What Is a Hook in an Essay?

While you can catch a fish with a net, you can only grab and keep a reader’s attention in an essay with a hook. An essay hook consists of one of two sentences in the introduction paragraph that are used to grab and keep your audience’s attention and interest. If you are still reading, it is clear that the foregoing two sentences provided the requisite hook that kept your interest and attention. Because these critical sentences occur first in your essay, it is vitally important to ensure that your hook is sufficiently compelling and interesting that your audience (which may or may not be your teacher exclusively) will want to read what you wrote rather than feeling obligated to do so despite the lack of an appropriate hook. Therefore, your essay hook sentence should appear as soon as possible in your introduction and be tailored according to your intended audience, the type of essay you are writing, the style of writing that is required to satisfy the assignment guidelines and the format that will be followed.

A humorous anecdote or a relevant quotation can provide effective hooks, or asking a timely question such as, “Is it really too late to save humanity from global warming?” or “Even though medical marijuana is still illegal in many states, should veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury receive medical marijuana from the federal government regardless of where they live?” Here again, though, it is important to tie your hook with the theme, topic or subject of your essay, and the more relevant your hook is, the better it will be at achieving its intended purpose of grabbing and keeping your audience’s attention.

View our hook sentence examples to get some ideas for helping you with writing your essay.