Opinion Essays


In our daily lives, we express opinions about everything from politics to the cost of
gasoline. When we express an opinion, we usually give reasons for our point of view
in an informal way. For example, we say, "I liked XYZ's latest movie because . . ."
or "I voted against XYZ because . . . ."
In college classes, students are often asked to express their opinions more formally.
The U.S. system of education places a high value on students' ability to think for
themselves. Professors want students to express their own opinions and even disagree
with them as long as students can support their own views. In this chapter, you will
learn how to express an opinion and support it convincingly.
In an opinion essay, you
• state your opinion in the thesis statement.
• support your opinion with reasons.
• support your reasons with specific details.
As you read the model essay, notice its three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.

The Right to Die
A difficult problem that is facing society is the legalization of euthanasia.
Euthanasia is the act of causing death painlessly in order to end suffering. People
who are in a coma1 because of injury to their brains and elderly people who are
terminally2 ill are being kept alive by artificial means. They do not have a chance to
recover, but laws in most states of the United States do not allow doctors to end
their lives. Although many people feel that doctors must do everything possible to
keep their patients alive, I believe that euthanasia should be legal for three reasons.
The first and most important reason to support euthanasia is that some
patients who have no chance to recover do not wish to be kept alive on machines.
These patients are kept alive by life-support machines such as respirators to help
them breathe and feeding tubes to provide them with nutrition. A well-known
example in the United States is the case of Terri Schiavo, a young woman who
went into a coma in 1 990. Mrs. Schiavo was able to breathe on her own, but her
brain was dead. For fifteen years, she was kept alive by a feeding tube. After eight
years of seeking treatment for her condition, Michael Schiavo, her husband, asked
the courts for permission to remove her feeding tube. He said that his wife had

told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially when there was no hope
of recovery. Mrs. Schiavo's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, disagreed with
Mr. Schiavo and fought to keep their daughter alive. After seven years of bitter
court battles, Mr. Schiavo finally won. Doctors removed Mrs. Schiavo's feeding
tube, and she soon died, fifteen years after first falling into a coma. Clearly, when
there is absolutely no hope of recovery, society should allow a person in Terri
Schiavo's condition to die if that is his or her wish.
A second reason to support euthanasia is that medical costs in the United
States are very high. Keeping a person alive for years and years requires roundthe-
clock care in a hospital or nursing home.1 According to an administrator at
a local hospital, daily hospital room charges average $5,000 there. Nursing home
care is also expensive. A nursing home in our area charges $4,500 per month.
These high costs can cause serious financial problems for a family.

The final reason to support legalizing euthanasia is that the family suffers.
Hospital or nursing home staff give terminally ill patients only minimal care.
Thus, the family must spend time caring for the special needs of their loved one.
For instance, a cousin of mine who had been in a motorcycle accident was kept
on life-support machines for eight years. He needed someone to stay with him
twenty-four hours a day. During those years, his parents took turns taking care
of him. His father stayed with him during the day while his mother worked, and
then his mother stayed with him at night while his father worked. Other family
members tried to help out when they could, but his parents did most of the
physical work and suffered most of the emotional stress. After he finally died,
my aunt said, "Of course, I am sad, but since we all knew he would eventually
die, it might have been better if it had happened right when he had the accident.
These past eight years have been hard."
To summarize, patients who are either terminally ill or who are in an
irreversible2 coma often wish to die. Their care is a financial, physical, and
emotional burden for their families. Therefore, families should have the right to
ask doctors to turn off life-support machines or to remove feeding tubes.


Remember that an introductory paragraph has two parts: ( I ) several general
statements and (2) one thesis statement. The first part of the introductory paragraph
of an opinion essay often begins by explaining an issue.
In some cities in the United States, teenage gangs create problems. The
problems range from noisy but harmless drag races3 to fatal drive-by
shootings.4 Some cities are trying to stop these activities by keeping young
people indoors and off the streets at night. These cities have passed curfew
laws that require people under the age of eighteen to be indoors between the
hours of 1 0:00 or 1 1 :00 P.M. and 6:00A.M.
The thesis statement then states the writer's opinion on the issue. It often mentions
the opposing view first.
Police departments say that curfew laws to control teenage gangs are
necessary, but I feel that such laws are unfair, unconstitutional, and
counterproductive. 5
Notice that the opposing view is connected to the writer's opinion with a contrast
signal such as however, but, and although .

Body Paragraphs

In the body paragraphs, support your opinion with reasons. Each reason is a
paragraph in the finished essay.
Although many people feel that doctors must do everything possible to keep
their patients alive, I believe that euthanasia should be legalized for three
These patients have no chance of recovery.
Medical costs are very high.
The family suffers.

The Concluding Paragraph

In the concluding paragraph, you may ( 1 ) restate your thesis in different words or
(2) summarize your reasons. in your final comment, you may call for action, as in the
following example. Your final comment should be powerfu l - one that your readers
will remember.
To summarize, cloning humans is clearly dangerous and unethical. It is one
thing to clone a mouse, sheep, or pig but quite another thing to duplicate a
human being. Even though scientists claim that their only purpose is to help

Developing Supporting Details
Previously , you learned how to use examples to support your ideas. In this chapter,
you will learn how to use three other kinds of supporting details: quotations, statistics,
and summaries.
College instructors often assign research papers in their classes, for which you
use information from outside sources (books, magazines, newspaper articles, or the
Internent). There are special procedures and rules for using information from outside
sources. For example, in a formal research paper, you must document the source of each
piece of information that you use. This means that you must tell exactly where you
got the information- who originally wrote it or said it and when and where it was
written or spoken. You will learn how to do this later on in your college program .
However, be aware that documenting outside sources is important and necessary for
college assignments.
For purposes of this class, you may get information informally-by taking a class
survey to get statistics or by interviewing classmates to get quotations, for example.
 Quotations are often used in academic writing as supporting sentences. Notice how quotations support the topic sentence in the following paragraphs.
Telecommuting' is a popular new choice for many office workers. They
feel it offers advantages to both employees and employers. My older sister,
who has telecommuted for the past year, told me, "I am much more
productive when I work at home because there are no interruptions. I also
don't have to spend two or three hours traveling to and from the office every
day. I save myself time, and I save my company money by working at home."
On the other hand, sometimes telecommuters feel isolated. "I feel out of
touch with 2 what is really happening in my company, and I miss the daily
contact with my co-workers," my sister added.

The Writing Process


Writing is never a one-step action; it is an ongoing creative act. When you first write
something, you have already been thinking about what to say and how to say it. Then
after you have finished writing, you read over what you have written and make
changes and corrections. You write and revise and write and revise again until you
are satisfied that your writing expresses exactly what you want to say. ·
The process of writing has roughly four steps. In the first step, you create ideas. ln
the second step, you organize the ideas. In the third step, you write a rough draft. In the
final step, you polish your rough draft by editing it and making revisions

Step 1 :Prewriting

The first step is called prewriting . Prewriting is a way to get ideas. In this step, you
choose a topi.c and collect ideas to explain the topic.
Listing There are several techniques you can use to get ideas. In this chapter,
you will practice the technique called listing . Listing is a prewriting technique i n
which you write the topic at the top of a piece of paper and then quickly make a
list of the words or phrases that come into your mind. Don't stop to wonder if an
idea is good or not. Write it down! Keep on writing until the flow of ideas stops.
In the following example, the assignment was to write a paragraph about a person
who has made a difference in the world, in the community, or in the writer's life.
First, the writer made a list of people who have made a difference. Then he
decided which person to write about and circled his choice.

A Person Who Has Made a Difference
Bill Gates
Mother Teresa
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Cesar Chavez
Aunt Sarah
Mr. Jakobsen (high school counselor)

Next, the writer started a new list. He wrote his chosen topic, Grandfather, at the
top of a new piece of paper and started writing words and phrases that came into his
mind about his grandfather.

uneducated (high school? eighth grade?) started hospital in town - only
farmer hospital in big area
worked hard first farmer to terrace his land - now
helped his community
started community hospital
respected in community
went to church every week
got up early worked late
was the first person in town to buy a car
forward-thinking everyone does it
improved farming techniques in his area
read about new things
terracing helps prevent soil erosion
listened to experts
thought things over
made me laugh when I was little

The writer then looked at his second list and decided to write about how his
grandfather helped his community. He circled that idea. Then he thought about
how his grandfather helped his community. He circled two ideas and marked them
A and B. The writer also crossed out anything that didn't belong to these two ideas.

Sentence Structure


A sentence is a group of words that (a) contains at least one subject and one verb
and (b) expresses a complete thought.
There are four kinds of sentences in English: simple sentences, compound
sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences. First, Jet's Jearn
about simple sentences.

A simple sentence has one subject-verb pair. The subject tells who or what
did something. The verb tells the action (jump, work, think) or condition (is,
was, seem, appear).
eg. Filmmaker George Lucas has changed the film industry in many ways .
.----s r v l
One new technology was a special computer-assisted camera crane.

A simple sentence can have one of several possible "formulas." Here are four
possibilities. The subject(s) in each sentence are underlined with one line. The
verb(s) are underlined with two lines.
                                                                                           Sentence "formula"
1 . The Star Wars movies were international hits.                   s v
2. Young people and adults enjoyed them.                             s s v
3. The films entertained and thrilled audiences everywhere.      s v v
4. Luke Skywalker and his friends battled evil and made         s s v v
us laugh at the same time.

Notice that the subject in a simple sentence may have two or more items (sentences
2 and 4). The verb may have two or more items (sentences 3 and 4) . These are all
simple sentences because there is only one subject-verb pair.

Subject-Verb Agreement

You already know that subjects and verbs agree in number.
    My sister is married. (singular)
    My sisters are married. (plural)
    My brother and I are single. (plural)

Subject-verb agreement is sometimes confusing in the following situations.
 1 . When a sentence begins with the word there + the verb be, the subject
follows the be verb. Look ahead to see whether to use a singular or plural
    There is a student in the hall. (The verb is is singular to agree with a
    There are three students in the hall. (The verb are is plural to agree with
    three students.)
    There was no reason for his action.
    There were many reasons for his success.

2 . A prepositional phrase (a group of words beginning with a preposition
such as of, with, in, at, or on and ending with a noun or pronoun) can
come between a subject and its verb. Prepositional phrases may come
after a subject, but they are not part of the subject. You should mentally
cross them out when you are deciding if the verb should be singular
or plural.
    One (of my sisters) is a singer. (The subject is one, not sisters.)
    The color (of her eyes) changes when she is angry. (The subject is
    color, not eyes.)
    Six kinds (of rice) are available in the grocery store. (The subject is
    kinds, not rice.)

3 . Some words are always singular.
   One (of my brothers) is a musician.
    Neither (of my parents) is living.
    Much {of my time) is spent in the library.
   Each {of my brothers) wants his own car.
    Either (of my sisters) is able to baby-sit for you tonight.
   Nothing ever happens in my life.
   Is anyone home?

4. A few words are always plural.
    Both {of my parents) are teachers.
   Several (of the teachers) speak my language.
   Many {of my friends) work in the library.

5 . A few words can be either singular or plural. In these cases, you must refer
to the noun in the prepositional phrase.
    Some {of the money) was missing. (singular)
   Some (of the students) were missing. (plural)
   All {of my time) is spent in the library. (singular)
   All {of my brothers) are singers. (plural)
   Most {of the ice) was melted. (singular)
   Most {of the ice cubes) were melted. (plural)
   A lot {of the work) was too easy. (singular)
   A lot {of the people) were angry. (plural)
   None {of the fruit) is fresh. (singular)
   None {of the apples) are fresh. (plural)

Capitalization Rules


In English there are many rules for using capital letters. You probably know many
of them already.These are the most important rules for capitalization in English. Capitalize the

I. The first word in a sentence
2. The pronoun 1
3. Abbreviations and acronyms formed from the first
letters of words
4. All proper nouns. Proper nouns include
a. Names of deities
b. Names of people and their titles
BUT NOT a title without a name
Note: Some writers capitalize titles
such as president and prime minister
when they clearly refer to one person
c. Names of specific groups of people (nationalities,
races, and ethnic groups), languages, and religions
d. Names of specific places on a map
e. Names of specific geographic areas
BUT NOT the names of compass directions
f. Names of days, months, and special days
BUT NOT the names of the seasons
g. Names of specific structures such as buildings,
bridges, dams, monuments
h. Names of specific organizations (government
agencies, businesses, schools, clubs, teams)

What ls Academic Writing?


Academic writing is the kind of writing used in high school and college classes.
Academic writing is different from creative writing, which is the kind of writing you
do when you write stories. It is also different from personal writing, which is the kind of
writing you do when you write letters or e-mails to your friends and family. Creative
writing and personal writing are informal, so you may use slang, abbreviations, and
incomplete sentences. However, academic writing is formal, so you should not use
slang or contractions. Also, you should take care to write complete sentences and to
organize them in a certain way.
Academic writing in English is probably different from academic writing in your
native language. The words and grammar and also the way of organizing ideas are
probably different from what you are used to. In fact, the English way of writing may
seem clumsy, repetitive, and even impolite to you. Just remember that it is neither
better nor worse than other ways; it is just different.
The articles on this blog  will help you learn and practice the format, sentence structure, and
organization appropriate for academic writing. We will begin by studying the

A paragraph is a group of related statements that a writer develops about a subject.
The first sentence states the specific point, or idea, of the topic. The rest of the sentences
in the paragraph support that point.

1. Paper Use 8and 1/2-inch-by- ll-inch Uned, three-hole paper. The three holes
should be on the left side as you write. Write on one side of the paper only.
2. Ink Use black or dark blue ink only.
3. Heading Write your full name in the upper left corner. On the next line,
write the course number. On the third line of the heading, write the date the
assignment is due in the order month-day-year with a comma after the day.
4. Assignment Title Center the title of your paragraph on the first line.
5. Body Skip one line, and start your writing on the third line. Indent
(move to the right) the first sentence a half  inch from the left margin.
6. Margins Leave a l-inch margin on the left and right sides of the paper.
Also leave a l-inch margin at the bottom of the page.
7. Spacing Leave a blank line between each line of writing.
 Next i'll be talking about capitalization rules among other things.

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Working as an Audio Transcriptionist.


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