Good Attention Getters for Essays With Examples

Updated on December 21, 2017
Dr. Poeta Diablo profile image

As a professional in the education industry for over 10 years, I believe knowledge should be made available to all willing students.

Photo taken by hanzabean
Photo taken by hanzabean

Good "Attention Getters" Are Vital for Essays

An "attention getter," also known as an "attention grabber," "hook," or "hook sentence," refers to the first 1-4 sentences of an essay and is always found in the introductory paragraph. It consists of an intriguing opening that is designed to grab your reader's attention.

Having a good attention getter for an essay is absolutely crucial. On average, people only read the first 2 sentences before deciding if your essay will be an interesting read or a chore. That doesn't give you much text to convince readers to stick around. A good attention getter will invoke your reader's curiosity and pique their interest in the rest of the essay. In this article, I will teach you how to write truly effective introductory lines, plus provide some examples of attention getters for your next essay.

Top 4 Essay Attention Getters

The top four types attention grabbing openings include asking the reader a question, telling a story, telling a joke, and making a comparison.

These four attention getters listed below can be used interchangeably in pretty much any type of essay. They are designed to be both relatable and interesting to an average person (so it's a good idea not to get too obscure when writing them). Check out the suggestions and examples and consider giving your favorite a try in your next paper.

1. Ask a Question

  • Have you ever wondered why _____?
  • What if ______ happened to you?
  • Do you know the real story behind ____?

This simple technique will get your readers to start thinking about your question, even if it was rhetorical. You capture the reader's attention and allow him/her to make connections to real life by thinking about what the answer might be. This can be a good way to get people to care what you are talking about in your essay.

Examples of Opening an Essay With a Question

  • Have you ever wondered why the city of San Francisco has such high instances of dog ownership? For decades, San Francisco has been a pet-friendly city sporting a large number of dog parks and other dog-friendly facilities and events. It is also a city that has passed many dog-friendly laws and regulations. In this essay, I will discus the history of San Francisco and how it became such a hot spot for dogs and the humans who love them.
  • How would you feel if you returned from gym class, opened your locker to get changed, and found that your clothes had been stolen? What would you do? Would you wear your gym clothes for the rest of the day, even if it wasn't allowed? Would you tell a teacher and miss some of your next class in order to borrow clothes? What if this happened once a week? Every day? Not every student is a victim of bullying, but every student should care about stopping bullying. In this essay, it is my aim to show you that bullying is everyone's problem.
  • Do you know the real story behind milk? You interact with it on a daily basis (if you're not lactose intolerant or vegan) in baked goods, in your cereal, in dairy products like yogurt and cheese, and you may even drink it by the glass. Most of us consume milk or milk products at least once a day, but how much do you really know about where it comes from or how it gets to your grocery store shelves? In this essay, I intend to walk you through milk's journey from dairy farms to your refrigerator.

2. Tell a Story

  • She walked to the store...
  • I once visited Madrid...
  • The cat yawned lazily...

Guide the reader through a personal anecdote, an account of something that happened to someone else, or a fictionalized account of an event you intend to talk about in your essay. The story should be related to the essay's topic, but it should help evoke the feeling of enjoyment from reading fiction and get your reader interested in what happens next in the story.

Examples of Opening an Essay With a Story

  • Queen Cleopatra sat on the throne of her opulent audience chamber. She was in full queenly regalia today, as her schedule included meetings with foreign diplomats. The room smelled of perfumed bodies and incense, and thankfully, a light breeze wafted through; it was hot. While it is impossible to know exactly what a day in the life of Queen Cleopatra would really have been like, historians and archaeologists can offer many useful clues through the study of ancient artifacts and writings.
  • The jaguar padded silently across the jungle floor. She followed the scent of something small and furry, hopeful of catching her next meal. Her stomach growled with hunger as she listened for the telltale rustling that would alert her when the creature was nearby. Jaguars are the third largest cat species in the world and the largest in the Americas. This essay will discuss interesting facts and information about jaguars.

3. Tell a Joke

Funny attention getters can be very effective when used correctly. There are 2 types of jokes you can use to begin your essay:

  • A very general joke that an average person would understand. Jokes can lighten the mood and allow the reader to enjoy the rest of the essay. Just make sure you tie your joke back into the subject you are writing about somehow. The reader will be wondering what other laughs you have in store, which is part of the fun, so try to incorporate at lease one other joke later in the piece if you choose this method.
  • A joke about the subject of the essay. This will make the essay's material seem more relatable. Your reader will no longer feel like he/she is just reading any old paper, but rather, a paper that offers entertainment along with information, and one written by a real human person who might be just like them.

Examples of Opening an Essay With a Joke

  • Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side, of course! But the reason might really be that the chicken lived in Fair Oaks, California. This little town is famous for its free range wild chickens. You might even say it's a town "for the birds!" Since the 1970s, Fair Oaks has been home to many different breeds of chickens who wander the streets freely. This essay will inform readers about the unique charm of Fair Oaks.
  • There's a thin line between a numerator and a denominator. If you laughed at this fraction joke, you are definitely a math person! But did you know that people were using fractions to keep track of amounts of things as early as 1800 BCE? This essay will discuss the history of fractions.

4. Use Comparisons

Using comparisons is a good way to make complicated concepts seem more simple and easily understood. Try using something your reader is likely to know a lot about in order to show how it is similar to something he/she may not know very much about. This can be a good way to make your reader feel as though he/she will have an easy time understanding the essay, regardless of its subject.

Examples of Starting an Essay With Comparisons

  • Have you ever heard of a pomelo fruit? It's a lot like a grapefruit. Both are citrus fruits, are round, and have thick peels. Both can be peeled with fingers, but are easier to eat by cutting open with a knife. Both even have a similar flavor that is bitter and sweet at the same time. If a pomelo and a grapefruit sound a lot alike, it's because they are actually related. Grapefruits are the result of crossbreeding a pomelo with an orange. This essay will discuss the fascinating pomelo fruit.
  • Eating a healthy diet is a lot like building a house. Most nutritionists recommend starting with a good, sturdy foundation of fruits and vegetables. In fact, fruits and veggies should take up at least half of every meal. This will provide a solid base for your walls (protein) to rest on. Lean protein like eggs, seafood, beans, and fowl should make up the next 30% of your meal. And the roof, the next 15-20% of your meal, should be made up of whole grains like wheat, rice, barley, and quinoa. This essay will demonstrate how your diet, just like a house, should be constructed carefully for a happier, more comfortable life.

Photo taken by Auntie P
Photo taken by Auntie P

Hooks for a Persuasive or Argumentative Essays

A persuasive essay or argumentative essay is a paper where you are trying to convince your reader to engage in a particular action or adopt a particular belief system. Starting your essay out with shocking or astounding facts or statistics can help to make an impression and inspire your reader's curiosity to learn more.

This type of attention getter also works well for informative and research essays.

Example of a Persuasive Essay Hook

Humans emit 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide every single year, and the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is already higher than it's been in hundreds of years. Think climate change is no big deal? Think again. This essay will argue that climate change is a major global threat and that we all need to take action now.

Attention Getters for Descriptive Essays

A descriptive essay is an essay that describes a person, place, or thing. Descriptive essays can be about a tangible thing like a favorite toy or food. They can also be about intangible things like feelings or dreams. Good attention getters for descriptive essays will include the senses. Let the reader know what he/she should be tasting, smelling, feeling, hearing, or seeing in order to give him/her the feeling of being right there and experiencing the situation with you.

Example of a Descriptive Essay Attention Getter

The house felt warm and smelled of wood smoke, pine, and cinnamon from my dad's delicious baked apples. Christmas music played softly, complimenting the crackle of the fire in the fireplace. I ran down the stairs full of excitement. Join me in this essay where I will describe what it's like to be at my house on Christmas morning.

Attention Grabbers for a Contrast Essay

A contrast essay, also known as a comparative essay, is a paper that compares two or more different things and discusses how they are similar and how they are different. It sometimes also argues that the things being compared are more similar than different, or more different than similar. Jumping right in with a comparative/contrasting statement can be a great way to engage your reader with this type of paper.

Example of a Contrast Essay Attention Grabber

They may seem like bitter enemies at first, but believe it or not, people who don't like pineapple pizza actually have a lot in common with people who do. Pineapple pizza people often think of the anti-pineapple crew as just a bunch of restrictive haters putting arbitrary limits on a favorite dish, and the pineapple-free team tend to view pineapple people as defilers of an already sacred and perfect food. But both share something very, very important; a love of pizza.

Hook Sentences That Don't Use "You" or "I"

Some classrooms do not permit the use of first or second person in essays, and students may not always be permitted to use the words "I" and "you." Most of these catchy openings don't need to include those two words and can be easily adapted to work without them.

In fact, all of the top four listed above should still work without needing to use "I" or "you," except option #1 (asking the reader a question). While you can still write questions without "you" or "I," they don't make very good openers. Additionally, the suggestions for persuasive, descriptive, and contrast essays will still work without using those two forbidden words.


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    • profile image

      geoffry 8 days ago

      this is my favorite article

    • profile image

      geoffry 10 days ago

      this is my favorite article

    • profile image

      nightfall 4 weeks ago

      this is helpful for those who write.

    • profile image

      Hannah 5 weeks ago

      I need a good attention getter for a speech on a genocide

    • profile image

      lowrie 3 months ago

      I was looking for a good attention grabber for a persuasive speech about the bad habit of nail-biting. I need some suggestions pls.

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      brody 3 months ago

      where can I get a good attention grabber for a paragraph?

    • profile image

      3 months ago

      Try one with some dramatic pause. Not literally, but it will make the reader want to read it like they would say it if it were happening. Try an intro, then some details, then how it got to this point. it's like a flashback.

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      Lukas Islinger 3 months ago

      My mother, who is an inspirational photographer, wanted me to leave a little word of my mind here on -- the leading website for academic enthusiasts hoping to leave their mark on the world. As my mother once said "Those who don't take photographs dont know jack s**t." Honestly, I don't think this is related to this essay, but you can see my example of an anecdote that started this essay. Keep this in mind when writing yours, and quote my mom freely -- it's not copyrighted. Thank you, and thanks for stopping by A&W.

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      shorty1022 5 months ago

      what if you cant ask a question? would you put an interesting fact about the topic? could you do that for a compare and contrast essay???

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      Ally Kan 6 months ago

      THX for you help, it had been a hard task for me to start an essay for a competition, but due to your help and God's help, I finally made it. Congratulations to the one who created this website.

    • profile image

      Fig newton 6 months ago

      This was such a good website i always have trouble starting a paper thank you and next time you are shopping please buy me

    • profile image

      Bree Sharp 11 months ago

      I think this was super helpful because I didn't know all the different ways you could start a parargraph.

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      Aaron Rodgers 2 years ago

      Very helpful!!

    • profile image

      Kelsey 3 years ago

      Not what I was looking for but OK!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      alidean 5 years ago

      very very useful i got an A+ for my assignment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      nicole 5 years ago

      what are some good attension-getter

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      JJ 5 years ago

      I totally agree with alrstudent

      Some basic tips to keep in mind for writing an essay. . .

      ~You should NEVER use the word "you" or "I" or "your" etc.

      ~"Have you ever. . ." or "Do you ever wonder. . ." or "Do you really know the real reason behind. . ." because it gives your reader the chance to say or think "Nope, I've never wondered . . ." or "No I haven't done that" or "I don't really care if I know the real reason behind. . ." When writing an essay you don't want to give your reader something they could disagree with what your saying or go "and I care because. . .?" I know it sounds harsh but seriously, who really gives a crap to those kinds of questions? Do they really make you want to read whatever the paper is going to be?

      ~Jokes don't usually work in most cases. Unless you have a SUPER funny joke where everyone laughs every time you tell it, then I'd say it's a pass.

      ~Never use I think, I feel, I believe, In my opinon, etc. because in doing so it's like your saying YOU are an EXPERT on the topic or whatever your writing about. So unless you really have a degree in what you're writing about, leave those out.

      ~All forms of go or get (includes goes, gone, gotten, went, got, etc.)

      ~The phrase "it all started with. . ." because did it really all start with. . . When you say that it's basically saying the beginning of earth/time/the world started with. . .


      Attention Getters MUST BE CLEVER!!!! Ideas. . .

      ~Allusions (refrences to something famous-ex. writing a persuasive essay for the idea of population control an attention getter could have a tie in to "It's a small world")

      ~A play on words (ex. persuasive essay for the idea of banning the watermelon-Watermelon is a grind. Grind is the play on words because of course there is grind, but also there's the "rind" of a watermelon.)

      ~Another ex. would be "Is watermelon too big a pill to swallow?"

      These are just some of the basic rules to follow when writing an essay-hope they help!

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      fufubunny 5 years ago

      alrstudent is right

      essays are supposed to be in the 3rd pperson

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      alrstudent 5 years ago

      You aren't supposed to use questions as an attention getter. You also aren't supposed to use "I" or "you" in an essay. Nice try though.

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      tete 6 years ago

      this was really GREAT !!!!

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      MG 6 years ago

      This was very helpful, but my teacher is really strict so we can't use 1st or 2nd person, so asking questions and doing things like that are really hard for me.

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      katriya 6 years ago

      very helpful but not exactly what im looking for and not that super, but i think it is ok!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Don't try to be mean but this is really not the mean idea! too bad though but don't be sad!!!!

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      sean hughes 6 years ago

      very very useful with my home work

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      Ingenira 7 years ago

      Excellent tips. Voted up and useful ! I could use this for writing blogs too.