Exemplification and Illustration as Mode of Paragraph Development

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In the sample essay “Lenten Specialty Dishes,” Micky Fenix makes use of exemplification, the process of enumerating or giving examples, to give advice as to which alternative dishes the readers can eat during the Lenten season when fasting is observed. By using exemplification, Fenix was able to concretize and make perceptible how Filipinos observe the Christian event called Lent. 

A very practical purpose or function of exemplification is that examples can make abstract ideas more understandable to human perception. Give examples that can appeal to the senses: of sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. In the case of Lenten Specialty Dishes, Fenix gave examples of food, which primarily appeals to the sense of taste, that can serve as alternative dishes for the Lenten season.

Exemplification can also provide specific instances to support a claim. The following are some techniques that you can use as evidence to establish credibility in your arguments.

Visual Illustrations

Visual illustrations appeal to the sense of sight. Since the eyesight is given primacy over the other human senses, you can use visual illustrations to concretize abstract concepts like poverty and love. In the case of poverty, you can show pictures of beggars on the streets knocking on car windows when the traffic light is red, of malnourished people in rundown houses, or of tall commercial and residential buildings juxtaposed with a multitude of shantis cramped so closely together that even motorists on motorcycles would have a hard time passing through. On the other hand, in the case of love, you can opt to show pictures of people holding hands, people kissing, a smiling family hugging each other, friends eating together, or a mother caressing her stomach and gazing fondly at her unborn child.

Facts

Facts are concepts, ideas, and statements that are generally assumed true, real, and/ or existing. Facts given as examples are very useful in supporting your point as most people accept these facts as already part of reality that they are usually uncontested. To support your proposal of having air condition units installed in classrooms, for example, cite the facts that the Philippines is a tropical country and so it is generally warm all year round, and that summer days, particularly in April and May, have temperatures of at least 30° Celsius which can cause dizziness and fainting spells.

Anecdotes

Anecdotes are brief narratives within a piece of writing. They do not necessarily serve as the focus; rather, as supporting points or claims that explain or elaborate the author’s intended argument. Anecdotes are powerful instruments of persuasion.They are told based on the author’s own memory and portrays him/her in a very relatable and understandable way because anecdotes, ultimately, humanizes the storyteller. To explain the high premium given to education by typical Filipino families, one can narrate the story of his/her own parents toiling everyday just to have enough money to pay for the tuition fees of their children. Narrate how much effort parents or guardians exert in investing in the students’ education just so after graduating, the children would find success in their chosen field and pay their parents back in whichever form they can.

Details

Detailing entails analyzing, which is the process of breaking down a concept or idea into its constituent parts. When enumerating details, you zoom in and focus on the minute parts, as opposed to zooming out when you see the big picture. When asked to write about your Christmas vacation, you can say that it was fun and eventful, enumerating details like singing Christmas carols to nearly all houses in the neighborhood, doing last minute shopping at the nearest mall, wrapping gifts with ribbons of various sizes and colors, calling loved ones abroad who cannot be with you in the country, eating a sumptuous Noche Buena during Christmas Eve, opening piles of presents and scattering ripped gift wrappers all over the floor, and finally waiting patiently for the New Year to come.

Opinions

As opposed to facts, opinions are individual interpretations of people on certain events, situations, ideas, and/or concepts. Opinions naturally vary from one person to another due to people’s different backgrounds and personalities. While not as pertinent support as facts, opinions can still have the power to make a claim well-founded as these are first-hand reactions or reviews from people. When given a writing assignment on the K-12 Program, for example, the writer can opt to cite reactions taken from interviewees such as students, parents, school administrators, or even Department of Education officials. K-12 may not be favored since it entails more fees and infrastructures to be built, plus additional preparations as this will set a precedent in the history of the Philippine educational system. On the other hand, K-12 may also garner positive feedback as it could potentially better prepare the students both mentally and emotionally before entering college and equip them with more than the necessary skills to be global competitors in their chosen fields.

Observations

Similar to describing, observations also make use of description—appealing to the five senses. Observations can be done anytime. All you need are your five senses. When describing the rainy season from your seat inside the classroom, for example, see how the rain falls down on the tree leaves and roofs before touching the ground, smell how the rain’s intrusive odor merges with the smell of plants and dried mud, taste the food that you would want to eat in this cold and damp weather, hear the pitter-patter of rain against every surface it descends upon, and feel how the wind wipes your face and how cool the drops are when they find their way on your own skin.

In summary, visual illustrations, facts, anecdotes, details, opinions, and observations are some examples that a writer can use as a technique for exemplification to concretize ideas and concepts. 

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