Chapter 5: The Essay

5.3 The Conclusion

The conclusion of an essay is a longer version of the concluding sentences you practised in Chapter 3: Paragraph Structure.

In a conclusion, you tie it all together for the reader, reminding them of your argument and supporting evidence and why it’s important. Here’s where you can be at your boldest as a writer.

In conclusions, academic writers tend not to tell people what to do. Although in an informal argument with friends or family, you may be used to laying down the law (“Everybody needs to pay attention to this!”), in academic writing, laying out recommendations for individuals is considered beyond your scope. You can, however, recommend changes to policy or further research. Janet Giltrow, in Academic Writing, describes this kind of recommendation as a moral statement.

The table below gives some examples of different ways you can boldly describe the future that might ensue if your argument is ignored. Note that these statements don’t stick strictly to their own type: the vivid image, for example, can also be seen as a warning of results or consequences should the writer’s call go unheeded.

Table 5.2 Examples of bold conclusions
Type of Statement Example
Vivid image The spectre of millions of abandoned bicycles, their tires rotted away and wheel rims glinting in the sun, is one that could come true unless we continue to invest in the infrastructure that allows cyclists to take to the road safely.
Results or consequences The Prime Minister’s apology was, as many have noted, just the first step. Only if the federal government incorporates reconciliation into all of its dealings with Indigenous people can it hope to move beyond the wrongs that its predecessors perpetrated.
Warning Hockey Canada would no doubt prefer to avoid an expensive, lengthy, and public lawsuit, but that is exactly what will happen if the men’s and women’s games are not equalized.

Review Questions

  1. You have already written the introductory and body paragraphs—now, write a concluding paragraph for your essay.
  2. In a group, read each other’s concluding paragraphs. Do they make a bold statement by evoking a vivid image or explaining the significance of your topic? If you wrote a persuasive essay, did you suggest results or consequences related to your argument, or end with a warning? Is your conclusion exciting and important? If not, how can you revise? (Hint: For a suggested format to help each other revise, please see Chapter 7.2 Peer Review.)


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Building Blocks of Academic Writing Copyright © 2020 by Carellin Brooks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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