Guide to Different Types of Essays

Have you been given an essay assignment and you are not sure where to start? Essays come in different types. Writing different kinds of essays effectively can be confusing especially if you do can’t are not familiar with the structuring and the toning the essays. Different essay types are usually appropriate for different topics. The best way to distinguish between types of essays is to determine the writer’s intention.

Descriptive Essays

When writing a descriptive essay, factual terms are used to discuss the topic. It helps paint a picture using words. Depending on the topic, the writer can describe how something happened or what something is. Several other things that can be discussed are;

  • An object
  • An event
  • A feeling
  • A place
  • A character
  • A memory.

This type of essays communicates a deeper meaning by using lots of sensory details. The writer visualizes on what he/she sees, tastes, hears, feels or smells. Descriptive essay writing should mostly be used in journal, poetry, nature writing or fictional writing. The best descriptive essay should appeal to the emotions of the reader with a highly evocative result.

Narrative Essays

The main purpose of writing a narrative is to tell a story. The writer creates different characters and tells the reader what happens to them. Narrative essays are written in conversational style and use the first person hence engaging the reader. In this type of essays, there are logical and definite beginnings, intervals and endings.

An author needs to make their story as vivid as possible. Situations like motivational events, actions or conflict can be included, with their eventual solutions. A well-crafted narrative essay builds towards making a personal statement or drawing a conclusion. Narrative essay writing can be used in novellas, novels, poetry, short stories, oral histories, autobiographies or biographies.

Definition Essays

A definition essay mainly explains the meaning of a term. It can pin down the specific meaning of a word or define an abstract concept like honesty, love, hate and more. The definition goes deeper depending on how the writer presents the basic information. The reader should be able to understand the examples or facts used in the essay of this type.

It is, therefore, important for the writer to clearly understand the term before defining it to others. If they decide to use the dictionary to check the meaning of the term, they should not copy the definition. It is essential to explain the term using your words. Limiting your term is also crucial to avoid being too broad. For example, when writing about “love” you can limit your term and write about “romantic love”. Examples of definition essay topics include:

• Kindness

• Love

• Charisma

• Optimism

• Respect

• Beauty

• Ambitions.

Compare/Contrast Essays

The compare and contrast essay analyzes the difference and similarities of two distinct subjects. The purpose of this kind of essay is not just to point out the similarities and the differences, but to create a meaningful argument on the subjects.

The structure of this essay type can be organized in the following ways:

• Subject by subject – in this organization, the writer outlines all the points of topic A, and then all the Topic B points. One of the strengths of this form is that the reader can read the essay smoothly although it might seem like a list of points and not a cohesive essay.

• Point by point – in this organization the writer switches back and forth when elaborating the points. This form of organization gives a clear picture of the comparisons and contrasts. However, transitions and signposts have to be used to avoid confusing the reader.

• Compare then contrast – in this organization all the comparisons are presented first then the contrasts follow.

It may be the aim of the writer to present; an unbiased discussion, convince the reader on the benefits of a subject or just entertain the reader.

Argumentative essays

In argumentative kind of essay, the writer proves that their opinion, hypothesis or theory about the issue is correct than those of others. The writer should ensure;

The argument in this kind of essay is focused and be a clear statement.
That they support their essay with solid evidence.
The approach used is structured well. Good transition words/ phrases should be used when moving between arguments.
When refuting the cons, a writer can use words like, however, nevertheless, nonetheless, but, or on the other hand. When showing total disagreements use statements like “contrary to what they think” .The writer can either be funny or serious. They can also use irony or sarcasm.

Cause/ Effect Essays

Cause and effect essay explains how and why some event happened and the results of the event. It is a study of the relationship in events or experiences. The writer can discuss both the causes and the effects or choose to discuss either. The cause essay explains why something happened. An effect essay, on the other hand, explains what happens after an event or circumstance. An example of this essay can be, “why divorce happens”.

To explain results and reasons terms like consequently, so, as a result, since and one reason why can be used. Transitions should be used to enable the essay to be coherent hence making it easy for the reader to follow the ideas. However too many transitions can cause jam.

Process Essays

The essay describes how to do something or how something works. The actions performed are explained in a series. The introduction to this essay may tell about a problem to the reader then present the thesis as a solution. The following important steps should be used:

A plan should be made to avoid forgetting some important steps.
Ensure that you familiarize with the process being described.
Use each step for each paragraph and explain each instruction well for the reader to understand.
Remind the reader of what they should when faced by the problem next time in the conclusion.
Offer warnings or advise about the process.
Process essays use time order transitions. The transitions help in showing the steps in the essay. Correct punctuation should be used with each transition. Examples of these transitions are; the first step is, second, after that, finally or last.

Critical Essays

A critical essay shows an analysis of someone else’s work, for example a film, book, poem or an article. This analysis covers the weaknesses, strengths and the methods used. A brief overview of the text’s main points is discussed followed by the work’s meaning analysis. The author’s accomplishments and goals are also discussed. In order to write a catchy critical essay ensure that you:

  • Understand what the analysis will cover by familiarizing yourself with the primary text.
  • Evaluate the credibility of any secondary sources of information you use.
  • Develop a tentative thesis by making sure that enough details are provided.
  • Provide background information so as to guide your readers.
  • Discuss specific components of the text in the body paragraphs.
  • Include a conclusion that emphasizes on what you have discussed about the text.

5 thoughts on “Guide to Different Types of Essays

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