I am currently starting a college essay off with "Google-esque. Google-esque is...."

Is it appropriate to use a sentence that only contains one word with the following sentence describing the first? Or is this too "played out" or cliché?

  • I don't think it's cliche. And if it is, at least it isn't a novel set on a dark and stormy night.
    – Jamie
    Jun 2, 2014 at 3:48

4 Answers 4


A one-word sentence in the beginning of an essay isn't cliche. I think you'd be in a different ballpark if we were talking about a one-word sentence beginning a piece of creative writing. But as far as using the one-word sentence at all, I think it depends on your audience.

If you're writing this essay for an English class, my suggestion is... don't do this. Your audience is an English teacher (and some related major TAs, probably). A one word sentence in a college essay for a teacher you don't know (or TA's who you don't know) would seem sloppy, especially if it's the first thing they read after the title. It's worse if your title is the same thing as the sentence, as in:


Google-esque. Google-esque is...

If you know your teacher and your teacher's flexible about this stuff, I'd still advise against it. Your first and second lines can be consolidated into one sentence, unless you're trying to make some sort of point with the first line. If you are, I would isolate what that point is and then try to flesh it out more. For example, if by just stating "google-esque" you want the reader to think "what a weird word, what does it mean?" I'd ay it's better to say exactly that. Unless your title already explains it. Example:

Google-esque: The Art of Mimicking Google

What is Google-esque? Google-esque is the art of mimicking Google.**

In that case, you would want to clarify the second sentence more.

But say you were writing this essay for a different kind of class, maybe you could get away with something like this. I just don't know what class it would be. I don't think this works in a technical paper or anything like that. Your audience is still a "professional" (or again, TAs) and this sentence structure isn't... abnormal, but it's not all that normal either. And if it's a weak structure, it makes the overall reading a little weaker.

If you really want to use the one-word sentence, I'd suggest not saying Google-esque in the beginning of both of the sentences. The repetition is sort of off-putting. "Google-esque. Google-esque is..." has the same word, rapid fire twice in a row. If your title is also "Google-esque" that's three times. It sounds... monotonous. If you change the second sentence's structure, maybe you could get away with your first line being a one-word sentence.


(a) It's not cliché to me.

(b) A first sentence is never the first thing a reader reads. In an article, its title comes before the first sentence; in a book, the title, cover image and blurb influence reader expectation. So the first question is: How does the title of your essay continue into its first sentence?

If you write an essay on the word "google-esque" or on Google, the company, why not use "Google-esque" as the title, or as the first part of it (e.g. "Google-esque: How we perceive the world through a search engine.")?

(c) I would always begin an essay with its aim or "setting", to provide the readers with a stepping stone into my argument. If they read "Google-esque.", they have no idea why you throw that word at them. If, on the other hand, you open with something like "Internet users today ..." or "We must ... or else ...", your readers can follow you.


I would do something like:

Google-esque: Whatever your title is.

Why your readers should care about what you write. Then you write it ...


The answer to your general question is: no, not cliché, and yes, you could do it in a college essay IF you write well enough to carry it off. But it's a risk. It's like a woman attempting a triple axel is figure skating. If she can carry it off, it's a big plus, but the odds and cost of failure are high.

As to your example, I'd say that's an example of a failure. When you say, "Google-esque. Google-esque is...," you are just being repetitive. You are breaking a grammar rule for dramatic effect, and then not getting any dramatic effect.

You want to do something like:

Google-esque. It is a strange, awkward, and ugly word, bordering on a monstrosity. Why then would anyone use such a word? A better question, perhaps, is "why is the word even necessary?" To answer that, one must explore 21st century culture. Google is the dominant... etc etc etc

Even better, you would make your essay Google-esque.


Definitely not cliche, but . . .

1). Be aware that you are setting a snappy, informal tone for your essay. Is that what you want? More importantly, can you maintain that tone for the whole essay? Leading off with an atonally snappy opening sentence is a very common mistake. (Hook 'em with a real worm, not a rubber one!)

2). Don't repeat the word directly after! That immediately alerts the reader to the potential inefficiency of a one word sentence.

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