Dr. Judith M. Newman

Writing Patterns in Expository Text

Question / Answer

The question / answer pattern is found frequently in expository writing for children but it is also a useful pattern for older readers because the question functions as a heading and sets up an expectation for the details which follow.


What is an ecosystem?
Ecosystem is the word used by ecologists to describe the living parts (the plants and animals) and the non-living parts (the soil, sun, rain, winds) of a particular habitat and the relationship between all of these parts. A forest ecosystem is the network of forest plants and animals depending on each other, and the soil, air and water that make up their habitat.
What happens if the ecosystem changes?
If one part of the ecosystem changes suddenly, then the whole ecosystem would be affected in some way. For example, a long period without rain reduces the amount of water in an ecosystem. This lack of water might cause some plants to die and so reduce the supply of food available for animals.
What is a community?
The many plants and animals found in an ecosystem make up the living community of that area. A village community is made up of all the people living in the village. In the same way a forest community is made up of all the plants and animals found in the forest.
What is meant by niche?
All the plants and animals in a forest community have their particular jobs or ways of life. The job of plants is to make their own food. Animals can’t make their own food so they must eat plants or other animals to live. Animals, however, are equally important to the balance of an ecosystem. Some animals eat leaves, nuts, and seeds. Other animals eat smaller animals. Ecologists call the job an animal does, and its way of life, its niche.

Signpost Words: no specific signpost words

Each answer within a lengthy text may have it's own structural pattern. Q1: Comparison

Q2: Cause / Effect

Q3: General statement / Elaboration

Q4: Comparison / Contrast