Filología Inglesa

Composition of English Texts

Composition of English texts

Basic techniques for generating ideas.


Brainstorming consists in writing series of words or sentences just as they flow from our mind, although they have no logical order or connections. Once the words are written down, we have to establish relationships among them. This is the embryo of the future text.

Free writing.

Free writing is a similar technique to the brainstorming. Consists in writing a text without previous decisions or ideas about how we want to write it. Just choosing a topic and writing about it, and then we can summarise the main ideas.

Organisation of information.

There are some basic rules for writing a well - structured text. The text should be organised in a clear way; it must not be a twisted or an incomprehensible lot of ideas. We have to try to write according to certain conventions about hoe the text is organised. We have to structure our text in paragraphs. Each paragraph must express one idea. Some rules referring to the paragraphs:

  • A paragraph must be clearly separated from other paragraphs, either by an empty line or by indenting the first line, or both.

  • There must be no blank spaces or half-empty lines inside the paragraph.

  • A paragraph in academic prose does not begin with a dot, a line or a kind of mark, except in special circumstances.

  • Each body paragraph must normally have a topic sentence, and more than one sentence.

Types of paragraphs.

The introductory paragraph.

There must be at least one, although there can be more than one. This paragraph is usually a generalisation. It is more or less true, imprecise and it is of relative little value unless it is backed up. But we have to take care with generalisations. We have always to try not to do an overgeneralization, and our generalisation must never include our opinion (there will be time for this later). We will have to avoid, also, to give a weak argument; some generalisations just, simply, say nothing.

Discourse marks for generalisations.

(see also photocopies)

  • Adverbial connectives: in general, generally [speaking], on the whole...

  • Determiners: all, most, a majority, many, some, no, none...

  • Adverbs: rarely, always, every, often, usually, sometimes, occasionally, never...

  • Verbs: seem, appear, sound.

  • Modal verbs: may, might, could.

  • Personal opinions: I find, I think, it strikes me that...


Opening statement.

This leads into the subject of the introduction and establishes an initial connection between the reader and the subject. In other words, engages the reader's attention: there is often place for ingenuity here. An opening statement is a generalization about something, something like Poetry is a complex subject or AIDS is a serious problem. It is similar to a topic sentence, but an opening statement introduces the topic of an essay and a topic sentence introduces the topic of a body paragraph. An opening Statement should not contain:

  • Overgeneralizations. Everybody likes music (there are people who does not like music).

  • Things that are untrue. 93 % of students fail their degrees.

  • Debatable ideas. Football is the greatest sport in the world. This is pure opinion.

  • Vague ideas.

Opening statements as since History began or from the beginning of times, Man has practised religion should be avoided.

Background information.

It gives some general information: often this is a justification for bringing up a particular subject. The background information gives reasons for which is necessary to write about this to write about it.

Thesis statement.

It explains the basic purpose of the essay, whether it is going to be description, explanation, argumentation - and what general lines this will take.

The body paragraph. Structure.

Topic introducer.

This part is optional. It is more general than a topic sentence (see below) ant it does NOT include in embryo all that follows in the paragraph. Its function is to lead up to the matter in hand and narrow down the field of reference. It very often says what the write is NOT going to talk about.

Topic sentence.

A sentence includes in embryo all the ideas expressed in the rest of the paragraph. It is usually a generalisation (see upward).

Supporting sentences.

These are the background information, the ideas that reinforce and develop the ones included in the topic sentences.

The concluding paragraph.

It consists of a summary of the main points developed in the body paragraph. It will bear a relationship with the thesis statement. Its purposes are:

  • to remind the readers of the main ideas,

  • to reinforce the argument (in discussion essays or argument essays),

  • to give the readers a sense of completion,

  • to make sure that the reader has understood the essay, and

  • to leave the reader satisfied.

Discourse markers: to sum up, to conclude, by way of concluding...

The concluding paragraph SHOULD NOT GIVE NEW INFORMATION, only sum up the given before.

Standard structure of a text.

According to the notes given, the structure of a standard text would be like this:

'Composition of English Texts'

The structure of a standard text

Methods for linking paragraphs

'Composition of English Texts'

Different methods for linking paragraphs.

Object - oriented discursive essays.

They involve present a variety of opinions and viewpoints that are often remote from the writer. For example, somebody else's opinion. They should include objectivity and clarity of analysis. We must be sure that our sources of information are authoritative. The style includes impersonal forms and passive structures. E.g.:

Everyday violence is not related with violence in TV.

  • The Episcopal Conference claims that there is a clear connection…

  • A recent research based on the findings of CIS (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas) indicates that everyday violence is not related…

  • It is generally accepted that…

  • J. Smith, an expert on TV studies, claims / states / maintains that…

The discussion essay has two basic purposes:

  • to present a variety of viewpoints about an issue,

  • to present an objective analysis of these viewpoints. In this phase is necessary to let your reader know how reasonable, weighty or sensible you judge these arguments to be. The best way to do this is appealing to the reader's power of ratiocination rather than to his reliance on your good judgement.

We should maximize data and minimize our personal opinions or judgements.

There are two ways of presenting a variety of opinions:

  • presenting one opinion per paragraph, or

  • comparing and contrasting the different viewpoints within the same paragraph. This method is more elaborate but can be more effective since it allows you to introduce an extra structuring principle.

This diagram compare both methods:

'Composition of English Texts'

Two ways to present different viewpoints.

The language of analysis.

In a discussion essay, everything should be presented in an objective way, including the analysis. Even though the analysis and the conclusions drawn about which viewpoints seem the most reasonable, they will probably reflect the author's personal viewpoint. Expressions like those that I believe, it seems to me, I think, should not be used, unless you are asked to give your opinion.

In order to disguise one's opinion using an objective language, there are some expressions, like

  • seems to be a rather persuasive argument

  • appears to be rather unconvincing

  • could be considered as the more logical attitude

  • seems reasonable to consider that

  • is perhaps / possibly / probably

  • may well be

  • might be

Personal opinion essays and discussion essays.

Personal opinion essays:

  • you consult yourself,

  • you have to back up your position giving supporting reasons.

Discussion essays:

You consult your sources of information.

Descriptive essay.

Know and classify information: The causes that led the English Reformation

Discursive essay.

Subject - oriented essay.

Thesis statement as I intend to show in this essay why I tended to identify with lady Macbeth as I watched

Object - oriented essay:

It includes a thesis statement as This essay will attempt to trace the thread of vengeance in the creation of…

Enviado por:Miguel Ángel Tejadas Ceamanos
Idioma: inglés
País: España

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