An expository essay is one that gives detailed information about a subject. Its main purpose is to educate the reader about such. So, it relies on facts, not fiction as you may have in a narrative essay. The writer’s purpose is also not to argue or debate as you have in argumentative essays or debates. Rather, he or she has full information about a particular phenomenon or process and wants to accordingly educate the reader.
Examples of expository essays include one on the uses of television to man, how to prepare a particular dish and place of democracy in global development. In all of these, you are expected to provide detailed information in simple and correct English and in an organised manner.
STRUCTURE OF EXPOSITORY ESSAYS
1. Title of the Essay
You must clearly write the title or heading of the essay. This is what tells the reader what he or she is to read about. Example: MY FAVOURITE TELEVISION PROGRAMME or My Favourite Television Programme.
This is the opening paragraph where you introduce the subject. It prepares the reader for the educative journey you are taking them through, and that is why it is very important. The opening paragraph/introduction should not be too long since it is a welcome treat. It is in the body of the essay you give detailed explanations.
3. Body of The Essay
This is contained in the about five paragraphs that follow, where you systematically present the essay, providing the full information on the subject. Explain each stage or process in a separate paragraph which should, however, be well linked to the others. Ensure the thesis presented is exhaustive and balanced. If the question involves the advantages and disadvantages of a concept, ensure you cover both – because this is not an argumentative essay where you principally dwell on one side of the argument.
This is the last paragraph on the expository essay. Here, you round off the essay, which could be by highlighting the points explained or by summarising the entire piece. The paragraph should not be too long, as we have in the introduction.
TONE AND LANGUAGE USE IN EXPOSITORY ESSAYS
The tone of the essay must be calm but firm. It should be informative as the writer is like a teacher eager to educate the reader. The tone should also be confident, showing that the writer really knows what he or she is writing about. It should also be able to sustain the reader’s attention.
In terms of language, the essayist should write simple and correct English. The language should be rich and interesting but it should not be too loud or flowery at the expense of the information being provided.
The paragraphs should be clearly presented. Use conjunctions to link them where necessary (like however, moreover etc.). Ensure you start your sentences with capital letters and correctly put your punctuation marks.
NOTE: Because an expository essay is not a debate, you do not need to greet anyone – including the panel of judges and the ever ‘accurate time keeper’. Lastly, what you have just read, that is, this particular note on expository essays, is itself an expository essay!
Meanwhile, watch this short video on why you can’t pluralise ‘potential’.