Definition of Introduction

An introduction, or introductory paragraph, falls in the start of an essay. It is the first paragraph, which is also called “a gateway” of an essay. It is because it attracts the attention of readers to the essay and gives them background information about the topic.  It also introduces the thesis statement of the essay, which is the heart of an essay, and tells what is to be discussed in the body paragraphs.

However, some essay writers and professors suggest that the thesis should not come at the end, but should fall at the start of the introduction. Most of the academicians agree that a thesis statement should fall at the end of the introduction.

Elements of an Introduction

Generally, an introduction has four integral elements which come in a sequence, one after the other. They are as given below:

  1. Hook or attention grabber
  2. Background Information
  3. Connect
  4. Thesis statement

Hook: A hook is the first sentence of an introduction. It is also called an “attention grabber.” As the name suggests, it is intended to hook readers, or grab their attention. It therefore must be attractive, charming, and readable to encourage readers read the entire piece. A hook could be a good quote, a good verse, or a good incident, anecdote, or an event.

Background Information: Background information takes most of the space in an introduction. It normally comes after the hook, which is just as single sentence. However, background information in a short essay could take three to four sentences, and more in a long essay. Its purpose is to introduce the readers to the background of the topic, so that they should be able to expect what is to come next and then read it.

Connect: This is just a short sentence which connects the background information with the thesis statement. It is often missed in short essays, where background information is directly connected with the thesis statement. However, in longer essays, it is a short sentence that starts with a transition, and connects the background information with the thesis statement. Its purpose is to let the readers connect with the major themes of the essay.

Thesis Statement: This element comes directly after the connect, and is often called the heart, core, or central point of the essay. Without a thesis statement, an essay cannot be called a good essay, as it misses its thesis or central point of argument. In a five-paragraph essay, the thesis statement should comprise a single sentence, with three points of evidence that are discussed in body paragraphs. However, in longer essays, it could be longer. It could be two or three sentences, with each sentence having two or three evidences and a counterargument.

Types of Introduction

There are several types of introduction based on the elements given above. Some writers, however, suggest writing a thesis statement at the beginning, while others suggest to write it at the end. The most common practice is to write it at the end.

Based on this practice, there could be two types of introduction. The first is a direct introduction in which the thesis statement comes first, and gives background information later. The second is an indirect instruction in which the thesis statement comes later, the background information being presented first. Therefore, it is always the indirect introduction which proves effective in an essay.

Function of Introduction

The major purpose of an introduction is to make readers feel that they are going to read about something. As it has four integral points, they all play an important role in making readers feel that he is going through a well-organized piece. For example, the job of a hook is to attract the attention of readers, while background information provides further information about the topic discussed in the essay. It educates readers about what is to be discussed.

The connect joins the background information with the thesis statement. The thesis statement informs readers about what comes next, and what angle the essay is going to take. Although a reader only knows the evidences to be discussed, he has a fair idea of what is going to be discussed and how. In other words, an introduction levels the ground before the real essay begins.