definition essay 11

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Prompt and Invention Ideas for the Definition Mixed Modes Essay

We have practiced five essay modes: narrative, descriptive, illustration, compare/contrast, and cause/effect. The mixed modes essay defines a topic by writing each body paragraph in a different mode

Prompt: Choose ONE of the following topics and write a 5-paragraph essay defining the topic:


1. chivalry

2. love

3. happiness

4. sport

5. fun

6. diversity

Alternate prompt: choose your own topic but check with me

Your purpose may either inform (show your understanding) or persuade (motivate others to accept a point of view). The introduction should contain a one-sentence, three part formal definition of your term; this will be your thesis. You could further develop your introduction by expressing an attitude toward the term or by setting it in a broader context. The body should consist of three different types of 8 sentence body paragraph. The best conclusion will not only restate the thesis, but also add a new idea. Use your annotated readings as models of what to do (and not to do).

Below are some ideas for invention and the types of paragraphs they would fit into.

Descriptive Paragraph: Using strongverbs & adjectives, as well as the 5 senses, create a clear mental picture of the topic.

Cause/Effect paragraph

Discuss what causes the topic to happen.

Discuss what effects the topic has upon people, the world, etc.

Narrative paragraph: Using strongverbs & adjectives, as well as the 5 senses, tell a story that conveys the essence of your topic.

Comparison/Contrast paragraph:

Compare your topic to a synonym or similar topic that is close but not the same. This often produces a precise definition.

Contrast your topic to something that it is not, also known as negation. May produce a general or precise definition.

Illustration paragraph:

Give examples of the history or development of the topic.

Give examples of the topic in action.

Process paragraph: Explain in steps from step 1 to the final step how the topic works, happens, or is produced.

Argument paragraph:

Give two reasons pro or con and defend them.

Definition GO






A menorah/kinara/maypole/straw man/Christmas tree is

a holiday decoration

that symbolizes and enacts the values of celebrators.

Etymology/Origin/History Paragraph

Negation Paragraph (what the topic is NOT)

Description Paragraph (describe the topic to create a clear mental picture, if applicable)

Process Paragraph (tell the steps in the process or explain how it works, if applicable)

Cause/Effect Paragraph (give the causes and/or effects of the topic, if applicable)

Narrative Paragraph (tell a story that reveals the essence of the topic, if applicable)

Example Paragraph (give 2 examples of the topic and explain why they are important)

Compare/Contrast Paragraph

Point of Comparison

Topic being defined

Similar or Contrasting Topic

Idea 1

Idea 2


For a 5 paragraph mixed modes definition essay, you will choose any three paragraph modes in order to create your own, personal, definition of your topic.. Obviously this GO is not big enough to write a whole paragraph in the blanks, just key words.

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