There are various opinions on how to categorize essays and how many types of essay there are. The simplest interpretation says that there are only four types of essays:
1. Narrative essays
2. Descriptive essays
3. Expository essays
4. Persuasive essays
I personally think this is a bit of an oversimplification. I also think there are overly complicated classifications of essays, so to keep things relatively simple, we’ll stick to 10 types. Feel free to disagree with me if you like!
In this type of essay, you’re painting a word picture. You can certainly include some facts, but you’ll focus on the experience, what it feels like, looks like, smells or sounds like. Your aim is to draw the reader in so he or she can experience what you are writing about in the same way you experienced it.
A definition tells you what something is. Although a definition is short, a definition essay discusses a complex concept in much greater depth than you would get from a few lines. They’re most often used to discuss philosophical or abstract topics.
Compare and Contrast Essays
You’ll be given two similar-seeming yet different things to compare. To write this essay, I suggest that you prepare carefully. Which elements are the same? Which ones are different? Once you are sure you know what information you want to include, you’re ready to go.
Cause and Effect Essays
Although the name seems self-explanatory, we need to remember several causes can contribute to a single effect, and conversely, one cause could result in several effects. For example, several factors contributed to the US involvement in the First World War (multiple causes, single effect). However, being in the war had several effects on the US (single cause multiple effects).
If you like creative writing, these will be among your favorite essays. In a narrative essay, you tell a story. Remember, it has a beginning followed by a number of events that lead up to an ending. Plan carefully!
This type of essay involves a step by step explanation of how something happens or is done. Getting your steps in the correct order is important if you don’t want to turn your process into a muddle. Write your process essay in chronological order.
Are you opinionated? Good! The argumentative essay explains your opinions and the reasons why you believe they’re right. You can even look at some possible counter-arguments and why you believe they’re wrong. Ultimately, you’re trying to get your reader to agree with you, so the more facts you can present to support your points, the better.
You don’t have to criticize the thing you’re writing about unless you think there is reason for it, but you’ll be evaluating it critically. You’ll provide reasons why you think something was well done or badly done. If you think it was great, why did you think so? Are there any faults that bothered you? Why did they bother you? What evidence can you present to support your opinion?
You could sum this type of essay up as follows, “Get all the facts, and then interpret them!” You must reach a conclusion, and this has to be supported by your research or personal experience. In higher education, you have to show your ability to research your topic, and you’ll probably be citing experts along the way. In the end, you give your own opinion, but you’ll point out how several sources contribute to it. As long as there is logic in that, your answer can’t be wrong. These essays are exciting because even when you use existing knowledge, you may find yourself obtaining a new perspective or reaching a novel conclusion.
In a way, these are similar to argumentative essays, but they’re not quite the same. An argumentative essay will hit people with the facts, while a persuasive essay has a softer touch and may appeal to moral values or emotions. See it as the difference between winning a debate and winning someone over to support a cause. There are differences, but also similarities.
What Type of Essay to Write?
When looking at an instruction or exam question, study the VERBS your teacher has used. Circle them and think about what they imply. If you’ve just been told to name or list things, give nothing but the facts.
Other words indicating that you should usually give nothing but the facts:
In addition, you want to look for words indicating that you should give your opinion:
- In your opinion…
- What do you think about…
- How do you feel…
If you have any doubt about the type of essay you should be writing, ask. While your teacher likely won’t tell you when assigning, she will explain the correct type of essay to write for the particular situation and how you can figure that out. This should prove beneficial so you can deduct the correct type to write in future situations.
What is an essay? Interestingly, but the majority of students gets confused or even stressed the very moment they are asked to come up with this piece of academic work.
- Firstly, an essay evaluates an issue, with the purpose to present your personal academic opinion on a given subject.
- Secondly, each type of writing is designed to convey a certain message and perform a certain function.
- Thirdly, you have to take various viewpoints into account, organize them properly & reflect the informed opinion on the topic.
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10 Most Common Essay Types to Feel Quite at Home in Academic Setting
Descriptive Essay | Definition Essay | Compare and Contrast Essay | Cause and Effect | Narrative Essay | Process Essay | Argumentative Essay | Critical Essay | Expository Essay | Persuasive Essay
An essay is like an empty canvas. So, fill it with vivid and clear ideas! Vivid picture + clear understanding are your top priorities.
These Are the Top Types of Essay Writing
#1 Descriptive Essay, or "What’s This?"
A descriptive essay describes whatever one likes, sees, feels, makes or how it works, happens, sounds, tastes, smells – from the beautiful flower in a vase to the process of honey-making by bees. Descriptive essays provide every sensory detail of what is actually described.
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY EXAMPLE
#2 Definition Essays, or "Love Is…"
A definition essay defines the true meaning + importance of abstract concepts, timeless values, specific terms.
Definition essays explain deeper & more directly than dictionaries.
Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for definition: speaking about (this), in other words, (or) rather, moreover, in fact, on the one/the other hand, above all.
GET IDEA TO WRITE YOUR DEFINITION ESSAY
#3 Compare & Contrast Essays, or "Spot the Difference/Similarity!"
A compare/contrast essay explores either differences or similarities (likenesses) between 2 places, religions, people, things, concepts, etc. Comparison/contrast essays focus on the similarities and/or differences, which is done to convince or entertain the reader. A compare essay reviews the similarities, a contrast essay reviews the differences.
TOP 30 TOPICS FOR COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY
#4 Cause & Effect Essays, or "How It Comes"
A cause/effect essay explains the way why things happen, how it comes & what follows next. Cause/effect essays resemble a study of how it all began & what will be the conclusion of all this. This type of essays may address either causes & effects tied together, or each of them alone. For example, 3 effects as a result of 1 cause or 3 causes resulting in 1 effect.
Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for cause-and-effect: for the (simple) reason that, due to (the fact that), whatever happens, in case, even/only if, as a result (of this), thus/consequently/therefore.
READ A SAMPLE OF A CAUSE AND EFFECT ESSAY
#5 Narrative Essays, or "One Night I Fell to Thinking of the Past…"
A narrative essay always tells a story about a single personal experience – either a boring party or an exciting sightseeing excursion, daily routine event or life-shaping voyage. Narrative essays are generally written in the 1st person, using ‘I’.
#6 Process Essays, or "Step-by-Step Guide"
A process essay typically guides on how to do this or that, how this or that is done. It’s a walkthrough, the so-called ‘stepwise refinement’. Process essays work out in detail, demonstrating specific actions/giving specific instructions to be performed in a series.
Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for process discussion: in the (first, second, etc.) place, initially, next, eventually, last but not least, finally, in conclusion.
#7 Argumentative Essays, or "5 Watertight Arguments Why You Should Learn to Write Essays"
An argumentative essay functions as a means for a writer to get a solid argument across to a reader. The purpose of this type of essay is to express an argument in order to sway the reader to see the topic through the author’s point of view. It is a useful type of essay for students of any educational level because it is good practice to not only argue a case but also to articulate one’s thoughts on a certain matter.
This type of essay uses stern language, solid facts, and undeniable examples as proof that the argument is immaculate. Without these features, the argumentative essay ceases to flow well and comes across as weak. A good argumentative writer has a solid sense of what he or she believes should be said in any situation. They also have an organized idea of how to articulate the argument against possible opposing ideas.
ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY TOPICS
#8 Critical Essays, or "The Court Delivers a Verdict"
A critical essay brings somebody or something into focus, analyzing the strengths or weaknesses of things, events, people, etc.
Critical essays discuss how well the work is done & whether its creator has managed the task by conveying the message in his/her book, film, painting.
Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for criticism: frankly speaking, with attention to, important to realize, another key point, first thing to remember, most compelling evidence, on the positive/negative side
#9 Expository Essay
An expository essay is an essay that requires extensive research on an idea or issue. The writer must present an evaluation of the issue and the conclusion based on his or her findings.
One of the functions of this essay format is to learn how to conduct a research. Research requires a certain set of skills. It takes a lot of practice to obtain them. Students may want to draw from their own experiences when discussing certain issues they write about. But through expository essay writing, students will find out, that doing research can be rewarding. Expository essay writing brings a new light to an aspect or idea they probably would not have come to on their own.
Expository essays are opinion based essays, so there are no wrong answers when presenting it. However, expect this essay type to be at least 5 paragraphs in length.
READ A SAMPLE OF AN EXPOSITORY ESSAY
#10 Persuasive Essay
Unlike the argumentative essay, the persuasive essay’s main purpose is to persuade readers towards the author's case. Argumentative essays express an argument or opinion. They are not meant to change the reader’s perspective.
Most persuasive essays focus on current issues and what people should do about them. Persuasive essays can be really challenging. Students must show confidence and authority in their writing. They must come across as credible writers. When a persuasive essay loses its credibility, it will ultimately lose the reader.
In everyday life situations, charm allows a person to easily persuade another one. Since a persuasive essay is a written piece, it lacks that personal connection. So, the writer should present strong views to sway their readers and do not come across as pushy.
Most writers and persuasive essay authors are able to find their own personal connection to their readers through their writing experience. Many students find this as a challenge early on, but with practice and guidance, they soon write persuasive essays naturally.
30 IDEAS FOR PERSUASIVE ESSAY TOPICS
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