Different Essay Types

access_timeMarch 29, 2018

Essay writing is an important part of one’s education, regardless of whether you’re in high school or college. It would be impossible to avoid writing essays as lecturers use them to assess students’ knowledge of the subject, understanding of the topic, vocabulary skills, critical thinking, and so much more.

The term “essay” refers to different types of academic writing. Each of these types has its own unique purpose, elements, and methods.

In order to get better grades and improve writing skills, it’s necessary to understand every type of an essay. You came to the right place; we bring you all the details below.

Argumentative essay

Argumentative essay is defined as a genre of writing that requires an author to investigate a topic, collect, generate, and evaluate evidence to establish a position on the matter in a concise fashion. This is one of the most common essay writing assignments in schools and colleges.

What is the purpose of this essay?

The main purpose of an argumentative essay is to defend a debatable position on a certain issue with the ultimate goal to encourage a reader to accept the argument. In other words, your goal is to decide whether to agree or disagree with an essay subject, take a side, and develop an argument to demonstrate why you’re right. Of course, to show your argument is valid it needs to be supported by evidence.

What are the elements/parts of the essay?

  • Introduction – starts with an attention-grabbing hook, provides background information on the subject, and announces the thesis statement (argument you’re going to discuss)
  • Developing the argument – the body of the essay, divided into paragraphs containing a claim and evidence. Each paragraph should be dedicated to one claim (reasons why you’re right) and evidence to support it. Avoid writing multiple claims in one section. The number of paragraphs isn’t defined, but most students stick to 3-4 depending on the subject, word count etc.
  • Debunking opponent’s arguments – there’s always the opposite side of the issue. This section addresses opposing arguments and demonstrates why they’re wrong
  • Conclusion – restates the primary premise or argument, provides a general warning of the consequences that could happen if the main premise isn’t followed i.e. explains why we need to take action and solve some major problem

What are the methods?

Since argumentative essay and other types of academic writing should be written in a precise manner, you have to be careful not to overdo it with figures of speech. The purpose of figures of speech is to emphasize the argument, not to lessen its impact. Useful figures of speech to add moderately include:

  • Metaphor – an implied comparison between two similar things that have something in common
  • Personification – an inanimate object or abstraction is endowed with human abilities
  • Simile – a stated comparison between two things, people, ideas
  • Alliteration – repetition of an initial consonant sound

Form of writing

The argumentative essay uses formal, academic writing style to discuss a certain subject. A writer focuses on developing the argument in a manner that keeps the reader glued to the paper to the very end.

Point of view

Even though the argumentative essay requires a writer to take a stand and back it up with evidence, it should be written from a third-person perspective. First-person writing can downplay the importance of facts and evidence while third-person writing emphasizes them.

Tone of the essay

This type of academic writing requires an authoritative and formal tone, but it should also appeal to the reader. Take into consideration the audience and avoid writing “big” words randomly.

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Persuasive essay

A persuasive essay is a form of academic writing wherein a writer tries to convince the reader that one idea is more legitimate and accurate than the other. Nowadays, a persuasive essay is used as a synonym for argumentative papers, but they’re not the same. Argumentative essays use logic and reason while persuasive essays may involve a writer’s emotions and feelings too.

What is the purpose of this essay?

The purpose of the persuasive essay is to convince the reader that the assertion, claim, or opinion of the writer is valid. The goal is to try to persuade the audience to adopt your view on the matter. While it can involve emotions, the paper also needs evidence to make your “persuasion” even stronger.

What are the elements/parts of the essay?

  • Introduction – grabs the reader’s attention, makes audience relate to the subject, and announces thesis
  • Body paragraphs – each paragraph features one reason/claim and evidence to support it
  • Conclusion – short summary of the subject, benefits to the reader, and call-to-action in one paragraph

What are the methods?

The power of persuasion is an art form and there are different ways to make it stronger. Careful use of figures of speech and other stylistic methods can intensify your arguments. Useful methods to use include hyperbole for extravagant statements, irony, metaphor, imagery, simile, puns (but avoid clichés), you name it.

Form of writing

The persuasive essay focuses on an in-depth assessment of the subject in order to defend your claims and make them appear superior to others. While it involves one’s emotions and passions, it’s crucial not to overdo it.

Point of view

Although the power of persuasion comes down to a person’s beliefs and passions, the essay requires third-person writing. It’s important to stay away from first-person writing because it can lessen the significance of evidence you include.

Tone of the essay

A formal type of writing that uses sarcasm and irony to emphasize strong voice and opinion.

Compare and contrast essay

Compare and contrast essay looks at the similarities and differences between two or more objects, events, or ideas. This type of an essay is particularly common at the university where lecturers test the understanding of the subject by asking students to compare and contrast two theories, historical periods, methods, characters in a novel etc. Sometimes students are asked to compare or contrast only, but in other instances, they are required to do both within a single essay.

What is the purpose of this essay?

The purpose of compare and contrast essay is not to state the obvious, but to illuminate unexpected similarities or unexpected differences. A writer has to dig deep below the surface to analyze the subject and use evidence to confirm both similarities and differences.

What are the elements/parts of the essay?

  • Introduction – introduces the main topic and specific ideas or subjects the paper will compare/contrast, announces thesis statement
  • Body paragraphs – each paragraph starts with a topic sentence focused on the aspect you’re about to compare/contrast. After the topic sentence, it’s important to introduce the evidence you obtained while researching
  • Conclusion – summary of the topic, specifies significance of the subject, provides short evaluation of future developments

What are the methods?

Compare and contrast essay is the perfect opportunity to use figures of speech such as simile and metaphor as they allow you to compare two objects/ideas both directly and indirectly. The use of oxymoron can also be practical when done correctly.

Form of writing

The focus of this paper is to connect two subjects or ideas in a meaningful way. Drawing distinctions between two (or more) elements within the same category enhance the understanding of the subject and demonstrate the writer’s critical thinking skills and the ability to evaluate a topic from different angles.

Point of view

Although you are the one who chooses key similarities/differences, it’s necessary to stick to the third-person writing.

Tone of the essay

This type of essay requires a clear and authoritative tone. Depending on the subject, a humorous tone can also be fitting.

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Narrative essay

Narrative essay is a type of writing where an author narrates or tells the story. This type of paper is different than other essays because it focuses on a writer’s personal development.

What is the purpose of this essay?

The purpose of a narrative essay is to tell a story or narrate an event or series of events. Of course, the narration is non-fictional but it still allows students to explore their creativity. The narrative essay can be experiential, anecdotal, etc.

What are the elements/parts of the essay?

  • Introduction – starts with an attention-grabbing hook, describes significance of the subject, and ends with a thesis statement
  • Body paragraphs – include the background of some event, characters (people involved), short anecdote or foreshadowing, onset of the event, climax, and ending or resolution
  • Conclusion – moral of the story, significance of the overall subject, call-to-action (if applicable)

What are the methods?

Bearing in mind narrative essays revolve around telling a story, a writer can use multiple figures of speech to add more “soul” into the content. Anaphora (repetition of the same word/phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses) can be very useful for cases when you want to make a big impact. Other figures to use include simile, metaphor, hyperbole, imagery, litotes (an understatement wherein an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite), personification, and others.

Form of writing

Although narrative essay revolves around telling a story, it should still convey and send a strong message about a certain subject. A writer uses personal experiences to get the point across.

Point of view

Unlike other types of essay writing, this paper encourages the use of the first person.

Tone of the essay

The tone should be engaging, approachable, storytelling, but you should still avoid using clichés, abbreviations, slang, etc.

Cause and effect essay

Cause and effect essay is concerned with why things happen (causes) and the outcomes (effects). This type of writing is a common method of organizing and discussing ideas.

What is the purpose of this essay?

The main purpose of a cause and effect essay is to demonstrate your ability to connect reasons and their consequences in an evidence-based and logical fashion. It’s not uncommon for students to confuse this type of writing for compare and contrast essay. The main difference here is that you don’t analyze similarities/differences, but evaluate causes and effects or results of some actions, ideas, behaviors.

What are the elements/parts of the essay?

  • Introduction – sets the tone, catches reader’s attention, announces thesis statement
  • Causes/effects paragraphs – there is no limit here, you can write as many paragraphs as necessary to discuss causes and effects you want. Remember, one cause/effect requires one paragraph, second cause/effect needs a separate paragraph, and so on. This is the section where you include research notes and back up all your claims with strong evidence
  • Conclusion – restates the topic, summarizes key causes and effects, includes call-to-action (if applicable)

What are the methods?

Bearing in mind the cause and effect essay requires a logical flow of events and an in-depth analysis of the relationship between some events and their consequences, too many figures of speech could lessen the impact of your argument. When using these “devices” one should be careful because they can distract the reader. In order to achieve heightened effect one can use hyperbole, but with caution. Metaphor and simile can also be useful when used in moderation.

Form of writing

A writer focuses on the deductive analysis of the existing data to provide a logical reasoning for some event.

Point of view

Cause and effect essay requires third-person writing. Imagine yourself as a bystander who’s witnessing some event or development and reporting it and its consequences to his/her audience.

Tone of the essay

This paper requires causal chains, logical flow of events, systematic order of happenings.

Expository essay

An expository essay is a form of academic writing that requires the student to investigate the topic, evaluate audience, and set an argument in order to report the idea in a concise and logical manner.

What is the purpose of this essay?

The purpose of the expository essay is to “expose” and explain some subject in a straightforward manner. A writer carries out extensive research to approach the topic from different angles, analyze obtained information, and compose an essay. It is a fair and balanced analysis of a subject and it is strictly based on facts.

What are the elements/parts of the essay?

  • Introduction – a brief overview of the subject and announcement of thesis statement
  • Body paragraphs – each paragraph discusses a specific topic within a given subject. It should contain facts and evidence that support them followed by their analysis
  • Conclusion – summary of key points, reestablished significance of the subject

What are the methods?

Bearing in mind that expository essay is based on facts only, using figures of speech could decrease their influence. It would be ideal to keep this essay concise and specific from top to bottom, without adding words and phrases that aren’t necessary

Form of writing

The expository essay focuses on obtaining information and analyzing gathered data. A writer takes the role of a documentary narrator who just describes what is shown on screen. The paper doesn’t set a pro or con argument that persuades the reader to adopt a certain idea.

Point of view

Ideally, you should use third-person writing to compose an expository essay.

Tone of the essay

An expository essay is written in a logical and concise manner. A writer should be unbiased and avoid taking sides on the issue/subject.

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