The Meaning of Composition

This topic deals with compositions that engage pupils/students in writing using appropriate language, content and style. Composition refers to a short text that is written at school, college, etc. as part of exercise.

In composition a student/pupil generates his/her own ideas to explain, narrate, argue/persuade or describe something or event. Composition involves writing of essays, poems, stories, songs, and letters. Etc.

Types of composition

There are various types of compositions, they include.

(a Narrative compositions.

(b) Expository compositions

(c) Descriptive compositions.

(d) Argumentative or Persuasive compositions.

Narrative compositions

Narrative compositions refer to stories of different events. These stories may be personal, historical or fictional. Personal stories focus on important events of the author’s life. Historical stories capture a moment from the past and present it in a story format. Fictional stories use imagination and figurative language to produce a short story.

A narrative composition is the composition that tells a story. When writing narrative about an event, the following should be included.

When did it happen? What exactly happened? When did the event start? How did you know about the event? Did you witness or where you told about the event? Were you involved in the event? How did the event end?

Basic elements of Narrative Compositions

There are several basic elements that should be considered when writing a narrative composition. These include: plot, characters and setting.

Plot: is a sequence of events or actions in a story. It has conflict that is a problem to human experience, and a resolution, that is the outcome of the conflict. Most plots develop in the five stages, namely: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.

  1. Exposition is a background information about the characters and setting
  2. Rising action is a part that develops the conflict
  3. Climax is the point of the highest interest, conflict or suspense in the story
  4. Falling action is a part that shows what happens to the characters after the climax
  5. Resolution shows how the conflict is resolved, or the problem is solved.

Characters are animate or inanimate things that perform certain roles in literature. Animate things are living things like people, plants and animals, while inanimate things are non living things like stones, air, wind, soil, pieces of wood, etc. when inanimate things are given human attributes, they are personified (personification).

Setting is the time and place in which the events of a narrative occur.

Steps in writing Narrative Compositions

There are several steps to follow when writing a narrative composition. They include: finding a story idea, developing characters, setting the scene, communicating a theme and choosing a point of view.

Finding a story idea: The story should have a conflict/topic/problem that can be external or internal, intra-personal or inter-personal, at the level of an individual, group or society. Story ideas come from everyday life experience, newspapers, magazines or books.

Developing characters: Assign roles that relate to their physical descriptions, thoughts, personality traits, actions and reactions to one another,. Include dialogue to let readers witness the characters, conversations. In writing a dialogue, use the language that reflects age, background and personality of each character.

Setting the scene: in setting the scene, include information about time, place, weather and historical period. Often setting will affect the way characters act.

Communicating a theme: Theme is a main idea of a story that the writer conveys through the narrative. One way to express the theme of narrative is through description of the setting and the title.

Choosing a point of view: The decision is made by the author whether to use first person (i/we), second person (You) or third person (he/she/it/they) narration. In first person point of view, the narrator is a character in the story. In third person point of view the narrator is an observer of the event being narrated.

Expository composition

An expository composition is a piece of writing or story that gives directions, explains an idea or term, compares one thing to another and explains how to do something. The purpose of an expository writing is to explain something to the reader or audience.

Types of Expository composition

There are five types of expository composition as follows;

Explaining a process (explanatory)

Uses a step –by-step organization to explain how something happens, works or is done. For example, how to prepare oxygen in the laboratory.

Cause and effect

This examines the causes or effects or both of a system, or certain phenomenon. For example, the causes and effects of AIDS, poverty, the desertification, drought etc.

Compare and contract

This examines similarities and difference of certain phenomena. For example, compare and contrast weather and climate, animal cell and plant cell, rocks and minerals, etc.


It explains a concept by listing its qualities and characteristics. For example, define a cell, metamorphic rock, climate, poverty, globalization, technology etc.

Problem and solution

This examines aspects of a problem and proposes possible solutions. This means that a writer investigates a problem and explains it to the readers, then he/she proposes solutions,. The problem can be HIV/AIDS, famine, environmental pollution, floods, overpopulation and migration. The measurers to address these problems can be suggested in the essay and they should be as many as possible.

Descriptive Composition

Descriptive composition is the type of writing that describes about events, actions or phenomena which exist or happened sometime in the past. It tells that a phenomenon is, like by giving the details of the features or characteristics. A writer can describe the colour, size, quality, feeling, smell, taste, sound, speed, or age of someone or something.

For example, one can write an essay describing the Kilimanjaro Mountain, or Lake Victoria or the shape of animal cell.

In writing a descriptive composition, avoid the following overused modifiers: good, bad, really, so, and very. Instead you may consider the following modifiers: completely, definitely, especially, exceptionally, largely, mostly, notably, oddly, particularly, strikingly, surprisingly, terribly, thoroughly and unusually.

Also, use precise verbs and words that appeal to sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch, so as to capture the essence of actions.

Argumentative/Persuasive Composition

Argumentative or persuasive composition is the type of writing aimed at convincing, motivating, arguing, or persuading readers to accept, change or take action on something or topic or subject in whatever form that might be. For example, an essay can be written to persuade readers to join a certain political, party, or buy something, or vote for a certain candidate or use certain medicine in combating malaria or AIDS.

Things to consider when writing a persuasive composition.

Varied opinions about the topic: You must argue for a point and try to convince readers to support your opinion. Your opinion should be disputable or argumentative. If your opinion can’t arouse argumentation then it is worthless. For example, it would be pointless to argue that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east because almost everyone would not agree with you. However, your might argue on a certain theory which states that the sun accounts for 90% of desertification.

Audience receptiveness: Take into consideration your audience and their opinions, are well as their age, level of education, sex and problems they encounter when choosing a topic. For example, one can write about HIV/AIDS, importance of education, the problem of pregnancy in primary schools, floods, outbreak of diseases etc.

Sufficient evidence: Provide sufficient evidence to support your arguments. If give little support for your opinion, you will be fighting a losing battle.

Use inductive and deductive reasoning: Reasoning is an important aspect in providing arguments. Reasoning can be inductive or deductive.

Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning proceeds logically from limited facts to a general conclusion, that is, reasoning from specific aspects to general aspects.


The meaning of Creative Writing

Creative writing involves the figurative use of language in a more artistic way. Creating writing goes hand in hand with competence and performance of a certain language. Creative writing becomes more effective when one becomes capable of using literary devices and skills. Literary devices are tools which make a story or any piece of writing figurative.

Some of the literary devices which are used in most literary works include: personification, hyperbole, simile, rhetorical questions, irony sarcasm, tautology, onomatopoeia, alliteration, reiteration, assonance, consonance, proverbs, riddles, just to mention a few. (For more details about literary devices refer to Chapter Four)


Simile: it is used to compare two different things having a common quality.


(i) Janneth is as beautiful as a rose.

(ii) He is running very fast like a horse.

Metaphor: It is used to compare two different things treated as one. It is also called and implied simile without using words such as ‘like’, ‘so’, ‘as,


(i) Education is a key to life.

(ii) An elephant is the king of the forest.

Allegory: A form of extended metaphor in which objects, persons and actins in narrative, either in prose or verse, are equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself.

Personification: It is a way of giving inanimate and other lifeless objects the qualities of human beings such as speaking, walking, thinking, etc. Example

(i) Hyena requested Hare to give him some water

(ii) The sun sheds his beams on all people.

Hyperbole: It is used to exaggerate facts. Example

(i) I thanked him a hundred times.

(ii) He is as tall as the P.P.F tower

Euphemism: It is used to say unpleasant thing in a pleasant manner. Example:

(i) ‘I am going to the comfort station’ instead of ‘I am going to the toilet’.

(ii) ‘My mother has passed away’ instead of ‘My mother has died’.

Irony: It is used to express the opposite meaning which is different from the real meaning. Example:

(i) You are very beautiful (to someone who does not look beautiful)

(ii) You have scored very high (to a student who has failed to test)

Rhetorical questions: It is a question which does not need an answer because the answer is known to the person who is asking the question. Examples:

(i) Will there be a tomorrow?

(ii) Now! Why don’t you act?

Alliteration: Repetition of identical consonant sounds at the beginning of word or of stressed syllable within a word in a verse. Example: after, life fit fever.

Assonance: Repetition of similar vowel sounds in stressed syllables that end with different consonant sound. Example

(i) Lake and fate.

(ii) Clean and cream.

(iii) Side and wide.

Archaism (Barbarism): Using different languages in conversation or writing. The worlds which are not acceptable in that language (language used) because it is foreign. In short this term refers to the borrowed words.

Litotes: A form of understatement in which a thing is affirmed by stating the negative of its opposite. Example

(i) ‘She was not unmindful’ meaning ‘she gave careful attention’

(ii) ‘It wasn’t easy’ meaning ‘It was very difficult’.

Onomatopoeic: The formation of words by the imitation of sounds resembling those associated with the object instead of object itself. Example: “hiss” “buzz”, “whir”, and “sizzle”.

Satire: A literary manner that blends a critical attitude with humour and wit for the purpose of improving human institutions or humanity. Example: it seems there is no salon nearby. Your hairs are very cooperative.

Sarcasm: Bitterness. It may not be ironical but it always cuts bitter and ill natured. It aims at inflicting pain. Example:

(i) If you are the son of God rescuer yourself from the cross.

(ii) If you are a mechanical engineer, tell us the problem of this car.

Humour: Funny and amusing. It can be a comic speech, a comic behavior or comic appearance. Example:

Wife: I have been watching you for almost half an hour concentrating on our marriage contract certificate. What is wrong?!

Husband: Nothing wrong! But I am just trying to find out the expiry date of our marriage contract.

Wit: Clever and humorous expression of ideas (intelligent and understanding). With raises a sense of awareness. Example: Oh! Why didn’t you tell me that those mosquitoes are your beloved friends? I can see you visiting the pharmacy daily. But I have two mosquito nets. Can I give you one to dress your bed so as to attract more mosquitoes?!

Sympathy (sympathetic): Feeling of pity and sorrow; capacity for sharing the feeling of others. Example: I really recognize your current situation. It is God’s work. Let us pray for her soul so that God may rest her in eternal life.

Climax: A figure of speech which is used to express a series of ideas in the order of increasing importance. Example:

(i) I heard, I followed, and I won.

(ii) Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.

(iii) I came, I saw, I conquered.

Litotes: It is used to convey an affirmative meaning by employing a negative word. Example:

(i) ‘The car is not in bad condition’ meaning ‘the car is in good condition’

(ii) ‘Elizabeth is not a lazy woman’ meaning ‘Elizabeth is a hard worker.’

(iii) ‘Tanzania is not a mono-party system nation’ meaning ‘Tanzania is a multiparty system nation.’

Ellipsis: It is the omission of words or letters to avoid repetition in the sentences.

Thesis: An attitude or position on a problem taken by a writer or speaker with the purpose of providing or supporting it.

Contrast: A device by which one element is opposed to another for the sake of emphasis or clarity.

Antithesis: A figure of speech characterized by strongly contrasting words, clauses, sentences or ideas: Example:

(i) Man proposes and God disposes.

(ii) To err is human but to forgive is divine.

Allusion: A figure of speech that makes brief reference to a historical or literary figure, event or object.

Ambiguity: The expression of an idea in language that gives more than one meaning and leaves uncertainty as to the intended significance of the statement. Example words like bank, socket etc.

Tautology: The use of superfluous, repetitious words. Tautology differs from the kinds of repetition used for clarity, emphasis or effect, in that it repeats the idea without adding force or clarity.

Exclamation: A figure of speech which is used to express an idea in the form of an exclamation. Example:

(i) What a piece of work is man!

(ii) What fall was there my countryman!

(iii) How sweet is the bed that is slept by the queen!

Language patterns

Conditional sentences

Conditional Sentences can be grouped into three;

  1. Conditional type one (likely)
  2. Conditional type two (unlikely)

III. Conditional type three (impossible)

Type 1

It expresses conditions that are likely to be fulfilled


  1. If I eat to much, I will get stomachache
  2. I will send her an invitation, if I find her address
  3. Unless I get the ball ,I won’t play basketball
  4. The harvest will fail, unless it rain

It formed by two clauses

We use present simple in the if clause and will in the main clause You can have the main clause or the if the clause at the beginning of the sentence. When the if clause it at beginning of the sentence you need comma before the main clause ,as seen in sentence above

Type 2

Always suggest that a situation is unlikely, impossible, imaginary or hypothetical Here we use simple past tense in the If clause and would or conditional tense in the main clause. E.g:

If were an angel, I would lead all carjackers to a trap He would go to London,

If he spoke English If I played crank, I should be a soldier

If I ran fast ,I would be the winner

Type 3

Also called impossible is made up with two clauses

Conditional are used to talk about unreal situations in the past or possible consequences of something that did not happen in the past

We use past perfect in the if clause (if + had) and conditional perfect (would have) in the main clause.


I would have given up if you had not encourage me If you had not encourage me, I would have given up If he had gone ,he could have called me If I had come ,I might have been sick

Prepositions of movement

Study the examples below

a) The children came from the village the other day

b) The young came by daladala to Arusha

c) Some other came all the way on motorbike

d) They stopped at marishoni for lunch

By and on indicate means of travel while to movement toward the destination. From indicate movement from a place of origin. At indicate a point along the journey


Fill in the blank spaces using from, to, at, or by

1) Let us go ___________ the village this weekend

2) Shall we drive _____________ mwama or shall we go____________ air?

3) She called to say she arrived __________- Nairobi last night

4) What time did you reach _____________ Tanga

5) The old lady stood ______________ the bus stop for two hours

Language patterns

How to send a text message (SMS) using a cell phone

a) Ensure you have credit in your phone

b) Go to write massage and type your massage

c) Look to the number of person you want to send a massage to

d) Send a massage you have written by pressing send on the phone

Gender neutral language

When we use the English we need to be careful that we do not discriminate against men or women. Language that excludes one sex is said to be gender insensitive. This insensitivity occurs in the use of nouns and pronouns.

a) If you lose your way in the city, it is safes to speak to the policeman

b) The response of fireman was slow so the fire destroyed everything in the shop

c) The fireman pays the workmen every Saturday

The use of the underlined nouns suggested that all police officers, firefighters, and supervisor are men. The nouns police officer, firefighters and supervisor should have used instead because are gender neutral


Provide the gender neutral equivalent for each of the following nouns

a) Businessman

b) Headmaster

c) Mankind

d) Spokesman

e) Chairman

f) Workmen

Two past sentence connectors

These are conjunctions that are used in pairs. Usually some sentence material comes between the two parts. They are sometimes called correlatives

Either – or

We use Either —– or when we want to give a choice from two alternatives.

For example

  1. Either the teachers or the prefects will supervisor the preparations
  2. You can either do your homework now or wash the clothes
  3. Either you can join the army or the prison services
  4. She is either a teacher or dancer


We use to disqualify or reject two available options

  1. Neither the watchman nor the residents were hurt in the attack
  2. Neither the author nor the editor knows what to do with manuscript. 3.

Not only——–but also and both————and

We used them to relate two things or actions where one is an addition to the other.

For example

  1. He wrote a song .he sang it

He not only wrote a song but also sang it

  1. Shufaa can not only compose a play but also act upon it 2. He need both clothing and food 3.

So—————- that/such ———-that

1 Amina was fat. She could not run

Amina was fat so that she could not run

Hardly —————when

  1. Hardly had abdul sat down when his rival stood to speak 2. Hardly had i started close eyes when the bell rang

Scarcely ——————when

  1. Abul had scarcely sad down when his rival stood to speak
  2. I had scarcely closed my eyes when the bell rang

No sooner had——————–than

  1. No sooner had Juma sat down than his rival stool to speaker
  2. No sooner had he arrived than he left

We use No sooner———than, Hardly—— when and scarcely —-when, when we suggest that one event and happen very soon after another

Simple subordinating Conjunctions

Consist of one word eg although, since, that, unless, until, while, whereas, whereby, as, because, however

Although / though

The weather is bad, we are enjoying ourselves

Although / though the weather is bad, we are enjoying ourselves


The weather was bad, however we enjoyed the games


Since it was raining, I took a tax


Because it was raining I took a tax


While he stood there, he saw two women fighting


When he comes, tell him I have gone to Tanga


I have lived here for five years

Complex subordinating conjunctions

Consist of more than one word

In order that, such that, expect that, so that, as far as, as long as, as soon as, in so far, in case, as if, as though, sooner than

Possessive nouns

A possessive nouns show ownership and is formed by adding an apostrophe and ‘S’ to the nouns, or only an apostrophe if the word ends with an s. the possessive form of a nouns shows that the person named owns something.

For example

a) One girl’s bicycle was pink

(The bicycle belongs to the girl)

For the possessive is plural nouns that ends with ‘S’ like boys, houses, the apostrophe follows the plural (s) and possessive ‘S’ is left out,


1) This is a boys’ school

2) The teachers’ visitors are here

3) Please collect the student’s assignments before lunch.


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