Using examples to support written statements in the Humanities

A hand writing on a page

Adding examples

In most kinds of formal writing, it is important to support broad statements with specific examples. If your writing includes numerous unsupported claims, it may seem ill-informed or hastily prepared. Appropriate use of examples to support your argument, in contrast, will make your writing more persuasive and can lead to better marks for essays. Depending on the subject of the text, examples may take many forms, including written text, quotations, diagrams, graphs, pictures, music or other illustrations. These activities focus on the use of written text to support general statements.

In these activities you will identify when examples are being used to add weight to statements and you will practise selecting appropriate examples yourself.

Activity 1: Identifying exemplification

There are three texts below, each of which contains statements supported by examples. The information added by these examples lends more weight and credibility to the statements.


Identify any examples that have been used to support the general statement or statements in each extract. Highlight the entire example in each case and click on 'Bold'. Highlight and click 'Normal' if you wish to change your choice. In each case, notice the particular linking phrases that have been used.

If you would like to see a list of linking phrases that can be used to introduce examples, open the link below:
Linking phrases (pdf, 7KB). You may wish to print this document.

Activity 2: Supporting general statements

In this activity, you will identify appropriate examples from a text to support four general statements. You will also practise using appropriate words and phrases to introduce them.


Read the following main text on opera. Then select suitable evidence from the main text to support each of the four statements above the textboxes that follow. Add a supporting statement, using your own words, by typing in each textbox.

An opera is a drama which combines soliloquy, dialogue, scenery, action, and continuous (or nearly continuous) music. Although the earliest works in the genre we now call opera date only from the very end of the sixteenth century, the association of music with drama goes back to ancient times. The choruses and some lyric speeches, at least, in the plays of Euripides and Sophocles were sung. The medieval liturgical dramas were sung, and music was used, albeit incidentally, in the religious mystery and miracle plays of the late Middle Ages. In the theatre of the Renaissance, where so many tragedies and comedies imitated or were inspired by Greek examples, choruses were sometimes sung, especially at the opening or the ending of an act; moreover, between acts of a comedy or tragedy, intermedi or intermezzi - interludes of pastoral, allegorical, or mythological character - were usually given; on important state occasions, such as the wedding of Grand Duke Ferdinando de' Medici in Florence in 1589, these intermedi were spectacular and elaborate musical productions, with choruses, soloists and large instrumental ensembles.
(Grout and Palisca, 1996)

The use of music in dramatic productions had a long history before the Renaissance.

Opera is, by its very nature, a multimedia event.

The audience in the Renaissance theatre was likely to be exposed to music at several points in the production.

The intermedi that were the forerunners of early opera were expensive to mount and reserved for the most significant public events.


Grout, D. and Palisca, C. (1996). A History of Western Music, fifth edition. New York: Norton & Co.

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