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Different types of essays

Have you ever wondered how many types of essays are out here? The answer is a lot, some of which you never knew existed. That shouldn't scare. However, you need to know how to write the different variants, in case you encounter one in your academic life. Read on to understand the different types of essays and how to write them.

What is the meaning of an essay?

The word 'essay 'originates from a French word essayer, meaning to try. Here, you try writing on a subject, providing your argument as the author. It's a piece of writing aiming for a particular subject. Commonly, used in the literacy world. Often it covers a specific question and contains the personal opinion of an author. The topics usually range from a variety of areas, like reflections, observation of daily lives, trending issues, criticism, and particular interest amongst other matters. Examples of most common essays include:

  • Expository essays
  • Descriptive essays
  • Persuasive essays / argumentative 
  • Narrative essays

1. Expository essays

Expository essays explain an issue, idea, or theme to an audience while giving your personal opinion. Basically, you talk about how certain things work. You can write about contrast and opinions. These essays are often objective to the reader. Most of the time, you should write these essays in the third person, unless otherwise.

How to write expository essays&

Choosing a topic

Before tackling an issue, you need to select a subject which you are passionate and enthusiastic about. You don't want to dwell on something that doesn't entice you. These essays require a lot of research, from surfing the internet to reading numerous books. If you indulge in a topic you don't enjoy, then the process will be torturous. Each moment will feel like you are walking on hot ballast bare-footed. To avoid the pain, be wise by choosing a topic which wouldn't give you a hard time. A topic you are knowledgeable about is more convenient. Pick one that is unique and specific, and avoid writing generic topics. Who wants to read them anyway? You can also brainstorm topic ideas and come up with an amazing one.


After choosing a topic, it's time to hold your horses and get into the business. You need to find accurate information, which is true and not based on rumors. In case you are using the internet, be careful of the information you churn out. Your research should enable you to provide many details as possible. Keep track of the information you get, since, at the end of the writing, you need to cite your sources. Look for examples to incorporate in your writing. For your work to be fantastic, include examples.

The structure

Well, an expository essay has three parts; the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Usually, the body contains three paragraphs, plus the introduction and the conclusion making it five. But, you can write more depending on the instructions given by your professor.


Your introduction should be short and informative. It should be eye-catching and act as a magnet. Each sentence should be like a hook, making the readers want to devour your content more, curious to unravel what will happen next. Also, it should contain the thesis statement and your aim while writing the paper.


In an essay, all parts depend on each other, just like in a human body. A body cannot function without the head and vice versa. Equally, the case is the same here. The body is the heart of an essay. It's an avenue where you expand the topic you are covering, providing evidence to your claim. Each paragraph should contain the topic sentence, which carries the main idea of the paragraph and supporting sentences. Here, you should try to be creative and attentive. Logically note down your points, and they should be solid for the essay to make sense.


After writing the paper, you need to edit. Little details like grammar, punctuation matter. You can proofread yourself or take the material to someone else to read for you. Alternatively, you can use grammar checking tools or editing apps. But, be careful as they may mislead you.

Now that you have finished writing the paper, it's vital to note down a few details. Your thesis statement is important, and you should create an amazing one. Write about what you're discussing and why your audience should care. The information you write should add value to your reader. Lastly, don't forget to use transitional words like 'however, moreover, but, instead,' to keep the flow going.

2. Descriptive essays

Just as the names suggest, these essays describe. They paint a picture of a specific event, idea, person, emotion, or subject into the mind of a reader. The idea here is always to show and not to tell. The most appropriate way is to include all the five senses; touch, smell, sight, taste, and sound.

Look at these two examples: 

  1. The food was sweet.
  2. The meal left everybody licking their fingers, peeping towards the kitchen, wishing there was more.

When you read the second, nobody needs to tell you how tantalizing the meal was, but you get to see it.

Choosing a topic

You need to focus on a single idea, person, or event. You should work your way with words, and discuss everything in detail. The way it should be. Your topics should make sense, and you should arrange them in chronological order.


Just like in expository essays, we have the introduction, body, and conclusion. Ensure that your work flows chronologically. Your thesis statement is important, hence remember to include it. Your statement would set out the purpose of the essay. 

Get sense to write

Without incorporating the senses, descriptive essays won't exist. To ensure that your piece fits the title, include all the sensational feelings. When drafting a descriptive essay, divide your work to form different columns. In each column, put a sense. Can you describe a specific area with sound/ or is it smell? Note that down. Doing this would ease your work during the actual writing. Also, include similes, metaphors, descriptive adjectives, and personification to achieve this. Remember, descriptive essays are all about vivid descriptions.


The finishing part of these articles needs to be interesting. It's what the readers carry home, what would be engrossed in their minds for a long time. Here, you should reaffirm your thesis. Don't introduce a new idea as this might confuse the readers. 

Review of the essay

Don't review it immediately after writing. Go out and breathe fresh air, and come later when your eyes are ready. Reread and ask yourself particular questions like, does it make sense? Are the paragraphs descriptive enough? If not, what can you do to make them fit the conditions? Is the essay easy to understand? Once you've done this, read the article aloud and eliminate the errors. Later, give it to a third party. It could be a friend or family. Ask them if anything needs clarification.

Wrapping it up, finally check the grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Proofread again by reading aloud. There is no harm in proofreading even if you do it a hundred times. After all, you would end up with a fantastic essay.

3. Narrative essay

Unlike other essays, a narrative essay takes a different turn. It's unique and one of it on the kind. This is a non-fiction type of essay. As an author, you tell events or items that you've experienced. Here you show your audience how you understand the subject; everyone loves stories and would find interest in reading one. You should write narratives in the first person and the past tense.

The plot is vivid, as you strive to provide an image containing a chain of events to the reader. The best part is that you don't have to research or cite outside sources as you speak from your own experience. It doesn't have a specific length and can be as long as your professor wants, or as short and informative as you want it to be. Just ensure that you unravel all the details by writing a story the audience will love.

Guidelines for writing a narrative essay

First, you have to choose a topic. Be specific and as transparent as possible. Don't focus on a broad topic. For instance, instead of writing about the whole summer holiday, you can choose one specific event like hiking or a family dinner. The more truthful it is, the easier it is to narrate.

Have a draft

To come up with a breathtaking piece, you require proper planning. Therefore, you need to have an outline. Well, narratives contain three parts, the plot, the conflict, and the character. There is always a set-up where events happen or unfold. The storyline elements attract the reader's attention and a must-have in your essay. Also, to make it more appealing, there is a need to include the protagonist and the antagonist. These two characters create a conflict, increasing the point of interest. Having these details in your outline ensures, you meet the requirements of narratives by keeping you on track. 


Your writings should be clear. Use simple words and appropriate language. Any person reading your article should be able to grasp it. Some names might be clear to you, yet ambiguous to the reader. Hence, proofread and give it to another person to make sure it makes sense.

Present your ideas chronologically

Let your ideas flow smoothly to grasp a story. Your readers should be able to follow your thoughts with interest. To achieve this, read other narrative essays. Master how they present their ideas and use that to develop your plot. You can also watch video presentations to understand this technique

Points of view

While writing, you should clearly state your points of view. What role do you play in the story? Give details of the events you are describing, and why you were behaving in a particular way at some point of the story. Such information helps readers understand more.

4. Argumentative essay 

Argumentative essays state a position on an issue and offer several reasons supported by the evidence. Unlike the expository essay, it's subjective. Also, it's longer than the other types of essays. You are the one to decide what the argument would be.

For instance: your topic could be 'boarding schools are better than day schools.'

Here each person is entitled to their own opinions, and the subject is arguable. Avoid topics that are facts and hard to raise discussions.

For example: 'Why drinking water isn't important'. You wouldn't have evidence to prove your argument. To come up with an excellent piece, you have to research to prove your claims.

Introductory paragraph

Your introduction needs to be enticing to the reader. You can start with a quote, statics, question, anecdote, or fact. Your thesis statement should explain what you are arguing about. You need to include background information and context. What brought you to that assumption? Why should people take a keen interest in that topic? Explain the relevance of the subject. When you are writing about literary work, include the title and author in the introduction.


Formulate paragraphs detailed with evidence and current information. With each topic idea you introduce, follow up with evidence to support it. You can use logical, factual, statistical, or anecdotal statements to achieve this. Also, include relevant examples from reliable sources such as professional commentaries and academic journals to back up your views.


Your conclusion should be compelling. Use persuasive language to drive a point home. Also, challenge your readers to take a particular action. Remember always to stay unemotional as this might cloud your views concerning a specific subject.

Use of transitions

Transitions act like a glue that connect one paragraph to the next. For your audience to follow the argument well, there is a need to use transitional words.

No matter the essay type, after writing, you should proofread to eliminate all possible grammatical mistakes, inclusive of the grammar and spellings.

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