When you use definition for something, you analyze it and try to show its essential traits.
Here are some of the strategies writers typically use;
• Attributing Characteristics
• Analyzing Components
• Giving Examples
• Stating Function
• Defining Negatively : that is showing what something is not
Definition is an especially useful pattern of organization when you want to establish a standard by which to make a judgment. First you state the qualities that characterize the thing you want to define. Then you show how that thing does or doesn’t have those qualities.
For Example :
If you wanted to define a good day care center, you might list qualities such as a low child – attendant ratio, director with training in child development and so on. Then you would apply those criteria to specific day care center to evaluate it.
Here’s a definition paragraph taken from a book that defines a new socioeconomic class, a new type of educated elite. The author has fun here defining the new educated classes by how they buy and then giving examples that illustrate his point.
Members of the educated class a distinguished not only by what they buy but by how they buy. It’s commonly observed, for example, that almost nobody in an upscale coffee house orders just a cup of coffee. Instead, one of us will order double espresso, half decaf – half caffeinated with mocha and room for milk. Another will order a vente almond Frappucino made from the Angolan blend with raw sugar and hind of cinnamon. We don’t just ask for a bee. We order one of the 16,000 microbrews, picking our way through winter ales, Belgian lagers and blended wheat. Thanks to our influence, all the things that used to come in just a few varieties now come in at least a dozen. (David Brooks : Bobos In Pardise)
Here’s piece of writing that defines by characteristics. It’s a feature story about a California teenager who believes that she’s defined by her shoes.
Jamillon Tucker knows being a teenager is all about the shoes. Get the right kicks and respect will follow. So when she walks the halls of John F. Kennedy high school in a tough part of Richmond, California, the 15 – year - old freshman can’t help staring at the shoes on parade. There goes a pair of red and white Nike Shox. Here comes some rainbow colored Air max. And check out those thin gray airs Jordan XI Retros. Their proud owner, a kid with cornrow braids a la NBA superstar Allen Elverson, leaves the laces untied and walks in a flat footed waddle to keep the leather from creasing. “It’s all about fashion and status,” Tucker says with a laugh. These days, she too is turning lots of heads – or, as the kids say, breakin’ hello necks. Using money she made working after school, she just bought a pair of black and red Nike Air Prestos, stylish slip – on running shoes that match her black jeans and red Nike Shirt. “They‘re tight”, Tucker says, referring not to the fit, but to the fashion. (Brook Larmer : Two girls and a shoe)
Other Pages in This Section :
• Reasoning from Evidence
• Assertion and Support
• Cause and Effect
• Comparison and Contrast
• Choosing and Combining Patterns
Successful Writing Index