What’s in an Essay? A Guide to Different Essay Types

types of essays

An essay – is it just some paragraphs, with the introduction, argumentation, and conclusion? Or is there more to that? That’s what we are going to discuss here today.

The word “essay” is quite vague. If someone asks you to write an essay, you might find yourself in a little bit of trouble. What kind of essay? Should it be a descriptive essay? Should it be a cause and effect essay? Or a narrative one? No? An argumentative essay, then? Or maybe, a compare and contrast essay? There are too many options. Let’s take each one and break it up a little to see what it means.

A descriptive essay should be full of active verbs and comparisons

A descriptive essay means you have to describe something in detail. It can be a person, a place, an experience, an object, etc. You have to use your five senses for describing it. How does it look, feel, sound, smell, taste? Of course, you can’t taste a person if that’s the object of your descriptive essay. What you can do is be creative and describe how that person reminds you of the taste of wild berries on a hot summer day and so on.
Make comparisons and use active verbs. Passive language is not a friend of descriptive essays!

A narrative essay needs to have a variety of practical examples

Some may say that this is the simplest of them all since you just tell a story. No research needed. It can get very personal, too, with you sharing a little piece of your own feelings, memories, personality. Of course, you have to be careful not to wander away. You have to keep the subject focused on an object, a person, a place, an event, etc.
State the purpose of your article very clearly from the beginning and show us, paint a picture. Don’t use arguments! You don’t have to prove anything, you have to use examples, practical ones, to make us see what really happened there or then.
A narrative essay is flexible and it leaves the essay writer more space for juggling ideas, words, and images.

An argumentative essay is about research and presenting your arguments in a clean and persuasive way

You have to do research for this one and present it in a pros and cons kind of way. From the first paragraph, you have to make it clear where you stand and formulate your thesis statement. Bring arguments and counter-arguments to present the matter in all possible lights.
Here, you can choose one of the two roads: either write an inductive argumentative essay, meaning you start by exposing the evidence and from there, you take the reader to your final conclusion, or write a deductive essay. In a deductive argumentative essay, you begin with the conclusion and then prove that it is right. Both ways work great. You just have to choose which one works better for you.
And don’t forget to cite your sources!

A cause and effect essay emphasizes the links between events and facts

In this type of essay, you show the links between events. How a certain event triggered another one and how they are actually related.
First of all, you have to create an outline of the events and the multiple causes and effects. You have to have it clear in your head before you begin writing.
Also, you have to state the purpose of your cause and effect essay and always support your arguments with strong evidence. Give references! A cause and effect essay is a very analytical piece of writing that requires a clear mind and a good knowledge of the events. Every little detail should be clear in your head for you to be able to state your opinion clearly.

A compare and contrast essay: present the facts clearly and the differences between them even more clearly

It is a way of showing differences and similarities between certain events, people, experiences, places, ideas, theories, and so on. As you’ve seen with the most of the other types of essays presented above, you have to make a clear, sound thesis statement at the beginning of the essay. Say why you’re doing it and point out from the beginning the main idea you’re supporting.
After that, go ahead and bring about similarities and differences. Decide for yourself whether you’re going to present the main characteristics of one side and then the other or present them point-by-point, speaking of one and then of the other.
The most important thing you have to keep in mind for this type of essay is that you have to compare the same characteristics for each side. For example, you can’t compare a person’s height to another person’s intelligence. You have to compare characteristics in relevant categories.
Now, the bottom line is: are you ready to go on an adventure down the essay path and into the assignments’ dangerous forest?

Published by Wendy Rhodes