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ESOL Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced - Echegaray

Steps in writing an essay

When writers write an essay, they

  1. Gather ideas.
  2. Arrange the ideas in a logical order.
  3. Write down their ideas in sentences and paragraphs.
  4. Check and revise their work.          

Four steps

I.  Gathering Ideas

A writer thinks about possible topics for his essay.  He writes his ideas down on paper without analyzing them, just to get his thoughts going.  This process is called brainstorming.  Don't worry about your spelling or punctuation--just write! 

Here's a sample idea list for a paragraph about an ideal Saturday morning.

take a long shower and drink a cup of coffee

take my time getting ready

stay out late with my friends

read the newspaper

get up at 10:00 in the morning

II. Organizing 

Once the writer has gotten several good ideas for his essay, he organizes them into a logical order. Any ideas that don't fit the essay topic are eliminated.

Look again at the list above about the ideal Saturday morning.  Cross out any ideas that are not about the topic.

If you crossed off stay out late with my friends, your answer is correct.  Stay out late with my friends does not fit the topic of an ideal Saturday morning. 

Here's how the writer organized the list.

3.  take a long shower and drink a cup of coffee

2.  take my time getting ready

1.  get up at 10:00 in the morning

     stay out late with my friends

4.  read the newspaper

Now the writer is ready to start writing.

III. Writing

Next, the ideas are written down in sentence and paragraph form.  If the writer makes a few mistakes or needs to reorder the ideas later, that's OK!  That will be part of the final revision stage.

       On an ideal Satday morning I sleep late.  I usually sleep until about 10am.  I take my time getting up and getting redy.  Usually, I will take a long shower.  Then I have a cup of coffee read the newspaper.

Don't worry if you make a few mistakes while you write.  Just focus on getting your ideas on paper.  Then go back and check your work in the final step of the writing process.

IV. Revising

Finally, the writer checks his work.  He checks grammar, punctuation, spelling and usage. He also reads over his work to make sure it's easy for the reader to understand and makes logical sense.

Look at the writer's final, revised paragraph:

     On an ideal Satday Saturday morning, I sleep late.  I usually sleep until about 10am.  I take my time getting up and getting redy ready.  Usually, I will take a long shower.  Then I have a cup of coffee [^while^] I read the newspaper.

Part A Directions:  Match the step of the writing process with what a writer does in that step.  Write the letter on the appropriate line.



  a. check the essay to make sure it is correct and well-written.

_____Gather ideas 


  b. arrange the list of ideas in logical order. 



  c. create a list of ideas.



  d. write a rough draft of the essay.










Part B Directions:  Put the steps of the writing process in order.  Write numbers from 1 (first) to 4 (last) on the line.

_______ Write

_______ Gather Ideas

_______ Revise

_______ Organize

Combining Sentences






to add related information

  My teacher dictates the sentence, and I write it down.

but, yet

to show contrast

  John threw the ball to Spot, but the dog refused to return it.


to show a choice

  The customers can order at the counter, or they can order over the phone.


to show rejection of two choices

  I want neither the beef taco, nor the fish taco.


to link effect to cause

  She didn’t come to work, for she wasn’t feeling well.


to link cause to effect

  She wasn’t feeling well, so she didn’t come to work.

Notice that a comma precedes every coordinating conjunction.

Complex Sentences











  as soon as

  as long as

  to show time

We can’t start the meeting until the boss arrives.


Whenever I read, I use my new glasses.


Let’s get ice cream after the movie.


As long as I leave work on time, I’ll be home for dinner.



  so that

  in order that

  to show cause and effect or purpose

Since I jog every morning, I’ve lost weight.


I bought this house because it was a bargain.




  to show a condition

She can’t attend this college unless she takes the SAT.


Snow may fall if the weather is cold enough.



  even though


  to show contrast

I gave them a wedding gift even though they didn’t ask for one.


Although I was hungry, I skipped lunch.

  as though

  as if

  to show similarity

She ate as though she hadn’t eaten for days.



  to show place

The new professor teaches wherever he’s needed.