An essay’s opening sentence has a tremendous impact on the reader. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing an argumentative essay, a personal narrative, or a research paper; how your text begins will affect its tone and topic. You can write about anything as long as it is relevant to your thesis—starting with an engaging opening sentence may be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful essay.
An introduction is the first section of any paper that allows you to introduce your thesis and provide an overview of your argument or discussion. A good introduction should grab your audience’s attention and entice them to read on, summarising what you’re trying to say concisely. It’s a good idea to think of your introduction as a hook, writing an opening sentence that will leave your reader wanting more.
Writing a thesis statement is the first thing you need to do when planning your paper. Although there are multiple strategies for creating a thesis statement, you must express yourself clearly and answer three simple questions: What is the main idea of my essay? Why is it important? How do I plan to prove it in a paper?
There are countless ways to begin an essay or a thesis effectively. As a start, here are 36 introductory strategies accompanied by examples from a wide range of professional writers.
36 Engaging opening sentences for an essay
1. “Is it possible to be truly anonymous online?”
This is an engaging opening sentence because it immediately poses a problem that the reader will likely want answered. It’s also interesting that this question applies directly to internet usage, something everybody has experience with. The subject of the opening sentence is “online anonymity,” which allows the writer to discuss two related concepts.
2. “I was shocked to awake one morning to find I had turned into a snail.”
The opening sentence immediately grabs the reader’s attention with its play on words, leaving them unsure if it’s meant as a joke. It continues to entertain by combining an unlikely image (a person turning into a snail) with waking up more common. The sentence also establishes the essay’s tone, which is humorous and personal.
3. “I didn’t want to study abroad.”
This opening sentence immediately intrigues the reader because it presents an opinion that contradicts what would be expected in this type of assignment. The writer then follows with a statement about their decision to study abroad, discussing the reasons for this choice and explaining their position on the matter.
4. “The three dogs had been barking for over an hour before my neighbor finally came out to investigate.”
This opening sentence introduces a narrative about something that happened in the past, starting with dogs barking at night. The next sentence provides background information by revealing that the neighbor came out after an hour and then reasons for this delay. The fact that the writer does not reveal why this is significant until later on makes the opening sentence even more effective because it keeps the reader engaged with what will happen next.
5. “I have always been interested in fashion.”
This opening sentence immediately sets the topic for the entire paper by discussing interest in fashion. It also establishes the tone, clearly portraying the writer’s voice while informing the audience about their personal experience with the subject matter.
6. “I remember when I first realized I didn’t have a home.”
This opening sentence begins a personal narrative about a time before moving out of their family home when the writer realized they didn’t live there anymore. It uses flashbacks to set up the rest of the essay by showing what happened before they moved out and how this made them feel.
7. “When I was in middle school, my dad told me not to get into fights.”
This opening sentence establishes a relationship between the writer and the subject of their essay, creating a more personal tone. It also establishes an expectation for what will be discussed by telling something that happened in the past. The sentence ends with a twist, so it’s more interesting than just stating something that was told to them, making this opening sentence effective.
8. “When I first sat down to write this essay, I was absolutely certain of the thesis.”
This opening sentence immediately introduces conflict because it tells about something that didn’t occur as expected. It also implies that there will be an alternate solution or angle for this paper that will be explored in the following paragraphs. The vocabulary (like “absolutely”) suggests more certainty in this opening paragraph than presented, making it interesting to read.
9. “I remember the first time I killed a man.”
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This opening sentence offers an unexpected statement that intrigues the reader and immediately draws them into the essay, wanting to know more about what happened. This type of sentence is called a gripping opener because it does just that. The sentence is also effective because it creates suspense and anticipation in the reader’s mind about what will happen next in this story.
10. “There are two sides to every story: my side and your side.”
This opening sentence introduces a topic that will be revisited multiple times throughout the essay, making it effective for an introduction. It also creates a sense of mystery about the two sides and how they relate to each other, which will be resolved later on once it becomes clear that there are three sides.
11. “I should start this essay by introducing myself.”
This opening sentence includes an explanation for why this paragraph is being written (to introduce oneself) before it ends with a question (“who am I?”). This is effective because it gets the reader to think critically about who the writer is and what they want to say. It also permits them to stop reading after this sentence if they don’t feel like it, making it one of the less intimidating opening sentences.
12. “At the age of seven, I knew my life was going to be amazing.”
This opening sentence establishes a confident, optimistic tone by mentioning something that happened in the past. It also implies that the writer had this positive outlook before anything particularly special happened to them yet, which will likely be mentioned later on, making it more interesting to read.
13. “I don’t know when I lost my sense of excitement for learning.”
This opening sentence presents a conflict that the writer will likely try to resolve in this essay, which gives the reader something to look forward to. It also establishes voice by expressing how they feel about their education so far and suggesting what could be done about it.
14. “Coming home after a long day of school and work is like walking into a warzone.”
This opening sentence creates a sense of conflict that will likely be discussed later on and establishes voice because it shows the writer’s attitude towards their environment. It provides an example of why this subject has been brought up by describing what happens during this “warzone” of a day.
15. “I’ve always loved school.”
This opening sentence is effective because it provides an example of how their life used to be before the issue was introduced (in the next few sentences), making it more interesting to read. It also creates a sense of nostalgia about how good things used to be, making it more engaging.
16. “I feel like I’m losing my mind.”
This opening sentence is effective because it creates a voice by describing the writer’s experience and establishes conflict, so the reader knows what to expect in this essay. It provokes an emotional response in the reader, making them more interested.
17. “On day two of our honeymoon, my wife passed out.”
This opening sentence creates suspense by mentioning what happens before revealing why this is significant. It also establishes conflict because it implies that the writer’s wife’s health will be an issue throughout the essay. This leads to a likely discussion about whether or not they should continue their honeymoon, making it engaging for the reader.
18. “I’m a college student, and I hate it.”
This opening sentence establishes conflict for the rest of the essay because it implies that something negatively affects their education. It also establishes voice by showing what they think about being a student and how they feel about college so far, which makes it more interesting to read.
19. “The first time I heard the word ‘stan’ was when Eminem released his song in 2000 by the same name.”
This opening sentence establishes conflict for what will likely be discussed later on and also creates a sense of nostalgia because it takes the reader back to a significant point in recent history that they might remember (rare for essays). It also establishes voice because it shows the writer’s knowledge about rap music.
20. “I used to hate when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up because I never knew how to answer them.”
This opening sentence helps the reader understand why this essay was written to tie into their own experiences. It also establishes conflict by revealing something that the writer used to be troubled by. It also makes them seem relatable because everyone has problems with their future at one point or another.
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21. “All my life, I’ve been told I was destined for greatness.”
This opening sentence establishes that the writer had difficulties in their life despite being seen as destined for greatness so far. It also creates a sense of conflict because it implies that they will have to convince the reader otherwise, making it more interesting to read.
22. “My friend once told me that I should never say ‘I’m just being honest when discussing our differences, but I always do.”
This opening sentence creates conflict by showing the reader that there is always tension between the writer and their friend because of this issue. It also establishes voice because it shows how honest they are about their differences, which makes them more relatable. This makes it engaging for the reader to read on.
23. “I’ve never been one to keep my emotions bottled up, and now that I’m pregnant, that’s been amplified.”
This opening sentence establishes emotion from the writer because it shows that they are uncomfortable keeping their emotions to themselves and continue to do so even when they become pregnant. It also creates a sense of conflict because the reader will probably wonder how this lack of emotional inhibition might affect them later on.
24. “The first time I read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ it changed my life.”
This opening sentence grabs the reader’s attention and shows what impact this book has had on the writer so far. It also establishes how passionate the writer is towards literature and makes them more relatable because many people have been affected by great works of literature in some way. This is engaging for the reader to read on.
25. “As I walked out of class one day, my professor asked me what I wanted to do with my future.”
This opening sentence establishes conflict by showing that there was a time when the writer did not have an answer to this question despite being capable of doing anything in their mind. It also establishes voice by showing that the writer can stand up for themselves when pushed and makes them seem more relatable because everyone struggles with thinking about their future at some point or another. This is engaging for the reader to continue reading.
26. “I’ve always been taught that it’s impolite to talk about money, but I want to share my experience with you.”
This opening sentence establishes voice by showing that the writer does not abide by this code of conduct because they believe it’s more important to be open and honest. It also creates a sense of conflict so that the reader might have their own contrasting opinions, which will create tension while reading. This is engaging for the reader to continue reading.
27. “Growing up, I never liked math, and it wasn’t until college that I realized why.”
This opening sentence establishes voice because it shows how passionate the writer was about their dislike of math despite not knowing why. It also creates conflict because they will have to explain their reasoning to the reader, which makes it more interesting to read, and it is engaging for the reader to read on.
28. “There are so many factors that go into determining how much someone should be paid, but I believe that everyone deserves equal pay.”
This opening sentence establishes conflict because the writer believes in something that not many people support, and they will have to explain their reasoning. It also establishes voice because it shows that the writer is passionate about this belief and makes them more relatable for other people who share the same opinion. This is engaging for the reader to read on.
29. “Many things have been said about Millennials, but no one has asked us what we think.”
This opening sentence creates a sense of conflict because the reader might be wondering what this person thinks as a Millennial. It also establishes voice by using “us” to show that they are not alone in their beliefs and makes them seem more relatable. This is engaging for the reader to read on.
30. “I finally found a job that I love, and as it turns out, it’s located in a city that has been my dream destination since I was little.”
This opening sentence establishes voice because it shows how the writer feels about their new job and makes them sound passionate about their work which makes the reader want to read on. This is engaging for the reader to continue.
31. “It was the summer of 2001 when I first came across an anime dubbed in French.”
This opening sentence establishes voice through personal experience and makes it relatable because many people have watched their favorite movies or shows in another language. It also creates a sense of conflict by making the reader wonder why they continued watching even though they didn’t understand much of what was being said. This is engaging for the reader to read on.
32. “For years, I thought my life was perfect, until one day when I realized that there’s nothing more important than your mental health.”
This opening sentence establishes voice by showing that the writer used to have this belief but then had a heart change, making them more relatable because everyone’s beliefs change over time. It also creates a sense of conflict by questioning what the reader believes about their mental health, which will make them want to continue reading. This is engaging for the reader to read on.
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33. “As children, it’s easy to dream about becoming an astronaut or a firefighter, but I never imagined that my greatest passion would be writing.”
This opening sentence establishes voice by showing how the writer is passionate about what they are currently doing. It also creates a sense of conflict because the reader may have different interests, making it more interesting to read. This is engaging for the reader to continue reading on.
34. “If you would’ve asked me a few months ago, I wouldn’t have said that my life was perfect. However, after some time and perspective, I’m grateful for the twists and turns.”
This opening sentence establishes voice by showing how this person’s perspective has changed over time. It also creates a sense of conflict because it questions what the reader thinks and makes them want to read on. This is engaging for the reader to read on.
35. “Everyone has goals in life, whether it’s saving up enough money to buy a house or finally writing that book.”
This opening sentence establishes conflict because it questions the reader’s goals and shows how they may be different from the writer’s. It also creates a sense of connection because many people share the same goals and make them want to keep reading. This is engaging for the reader to read on.
36. “I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you this, but my favorite show as a child was A Little Princess.”
This opening sentence establishes voice by showing that the writer shares a secret and makes them sound like they’re talking directly to someone. It also creates a sense of conflict because it’s difficult to imagine that the reader doesn’t know this information and makes them want to read on. This is engaging for the reader to read on.
To conclude, there are countless ways to begin an essay or a thesis effectively. These 36 opening sentences for an essay are just a few examples of how to do so. There is no “right way” to start, but it will become easier to find your voice and style as you continue writing and practicing. Good luck!
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What is a good opening sentence for an essay? ›
Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader's curiosity. The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you're writing about and why it's interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.What is a good opening sentence examples? ›
- The only way to ___.
- Would you rather have ___ or ___?
- There are two types of people, ___, and ___.
- The more you ___, the easier ___ gets.
- Do you think you understand how to ___? Here is why you're wrong.
- I always told myself that ___. ...
- Five years ago, I ___.
- ___ is the perfect way to ___.
- Ask a question. I don't mean to literally ask your reader a question–this would probably come off as a little cheesy, and you almost never address the reader in a fictional narrative. ...
- Hook your reader's emotions. ...
- Start in medias res. ...
- Make it matter.
- State your theme immediately in one sentence.
- Tell the story of the case without argument.
- Persuasively order your facts in a sequence that supports your theme.
- Decide whether to address the bad facts in the opening or not.
- Do not read your opening statement. ...
- Bring an outline, if necessary.
In this lesson you have learned to use several kinds of sentence openers: dependent clause, prepositional phrases, infinitive phrases, -ing word groups, and transitional words.What is a catchy opening sentence? ›
Start with the chase. A good hook might also be a question or a claim—anything that will elicit an emotional response from a reader. Think about it this way: a good opening sentence is the thing you don't think you can say, but you still want to say. Like, “This book will change your life.”How do you write a killer first line? ›
- Start in the middle of a story. The first lines don't have to begin with long descriptions of a room's appearance or a character's personality. ...
- Open with a mystery. ...
- Flash back to the past. ...
- Describe the current state of affairs. ...
- Set the tone. ...
- Start with a voice.
- #1: Subject.
- #2: Prepositional.
- #3: -ly Adverb.
- #4: -ing , (participial phrase opener)
- #5: clausal , (www. asia. b)
- #6: VSS (2-5 words) Very Short Sentence.
The first lines of a novel or short story must grab the reader's attention, enticing them to continue past the first page and continue reading. The first sentence provides you with an opportunity to showcase your writing style, introduce your main character, or establish the inciting incident of your narrative.What is a strong opening sentence for a personal statement? ›
Start with a short sentence that captures the reason why you're interested in studying the area you're applying for and that communicates your enthusiasm for it. Don't waffle or say you want to study something just because it's interesting. Explain what you find interesting about it. '
What is a good hook sentence? ›
A question hook is when you ask the reader something that they can visualize and try to think of in their own minds. Then, the writer answers the question. Example: Have you ever watched the high-flying, jump shooting, slam dunking, ankle breaking players that play in the NBA?What are some good transition words for essays? ›
and, again, and then, besides, equally important, finally, further, furthermore, nor, too, next, lastly, what's more, moreover, in addition, first (second, etc.)How do you write an amazing introduction? ›
- Keep your first sentence short.
- Don't repeat the title.
- Keep the introduction brief.
- Use the word “you” at least once.
- Dedicate 1-2 sentences to articulating what the article covers.
- Dedicate 1-2 sentences to explaining why the article is important.
- Adjective (a word that modifies a noun) ...
- Adverb (a word that modifies a verb) ...
- Prepositional phrase (a phrase that starts with a preposition) ...
- Infinitive phrase. ...
- Gerund phrase. ...
- Participle phrase. ...
- Adverb clause.
- Start with the setting. ...
- Use visual imagery. ...
- Drop the reader into the middle of the action. ...
- Write a character-driven scene opener. ...
- Summarize past events. ...
- Introduce a plot twist. ...
- Keep the purpose of the scene in mind. ...
- Rewrite until you've found the perfect scene opening.
- Invoke multiple senses. With any experience, you pick up more than just its sights. ...
- Create intriguing, complex characters. ...
- Evoke strong emotions. ...
- Use rich character voice. ...
- Pull the reader into the action.
Never begin a sentence—or a clause—with also. Teach the elimination of but, so, and, because, at the beginning of a sentence. A sentence should not commence with the conjunctions and, for, or however....What is a number 3 opener? ›
#3 openers take commas only when they modify the whole sentence. When the ly–adverb modifies just the verb, it doesn't need a comma. So, how can you tell which it modifies? If the #3 opener modifies the whole sentence, you can usually say "It is [adjective version of -ly adverb] that ...."What words to start a sentence? ›
|generally . . . furthermore . . . finally||during||later on|
|first . . . just in the same way . . . finally||finally||then|
|basically . . . similarly . . . as well as||first of all||simultaneously|
|afterward||to begin with||soon|
|at first||in the first place||while|
Powerful speech opening lines set the tone and mood of your speech. It's what grips the audience to want to know more about the rest of your talk. The first few seconds are critical. It's when you have maximum attention of the audience.
What are the 5 main elements of a strong opening? ›
- Inherent Question. All these opening lines end with an invisible question mark. ...
- Character. Most of these opening lines give us a character (and the rest quickly introduce their characters in the sentences that follow). ...
- Setting. ...
- Sweeping Declaration. ...
Posing a question, defining the key term, giving a brief anecdote, using a playful joke or emotional appeal, or pulling out an interesting fact are just a few approaches you can take. Use imagery, details, and sensory information to connect with the reader if you can.What is an opening supportive sentence? ›
What are Supporting Sentences? The supporting sentences of a paragraph develop the main idea you presented in the topic sentence. When writing supporting sentences you should be giving examples, reasons, or descriptions to support your topic sentence.How do you start an impressive personal statement? ›
Just start by showing your enthusiasm for the subject, showcasing your knowledge and understanding, and sharing your ambitions of what you want to achieve. Avoid cliches! Remember, this opening part is simply about introducing yourself, so let the admissions tutor reading your personal statement get to know you.What is an attention grabbing sentence for an essay? ›
The attention grabber, also known as a “hook”, is the first sentence that the reader will see, and its purpose is to grab the reader's attention. A few common attention grabbers are: - A short, meaningful quote that relates to your topic. - Think of a quote that interested you during your research.How do you write a catchy hook for an essay? ›
- Your title is your first hook. ...
- Drop your readers into the middle of the action. ...
- Form an emotional connection. ...
- Make a surprising statement. ...
- Leave your reader with questions. ...
- Stay away from description. ...
- Once you have your reader's attention, keep it.
- Begin with a simile or a metaphor. ...
- Begin with a question. ...
- Begin with a definition. ...
- Begin with a quotation. ...
- Begin with a comparison to a well-known person or celebrity. ...
- Begin with placing yourself in the future. ...
- Begin with a dilemma. ...
- Begin with a scene.
And, in addition to, furthermore, moreover, besides, than, too, also, both-and, another, equally important, first, second, etc., again, further, last, finally, not only-but also, as well as, in the second place, next, likewise, similarly, in fact, as a result, consequently, in the same way, for example, for instance, ...What words can I use to start a body paragraph? ›
- For instance...
- In the following case...
- As an example...
- To illustrate...
- Step 1: Write a Topic Sentence. Consider the first sentence in a body paragraph a mini-thesis statement for that paragraph. ...
- Step 2: Unpack the Topic Sentence. ...
- Step 3: Give Evidence. ...
- Step 4: Analyze the Evidence. ...
- Step 5: Prove Your Objective. ...
- Step 6: Provide a Transition.
What is a good opening introduction? ›
A good introduction should identify your topic, provide essential context, and indicate your particular focus in the essay. It also needs to engage your readers' interest.What are the 3 sentences that go in an introduction? ›
The three parts of an introduction are typically the hook, the background information or topical sentence, and the thesis statement.What is the best word to start a introduction? ›
- Words to use in your introduction. ...
- Firstly, secondly, thirdly. ...
- In view of; in light of; considering. ...
- According to X; X stated that; referring to the views of X. ...
- Adding information and flow.
What an introduction should include: A little basic background about the key subject area (just enough to put your essay into context, no more or you'll bore the reader). Explanation of how you are defining any key terms. Confusion on this could be your undoing.What are the 3 sentences for your introduction? ›
The three parts of an introduction are typically the hook, the background information or topical sentence, and the thesis statement.What are the 5 types of hooks? ›
- 1 Statistic hook. The statistic hook gives your audience a true and hard fact to latch onto from the get-go. ...
- 2 Quotation hook. ...
- 3 Anecdotal hook. ...
- 4 Question hook. ...
- 5 Statement hook.
- State the name of the person you are making an introduction to.
- Inform them of your intent.
- State the name of the person who is being introduced.
- Offer additional information, as appropriate.
- Keep your first sentence short.
- Don't repeat the title.
- Keep the introduction brief.
- Use the word “you” at least once.
- Dedicate 1-2 sentences to articulating what the article covers.
- Dedicate 1-2 sentences to explaining why the article is important.
Posing a question, defining the key term, giving a brief anecdote, using a playful joke or emotional appeal, or pulling out an interesting fact are just a few approaches you can take. Use imagery, details, and sensory information to connect with the reader if you can.Which should not be seen in your opening paragraph? ›
Things NOT to do in an introductory paragraph: Apologize. Never suggest that you don't know what you're talking about or that you're not enough of an expert in this matter that your opinion would matter. Your reader will quickly turn to something else.