What are the most common types of essay?

We all have written essays at some point in our lives. It’s how academics work. We write an essay on various subjects. From a person in 1st grade to professional to freelances, all of us have to write an essay at different times. It has been part of our initiation into the world of studies. But why did we write them?

What are essays?

An essay is a short piece written on any particular subject, mostly a scholarly piece. As a child, you might have written an essay on a simple topic like ‘cow.’ As you grow up, the topics of your essay change. They also help you write better. It is a tool used by a lot of teachers to teach their students how to write.

Are essays different from each other?

Yes, they are. Each essay is different. Based on what you want to tell your readers, your essays differ. And the difference doesn’t simply lie in the words, it’s the whole structure that differs. While each essay can grossly differ from the other, they can be categorized in 4 broad types. Let’s see what they are:

1. Narrative essays

These essays are meant to tell a story. Most times, these stories are drawn from real life experiences. This is about challenging the student (or whoever the writer is) to think and write about themselves. In these types of essays, the writer should try to involve the reader. Engaging a reader through presenting a vivid story is a good idea. You may notice that most narrative essays are written from first person perspective. This gives a feeling of engaging the readers directly on behalf of the writer, like ‘I’ talking to ‘you.’ These essays can either build towards a conclusion or simply make a personal statement.

2. Descriptive essays

Have you seen a painter trying to explain his picture to someone by telling what his painting supposedly means? These essays do the same in reverse i.e. paint a picture for the readers. Descriptive essays tell stories, but include details. The description could be of a place, object, or even a memory of significance. These essays, however, do not include description for description’s sake. As a writer, your purpose is to communicate a deeper meaning through this kind of an essay. These essays are highly evocative and appeal to a reader’s emotions.

3. Expository essay

These essays are about stating facts. They are informative pieces that present analysis of a topic. Your reaction to a specific work of literature can be in form of an expository essay. These essays are written based on facts, statistics, and examples. These essays have different types of essays within themselves. Cause and effect essay, comparison or contrast essays, ‘how to’ essays, all come under this umbrella. These pieces are the most unbiased pieces because these essays are based on facts and the emotions of the writer in these essays are not revealed.

4. Persuasive essays

These essays also present facts and analysis, but there purpose is to persuade the reader to accept writer’s point of view. They may seem like expository essays; however, they are not unbiased pieces. These essays should present sound reasoning and solid evidence in support of writer’s point of view. That doesn’t mean the writer gets to be emotional or passionate about his point of view. As said previously, it is still based on facts and arguments have to present in support of the writer’s point of view. The writer should try to present each side of the arguments while communicating his position and why his position is correct.

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