Are you itching to get better at writing essays? Mastering one often-overlooked part — the artful and efficient use of concluding sentences — will instantly take your writing skills to the next level. Placing a higher value on concluding sentences will make your essays easier to read and understand, and it will also force you, the writer, to take a closer look at the sentences that precede the concluding sentences.
Elements of a Concluding Sentence
A concluding sentence can succinctly be defined as the last sentence within each paragraph. To form a proper conclusion, one that leaves readers feeling that the paragraph is truly finished, however, these sentences should have a few key characteristics.
If you’re hoping to craft outstanding concluding sentences, however, it is important to backtrack and take a refresher course on the ideal anatomy of a paragraph first. Your concluding sentences work “as a team”, after all, in concert with all the other sentences that precede it.
A well-crafted paragraph is more than simply “a collection of loosely related sentences”. As you write any essay, whether that is a narrative essay, informative essay, or argumentative essay, it is important to at least be aware of the types of sentences that should be found within paragraphs:
- The topic sentence of a paragraph is the first sentence. It explains the key idea presented within the paragraph.
- The topic sentence should be followed by supporting sentences. These may elaborate, explain, or cite evidence in favor of a claim made in the topic sentence.
- The concluding sentence follows the topic sentence and supporting sentences. It completes the paragraph by offering a conclusion or a thought the reader can ponder — leaving the impression that the topic has been dealt with well.
A similar structure can typically be found within an essay, which contains an introduction, a thesis paragraph, supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Novice writers often choose to conclude their paragraphs by rephrasing the topic sentence, but this isn’t the best use of your space. While you should not introduce new information or thoughts that differ radically from the rest of the paragraph in the final sentence, you can absolutely use this sentence to offer your views or make a conclusion. A concluding sentence is a writer’s last chance to leave a strong parting impression, after all, and you want to make the right one!
Just like drivers won’t just make a right turn, but signal before doing so, concluding sentences should contain words that mark the transition, such as “in conclusion”, “we can therefore surmise”, “therefore”, or “because of this”.
Some concluding sentences are more important than others, of course, and not all will need to be pondered with equal weight. Students who are penning five-paragraph essays may want to give all their concluding sentences the same amount of thought. If, on the other hand, you are crafting a 15-page research paper with multiple different sections, it is prudent to pay special attention to:
- The concluding sentence of your very last paragraph — which is also the final sentence in your essay or paper, and it therefore contains your parting thoughts.
- The final sentence in every section of your essay or paper, to which readers often pay close attention.
- The introductory and thesis paragraphs within the essay, which likewise hold special significance.
What Purposes Can a Concluding Sentence Serve Within a Paragraph?
The English word “conclusion” comes from the Latin concludere, which can mean “to shut”, “to enclose”, or even “to tie together” (“con” means “together”). It notably does not mean that the writer is required to have all the answers, and all of these possible translations offer options with regard to the steps essay writers can take to form a concluding sentences that is a delight to read.
A concluding sentence usually serves at least one, and often many, of the following purposes:
- A concluding sentence can summarize or restate the topic sentence.
- A concluding sentence can quite literally draw a conclusion — based on the evidence presented in the sentences that precede it.
- A concluding sentence can offer inspiring or thought-provoking final words that invite the reader to interact with the material discussed in the paragraph more.
How to Write a Concluding Sentence in a Paragraph: Strong Examples
If you were to Google “concluding sentence examples” — as indeed, you very likely have — you won’t see the very best writing in action. Instead, you’ll see mediocre writing likely produced by teachers or students, often for the very purpose of illustrating the concept of a concluding sentence.
Are you not willing to settle for “OK writing”, and do you want to learn from the masters? In that case, we would warmly invite you to begin paying attention to concluding sentences in every excellent text you read for a while. Argumentative essays or op eds published in serious newspapers are a great place to find beautiful writing, as are essay-writing contests. It is also, of course, possible to find examples in famous historic essays or treatises.
For example, here’s a brief look at the ways in which some famous thinkers have chosen to conclude individual paragraphs they penned in their most important works:
- “Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War. (Notice that even though this short work gets straight to the point, there’s still a verbal transition, “then”.)
- “Yet the coherence to me was manifest enough. For the thought of the war introduced the thought of the delivering up the King to his enemies; the thought of that brought in the thought of the delivering up of Christ; and that again the thought of the 30 pence, which was the price of that treason: and thence easily followed that malicious question; and all this in a moment of time, for thought is quick.” — Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan. (Hobbes is notoriously wordy and wrote amazingly long paragraphs; it is only natural that his concluding sentences are littered with semicolons to enable the thinker to make them as long as possible.)
- “What’s the target? Who’s the target? Who cares? What matters is hitting it. That’s the male brain for you. Objective.” — Margaret Atwood, The Female Body. (Writing styles that rely on short, punchy, sentences, often need more than a single “concluding sentence”. They need a few.)
How to Write Strong Concluding Sentences: A Step-by-Step Guide
Beautiful writing is certainly as much an art as a science — and after a while, penning concluding paragraphs that simply work will absolutely begin to come naturally. We would not advise you to apply formulaic procedures to all of your writing, but analyzing whether you are taking the right steps to craft killer concluding sentences can be very helpful.
The steps you take to create a strong concluding sentence can happen quite naturally, in the flow of your writing, or you may choose to go through a step-by-step process. Either way, the results should be similar.
1. Write the Rest of Your Paragraph
Paragraphs should begin with a topic sentence — the central idea you wish to convey. The topic sentence can lead into multiple supporting sentences, which describe the idea further, cite evidence, or offer opinions or descriptions. Concluding sentences finish your paragraphs; so before you write them, you have to produce something that can be completed!
2. Decide What to Say in Your Concluding Sentence
You may be in your creative zone and know precisely what you want to say. Go ahead and write that. If you don’t, though, give it some thought. What can you say to make your existing paragraph stronger, and to bring it to a conclusion? You will always have multiple options, and deciding between them can be hard.
3. Begin Your Concluding Sentence with a Verbal Transition
Once you know what you want to say, you can choose to signal your readers with a verbal transition. Popular transitions include:
- As a result
- In conclusion
- Because of this
These words do not have to appear at the start of your sentence, but they should be present. Play around! “Therefore, I believe that Locke ultimately offers a more accurate assessment of human nature than Hobbes” can just as easily become “Locke ultimately chooses to see what makes us human, more than what can destroy our humanity — and I therefore believe he has the more accurate assessment of human nature”.
4. Read Your Concluding Sentence Critically
How does the sentence you penned make your reader feel? Does it have the impact you wanted it to? What can you do to strengthen or soften it? Does your concluding sentence work well within the confines of your paragraph? Spend some time dissecting it, and ponder whether you would like to make any changes.
Once you have done this for all your sentences, read your essay as a whole, and examine its flow. If you are happy with the result, you are done!
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Concluding Sentence
Before you submit your essay, make sure you have avoided all of these rookie mistakes:
- Concluding sentences should not merely restate the ideas already discussed. They should offer additional insight.
- You should not, on the other hand, introduce brand new material that would be better discussed in the next paragraph.
- If you do not include verbal transitions, make sure it’s a choice. Shorter and punchier sentences can have a unique impact, but failing to include transitions can also offer the impression that your concluding sentence is just an afterthought.