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English Composition, Lesson 06. Introduction

An image of Dante Alighieri for the Classical Liberal Arts Academy's English Composition course.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

To complete this lesson, complete the following tasks:

  1. Study the lesson for mastery.
  2. Watch the lesson prelection.
  3. Complete the lesson Exam.


The story of an event should be introduced in such a manner as to enable the hearer to understand the circumstances that are related. Such an introduction contributes to clearness and has an important bearing upon the interest of the entire composition. In order to render our account of an event clear and interesting it is usually desirable to tell the hearers when and where the event occurred and who were present. Their understanding of it may be helped further by telling such of the attendant circumstances as will answer the question, Why? If I begin my story by saying, “Last summer, John Anderson and I were on a camping trip in the Adirondacks,” I have told when, where, and who; and the addition of the words “on a camping trip” tells why we were in the Adirondacks, and may serve to explain some of the events that are to follow. Even the statement of the place indicates in some degree the trend of the story, for many things that might occur “in the Adirondacks” could not occur in a country where there are no mountains. Certainly the story that would follow such an introduction would be expected to differ from one beginning with the words,  “Last summer John Anderson and I went to visit a friend in New York.”

It is not always necessary to tell when, where, who, and why in the introduction, but it is desirable to do so in most cases of oral story telling. These four elements may not always be stated in incidents taken from books, for the reader may be already familiar with them from the preceding portions of the book. The title of a printed or written story may serve as an introduction and give us all needed information. In relating personal incidents the time element is seldom omitted, though it may be stated in- directly or indefinitely by such expressions as “once” or “lately”. In many stories the interest depends upon the plot, and the time is not definitely stated.


Notice what elements are included in each of the following introductions:

  1. Saturday last at Mount Holly, about eight miles from this place, nearly three hundred people were gathered together to see an experiment or two tried on some persons accused of witchcraft.
  2. On the morning of the 10th instant at sunrise, they were discovered from Put-in-Bay, where I lay at anchor with the squadron under my command.
  3. It was on Sunday when I awoke to the realization that I had quitted civilization and was afloat on an unfamiliar body of water in an open boat.
  4. Up and down the long corn rows Pap Overholt guided the old mule and the small, rickety, inefficient plow, whose low handles bowed his tall, broad shoulders beneath the mild heat of a mountain June sun. As he went — ever with a furtive eye upon the cabin — he muttered to himself, shaking his head.
  5. After breakfast, I went down to the Saponey Indian town, which is about a musket shot from the fort.
  6. The lonely stretch of uphill road, upon whose yellow clay the midsummer sun beat vertically down, would have represented a toil- some climb to a grown and unencumbered man. To the boy staggering under the burden of a brimful carpet bag, it seemed fairly unscalable; wherefore he stopped at its base and looked up in dismay to its far-off, red-hot summit.
  7. One afternoon last summer, three or four people from New York, two from Boston, and a young man from the Middle West were lunching at one of the country clubs on the south shore of Long Island, and there came about a mild discussion of the American universities.
  8. “But where is the station?” inquired the Judge.
    “Ain’t none, boss. Dis heah is jes a crossing. Train’s about due now, sah; you-all won’t hab long fer to wait. Thanky, sah; good-by ; sorry you-all didn’t find no birds.”
    The Judge picked up his gun case and grip and walked toward his two companions waiting on the platform a few yards away. Silhouetted against the moonlight they made him think of the figure 10, for Mr. Appleton was tall and erect, and the little Doctor short and circular.
  9. I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris and he;
    I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;
    “Good speed!” cried the watch, as the gate bolts undrew,
    “Speed!” echoed the wall to us galloping through.
    Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,
    And into the midnight we galloped abreast. (Browing)

Oral Composition II

Relate orally to the class some incident in which you were personally concerned. The following may suggest a subject:

  1. How I made friends with the squirrels.
  2. A trick of my pet bird.
  3. Why I missed the train/plan/bus.
  4. How a horse was rescued.
  5. Lost and found.
  6. My visit to a zoo.

When preparing to relate this incident ask yourself first whether you know exactly what happened. Consider then how to begin the story so that your hearer will know when and where it happened and who were there. Include in the beginning any statement that will assist the  reader in understanding the events which follow.


  • English Composition, Lesson 06 Exam