Part I. Introduction to Genres

The way we write is influenced by different factors, including audience, context, and purpose. To understand how these shape our writing, it’s helpful to ask questions like these:

  • Audience: Who will be reading this writing? Why will they be reading it? What are their expectations for how it will look, what information and ideas it will include, and how those will be expressed?
  • Context: Where is this type of writing usually found or used? How does this location influence the types of ideas and information included in the writing?
  • Purpose: What is the goal of this writing? What is the writer trying to make us do, feel, or think? What strategies are used to achieve this goal?

Understanding the audience, context, and purpose for different types of writing can help us understand what to write and how to write it. It can also help us understand what our readers are expecting and different ways that we can meet those expectations.

For example, take a look at the following excerpts from two genres. The first is from a narrative about a student’s language development, and the second is from an argumentative essay. They’re very different from each other.

Excerpt 1. Literacy Narrative

After I picked up my checked baggage, I took a taxi and the driver said, “How’s it going?” And I said, “Of course by plane!”. The taxi driver just laughed and I didn’t know what happened. Again, I opened my mouth as much as I can, shrugged my shoulders, and smiled awkwardly. That driver laughed loud and it seemed that he couldn’t breathe. After few seconds, that enthusiastic driver told about the different types of greeting ways and taught me how to answer it. In that moment, I really wanted to find a gap hiding in there because it was so awkward when I knew the meaning of that sentences. In the whole way to my new apartment, I asked many questions that confused me. For example, I asked the driver, “What is the meaning of the sign ‘Xing’ on the ground”. The driver was really good and he liked to tell everything he knew. Although some awkward situation always happened, it was ok because I finally learned the way that American people usually greeted each other and this awkward situation will never happen again. Learning is one of the most important reason that’s why I study abroad. So, don’t care about being awkward or shy, and if you don’t know just ask.

Excerpt 2. Argumentative Paper
Another point that can be ignored is the fast food industry. Although brands such as Mc Donalds, KFC and Coca-Cola have been consumed by Chinese by billions each year, people seldom understand why this enthusiasm never retreat for such a long time. As I perceive, those “cultural” belongs to modern cultural, which means they originated from just very short time ago. Their success can be mostly concluded to their marketing strategies. For example, Fast-food chains are professional in studying Chinese appetites and frequently improving menus in order to achieve people’s highest satisfaction. For beverages and other cuisine business, they are very good at selling methods. For instance, Coca-Cola does not only have different favors, but also different volumes of drinks which create huge convenient for customers. Also they pay lot efforts to designing delicate outlooks. These little detailed improvements might seem irrelevant to their huge success. However, as the old saying “Rome wasn’t built in one day”, those details contribute a lot to American’s culture success as accumulation in the long run business.

In these activities, we’re going to explore two different types of writing: argumentative essays and narratives about literacy. The audience and context for the examples we’ll share are similar:

  • Audience: University peers and instructors
  • Context: Major assignment in a writing course

These two types of writing have different purposes, though.


Based on your own experiences, can you make an informed guess about what these writing purposes are?
Here’s some questions to get you started:

  • Purpose of argumentative writing: What’s your goal when you try to argue for/against something? What outcome do you want?
  • Purpose of narrative writing: What’s your goal when you try to guide someone through personal experiences you’ve had? What outcome do you want?

Both of these types of writing (argumentative and narrative) use examples to help their readers understand their ideas. However, the types of examples and how they use examples are different because of their different purposes. To understand more about this, the next sections will look at some of the ways in which argumentative writing and narratives signal that an example is being provided.

Part II. Frequency of Exemplification Phrases

To accomplish the purposes of Argumentative Essays and Literacy Narratives (See Part I), as a writer you need to provide examples in both. To provide examples, writers often use phrases: such as, for example, for instance, or an example of.

Although these exemplification phrases occur in both genres fairy frequently, there are some differences across the two genres. Table 1 shows frequencies of exemplification phrases in Argumentative Papers, while Table 2 demonstrates frequencies of the same phrases in Literacy Narratives. Examine the two tables below and answer the questions.

Search queryInstances in matching texts Normed (per 1 million) Texts containing term
“such as”1,135960.43494
“For example”572484.02340
“For instance”161136.24123
“for example”143121.01102
“for instance”3227.0830
“an example of”2622.0025
Table 1. Frequency Information on Exemplification Phrases in Argumentative Papers in Crow

Here’s the link to the corpus with the searches from Table 1.

Search queryInstances in matching texts Normed (per 1 million) Texts containing term
“such as”253513.75170
“For example”146296.47123
“For instance”53107.6251
“for example”2550.7725
“for instance”48.124
“an example of”48.124
Table 2. Frequency Information on Exemplification Phrases in Literacy Narratives in Crow

Here’s the link to the corpus with the searches from Table 2.


  1. What is the most common exemplification phrase across both genres? What is the least common exemplification phrase across both genres?
  2. “For example” and “For instance” (capitalized) have different frequencies than their lowercase versions (“for example” and “for instance”). What do these different frequencies tell us about how these are used?
  3. Looking at both tables, which genre has more exemplification phrases: Argumentative Papers or Literacy Narratives? (Hint: Look at the Normed per 1 million column.) 
  4. What do you think could be the reason for the different frequencies of these phrases across the two genres? (Hint: Think of the purposes of these two genres.)
  5. Do you see similar characteristics in your own writing? Are you using different exemplification phrases for different types of writing/genres? 
  6. What is the most/least common exemplification phrase you use?

Part III. Functions and Uses of Exemplification Features

Concordance lines: Below are two excerpts from argumentative writing and literacy narratives. In each excerpt, you will see lines from student writing. These are called concordance lines. Concordance lines help explore search words (for instance, etc.) in context. Since we look at the words that surround the search words, we do not use full sentences, but incomplete sentences.

How to use concordance lines: Each concordance line highlights the search word or phrase that you search for. By looking at what comes before and after the search word, it is possible to see some patterns.

Argumentative Essays

Here’s the link to the corpus with the “For instance” search in Argumentative Papers.

Literacy Narratives

Here’s the link to the corpus with the “For instance” search in Literacy Narratives.


The concordance window can be sorted by clicking “Sort by the word before/after”. See what happens, what similarities/differences we can identify. We now see “For instance” in the concordance lines. We will now explore what concordance lines tells us about it:

  1. Position in the sentence: Where in the sentence does it occur? Beginning, middle or end?
  2. What kind of words come before and after this phrase?
  3. What pattern do you see: a clause starting with a subject or lists of nouns?
  4. What punctuations do you see before and after “For instance”?
  5. How does this exemplification phrase help students with their writing goals?
To the Instructor
Analyzing language in concordance lines allows learners to “discover” language and learn “independently”. Learners might use multiple exemplification phrases. Other exemplification phrases (such, an example of, etc.) in the frequency table above might have different patterns in context. By exposing learners to such language in context, it is possible to raise their awareness of exemplification phrases.