Concluding Paragraphs

Lesson Content

Inquire: Wrapping Everything Up

Overview

DecorativeEnding an argument in an effective way is not something people think about very often. It can seem redundant or unnecessary to include a final part that wraps-up what you’ve been discussing for a fair amount of time. After all, your audience has been paying attention, right? However, the true purpose of the conclusion in an essay isn’t to wake up your reader, but to give them a final big-picture look at your argument and get them thinking about the points you have made within a larger context. With this final, more concrete connection made, your essay will be more memorable and have a lasting impact on your reader.

Big Question

How do I end my argument in a strong and impactful way?

Read: In Conclusion…

A Necessary Redundancy

At first glance, the concluding paragraph may seem unnecessarily redundant. While it’s true that you are restating the major elements of your essay, the purpose here is somewhat different than how you introduced your argument. Think of the concluding paragraph as a “hammering home” of your essay, where you state your thesis as a proven statement because of the points you’ve supported, rather than as an argument to be proved. You want to leave your reader thinking about your argument in a positive way, understanding that you’ve successfully researched and defended your thesis. While this can be done in several ways, in this lesson, we’ll go through a simple approach so you can get a grasp of the basic impact that a concluding paragraph should have.

A Three Part Conclusion

DecorativeSince the purpose of a concluding paragraph is relatively straightforward, it doesn’t necessarily need to be long. You don’t want your audience to feel like your essay is endlessly dragging on when you’ve already clearly reached the end of your argument. With that in mind, try not to get too stressed about writing your conclusion. So long as you have written a well-constructed essay in your introductory and body paragraphs, the conclusion will seamlessly flow from what you’ve already completed. The main elements of a successful conclusion are: 1) restating the thesis; 2) restating your sub-topics that supported your thesis; and 3) a last statement that leaves the reader intrigued about your thesis.

Restating the Thesis

Despite what it sounds like, you are not simply copying and pasting your thesis statement as the first sentence of your conclusion. Rather, when you restate your thesis, what you are doing is rewriting the core statement of your argument as a proven theory. In other words, you will be rewriting your thesis statement in a tone that suggests the evidence presented in the essay has proven that statement; your thesis is the only natural conclusion that can be made from the points in your essay. You’ve laid out your evidence throughout the essay, supported your thesis, and now, you assert this thesis as true.

Restating the Sub-Topics

Having re-stated your thesis, you need to remind your reader of why this thesis is correct. Again, this may seem redundant, but you want your reader to be revisiting your argument as they finish reading. The point here is to make your reader remember not only what your argument was, but how you proved it in the essay. When you restate your main points, follow the order in which they appear in the essay. Your tone here should be conclusive. You’ve already proven each of these points with the evidence you’ve presented and discussed; you merely want your reader to recall each of the points as factual and supportive of your thesis.

DecorativeWithin the paragraph, each of these points can be its own sentence, or you can restate all of the points as one sentence: whichever works for the flow of your essay or the general requirements of what you are writing. Just remember that you don’t want your essay to drag on, so restate your points as concisely as possible.

Finally, do not introduce new ideas in your conclusion to further support your thesis. At this point, your reader should already fully understand your argument and should be thinking over your main points as you presented them. You don’t want to confuse them with a sudden addition or afterthought that may distract them from your argument. You’ve already made your argument, let your reader think about that, not why you suddenly decided to take them down a rabbit hole.

The Final Statement

The last sentence or two of your essay should make your reader begin to think about the larger context of your argument. Recall that in your introduction, you gave your thesis a context so that your reader would understand the importance of your argument. Here, you want to remind them of this context to get them thinking about how your essay applies to the wider subject. There are several ways you can accomplish this. You can make a final statement about the implications of your thesis, or perhaps ask a rhetorical question that makes the reader think about ways they might apply your thesis in a hypothetical situation. Remember that you want to leave them with an impact: something that impresses your reader with your argument and how it applies to your subject.

Reflect: Conclusions Can Be Tough

Poll

Concluding paragraphs can be hard to write. Coming up with a new way of phrasing your thesis statement can seem difficult, especially if you found it hard to come up with your thesis statement in the first place. For others, the difficulty might be adding a final thought that gets your reader thinking about your argument in a broader context.

What have you thought about conclusions you’ve had to write in the past? Did you find them difficult or easy?

Expand: Restating the Thesis

“Do I Really Have to Say this Twice?”

DecorativeAs discussed earlier, restating the thesis can be one of the more challenging aspects of the concluding paragraph. When you’ve already put a great deal of thought into how to phrase your argument, having to go back and think of a new way of saying essentially the same thing can seem confusing or frustrating. Don’t let that stop you. Remember, you’ve already done the hard part – developing and defending your thesis – so don’t get too stressed about its conclusion. To help with this part of your essay, we’ll go over a short example to show you a couple of different ways of restating a thesis that will help you form a strong conclusion.

Language and Tone

One of the more basic ways you can restate your thesis into a conclusion is by changing the tone of your words to be more forceful. This has the effect of shifting your thesis statement from a developed idea that needs to be supported into a proven argument. For example, let’s say your essay is about the need for federal funding for public education. Your thesis statement as written in your introduction might read like this:

The government should raise the federal income tax rates to increase funding for public education.

The key word here is “should.” This gives your thesis statement the tone of an idea open for discussion; you will use your essay to show that your idea is the correct course of action. Having done so, when you write your concluding paragraph, your restatement might read this way:

Increasing funding for public education by raising federal income tax rates is a necessity that the government must accept.

Here, the language has more force. The phrases “is a necessity” and “must accept” are imperatives, meaning they allow no more argument on the truth of what they are saying. This is the tone you’ll want to have in a conclusion.

Sentence Order

DecorativeYou’ll also notice that the major parts of the sentence have been sequenced differently. Again, the sentence is saying the same thing, but by moving the element referring to increasing funding to the beginning of the sentence and the government (the subject of the sentence) to the end, the sentence reads differently and doesn’t sound redundant. When changing the position of elements within a sentence, it’s very important to consider the meaning of each element and to reread both your thesis statement and your conclusion carefully to make sure the sentences remain consistent.

Using these simple techniques can also help you restate the main points of your essay. You don’t need to re-argue these points; just remember to ensure that they mirror what you’ve written in your essay, and you will have a strong, concise conclusion.

Lesson Resources

Lesson Toolbox

Additional Resources and Readings

Conclusion Paragraphs

A simple breakdown of the main elements of a concluding paragraph, along with some “do’s and don’ts”
Source: Mesa Community College

Writing a Developed and Detailed Conclusion

An example and analysis of a concluding paragraph
Source: Online Writing Lab, Purdue University

Concluding Paragraphs

Information containing suggestions of what to write for your final statement
Source: Capital Community College

Lesson Glossary

Terms

AJAX progress indicator
  • body paragraph
    paragraphs that follow the introductory paragraph and provide supporting arguments for a thesis statement
  • conclusion
    sums up the main argument of an essay and reiterates a larger context for the thesis
  • essay
    a structured written argument that uses multiple sub-points to support the main argument

License and Citations

Content License

Lesson Content:

Authored and curated by Matt Huigens for The TEL Library. CC BY NC SA

Media Sources

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DecorativeBrainstormingJ. Kelly BritoUnsplashPublic Domain
DecorativeTaking notes with a pencilThought CatalogUnsplashPublic Domain
DecorativeDesk Keyboard Wristwatch WatchLife of PixPexelsPublic Domain
DecorativeBlack Claw Hammer on Brown Wooden PlankPixabayPexelsPublic Domain
DecorativeEnvelope Desk PencilJoanna KosinskaUnsplashPublic Domain

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