College courses will require a great deal of different kinds of written assignments such as persuasive essays, argumentative essays, and definition essays. While easier than a term paper, a definition essay does have its own rules and expectations. So what is a definition essay? How is it different than other types of essays? Good questions! Knowing what sets a definition essay apart is the first step in creating an A level paper. It’s important to know the different kinds of essays as your professors will likely expect you to arrive with this knowledge. In addition to knowing how to write different essays, it’s important to know that your professor may not explicitly say “write a definition essay” — instead he or she may describe the type of essay required on the assignment rubric.
Types of Definition Essays
Professors often assign definition essays towards the beginning of a class. The focus of this type of essay is to explore a specific concept. These concepts are often divided into one of three categories:
In this type of essay, the assignment explores how to fully define a difficult topic. By definition, an abstract concept is one that is vast and complicated. Examples of abstract concepts include liberty, ambition, love, hate, generosity, and pride. The focus of the essay should be to break down the concept into more manageable parts for the audience.
Definition essays that focus on a place tend to explore a specific type of place and how you as the writer view this particular place. Types of places which may be assigned are a country, state, city, neighborhood, park, house, or a room. The place may be huge or small. A key to writing a good definition essay focused on the place is to select a specific place you are familiar with; it shouldn’t be a place you need to research — it should be a place that you know intimately.An Adjective
An adjective essay focuses on creating a definition for an adjective. Common topics may include describing a “good” or “bad” friend, present, or law. The focus of the essay should explore the qualities and characteristics of a good friend or a bad present.
Description Essay Organization
Like any writing assignment, before you begin writing the paragraphs it’s a good idea to brainstorm and then outline your approach. Thinking through the process will make writing that much easier. After you’ve selected (or been assigned) your topic. The description essay tends to be organized with three types of paragraphs: introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion. While there should be only one introduction and one conclusion paragraph, there should be several types of body paragraphs. Let’s take a look at what should be in each type of paragraph.
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The introduction paragraph should begin with an attention getter or a hook. The purpose of this sentence is to engage the audience and pique their interest to make them want to read more. After this sentence should follow several more sentences to maintain the reader’s interest such as relevant facts that the reader may find of interest pertaining to the topic. As a descriptive essay can include personal anecdotes, it is appropriate to include personal experiences if you have any pertaining to the topic. After gaining the audience’s attention, the end of the introduction paragraph should offer your definition of the topic as well as your thesis statement. The thesis statement acts as a transition to the first body paragraph.
Each body paragraph should focus on presenting one key idea that supports your definition of the topic. Every paragraph should begin with a clear, focused topic sentence. The next several sentences should focus on supporting the topic sentence with examples from primary and secondary sources as well as personal experiences as appropriate. Remember: it’s crucial to cite any information correctly according to whichever method your professor outlines such as the MLA or APA format. Body paragraphs can take any number of forms. Here are several kinds of body paragraphs:
An analysis paragraph presents an idea that is divided into its key parts and then spends time analyzing the importance of those parts to support the thesis/topic sentence.
A comparison paragraph works to establish the similarities and differences between your idea and other ideas. This comparison helps the audience understand what your topic is and is not.
An illustration paragraph provides very specific details to create an exact picture in the audience’s head to help them visualize the topic.
A negation paragraph exists to provide an example of what the topic is not. Sometimes providing a non-example is an excellent way to clarify what your topic is to the audience.
Remember: a typical body paragraph ranges from eight sentences to upwards of twenty or more, depending on how many examples you have to support your topic sentence. A short descriptive essay will have at least three body paragraphs; a longer description essay could have five or more. It’s always a good idea to check the rubric to ensure that you’ve met the professor’s expectations for the essay length and number of paragraphs.
The conclusion paragraph is typically half a page in length. This paragraph should not introduce any new information — it should only exist to review key points and show the audience how you’ve accomplished the point of the essay by defining a specific topic. The conclusion should echo the thesis sentence without repeating it word for word. This paragraph should exist as an intelligent summary of all of the information presented in the paper.
Once you’ve brainstormed and created a definition essay outline, it’s time to write your first draft. Set aside time to go through the first draft and check not only for grammar issues but content issues as well. It’s always a good idea to have a second or third pair of eyes. Try to schedule an appointment with your professor to review your draft and get his or her input on any revisions to strengthen your argument. Make any revisions and submit an A-level paper!