Dr. Judith M. Newman

Writing Patterns in Expository Text

General Statement / Elaboration

General statement / elaboration is the most commonly used pattern in exposition. Usually it offers a generalization followed by supporting details. Occasionally details are offered and their relationship made explicit afterward.

Example #1:
Cave Paintings

...But what were the pictures for, then? They must have been a kind of hunting magic, because some of the animals have spears sticking into them. The cavemen must have thought that if they made a painting that looked convincingly real and then "killed" it, they were doing something almost like killing the animal itself. Perhaps they threw stones at it, too, and jabbed it with real spears. This would have made them feel stronger and surer so that when they finally went out to hunt their prey, They had a better chance of success because they were no longer afraid.

Signpost Words: must have been, must have thought, perhaps


Example #2:
Financial Instruments

In recent years banks have been adding to their supply of funds by selling many different kinds of financial "instruments" to investors. Sometimes these have been short-term certificates for fixed amounts, which are repaid after a certain number of months at a specified rate of interest, usually somewhat higher than the rate paid on ordinary savings deposits. These certificates are also different from savings deposits in that the investor cannot get his money back from the bank on demand until the certificate "matures." He can sometimes sell the certificate to another investor if he wants cash, but then, of course, he will only get what the buyer is willing to pay, and not necessarily the amount which he himself paid for the certificate in the first place. In that respect such certificates are more like shares than deposits, but they are not shares, because they do not entitle the holder to any voice in the bank’s management.

Signpost Words: sometimes, also, in that respect