Essay Linking Words Conclusion Examples

Whether you’re working on your own essay writing for graduate school work or are developing a series of lesson plans to help your students become better writers, the conclusion is often one of the hardest parts of any composition. If you’ve done your job proving your point throughout the piece in the body paragraphs, you might feel pretty tapped out. What could possibly be left to say?

Your students are probably feeling exhausted by the end of their essays, too. After all, a classic five-paragraph essay feels enormous the first time you do it! It’s no wonder, then, that you’re likely to get a pile of papers that all sound just alike: “In conclusion … “.

You’ve probably even done that yourself, right?

To help your students make their conclusion paragraphs a little more unique, it helps to provide a nuts-and-bolts lesson on transition words for conclusions. You’ve probably already worked on general transition phrases as you broke down how to write a strong body paragraph, but conclusion words are easy to skip over! Try these tips to get your students ready to find another word for “in conclusion,” and you’ll have given them a useful skill for life.

Brainstorming

It’s always a good idea to see where your students are at when you start a new topic. Try starting with a brainstorming session to see if your budding writers can come up with other words for “in conclusion.” Get the all down on a piece of chart paper and hang it somewhere everyone will be able to see it when it comes time to write.

Research

If the brainstorming session was harder than you thought it would be, now’s the time to add some thesaurus work to your lesson plan. Have students work independently — or perhaps with a partner — to look up words related to “conclusion” and craft some more interesting transitional phrases based on their findings. You can come back together as a whole group to add to your original brainstorming document or to make more polished classroom posters.

Printable Reference

It’s also helpful to hand students a reference sheet of common concluding transition words to make their essay writing easier. After all, you don’t want them to struggle and stress about getting that conclusion started when they should be focusing their energies on the content! You can make your own, or you can grab a quick printable worksheet to photocopy for your students to keep in their writing notebooks.

Conclusion Word Examples

Not sure if you’ve covered all the bases yet? Try adding these concluding phrases and transition words to your repertoire:

  • all in all
  • all things considered
  • altogether
  • finally
  • in brief
  • in conclusion
  • in essence
  • in short
  • in summary
  • in the final analysis
  • to conclude
  • to sum up
  • to summarize
  • ultimately

Conclusion Words Sentence Examples

It’s also a good idea to share as many well written conclusions as you can with your students. Make this fun by working in ones for fairy tales, fable and other stories everyone knows:

  • In summary, Goldilocks was a very messy and very picky little girl.
  • Finally, the tortoise crossed the finish line to prove that “slow and steady” really does win the race.
  • All things considered, being locked in a castle with talking dishes and furniture may have been the best thing that ever happened to Belle.
  • Ultimately, the only person who can decide if his adventure up the bean stalk was worth it is Jack himself.
  • In the final analysis, the third little pig was very generous when he allowed his lazy brothers to hide in his house made of bricks.

Concluding Content

Once you’ve got a few transitional phrases under your belt, what kind of content do you need to add to your conclusion? This often depends on the type of writing your student — or you! — are working on. A personal opinion essay is often the easiest: Just ask your students to write what they think from the heart. For a more formal expository essay, you’ll need to get them to go one step further. Once they restate the main points of their essay, try focusing on answering one of these questions for an interesting conclusion:

  • Why is this information important?
  • What can we learn from these facts?
  • How is this similar to or different from [another book/event/experiment]?
  • What is universal about this content?
  • Why should the reader be glad they got all the way to end of your paper?
  • How does this information fit in with other things you have learned about this subject?

Note that these questions are pretty abstract, but you can make them much more specific to your students’ assignment when you present them for the first time.

In Conclusion…

Once you have worked with your students on alternatives to get them started on their conclusion paragraphs, it’s time to get writing! Pick a transition word, gather your thoughts and put pencil to paper. Remember, these lessons will help writers of all ages — and even you! — come up with some new ways to end a paper so you don’t sound like a broken record. Now that you know what to do, all that’s left is to write! (Or to get started on grading that stack of papers you collected from the newly minted essay writers in your classroom!)

So much is at stake in writing a conclusion. This is, after all, your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view, to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker. And the impression you create in your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they've finished the essay.

The end of an essay should therefore convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of the lingering possibilities of the topic, its larger meaning, its implications: the final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off.

To establish a sense of closure, you might do one or more of the following:

  • Conclude by linking the last paragraph to the first, perhaps by reiterating a word or phrase you used at the beginning.
  • Conclude with a sentence composed mainly of one-syllable words. Simple language can help create an effect of understated drama.
  • Conclude with a sentence that's compound or parallel in structure; such sentences can establish a sense of balance or order that may feel just right at the end of a complex discussion.

To close the discussion without closing it off, you might do one or more of the following:

  • Conclude with a quotation from or reference to a primary or secondary source, one that amplifies your main point or puts it in a different perspective. A quotation from, say, the novel or poem you're writing about can add texture and specificity to your discussion; a critic or scholar can help confirm or complicate your final point. For example, you might conclude an essay on the idea of home in James Joyce's short story collection, Dubliners, with information about Joyce's own complex feelings towards Dublin, his home. Or you might end with a biographer's statement about Joyce's attitude toward Dublin, which could illuminate his characters' responses to the city. Just be cautious, especially about using secondary material: make sure that you get the last word.
  • Conclude by setting your discussion into a different, perhaps larger, context. For example, you might end an essay on nineteenth-century muckraking journalism by linking it to a current news magazine program like 60 Minutes.
  • Conclude by redefining one of the key terms of your argument. For example, an essay on Marx's treatment of the conflict between wage labor and capital might begin with Marx's claim that the "capitalist economy is . . . a gigantic enterprise ofdehumanization"; the essay might end by suggesting that Marxist analysis is itself dehumanizing because it construes everything in economic -- rather than moral or ethical-- terms.
  • Conclude by considering the implications of your argument (or analysis or discussion). What does your argument imply, or involve, or suggest? For example, an essay on the novel Ambiguous Adventure, by the Senegalese writer Cheikh Hamidou Kane, might open with the idea that the protagonist's development suggests Kane's belief in the need to integrate Western materialism and Sufi spirituality in modern Senegal. The conclusion might make the new but related point that the novel on the whole suggests that such an integration is (or isn't) possible.

Finally, some advice on how not to end an essay:

  • Don't simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long--more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
  • Avoid phrases like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up." These phrases can be useful--even welcome--in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
  • Resist the urge to apologize. If you've immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you've finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you've produced. (And if you haven't immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don't undercut your authority by saying things like, "this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . ."

Copyright 1998, Pat Bellanca, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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