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Lesson Thirteen:

expository paragraphs

An expository paragraph informs the reader on a subject. It provides information. Expository paragraphs are found in the books that you read for school or the instructions that you read when trying to repair something on your house.

There are many different kinds of paragraphs that provide information. The three main types of expository paragraphs that we will explore here are...

  • informative
  • cause and effect
  • comparison / contrast

No matter what form an expository paragraph takes, the writer focuses on presenting factual information and being objective. This type of paragraph is usually written from a third-person point of view; however, it you want to use a first-person perspective, that might be okay; but check with your teacher first, or consider the reason why you are writing the paragraph. The use of the first-person can be a bit distracting from the subject at hand, and it might reveal a bias.

The first example will be of a paragraph that is informative. This type of a paragraph might explain a process, describe a category, or provide a long definition of something that is complicated. The sample paragraph below explains that Canada is a bilingual country.

    English is the language spoken throughout most of Canada, but in Quebec, the most populated province, and in areas near Quebec, French is the first language. Because of this, Canadians recognize French and English as official languages that are used in business and government. Many people are bilingual and easily go from French to English and vice versa when speaking with tourists. The farther west you go, the more English you'll hear, but it is common to meet people throughout the country who are familiar with both languages.

This paragraph focuses on facts and avoids sounding judgmental.

 

A comparison-contrast paragraph compares two things. The differences can be large or small, depending on the goals of the writer. This next paragraph compares processed and unprocessed food, but unlike the previous example, it does stake out a position:

     There are many advantages to purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables as an alternative to popular processed food items at your local grocer store. While potato chips and donuts are tasty and frozen food is convenient, a habit of eating food prepared in a factory leads to overall poor nutrition and can cause bad health. These ill effects result in increased visits to the dentist or the family physician. A bag of apples might cost more than a bag of Cheetos, but savings in health costs far outweigh the immediate savings at the cash register. Besides, pound for pound, fresh food often turns out to be cheaper than packaged food. Many people forget that when they buy something that is packaged or frozen, they are also buying the packaging which lures shoppers into buying the product. Commercials on television successfully convince consumers that the decisions to buy packaged food is logical, but facts about nutrition and value prove otherwise.

This paragraph wants you to accept the idea that fresh food is better than processed food, and it lists some examples of that. This could easily be one paragraph in an essay.

 

A cause and effect paragraph explains why the action of one thing (the cause) produces a result (the effect). In this example, the first-person is used. The example below is by a student:

    If I had listened to my teachers who encouraged me stay in college, I would be in a much better financial position today. Instead, when I was nineteen, I dropped out of college and drifted from one job to another. At first, It felt good to have money while friends of mine who remained in college were always broke, but soon I realized my mistake. Friends of mine who graduated with degrees in business and science were suddenly making three or four times what I was making as a manager of a shoe store. In addition, I began to feel as though my education was incomplete. Something was missing from my life. Gradually, the consequences of my short-term thinking became evident; therefore, At the age of twenty-five, I returned to college to pursue a degree in business administration.

 

If you want to send me an example of an expository paragraph that you have written, email your paragraph to your teacher:

paul@learnamericanenglishonline.com

In the subject field, write "expository paragraph." Thanks!

In the next lesson, we'll look at an example of a persuasive paragraph.