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What are the different types of essays and why use them

Essays are not just short stories describing action or process (Like beloved “How I spent this summer” essay). The work is much more complex. People use essays as a way to analyze, discuss some topics, persuade readers or prove ideas. So each custom essay should be specific and unique depending on purpose and type.

Purposes or essays differ. List of most commonly used types of them in English language looks like this:

  • Argumentative;
  • Critical;
  • Narrative;
  • Descriptive (Sensory);
  • Definition;
  • Compare/Contrast;
  • Cause/Effect;
  • Process;
  • Expository.

Each type has its rules and unique features. Understanding the structure, style or anything else in particular kind, how it differs from another will help to write better essays and spend less time on doing the preparation and work itself.
Now let’s start learning, shall we?

Argumentative essay

You should persuade reader in some point. By giving proper argumentations, examples etc., you convince them, that, for instance:

  • Earth is round (It may sound funny today, but people in the past died trying to prove that);
  • Coffee has greater taste than tea;
  • Using essay writing service is a good thing (And it is!)

We don’t try to convince you that an essay of this type should be 100% serious and has no space for humor or anything like that. You can make a funny essay but persuasive one. However, it has to follow the structure. It looks something like this:

  1. Stating the point;
  2. Proving it with right argumentation/examples;
  3. Stating the point once again. This time much more confidently.

Academic works, like dissertations, courseworks or whatever are similar to argumentative essays from this perspective. Think about it.

Critical essay

Don’t think you should criticize someone or something in this type of work. The idea is to analyze strengths and weaknesses, meanings, methods or even their absence.
It can be a movie, a play, a speech or even other person’s essay (Essay that analyzes essay that analyzes other essay that…). Or anything else, examples:

  • What are pros and cons of pastarians’ perception on God (No religious feelings are meant to be offended);
  • Strengths and weaknesses of “American Pie’s” plot;
  • Morality issues of my friend Stephen’s action. What will be the punishment for toilet papering our teacher’s house?

Structure of such types of essays is more complex and has more variations. It should resemble this:

  1. Asking a question;
  2. Proving strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons. You can write some points first and then the opposite to them or vice versa. Contrasting them, like good-bad, good-bad is also possible. Alternatively, you can create your own way of doing it. It may be a great plus.
  3. Answering the question. You should decide, if Stephen is a great guy or should his parents lock him in his room. Never leave the issue unsolved.

Critical essays are the hardest ones. It is crucial to make a vast research before starting it. Shortness of knowledge on the topic may lead to making false statements in the conclusion of work.


Read more Types of essays articles:


Narrative essay

Beloved “How I spent this Summer” is a great example of a narrative essay based on personal experience. 
You just tell a story about something, you’ve experienced, or create it on your own. Titles of such works:

  • How Drrrhgraalllgarr defeated evil orcs;
  • A trip to Vegas with my dog that didn’t end well…;
  • How I stopped smoking and started believing in myself.

People often call them short stories as they have the simplest structure:

  1. Introduction (Why I/they did it and what are the reasons);
  2. Main body (What happened);
  3. What lesson is learnt from it.

Nothing hard nor fancy, if you can tell an interesting story to a friend, this task won’t be a challenge at all.

Descriptive essay

“Yesterday I ate a chocolate bar. It was tasty and had peanut butter stuffing…”
You got the idea. Simple description of something. Of course, it should not be as short and generalized as an example provided in the previous paragraph. Use as much details as possible, try to express in your work every aspect of something.
There are no limitations on what it should be about. It may be stuff like:

  • Your favorite toothbrush;
  • Abandoned house on street you live on;
  • New Lego set you bought for yourself;
  • And anything that exists in multiverse.

It’s structure has tons of variations. It can be a story-like description, similar to narrative essays, a list of traits. Anything that comes to mind.

Definition essay

In definition essays you do not only explain meaning of words or terms, you try to analyze why is called that way. An abstract concept or something more specific. 

  • Beauty;
  • Respect;
  • Nature;
  • Family;
  • Toyota Corolla;
  • Cleaving knife;
  • Etc.

Defining of object usually goes in three steps:

  1. You tell readers, what are you going to define;
  2. Give them basic information about it (similar to what is given in the dictionary);
  3. Examples, facts and other things needed for deeper analysis of object itself. Or why people named it that way.

It’s up to you how to handle this type task. You can define by different criteria: function, structure, by comparing something to other things. Even by telling readers, how your subject is not defined as. 
It may seem as an easy task, but it’s a trap. Especially when you write about some abstract concept, like “Good” or “Evil”. Such things are subjective thus your point of view may differ from readers’. If you are not persuasive enough, it will spoil an essay you’ve worked so hard on.

Comparative essay

You may compare two places, techniques, concepts, goals, works of literature, etc. Find similarities, differences and discuss them in your work. It is possible to add third object or even fourth.
We believe that two is more than enough to create a great comparative type essay.
It is a bad idea to compare incomparable like the Moon and Peter’s left hand. Contrast is too strong. Different cars, colleges, pens, cities, people, would be nice to use in an essay.
The idea is not to just name things that objects have in common, but to come up with conclusion on which is better. Or that they are basically the same, like left and right shoe.

Cause/effect essay

This type of work is a symbiosis of two: cause essay and effect essay.
Cause essay explains why something happened. For instance:

  • Why I am so handsome (could be an essay for your biology class, where you explain how you inherited features from ancestors);
  • Why Neo from “Matrix” appeared to be the chosen one;
  • Why Earth is moving around its orbit.

Effect essay tells readers about things that happened after particular event:

  • How my handsomeness affects my life since I was born;
  • How people defeated machines in “Matrix” after rebels found Neo, the chosen one;
  • How Earth’s movement made it possible for life forms to develop on the planet.

Multiple causes may lead to one effect and. Multiple effects can be caused by one cause. Talking about Earth, its movement did not lead only to life forms creation. It made it possible for us to have daytime and nighttime, water waves, strong atmosphere and many other pleasant things.
Talking about multiple causes, your handsomeness (Yes, you are handsome), is not only caused by genes you’ve inherited. Nutrition, exercising, even weather conditions, all of that contributed to your well looking.
While working on a cause/effect paper, we recommend you to get ideas for every part of it on the first place. Then combine them in one well-written work.

Such attitude will help you to:

  • Find all possible causes and effects of particular event, process or action;
  • Have a better structured work;
  • Understand the matter better.

You may even decide to divide work in two essays and get two good marks instead of only one. It’s up to you.

Process essay

It may be a tutorial on how to do things, a story depicting changes in one’s world perception or anything like that. Structure of such essay is simple. You need to describe the process in the natural order of events. 
If you decide to describe morning routine (very interesting topic, we know, but it is a great example), then it would look like that:
1. Describe how you got up;
2. You cleaned your teeth;
3. Made breakfast;
4. Finally put on pants with flowers printed on them so that your roommate stopped freaking out;
5. Went to classes.
A great idea is to write about things that actually changed after the process. Life lesson you’ve learnt or if you write a tutorial/instruction for something, describe what a person should get after the work is done.

Expository essay

When you work on expository type essay, you are required to investigate some idea, event or fact. For example, you decided to write about some urban legends of your town/city. You need to do a proper research, go to the location, where the event took place and make conclusions from it.
Arguments in an essay should be persuasive and informational. The idea is to make people believe in legitimacy of a conclusion and have no doubts about it. The more facts you use the better.
It is recommended to use five-paragraph structure for expository essays.

  1. A paragraph, where you introduce idea or whatever you are going to investigate;
  2. Three paragraphs, where you present facts and evidences;
  3. Closing paragraph (conclusion).

Tips, advice and explanations

We did not include all the structures that are being used for essays due to various reasons. To begin with, there are more of possible ways to format essays, Dalmatians infamous movie (101). More to that, main principles of structuring an eassay are the same in every work of the kind. Even children know this “10-80-10” rule that means how much information should be included in each or essay parts.

If you have any troubles with classification essay types, you can always find an example of compare-and-contrast, narrative, definitive or any other kind of worksheets, written by professionals on our sites.

We will publish guides on different types of essays occasionally, and hope that you will love them. 
Our advice is try to get pleasure from things you are doing. Writing papers is also a form of art, you can express yourself here using different styles, approaches or anything else that could possibly make an essay interesting for you.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

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