Introductory and Concluding Paragraphs

Don’t use introductory paragraphs to support your thesis. First, get your audience interested and/or informed. Use one or a combination of the following: emphasize the importance of the topic; use the divisions of your topic; use a quotation; a scenario; an anecdote; some startling statistic(s); a thought-provoking question(s).

Concluding paragraphs can and should utilize the same above tools, but also could include a plea for change. Definitely include a restated thesis. Don’t restate it word-for-word. That’s too obvious. Paraphrase yourself.  It’s also too obvious to use the transition “in conclusion” at the end of an essay. Your reader will easily be able to tell it’s a conclusion by its being the last paragraph. 

The following five (5) paragraph pairs illustrate the variety in which devices (or tools) can be used in introductory and concluding paragraphs. Each paragraph deals with the same theme: mandatory marriage counseling. Note the word count in parentheses. Also, note carefully the tie-in between the concluding paragraph and its corresponding introductory paragraph.


A. Introductory Paragraph - - emphasizing the importance, divisions of the topic (119 ):

There is a disease that strikes without regard for race or color, for political or socioeconomic level. It shows no favorites to young or old, child or adult, religious or non-religious. The ripple effects of the disease, now at epidemic proportions, are such that no one in society is left untouched. The monetary costs are enormous, both to the individual and to society as a whole. The disease is divorce. I agree with what Francine Russo argues in her recent Atlantic Monthly article called “Can the Government Prevent Divorce?” The government indeed should make marriage counseling mandatory.  Such a regulation would undoubtedly decrease the incidence of spousal and child abuse, low self-esteem, and the economic losses incurred through divorce.

B. Concluding Paragraph  -- restating the thesis (69):

Perhaps with government mandated pre-marital counseling, the disease of divorce will begin to decrease. Perhaps in time, husbands and wives will be able to communicate with each other more and argue less. Perhaps children will suffer less from the trauma of low self-esteem. Perhaps society will see significant savings in unemployment and welfare costs. The benefits are obvious: government sanctioned pre-marital counseling can only help, not hinder, American society.


A.  Startling Statistics and thought-provoking question (s) (123):

In a recent Time magazine article author Kendra Worthington reported that throughout American society, divorces run at near-record rates, leaving behind the casualties of shattered marriages, shattered dreams, and shattered lives. Forty out of every one hundred first marriages now end in divorce, says Worthington, compared to a rate of sixteen out of every one hundred in 1960. One million children annually see their parents divorce. How much of those startling statistics translate into lost dollars in police investigations, custody battles, and social welfare? How many people might be incarcerated because of childhood abuse or trauma? I agree with what Francine Russo argues in her recent Atlantic Monthly article called “Can the Government Prevent Divorce?” The government indeed should make pre-marriage counseling mandatory.

B.  Concluding Paragraph---Startling Statistic(s), Thought-provoking question(s), a plea for change, restating the thesis (83):

Forty percent of the people reading this essay will probably face the trauma of divorce in their lives. The other sixty percent will no doubt know of someone who has suffered trough the agony of a split family. Is this necessary? Have we been able to stem the tide of increasing divorce rates? The answer is a resounding “No!” to both questions. It is not necessary, and we can stop the increase if we agree to government mandated pre-marital counseling for prospective couples.


A.  Introductory paragraph---A scenario (131 words):

Imagine that you’re eight years old. Your father has just come home, and your mother, who’s been busy all day cleaning house, washing clothes, and preparing supper, asks your father why he brings beer home every night. He yells at her, backhands her, and she falls to the kitchen floor, striking her head against a table corner. The police come, your father is arrested, and you spend two weeks in a foster home. Sound unlikely? If so, think again: such events go on every day in America because of parents who are ill prepared to face the responsibilities of marriage. For obvious reasons then, I agree with Francine Russo, who argues in her recent Atlantic Monthly article called “Can the Government Prevent Divorce?” that the government indeed should make marriage-counseling mandatory.

B. Concluding paragraph – Thought-provoking question, plea for change, restating the thesis (90):

 Must a child grow up lacking self-esteem, confidence, and security, if it can be provided? We must understand that if we are going to solve the problems of tomorrow, we need to raise children who are prepared to make wise decisions, both in their personal lives and in their dealings with others. To ensure that possibility, we need to encourage all couples considering marriage of the critical need to take marriage counseling. The cost of such a program would be insignificant compared to the overwhelming costs to society of divorce. 


A.  Introductory paragraph---A personal anecdote (114 words):

 I used to think if I had been a better child, my parents would have stayed together. I just knew it was because of me that we had to move. I lost all my best friends and had to change schools in the middle of the year. Because I had no confidence, I made poor grades. I got into fights all the time. I sometimes wonder what it might have been like if my parents hadn’t divorced. Francine Russo, who asks in her essay “Can the Government Prevent Divorce?” would likely agree that my childhood would probably have been far less rocky if the government had required all couples to participate in pre-marital counseling.

B.  Concluding paragraph: thought-provoking question, restating the thesis (73):

Would my life have been any different if my parents had received pre-marital counseling? Maybe I wouldn’t have spent the time I did in state prison. Maybe I could have received a college degree before now. Maybe I could have led a normal life. Maybe. I’ll never know, but I do know now from seeing what has happened to me and to others that mandatory premarital counseling is the only route to go.


A. Introductory paragraph: using a quotation, divisions of the topic (100):

Comedienne Elayne Boosler jokes that she’s never been married, but she tells people she’s divorced so they won't think something's wrong with her. What a sad sign of the times that so many people are getting divorced that comedians are making such jokes about it. But divorce is no joke. Everyday thousands of couples are going through divorce proceedings. I wholeheartedly agree with Francine Russo, who in her essay “Can the Government Prevent Divorce?” argues that the emotional, social, and economic costs of divorce to all Americans is astronomical. Indeed, because of such costs, the government should require pre-marital counseling.

B.  Concluding paragraph---using a quotation, a thought-provoking question, restating the thesis (95):

Famous novelist Pearl Buck once wrote that a good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love. How can potential marriage partners know this when first considering marriage? Why do expectant parents go to Lamaze classes? Because they can’t know everything there is to know about childbirth without being well informed! For the same reason, the government should encourage all couples to attend pre-marital counseling, so that through education society can find relief from the emotional, social, and economic costs which arise  from divorce.


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