a few different types of essay topics below. For more sample essay topics, head over to our Extinction Study Guide to practice writing essays using the analysis you've learnt in this blog!

Theme-Based ‍

The play, Extinction demonstrates that compromise is necessary in the face of conflict.


As a self-professed ecologist, Heather Dixon-Brown’s decision to collaborate with 'the other’ stems from self-interest. Discuss.


'I use my head, not my heart.' Extinction explores how human nature reacts under pressure and vice.

How does Hannie Rayson explore the idea of emotion in the play Extinction ?

7. Essay Topic Breakdown

Whenever you get a new essay topic, you can use LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. This essay topic breakdown will focus on the THINK part of the strategy. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response .

Within the THINK strategy, we have 3 steps, or ABC. These ABC components are:

Step 1: A nalyse

Step 2: B rainstorm

Step 3: C reate a Plan

Theme-Based Prompt: Extinction is a play about personal integrity and environmental responsibility. Do you agree?

Step 1: analyse.

This essay prompt is an example of a theme-based prompt . It specifies both 'personal integrity' and 'environmental responsibility' as themes for you to consider. When faced with a theme prompt, I find it most helpful to brainstorm characters and author’s views that are relevant to the given themes, as well as considering more relevant themes that may not have been mentioned in the prompt itself.

Step 2: Brainstorm

  • Personal integrity and environmental responsibility are central themes, but they aren’t the only themes that Extinction concerns itself with
  • Environmental responsibility - political, financial, social, pretty much all characters (Piper and Harry as a focus)
  • Personal integrity - truth versus lie, how we react under pressure, Dixon-Brown and her choice to delete the emails
  • What is left over? Other kinds of responsibility, e.g. interpersonal relationships
  • Interpersonal relationships, e.g. Piper and Andy (with a focus on Andy)

Step 3: Create a Plan

P1: Environmental responsibility

  • Piper and Harry - the tiger quoll project
  • Potential to talk about idealism versus pragmatism?

P2: Personal integrity

  • Honesty, morality, ethics
  • Dixon-Brown’s choice to delete the emails is motivated by selfishness, not by personal integrity

P3: Responsibility to act honestly and transparently in relationships Andy!

  • He is both environmentally responsible and has personal integrity, but still struggles with his relationships until the very end of the play

If you find this helpful, then you might want to check out A Killer Text Guide: Extinction where we cover five A+ sample essays (written by a 50 study scorer!), with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY these essays achieved A+ so that you know how to reach your English goals! Let's get started.

8. Resources

Extinction by Hannie Rayson A+ Essay Topic

How To Write A Killer Text Response ( Study Guide)

How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss

How To Turn Text Response Essays From Average to A+

5 Tips for a Mic-Drop Worthy Essay Conclusion ‍

‍ The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

  • Introduction
  • Analysing Techniques in Visual Texts

1. Introduction

The Complete Maus is a graphic novel that depicts the story of Vladek Spiegelman , a Polish Jewish Holocaust survivor who experienced living in the ghettos and concentration camps during the Nazi regime. Vladek’s son, Art has transformed his story into a comic book through his interviews and encounters which interweaves with Art’s own struggles as the son of a Holocaust survivor, as well as the complex and difficult relationship with his father.

Survival is a key theme that is explored during Vladek’s experience in concentration camps and his post-Holocaust life. 

For example, Vladek reflects that “You have to struggle for life” and a means of survival was through learning to be resourceful at the concentration camps.

essay claim sentence starters

Resourcefulness is depicted through the physical items Vladek keeps or acquires, as well as through Vladek’s skills . For example, Vladek explains to Art that he was able to exploit his work constantly through undertaking the roles of a translator and a shoemaker in order to access extra food and clothing by being specially treated by the Polish Kapo .

essay claim sentence starters

He even wins over Anja’s Kapo to ensure that she would be treated well by not being forced to carry heavy objects. Vladek’s constant recounts and reflections symbolise survival, as Vladek was willing and able to use his skill set to navigate through the camp’s work system.

essay claim sentence starters

During the concentration camps, food and clothes also became a currency due to its scarcity and Vladek was insistent on being frugal and resourceful , which meant that he was able to buy Anja’s release from the Birkenau camp.

essay claim sentence starters

Although survival is a key theme, the graphic novel explores how Holocaust survivors in The Complete Maus grapple with their deep psychological scars. 

essay claim sentence starters

Many of those who survived the war suffered from depression and was burdened with ‘survivor’s guilt’. This can be seen through the character of Art’s mother, Anja, as 20 years after surviving the death camps, she commits suicide. After having lost so many of her friends, and families, she struggled to find a reason as to why she survived but others didn’t. Throughout the graphic novel, her depression is apparent. In a close-up shot, Anja appears harrowed and says that “I just don’t want to live”, lying on a striped sofa to convey a feeling of hopelessness as if she was in prison. Her ears are additionally drawn as drooped, with her hands positioned as if she was in prison in the context is that she must go to a sanatorium for her depression.

essay claim sentence starters

It is not only Anja’s guilt that is depicted, but also Art himself who feels partly responsible. Art feels that people think it is his fault as he says that “They think it’s MY fault!” and in one panel, Art is depicted behind bars and that “[He] has committed the perfect crime“ to illustrate that he feels a sense of guilt in that he never really was the perfect son. He believes he is partly responsible for her death, due to him neglecting their relationship. Spiegelman also gives insight to readers of a memory of his mother where she asks if he still loves her, he responds with a dismissive ‘sure’ which is a painful reminder of this disregard. 

Intergenerational Gap

Art constantly ponders how he is supposed to “make any sense out of Auschwitz’ if he “can’t even make any sense out of [his] relationship with [his] father”. As a child of Jewish refugees, Art has not had the same first-hand horrific experiences as his parents and in many instances struggles to relate to Vladek’s stubborn and resourceful tendencies. Art reflects on this whilst talking to Mala about when he would not finish everything his mother served, he would “argue til I ran to my room crying”. This emphasises how he didn’t understand wastage or frugality even from a very young age, unlike Vladek.

essay claim sentence starters

Spiegelman also conveys to readers his sense of frustration with Vladek where he feels like he is being treated like a child, not as an adult. For example, Art is shocked that Vladek would throw out one of Art’s coats and instead buy a new coat, despite Vladek’s hoarding because he is reluctant and feels shameful to let his son wear his “old shabby coat”. This act could be conveyed to readers that Vladek is trying to give Art a life he never had and is reluctant to let his son wear clothes that are ‘inappropriate’ in his eyes. However, from Art’s perspective, he “just can’t believe it” and does not comprehend his behaviour.

Since we're talking about themes, we've broken down a theme-based essay prompt (one of five types of essay prompts ) for you in this video:

3. Analysing Techniques in Visual Texts

The Complete Maus is a graphic novel that may seem daunting to analyse compared to a traditional novel. However, with countless panels throughout the book, you have the freedom to interpret certain visuals so long as you give reasoning and justification, guiding the teacher or examiner on what you think these visuals mean. Here are some suggested tips:

Focus on the Depiction of Characters

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Spiegelman may have purposely drawn the eyes of the Jewish mice as visible in contrast to the unapparent eyes of the Nazis to humanise and dehumanise characters. By allowing readers to see the eyes of Jewish mice, readers can see the expressions and feelings of the character such as anger and determination . Effectively, we can see them as human characters through their eyes. The Nazis’ eyes, on the other hand, are shaded by their helmets to signify how their humanity has been corrupted by the role they fulfill in the Holocaust.

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When the readers see their eyes, they appear sinister , with little slits of light. By analysing the depictions and expressions of characters, readers can deduce how these characters are intended to be seen.

Look at the Background in Each Panel

Throughout the graphic novel, symbols of the Holocaust appear consistently in the background. In one panel, Art’s parents, Anja and Vladek have nowhere to go, a large Swastika looms over them to represent that their lives were dominated by the Holocaust.

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Even in Art’s life, a panel depicts him as working on his desk with dead bodies surrounding him and piling up to convey to the reader that the Holocaust still haunts him to this day, and feels a sense of guilt at achieving fame and success at their expense.

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Thus, the constant representation of symbols from the Holocaust in Spiegelman’s life and his parents’ past in the panels’ background highlights how inescapable the Holocaust is emotionally and psychologically . 

Size of Panels

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Some of the panels in the graphic novel are of different sizes which Spiegelman may have intended to emphasise the significance of certain turning points, crises or feelings . For example, on page 34, there is a disproportionate panel of Vladek and Anja passing a town, seeing the first signs of the Nazi regime compared to the following panels. All the mice seem curious and concerned, peering at the Nazi flag behind them. This panel is significant as it marks the beginning of a tragic regime that would dominate for the rest of their lives.

You should also pay close attention to how some panels have a tendency to overlap with each other which could suggest a link between events, words or feelings.

Although not specifically targeted at Text Response, 10 Things to Look for in Cartoons is definitely worth a read for any student studying a graphic novel!

This blog was updated on 23/10/2020.

3. Symbolism

4. Important Quotes (Parts 1-4)

5. Sample Essay Topics

6. Essay Topic Breakdown

On the Waterfront is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

On the Waterfront is a part drama, part gangster film that’s authentic and powerful in its approach. Set on New York’s oppressive waterfront docks, longshoremen are forced to play a game where the odds are always stacked against them. The film approaches concepts such as trade unionism, corruption, and racketeering, and is a story that stitches together other stories. As discussed later , Kazan used Terry Malloy as a representation for his own real-life struggles against the powers above. The film is also a depiction of the hardships of life on the docks in 1940s America.

Inspired by real-life incidents, Kazan has created a world where workers live under the iron fist of corrupt trade union bosses. Let’s take a deeper dive into what this world looks like and the events that form the basis of the film.

Power Corruption

Johnny Friendly’s maintenance of power involves controlling several aspects on the waterfront – from the operations to the stevedores. Firstly, threats are repeatedly made against all the longshoremen in an effort to ensure that if anyone dares to act out against Friendly, they are sure to meet dire consequences. Their fear is reinforced through the various murders committed by the gang, most of which are the deaths another longshoremen, thus warning the workers that any one of them may be next. Although Friendly is clearly behind the homicides, the longshoremen and their families are unwilling to speak to the authorities, as they know full well that they would be risking their lives. This demonstrates their lack of protection and vulnerability in the hands of the union leader, which is exactly what he has aimed to establish.

Faith is a strong underlying theme set forth by Father Barry and the church. The priest’s constant remainder of what is right and wrong urges the men to step outside Friendy’s grasp and begin to think about themselves. When Father Barry conducts the congregation, the interruption caused by the mob falters the longshoremen’s hopes, since Friendly’s power can even reach as far as a church, where people are supposed to be ‘safe’. To do what is morally correct is a simple concept but one that is difficult for the longshoremen to embrace. It is only when they begin to have faith in their actions that things begin to change on the waterfront.

The film poses the question, what is true loyalty? Friendly pretends to be looking after the longshoremen by sending out loans and offering them better work positions, for example, Terry on the loft. However, in reality Friendly uses this action to manipulate the men to his advantage. It is a tactic to ensure that the longshoremen believe that they in return, have to support Friendly. An additional tactic of Friendly’s manipulation is shown though the infiltration of the longshoremen’s minds. The words ‘rat’ and ‘stool’ prevent the men from speaking out since they believe that they will betray one another. Terry believes that he will ‘rat’ on his friends when in fact, he is simply telling the truth. He ultimately learns that instead of abiding by Friendly, he needs to be loyal to himself, and this eventually saves himself and the other longshoremen from the clutches of the union leader. The name ‘Friendly’ is ironic since he is hardly a ‘friend’ but a ‘nemesis’ of all those who reside on the waterfront.


Throughout Terry’s personal journey, it is clear that he is uncertain about his feelings and thoughts in regards to various aspects of his life, from his low-ranking position as a stevedore, Joey’s death and Friendly’s involvement, the longshoremen’s lack of rights, to Edie’s unique perspective. His initial ambivalence after Joey’s death is highlighted through the thick mist that covers the city and consequently obscures the people’s vision. At the end of the film when he is finally resolute on overthrowing Friendly, the omnipresent fog that sweeps over Hoboken suddenly disappears, reflecting that his mind has now ‘cleared up’ or that he has an ‘unclouded vision’. His behaviour shifts from an introverted person who appears uncomfortable in his own skin as he refuses to look people eye-to-eye and constantly chews gum, to someone who possesses a confident stance, standing tall and proud.

On the Waterfront  emphasises that it is never too late to redeem oneself. The religious imagery of Joey, Dugan and Charley ascending to heaven demonstrate that although they had spent much of their life turning a blind eye to the indiscretions of Friendly and his men, their actions at the very end of their lifespan allowed them to compensate for their sins. ‍

Bird symbolism is heavily embedded throughout  On the Waterfront . The longshoremen represent pigeons, as they are docile and delicate in the hands of Friendly, who is portrayed as the ‘hawk’ who swoops above at them, keeping his watchful eyes on each and every pigeon in case they misbehave. Kazan often films Terry positioned behind Joey’s Coop fence, therefore characterising Terry as a pigeon stuck in a cage, as if bound by Friendly into a small world that he cannot escape. When the longshoremen await work on the docks, the recurrent high-angle shots peer down at them, depicting them as a flock of birds, rummaging around. Much like pigeons, they compete with one another when ‘pecking’ at the tabs that Big Mac throws at them, as if the tabs are like ‘seeds’.

Instead of being ‘D and D’, those who ‘sing’ or in other words, speak out against Friendly are labeled ‘canaries’, since these birds are most notably recognised for their singing behaviour. Canaries were once used as a barometer for air quality down in mines. If there were toxic gases in the mines, this would subsequently lead to the canary’s death as this type of bird is extremely sensitive to air borne pollutants. Thus, this would be an indication for miners of whether or not it was safe to work in the pit. The bird’s self-sacrifice parallels that of Joey and Dugan, who tried their best to help out the other longshoremen, yet both met their deaths after ‘singing’ out against Johnny Friendly.

Originally named The Hook but eventually changed to  On the Waterfront , the sharp tool is an important representative of Friendly’s power over the men. All the longshoremen carry silver hooks on their shoulders as part of their work on the docks, but from another view, it is as though Friendly has ‘hooked’ onto the men – and thus, they cannot escape the union leader. Like many other words used in the film, it is a pun, as ‘hook’ is also a term used in boxing, meaning a short swinging punch with the elbow bent.

Hudson River and New York City

The river is always subtly lurking in the background of several scenes throughout the film. It acts as a metaphorical barrier that prevents the men from escaping Friendly’s grasp as they appear to be ‘trapped’ on the Hoboken docks. The ever-present fog is a veil that manages to conceal Manhattan on the other side of the river. Since the city’s silhouette barely peeps through, it portrays a sense of mystery and unknown to the stevedores who can seemingly never leave Hoboken. At the end of the film however, when Friendly no longer exerts any control over the men, the shot of the Hudson River and the city on the other side is crystal clear. The outlines of the skyscrapers, which were once unidentifiable, are now easy to recognise, demonstrating that the men are free, as their vision is no longer clouded by Friendly.

Gloves have significant meaning in two key scenes in  On the Waterfront . Most notably, Edie’s white glove symbolises a ‘good’ world, a place that is peaceful and pure. It reflects Edie’s personality as she conducts herself virtuously and with amiability. When Terry wears one of her gloves, it demonstrates that he is ‘trying on’ her perspective of life, where ‘everybody [should] care about everybody else’. On the other hand, when Charley and Terry share an intimate conversation in the taxi, Charley’s black gloves represent Friendly’s ‘evil’ world. Charley begins to feel uncomfortable in his clothing and removes a glove when he confronts the truth about being solely responsible for coercing Terry into forfeiting his career and subsequently becoming just another longshoremen. His removal of the glove depicts the notion that Charley will no longer be manipulated and controlled by Friendly, and is essentially, taking a step out of Friendly’s oppressive world.


On the surface, the windbreaker is simply a jacket that is passed amongst the longshoremen, in particular, from Joey to Dugan to Terry. The sharing of the jacket represents camaraderie and brotherhood, since the men have little money to spend on buying warm clothes and as a result, most of their clothing has been worn through. This is a stark comparison with the mob, who are proud owners of long thick coats with scarves, hats and gloves to protect them from the Hoboken bitter cold weather. Symbolically, the jacket motivates the three men stand up to Friendly. Firstly, Joey talks to the Crime Commission yet before he is able to do any damage to the mob, he is found dead. As a result, his jacket is passed to Dugan, who later on musters the courage to continue in Joey’s shoes and reveal thirty-nine pages worth of notes about Friendly’s operations to the Crime Commission. Unfortunately, Friendly manages to successfully silence Dugan. The windbreaker is ultimately passed to Terry who testifies in court and defeats Friendly once and for all. The jacket demonstrates that even with murder, the truth cannot be silenced.

Important Quotes

Joey's death (part 1).

"Maybe he could sing but he couldn’t fly."
"I kept telling him, "Don’t say nothing. Keep quiet, you’ll live longer.""
‘I’ve been on the docks all my life boy, and there’s one thing I learned. You don’t ask no questions, you don’t answer no questions unless you want to wind up like that."
"Did you ever hear of a saint hiding in a church?"
"We got the fattest piers in the fattest harbour in the world."

Joey’s Coop (Part 2)

"They sure got it made. Eating, sleeping, flying around like crazy, raising gobs of squabs."
"Be careful. Don’t spill no water on the floor. I don’t want them to catch a cold."
"Johnny Friendly the “great labour worker.""
"Why don’t you keep that big mouth of yours shut."
"I’m poorer now than when I started."

Terry and Edie (Part 3)

"Your brother was a saint, the only one who ever tried to get me compensation."
"You don’t buy me. You’re still a bum."
"Who’s calling me a bum?"
"Don’t pay no attention to him. He’s drunk, he’s falling down. Everything. He’s just a juicehead that hands around the neighbourhood. Don’t pay no attention."
"It isn’t just brains. It’s how you use them."

Terry’s Confession (Part 4)

"Favour, who am I kidding? It’s “do it or else.”’
"It’s like carrying a monkey on my back."
"Question of “who rides who.”’
"If I spill, my life ain’t worth a nickel."
"And how much is your soul worth if you don’t?"

Sample Essay Topics

1. Edie is depicted as an angel that saves Terry. To what extent do you agree?

2.  On the Waterfront  portrays a world where people are only successful through money and violence.

3. We are able to understand the moral struggles of the characters through the cinematic devices used in  On the Waterfront .

4.  On the Waterfront  demonstrates that silence cannot be achieved through murder.

5. The actions of only a few individuals can result in a revolution. Discuss.

Now it's your turn! Give these essay topics a go. For more sample essay topics, head over to our On the Waterfront Study Guide to practice writing essays using the analysis you've learnt in this blog!

Theme-Based Essay Prompt: On the Waterfront shows that power and money can destroy a man’s soul.

Step 1: analyse .

This essay prompt is an example of a theme-based prompt . It specifies ‘power’, ‘money’, and ‘soul’ as ideas for you to consider. When faced with a theme prompt, I find it most helpful to brainstorm characters and author’s views that are relevant to the given themes, as well as considering more relevant themes that may not have been mentioned in the prompt itself.

Here are some of my thoughts scribbled down:

  • We cannot discuss power without also touching on redemption, as those that subscribe to power corruption are morally defeated, whereas the characters that reject power and money are somewhat martyred. Faith is also important: what happens to those who place faith in money and power versus those with religious faith? 
  • The prompt is asking us to show (and essentially prove) the point that power and money are destructive. 
  • How are power and money intertwined? 
  • Souls are ambiguous and intangible, although in this film it can be interpreted as the character’s moral code and how the film validates those morals. 
  • A soul destroyed is one that has been chipped away, whittled down and eventually broken to pieces. Power doesn’t wear a soul down in an instant, it’s progressive. 

Power & money 

  • In capitalism, money is a tangible representation of power. Money talks. Having lots of it seemingly makes you powerful over those that don’t. 
  • Friendly controls the docks because he has the money (and the power) to do so. 
  • Chasing money (for survival, status or ego) can lead a man to do unethical and problematic things.

Those that chase power & money 

  • Charley, Friendly and the rest of the mobsters. They’re faithless.  
  • Terry to a certain point. His loyalty is “bought” and “owned”.  
  • Charley follows Friendly wholeheartedly which results in his own bitter end. 
  • Friendly embodies power & money and ends up beaten and alone. 
  • Mr. Upstairs turns on Friendly in an instant. 

By contrast, those that reject power & money 

  • Edie, Father Barry
  • Dugan and Joey, both die for their beliefs. The film validates their actions by treating them as martyrs throughout. 
  • Dugan’s body ascending with Father Barry after he dies under whiskey barrels 
  • Joey’s jacket being handed down from one heroic dockworker to another 
  • Terry after a certain point

Contention: On the Waterfront uses its characters to show that having faith in power and money can destroy a man’s soul, whereas having faith in the greater good can lead to redemption. 

P1: Having faith in power & money destroys Johnny Friendly and Charley.

P2: Rejecting power & money and having faith in the good of people is rewarded (Dugan, Joey, Edie, Father Barry, for example).

P3: Terry sits in between these two notions for most of the film. His soul is redeemed when he rejects power & money and chooses to do the right thing. 

As you can see, in this structure, each paragraph grapples with the theme in a way that links each character and the film’s treatment of them.

If you find this essay breakdown helpful, then you might want to check out our On the Waterfront Study Guide where we cover 5 A+ sample essays with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY these essays achieved A+ so you reach your English goals! Let's get started.

How To Write A Killer Text Response Study Guide

How to embed quotes in your essay like a boss

How to turn your Text Response essays from average to A+

5 Tips for a mic drop worthy essay conclusion

‍ We’ve explored creative writing criteria, literary elements and how to replicate the text over on our The Ultimate Guide to VCE Creative Writing blog post . If you need a quick refresher or you’re new to creative writing, I highly recommend checking it out!

Creative Responses in VCE Literature

This was my favourite SAC in Literature; it allows so much creative freedom in creating and recreating a literary work. When else will you be able to depart from the (admittedly rather boring) standard essay structure?!

In your adaptations and transformations SAC (see my blog post about this literature assessment  here !), you learnt how the  meaning  of the text changed as the form changed. Here’s  your  opportunity to change the meaning of the text, maybe emphasising a particular thematic idea, or perhaps recreating a completely new perspective. Remember – you have almost complete creative licence in this assessment…use it to your advantage!

But don’t forget that the most important part of this task is that you must have a  highly convincing connection between the original text and your creative response . There must be a tangible relationship present, through an in-depth understanding of the original text’s features. These features include characterisation (what motivates these characters), setting, context, narrative structure, tone and writing/film style. Establishing a clear nexus between the original text and your creative piece does not mean you need to replicate everything of the text; you can stylistically choose to reject or contrast elements of the original text – as long as these choices are deliberate and unambiguous. Therefore, your creative response must demonstrate that you read your original text closely and perceptively by acknowledging these features of the text.

You can establish this relationship by:

  • Adopting or resisting the same genre as the original text : e.g. an epistolary genre (written in letters) – do letters make an appearance in your text? Is that something you want to highlight? What about writing a monologue or a script if the text is a film or a play?
  • Adopting or resisting the author’s writing/language style : does your writer characteristically write plainly or with great descriptive detail? What about irony or humour? Consider the length and style of sentences. Are there frequent uses of symbols or metaphors?
  • Adopting or resisting the text’s point of view : do you want to draw readers’ attention to another thematic idea that was not explored in the original text? Will you align with the author’s views and values or will you oppose them? (See my views and values blogpost here!)
  • Adopting or resisting the original setting, narrative structure or tone
  • Writing through a peripheral character’s perspective : give a voice to a minor character that didn’t have a detailed backstory. Find a gap in the text and create and new perspective.
  • Developing a prologue, epilogue or another chapter/scene : what new insight can you add with this addition and extension of the text? It must add something new – otherwise it is a redundant addition.
  • Rewriting a key event/scene from another character’s point of view : does this highlight how important narrative perspective is?
  • Recontextualising the original text : by putting the same story or characters into a completely different context, for example in the 21st century with technology, how does the meaning change in the narrative?

I chose to write a creative piece from the perspective of an inanimate object that followed the protagonist’s journey throughout the entire film, providing an unexpected point of view of the text. Be original and most importantly, enjoy it!

If you're doing a creative piece - whether for English or Literature - you'll find the following blogs super helpful:

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Creative Writing

‍ 5-Step Recipe for Creative Writing

How To Achieve A+ in Creative Writing (Reading and Creating)

Last updated 20/10/19

Planning is an essential part of any successful text response essay. It helps you ensure that you’re answering the prompt, utilising enough quotes and writing the most unique and perceptive analysis possible! The hard part of this is that you only have about FIVE MINUTES to plan each essay in the Year 12 English exam… (more info on the best way to tackle that challenge in this video !)

So, I developed the FIVE TYPES of essay prompts to help students streamline their planning process and maximise every minute of their SACs and exams.

By identifying the type of prompt you’re being challenged with immediately, a number of parameters or guidelines are already set in place. For a specific type of prompt, you have specific criteria to meet – for example, in a metalanguage-based prompt , you immediately know that any evidence you brainstorm in your planning stage should be based around the literary techniques used in your given text.

If you’d like the full picture on our best FREE advice on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response here .

1. Theme-based prompt

‘Ambition in the play Macbeth leads to success.’ Discuss. ( Macbeth )

When you’re presented with a theme-based prompt, you can automatically shift your brainstorming and planning towards the themes mentioned in the prompt along with any others that you can link to the core theme in some way.

In regard to this Macbeth prompt, for example, you could explore the different ways the theme of ambition is presented in the text. Additionally, the themes of guilt and power are intimately related to ambition in the text, so you can use those other ideas to aid your brainstorming and get you a step ahead of the rest of the state come exam day.

2. Character-based prompt

‘Frankenstein’s hubris is what punishes him.’ Discuss. ( Frankenstein )

These prompts are pretty easy to spot – if you see a character’s name in the prompt, there you have it; you have a character-based prompt on your hands.

Once you know this, you can assume that each example you brainstorm has to be relevant to the specific character named in the prompt in some way. Also, you can explore how the actions of characters don’t occur in isolation – they’re almost always interrelated. Remember, however, that the actions of characters are always connected to the themes and ideas the author is trying to convey.

This type of prompt also grants you some freedoms that other types don’t give. For example, unlike a Theme-based prompt, a character-based prompt means that it’s perfectly fine to write about characters in the topic sentences of your body paragraphs.

3. How-based prompt

‘How does Grenville showcase Rooke’s inner conflict in The Lieutenant ?’ ( The Lieutenant )

Unlike other prompts, the ‘How’ positions you to focus more on the author’s writing intentions. This can be achieved by discussing metalanguage – language that describes language (read my blog post about it here ). These prompts tell you immediately that you need to be thinking about the literary techniques explored in the text and explain how they affect the narrative.

Rather than using specific techniques to frame your specific arguments, it’s best to use them as evidence to support arguments that attack the main themes/ideas mentioned in the prompt.

4. Metalanguage or film-technique-based prompt

‘Hitchcock’s use of film techniques offers an unnerving viewing experience’. Discuss. ( Rear Window )

This type of prompt is very similar to How-based prompts, specifically in the fact that the discussion of literary techniques is essential.

For this type of prompt specifically, however, the actual techniques used can form more of a basis for your arguments, unlike in How-based prompts .

5. Quote-based prompt

“Out, damned spot!” How does Shakespeare explore the burden of a guilty conscience in Macbeth ? ( Macbeth )

Countless students ask me every year, “What do I do when there’s a quote in the prompt?!” My reply to these questions is actually fairly straightforward!

There are two main things that you should do when presented with this type of prompt. Firstly, contextualise the quote in your essay and try to use it in your analysis in some way. Secondly, interpret the themes and issues addressed in the quote and implement these into your discussion. The best place to do both of these is in a body paragraph – it weaves in seamlessly and allows for a good amount of analysis, among other reasons!

When faced with unknown prompts in a SAC or your exam, it's reassuring to have a formulaic breakdown of the prompt so that your brain immediately starts categorising the prompt - which of the 5 types of prompts does this one in front of me fall into? To learn more about brainstorming, planning, essay structures for Text Response, read our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Get exclusive weekly advice from Lisa, only available via email.

Power-up your learning with free essay topics, downloadable word banks, and updates on the latest VCE strategies.

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Why Genre Matters in VCE Literature: An Analysis of Dracula

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54 Best Paragraph Starters for Argumentative Essays

Searching for an effective guide for “paragraph starters for an argumentative essay?”. Want to have the best one but can’t find one? Deadline approaching but short of information? Wondering what to do? Fly away your worries (Stop stressing) because we are here to answer all your queries about how to start an argumentative essay. Read this out!

Unlike a narrative essay and other personal essay type, argumentative essays are comparatively tricky and require special treatment. One has to be very careful about making argumentative essay topics for paragraphs. A single mistake in the starter paragraph for such an essay can make the entire argument worthless. Hence, care must be taken when writing paragraphs for such essays. That is why we, as AI essay writer , are here to help in any way possible.

Let’s jump into the writing guide for good body paragraph starters. Or, you can simply call it argumentative essay starters. 

Table of Contents

Argumentative essay

An argumentative essay is a form of essay writing in which essay writer for hire states his stance or argument regarding an



Belief, and etc. 

The writer states his argument with strong evidence to persuade the audience of the point of view of what the writer holds. 

It is almost common now in academic writing that an instructor assigns such essay from tons of domains such as: 

Religion etc. 

You should know that your approach to each of these tasks matter a lot. Speaking of which, starting sentences for an argumentative essay plays an important role in the success of such academic activity . Let’s read about the features of such an essay before learn more on the sentence starters for argumentative essay.

Features of argumentative essay

Apart from good argument starters, such essay also has the following features that make   word choice  even better:

Introduce the topic in a manner to engage the readers

Ensure subjectivity of the point of view while stating it

Add counter-arguments to get the audience in confidence 

Provide sufficient evidences to support the  proper style  of an argument

Now we will discuss some sentence starters for body paragraphs and then we will guide you how to write such kind of essay:

Paragraph starters for argumentative essay

Following is a sample of such phrases:

useful words and pharses

How to write an Argumentative essay Paragraph starter?

facts about starter for argumentative essays

Just follow these steps to learn writing argumentative essay sentence starters: 

Choosing a topic 

Stating strong thesis 



Let’s discuss these in details:

Choosing a topic

Well! Most of the time, an instructor assigns the students with a topic to make the roadway difficult for him. However, if there is an open choice to choose the topic, then choose whatever interests you. This is because when one chooses the topic of their interest, it is always going to contain more information because of the writer’s knowledge about the topic either due to personal experience or is involve in daily activities.


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One must be careful in stating information about such topics of interest because most of these topics help us to make a  claim in argumentative essay  and facts. After one has a strong basis for moving on with the topic, it is time to start now.

Stating strong thesis

Before stating a strong thesis statement, one should have the idea of what a thesis statement really is:

“A statement which is usually stated at the end of an introductory paragraph stating the entire summary or central message of the essay.”

This sentence is the brain of any essay or a piece of writing. Hence, it is important to structure this sentence in a way to attract the attention of the audience in a way to keep them reading. 

State a strong thesis which has the following features:

Reflect the argument the writer is going to talk about

Represent the stance of the writer either in a positive or a negative connotation

Is reflected in the entire essay, especially the topic sentences. 

Good research is the key to a successful essay. An essay or an introduction paragraph stands against every counter-argument only if it is written on a well-researched basis. Other forms of essay might not require researching because it requires recalling memories or some other sort of stuff. However, for the essay that we are talking about, a thesis statement generator can play a crucial role. Good research is very important because we are stating an argument, so we should have strong evidence to back up that argument, and this requires research.

Use following sources for researching:

Published and unpublished sources


YouTube etc. 

Also make sure the following:

“A good reader is a good leader”. This is specially the case here. One has to “read” to write good and lead the audience. Read through the sources, have a good idea of the topic, arguments and counter-arguments.

Ensure subjectivity in your thoughts while reading and writing too. This not only state the argument from the perspective of the writer, but also from the perspective of the critics. Stating the views of such people into the writing as well, will make the essay well versed and buffered it.

Ensure uniqueness by looking at the existing pieces of writing on such topics. Cover the issue(s) that the writer has not highlighted so far or get help from the best essay writing service .

When it is felt that enough research has been made, whatever was required, one should move on to the next step but if at any position it is felt that more research is required, one should go for it. The process of research never stops at any stage. 


After collection of information on the topic, it should be shaped in a proper way. The standard is the introduction, then the body, and finally the conclusion. At least the essay should contain these standards to be called as properly structured. 

Drafting and structuring occurs simultaneously. Structuring is when one give structure to the essay while writing and drafting is that writing actually. The written document is a draft. So, draft the essay in a structured manner. It is advisable to rough draft if there is enough time to do so.


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Structure of an Argumentative Essay paragraph starter

Following is the structure for such essay:


The introduction of the essay is the building block for the rest of the write-up. At the very beginning of the introductory paragraph, a hook should be stated. It is a statement that grab the attention of the audience suddenly.

After the hook, we state a slight background knowledge of the topic to give the readers a know-how of the topic.

Lastly, we state a strong thesis statement to sum up the introductory paragraph. Such statement reflects the entire crux of the essay.

The body paragraph of an argumentative essay contain at least three standard paragraphs, but can vary depending on the argument.

The starting sentence of each paragraph is a topic sentence, which represent the paragraph following it. The rest of the paragraph states the main argument/stance of the writer, with the ending sentence giving idea of the next paragraph.

The second paragraph of such essay contain the topic sentence and the counter-claims to the stance of the writer usually.

The Conclusion

A conclusion summarizes the whole discussion of the essay. It restates the main argument and closes it. We do not state a new argument or idea into the conclusion part to leave the audience with ambiguity. Finally, we close the conclusion paragraph with a clincher, leaving the audience craving more. I hope this guides you a lot; contact our experts if you need any argumentative essay help.

Good paragraph starters for an essay are:

  • To be exact...
  • The piece of writing talks about…
  • This essay revolves around…
  • To view the essay…
  • In this piece of writing
  • To dive into the issue…
  • To analyze the issue…
  • Moving into this topic…

A good example of an introduction paragraph is the one with:

  • A nicely put hook
  • Sentences stating background knowledge
  • A strong thesis statement reflecting the whole essay 

Good sentence starters are:

  • Furthermore
  • In addition to
  • To start with
  • First of all
  • Finally 
  • To begin with

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Sentence Starters: Useful Words and Phrases You Can Use As Sentence Starters

Posted on Last updated: October 24, 2023

Sentence Starters: Useful Words and Phrases You Can Use As Sentence Starters

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Sentence Starters! Here you will find a useful list of common sentence starters that you can use in a discussion as well as in essay writing. Learn these sentence starters to improve your English speaking and writing skills.

Table of Contents

Sentence Starters

Sentence starters | common phrases.

  • (The topic) has fostered a debate on …
  • A sensible idea would be to…
  • We all know that…
  • It is said that…
  • It is believed that…
  • People assumed that…
  • There is growing support for the notion that …
  • The data gathered in the study strongly suggests that …
  • The supposition drawn from this being that…
  • Leading to the supposition that…
  • This can be argued that..
  • The source suggest…
  • My own feeling on the subject is that …
  • Generally speaking…
  • As far as I know…
  • As far as I am concerned…
  • I believe that…
  • The focus of discussion in this paper is …
  • The premise of (the topic) seems to be based on …
  • Latest research corroborates the view that …
  • Most people would agree that…
  • It is estimated…
  • The reader supposed that…
  • It is clear that…
  • Everybody knows that…
  • Surely you would agree that…
  • This clearly shows that…
  • I discovered…
  • We always…
  • This indicates…
  • Demonstrating that…
  • It is vital that…
  • It wouldn’t be very difficult to…
  • The real truth is that…
  • Are we expected that…
  • The fact is that…
  • I felt as…
  • I think/ I believe that…
  • It seems to me that…
  • We concluded that…
  • My perspective is…
  • I agree with…
  • Have you thought about…
  • In other words…
  • I see what you mean but…
  • I share your point of view on…
  • In my opinion…

Sentence Starters: Useful Words and Phrases You Can Use As Sentence Starters

Transition Words Used as Sentence Starters

Words to add an idea

  • In addition to
  • For instance
  • For example
  • As an example
  • Additionally
  • Furthermore
  • Another reason
  • Coupled with
  • Correspondingly
  • In addition
  • Identically
  • One other thing

Words that show cause

  • Accordingly
  • As a result
  • Consequently
  • For this reason
  • For this purpose
  • Subsequently
  • This is why
  • Following this
  • As you can see
  • For all of those reasons

Words that show contrast

  • Comparatively
  • Different from
  • Even though
  • However ( however synonyms )
  • In comparison
  • Nevertheless
  • In contrast
  • On the one hand…
  • On the other hand
  • On the contrary

Words that add emphasis

  • Generally speaking
  • For the most part
  • In this situation
  • No doubt (undoubtedly)
  • Particularly
  • Unquestionably

Sentence Starters: Useful Words and Phrases You Can Use As Sentence Starters

Sentence Starters | Infographic

Sentence Starters: Useful Words and Phrases You Can Use As Sentence Starters


Sunday 30th of April 2023

This great gift thank you forever

Wednesday 7th of December 2022

thank that helped m out alot

Thursday 1st of December 2022

Amazing list. It helps change up how you start your sentence, and it helps for writers to keep readers engaged.

Friday 27th of May 2022

so i think that there should be more expansion so we can tell the reader a bit more about what is happening

Wednesday 6th of April 2022

i like his book


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    Friday 27th of May 2022. so i think that there should be more expansion so we can tell the reader a bit more about what is happening. Mia. Wednesday 6th of April 2022. i like his book. Sentence Starters! Here you will find a useful list of common sentence starters that you can use in a discussion as well as in essay writing. Learn these.

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