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Concluding Definition Essay

Writing a Good Conclusion Paragraph

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In a conclusion paragraph, you summarize what you’ve written about in your paper. When you’re writing a good conclusion paragraph, you need to think about the main point that you want to get across and be sure it’s included. If you’ve already written a fabulous introductory paragraph, you can write something similar with different wording. Here are some points to remember.

Use your introductory paragraph as a guide. You may have started by saying, “There are three classes at school that I absolutely can’t wait to go to every day.” You can start your conclusion by saying, “Gym, Math, and Art are the three classes I try to never miss.”

If it’s a longer paper, a good place to start is by looking at what each paragraph was about. For example, if you write a paper about zoo animals, each paragraph would probably be about one particular animal. In your conclusion, you should briefly mention each animal again. “Zoo animals like polar bears, lions, and giraffes are amazing creatures.”

Leave your readers with something to think about. Suggest that they learn more with a sentence like, “We have a lot to learn about global warming.” You can also give them something to do after reading your paper. For example, “It’s easy to make your own popsicles. Grab some orange juice and give it a try!”

To sum up, remember that it’s important to wrap up your writing by summarizing the main idea for your readers. This brings your writing to a smooth close and creates a well-written piece of work.


What is a conclusion?

  • A conclusion is what you will leave with your reader
  • It “wraps up” your essay
  • It demonstrates to the reader that you accomplished what you set out to do
  • It shows how you have proved your thesis
  • It provides the reader with a sense of closure on the topic

Structure

  • A conclusion is the opposite of the introduction
  • Remember that the introduction begins general and ends specific
  • The conclusion begins specific and moves to the general

Essay Structure

  • So, if we use shapes to demonstrate the essay’s content, it would look like this:

 

Introduction

Thesis statement

Body of Essay

Rephrased thesis statement

Conclusion

 


What to include

  • Your conclusion wraps up your essay in a tidy package and brings it home for your reader
  • Your topic sentence should summarize what you said in your thesis statement
    • This suggests to your reader that you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish
  • Do not simply restate your thesis statement, as that would be redundant
    • Rephrase the thesis statement with fresh and deeper understanding
  • Your conclusion is no place to bring up new ideas
  • Your supporting sentences should summarize what you have already said in the body of your essay
    • If a brilliant idea tries to sneak into the final paragraph, you must pluck it out and let it have its own paragraph in the body, or leave it out completely
  • Your topic for each body paragraph should be summarized in the conclusion
  • Your closing sentence should help the reader feel a sense of closure
  • Your closing sentence is your last word on the subject; it is your “clincher”
    • Demonstrate the importance of your ideas
    • Propel your reader to a new view of the subject
    • End on a positive note
  • Your closing sentence should make your readers glad they read your paper

Strategies for an effective conclusion

  • Play the “So What” Game.
    • When you read a statement from the conclusion, ask yourself, “So what?” or “Why should anybody care?”
    • Ponder that question and answer it
      • Basically, I’m just saying that education was important to Douglass
      • So what?
      • Well, it was important because it was a key to him feeling like a free and equal citizen
      • Why should anybody care?
      • That’s important because plantation owners tried to keep slaves from being educated so that they could maintain control. When Douglass obtained an education, he undermined that control personally.
  • Return to the theme or themes in the introduction
    • This brings the reader full circle
    • If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay is helpful in creating a new understanding
    • Refer to the introductory paragraph by using key words, or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the introduction
  • Summarize
    • Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in the paper
  • Pull it all together
    • Show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together
  • Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for the paper
  • Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study
  • Point to broader implications
    • A paper about the style of writer, Virginia Woolf, could point to her influence on other writers or later feminists

Concluding strategies that do not work

  • Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase
  • These may work in speeches, but they come across as wooden and trite in writing
    • “in conclusion”
    • “in summary”
    • “in closing”
    • “as shown in the essay”
  • Stating the thesis for the very first time
  • Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion
  • Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of the paper
  • Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper

Ineffective conclusions

  • “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It”
    • Restates the thesis and is usually painfully short
    • Does not push ideas forward
    • Written when the writer can’t think of anything else to say
    • Example
      • In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was, as we have seen, a pioneer in American education, proving that education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.
  • “Sherlock Holmes”
    • State the thesis for the first time in the conclusion
    • Writer thinks it would be more dramatic to keep the reader in suspense and then “wow” them with the main idea, as in a Sherlock Holmes mystery
    • Readers want an analytical discussion of the topic in academic style, with the thesis statement up front
  • “America the Beautiful”
    • Draws on emotion to make its appeal
    • Out of character with the rest of the paper
  • “Grab Bag”
    • Includes extra information thought of or found but couldn’t integrate into the main body
    • Creates confusion for the reader

Conclusion outline

  • Topic sentence
    • Fresh rephrasing of thesis statement
  • Supporting sentences
    • Summarize or wrap up the main points in the body of the essay
    • Explain how ideas fit together
  • Closing sentence
    • Final words
    • Connects back to the introduction
    • Provides a sense of closure

More Concluding Paragraph Resources

Your conclusion is your opportunity to wrap up your essay in a tidy package and bring it home for your reader. It is a good idea to recapitulate what you said in your Thesis Statement in order to suggest to your reader that you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish. It is also important to judge for yourself that you have, in fact, done so. If you find that your thesis statement now sounds hollow or irrelevant — that you haven't done what you set out to do — then you need either to revise your argument or to redefine your thesis statement. Don't worry about that; it happens to writers all the time. They have argued themselves into a position that they might not have thought of when they began their writing. Writing, just as much as reading, is a process of self discovery. Do not, in any case, simply restate your thesis statement in your final paragraph, as that would be redundant. Having read your essay, we should understand this main thought with fresh and deeper understanding, and your conclusion wants to reflect what we have learned.

There are some cautions we want to keep in mind as we fashion our final utterance. First, we don't want to finish with a sentimental flourish that shows we're trying to do too much. It's probably enough that our essay on recycling will slow the growth of the landfill in Hartford's North Meadows. We don't need to claim that recycling our soda bottles is going to save the world for our children's children. (That may be true, in fact, but it's better to claim too little than too much; otherwise, our readers are going to be left with that feeling of "Who's he/she kidding?") The conclusion should contain a definite, positive statement or call to action, but that statement needs to be based on what we have provided in the essay.

Second, the conclusion is no place to bring up new ideas. If a brilliant idea tries to sneak into our final paragraph, we must pluck it out and let it have its own paragraph earlier in the essay. If it doesn't fit the structure or argument of the essay, we will leave it out altogether and let it have its own essay later on. The last thing we want in our conclusion is an excuse for our readers' minds wandering off into some new field. Allowing a peer editor or friend to reread our essay before we hand it in is one way to check this impulse before it ruins our good intentions and hard work.

Never apologize for or otherwise undercut the argument you've made or leave your readers with the sense that "this is just little ol' me talking." Leave your readers with the sense that they've been in the company of someone who knows what he or she is doing. Also, if you promised in the introduction that you were going to cover four points and you covered only two (because you couldn't find enough information or you took too long with the first two or you got tired), don't try to cram those last two points into your final paragraph. The "rush job" will be all too apparent. Instead, revise your introduction or take the time to do justice to these other points.

Here is a brief list of things that you might accomplish in your concluding paragraph(s).* There are certainly other things that you can do, and you certainly don't want to do all these things. They're only suggestions:

  • include a brief summary of the paper's main points.
  • ask a provocative question.
  • use a quotation.
  • evoke a vivid image.
  • call for some sort of action.
  • end with a warning.
  • universalize (compare to other situations).
  • suggest results or consequences.

Here is the concluding paragraph of George Orwell's famous essay, "Politics and the English Language." If you would like to read the entire essay from which this conclusion is taken (and check out, especially, the beginning), click HERE.

I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin, where it belongs.

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