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What Are The 5 Different Types of Essays?

An essay is a short piece of academic paper that presents a student’s perspective on a specific subject. However, there are different types of essays, each requiring a different approach.

For instance, a descriptive essay requires you to paint a vivid picture while an expository essay requires you to present facts.

Success as a student demands you understand how to write these essays. Besides, some teachers will not explicitly tell you what type of essay to write.

It is up to you to understand the question and determine the type of essay you should write.

In this article, you will learn the differences between the different types of essays you will come across in your school life.

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay tells a story based on a real-life experience. By that definition, a narrative essay seems pretty easy to write. What’s so difficult about writing a story based on one or more of your experiences?

But it is not the same as writing a short story. A narrative essay should revolve around a single motif – a central focus that the story should revolve around.

In essence, this single motif is a lesson to the reader. You provide the reader with this motif in the first paragraph as a thesis statement.

As a real-life experience, you should use the first-person narrative. Also, use dialogue to capture whenever possible. Dialogue makes your story more engaging and brings your characters to life.

Descriptive Essay

In a descriptive essay, students are required to describe a person, object, place, event, or even a memory. What makes a descriptive essay excellent is the appeal to the readers’ emotions.

You should not plainly describe things. Use imagery to make your description more real and remarkable. Paint a mental picture for your reader and sensory details.

Describe the feeling, the smell, sound, and any other sensory detail that will paint a vivid picture.

Persuasive Essay

The purpose of a persuasive essay is to convince; it should change the reader’s point of view on a given topic. It is an opportunity to show readers that your argument is the only one that makes sense.

To effectively handle this type of essay, you have to pick a topic you fully understand — a topic you can comfortably criticize the contrary opinion.

Persuasive essays tackle topics relevant to the current world, such as gun violence, teen pregnancies, and technological advancements. To effectively persuade the reader, you have to use evidence, such as facts and statistics.

At the end of your essay, you should convince the reader to take action. Show the reader why your point of view makes the world a worse or better place.

Argumentative Essay

Like a persuasive essay, an argumentative essay focuses on convincing a reader to a certain point of view on a given topic.

However, while a persuasive essay attempts to force a reader to take action, an argumentative essay looks at both sides of the coin.

So, at the end of an argumentative essay, a reader could decide to go for the contrary argument. Still, an argumentative essay supports one argument more strongly than the other.

In the body paragraphs, present evidence, facts, and statistics that support your argument. Then, add an extra paragraph that contradicts your arguments.

You can use these counterarguments to help your point of view further. Alternatively, you can live it up to the reader to decide which argument is correct.

Expository Essay

An expository essay exposes the facts surrounding a given topic. Your focus is to explain these facts to a  reader in a way that will make them completely understand the topic.

Unlike other types of essays, an expository essay takes a neutral position. It is purely for clarification – it is not an attempt to sway a reader to a specific argument. 

Expository essays fall into several categories:

  • Process essay: explains the process of doing or making something.
  • Cause and effect essay: expound on the cause of something and its effects on something else.
  • Problem/solution essay: presents a problem to the reader and how to solve it.
  • Compare and contrast essays: looks at the differences and similarities between two related things.

Definition Essay

This essay defines a subject on a deeper level than what a reader would find in a dictionary.

These types of essays define subjects with broad interpretations, such as love and happiness.

A definition essay focuses on connotative definitions – associated meanings. It makes the reader aware of the different interpretations of a subject.

A definition is a simple and literal interpretation of a term. However, a definition essay is a discussion of different meanings of the same subject.

Your thesis statement should focus on settling a controversy revolving around the subject. Essentially, it is your definition of the topic of discussion.

When writing this type of essay, consider the following structure:

  • Introduction: background information and thesis statement
  • First body paragraph: the origin of the term and etymology
  • Second body paragraph: dictionary definition and contemporary usage of the term
  • Third body paragraph: personal interpretation from experience
  • Conclusion: summary of the main points and a rephrasing of your definition of the term

You must understand the different types of essays. You might write an excellent descriptive essay.

But you will not pass if the teacher expected a definition or narrative essay.  

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