Throughout History, People have Begun Essays with Grand Generalizations

By Professor John McSnoot

Throughout history, people have begun essays with grand generalizations. It’s one of the most common mistakes I see in student papers. These generalizations are often the same as the title of the essay, which should always be its own thought.

There are three main mistakes I see in my students’ writing: Making a laundry list of reasons, sentence construction badness, and repetitive, redundant sentences of redundancy. Then, they do not provide adequate explanations for their reasoning. They just beat around the bush and never get to the point and just repeat the same thing over and over and use way too many long, winding run-on sentences that could have easily been separated into several smaller sentences for increased clarity.

Other students do include examples, but they try to force a fit to include a direct quote. It reminds me of the politician Richard Nixon, who once famously stated, “I am not a crook!” Don’t do this in your paper, because it isn’t correct. (And you also shouldn’t use contractions.)

In conclusion, as I stated in my intro, throughout history, people have ended essays with grand generalizations. It’s one of the most common mistakes I see in student papers.  They also use their conclusion to restate their introduction instead of finishing with a separate thought.

Most young writers end their essays too abruptly.

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