Expository Essay Examples

Expository Essay

There are many purposes for completing a piece of writing, particularly for completing an essay. A writer may wish to write an argumentative or persuasive essay to express an opinion and support that opinion. A writer may also wish to write a descriptive essay, which is used to describe a person, thing, or situation in detail.


An expository essay has the purpose of "exposing" an idea. The root of the word "expository" is "expose," so an expository essay is about exposing or expounding upon an idea or subject in order to explain it clearly. An expository essay may expound upon the idea by providing a definition, examples and evidence, a comparison and contrast, or providing a cause an effect. An expository essay can also lay out an argument that helps to more fully explain the topic. The idea is that the writer would use any or all of these methods to clarify and illustrate the topic so that the reader more fully understands.


Like all essays, an expository essay includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In the introduction, the writer introduces the topic and provides a strong thesis statement, or controlling idea. The body paragraphs serve the purpose of providing the evidence and examples, comparison-contrast, or cause-effect reasoning. Finally, the conclusion serves the purpose of restating the thesis and wrapping up the explanation.

Examples of Expository Essay:

One famous expository essay is Malcolm X's "Learning to Read." Here is an excerpt:


I saw that the best thing I could do was get hold of a dictionary - to study, to learn some words. I was lucky enough to reason also that I should try to improve my penmanship. It was sad. I couldn't even write in a straight line. It was both ideas together that moved me to request a dictionary along with some tablets and pencils from the Norfolk Prison Colony school. I spent two days just riffling uncertainly through the dictionary's pages. I'd never realized so many words existed! I didn't know which words I needed to learn. Finally, just to start some kind of action, I began copying. In my slow, painstaking, ragged handwriting, I copied into my tablet everything printed on that first page, down to the punctuation marks. I believe it took me a day. Then, aloud, I read back, to myself, everything I'd written on the tablet. Over and over, aloud, to myself, I read my own handwriting. I woke up the next morning, thinking about those words - immensely proud to realize that not only had I written so much at one time, but I'd written words that I never knew were in the world. Moreover, with a little effort, I also could remember what many of these words meant. I reviewed the words whose meanings I didn't remember. Funny thing, from the dictionary first page right now, that "aardvark" springs to my mind. The dictionary had a picture of it, a long-tailed, long-eared, burrowing African mammal, which lives off termites caught by sticking out its tongue as an anteater does for ants. I was so fascinated that I went on - I copied the dictionary's next page.

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