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Concluding Paragraphs

In writing a concluding paragraph, one typically begins with a transition, which alerts the reader to a statement summarizing the main topic or subpoints of the essay. The goal now is to lead the reader to a satisfactory closing. This occurs in several ways.

Frequently, a writer will recall the subpoints of the essay for the reader and hint at points beyond the scope of the essay. The paragraph below illustrates this type of concluding paragraph.

As you can see, my photo albums, postcard collection, and box of mementos are irreplaceable. If there were a fire in my house, these would be the things I would grab first. When I settle down, I should put them in a safe deposit box in the bank. Without these valued possessions, I would feel that parts of my life were missing and I would be unable to share them, and the memories they inspire, with my great grandchildren.

Conclusions to narrative essays often point out for the reader the lesson learned or the understanding achieved by the event recounted. The following concluding paragraph exhibits features of this strategy.

Thus, the confusion I experienced related to the number of laps I was swimming led to my most embarrassing moment. After some teasing by my family and teammates, the coach talked with me about how I could be certain about the number of laps. After this, one of my teammates always wrote the number of laps I had left to swim on a clipboard and had it ready for me to see. While I lost other races, none were ever again due to the confusion in lap counting.

Finally, a concluding paragraph often has a sense of the future about it-the next logical step to consider or a new topic that has arisen. An essay about how technology is being slowly accepted concludes in this manner.

Therefore, computers have sneaked into my life. Both at play, at home, and at work, I now depend on computers. Not only that, I am becoming more dependent on technological things every day. I guess you really can't stop technology from becoming an important part of your life when you learn how much easier life is with technological advances. In fact, this holiday season I may be buying a pager and a DVD player!

To summarize, the basic strategies for concluding an essay include the following:

A. Recall/summarize the subpoints.
B. Tell the long-term outcome or lesson learned.
C. Give a sense of the future.

Openings and Closings

The introductory paragraph and concluding paragraph serve as buffers-a slow preparation of the readers for the meat of the essay and the gradual moving away from the topic. In truth, only the thesis statement and the concluding statement directly address the topic of the essay.

An additional consideration in writing introductions and conclusions is the relatedness of the two paragraphs. While an introductory paragraph might consider valuable possessions one had as a child, the concluding paragraph might consider valuable possessions one may have in the future. Thus, a writer may strive to think about how the introductory paragraph and concluding paragraph work together. In this way, the student can view the essay now not as composed of various parts but, rather, as a whole.

It is a good practice for students and teachers to read a number of essays and analyze the strategies a writer used when introducing and concluding the paper. There are quite a number of other strategies beyond those presented in this module. "Model essays" written by former students as well as published professional essays are good sources of basic essays for reading and analyzing.