Definition of Types of Essay
An essay is a short academic composition. The word “essay” is derived from a French word “essai” or “essayer,” which mean “trail.” In composition, however, an essay is a piece of non-fiction writing that talks or discusses a specific topic. Presently, essay is part of every degree program.
Each subject has specific requirements for the essays to be written. Some subjects need longer essays, while others need shorter ones, such as a five-paragraph essay. In composition, the start is made from a five-paragraph essay. Based on the requirements, there are seventeen types of essays.
Types of Essay
- Definition Essay
As the name suggests, a definition type of essay defines different things, ideas, and perceptions.
- Narrative Essay
A narrative essay is a narration like a short story. It is, however, different from a short story in that it is written in an essay format.
- Descriptive Essay
A descriptive essay describes something to make readers feel, smell, see, taste, or hear what is described.
- Expository Essay
An expository essay exposes things in detail to make readers understand without any complications.
- Persuasive Essay
A persuasive essay is meant to convince the target audience to do something or not do something.
- Argumentative Essay
An argumentative essay is meant to present arguments in the favor of something. It has an additional fourth body paragraph that is meant to present opposite arguments.
- Analytical Essay
An analytical essay analyzes something, such as in literature an analytical essay analyzes a piece of literature from different angles.
- Comparison and Contrast Essay
A comparison and contrast essay makes either a comparison, a contrast, or both between two different or similar things.
- Cause and Effect Essay
A cause and effect essay makes readers understand the cause of things, and their effects on other things.
- Critical Essay
A critical essay is written on literary pieces to evaluate them on the basis of their merits or demerits.
- Process Essay
A process essay outlines a process of making or breaking or doing something that readers understand fully and are able to do it after reading it.
- Synthesis Essay
A synthesis essay means to synthesize different ideas to make a judgement about their merit and demerits.
- Explicatory Essay
An explicatory essay is meant to explain a piece of literature. It is often written about poems, short stories, and novels.
- Rhetorical Analysis Essay
A rhetorical analysis essay evaluates a speech or a piece of rhetoric on the basis of rhetorical strategies and devices used in it.
- Review Essay
A review essay discusses the merits and demerits of a book and evaluates it through a review.
- Simple Essay
A simple essay is just a five-paragraph essay that is written on any topic after it is specified.
- Research Essay
A research essay revolves around a research question that is meant to answer some specific question through a research of the relevant literature.
Format of an Essay
Generally, a simple a five-paragraph has five paragraphs including an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. An argumentative essay, however, has an additional paragraph which presents counter argument or opposing arguments in the same sequence. However, at the end of this paragraph, both the arguments are weighed in the favor of stronger arguments presented earlier in three body paragraphs.
The format of an argumentative essay is given below:
|i. Hook||ii. Background Information||iii. Thesis Statement|
|B. Body Paragraph|
|i. Topic Sentence||ii. Explanation/Example||iii. Supporting Details||iv. Transition Sentence|
|C. Counter Argument|
|i. Topic Sentence||ii. Explanation/Example||iii. Supporting Details||iv. Comparison of Body Paragraph Arguments|
|i. Rephrasing Thesis Statement||ii. Summary of Points||iii. Concluding Remarks|
Function of Types of Essay
An essay is a specific discussion or debate on a topic from a specific point of view. A student discusses the topic from his own specific angle. Readers not only get a glimpse of what the other aspect of the topic is, they also come to know about the tone and voice of the student writers to decide whether he has achieved a certain level of capability in writing. In literary essays, a writer becomes discusses the influence that literary piece has upon the readers about a certain point of view. Essays are also useful in winning public approval about certain political ideas.
There are various opinions on how to categorize essays and how many types of essay there are. The simplest interpretation says that there are only four types of essays:
1. Narrative essays
2. Descriptive essays
3. Expository essays
4. Persuasive essays
I personally think this is a bit of an oversimplification. I also think there are overly complicated classifications of essays, so to keep things relatively simple, we’ll stick to 10 types. Feel free to disagree with me if you like!
In this type of essay, you’re painting a word picture. You can certainly include some facts, but you’ll focus on the experience, what it feels like, looks like, smells or sounds like. Your aim is to draw the reader in so he or she can experience what you are writing about in the same way you experienced it.
A definition tells you what something is. Although a definition is short, a definition essay discusses a complex concept in much greater depth than you would get from a few lines. They’re most often used to discuss philosophical or abstract topics.
Compare and Contrast Essays
You’ll be given two similar-seeming yet different things to compare. To write this essay, I suggest that you prepare carefully. Which elements are the same? Which ones are different? Once you are sure you know what information you want to include, you’re ready to go.
Cause and Effect Essays
Although the name seems self-explanatory, we need to remember several causes can contribute to a single effect, and conversely, one cause could result in several effects. For example, several factors contributed to the US involvement in the First World War (multiple causes, single effect). However, being in the war had several effects on the US (single cause multiple effects).
If you like creative writing, these will be among your favorite essays. In a narrative essay, you tell a story. Remember, it has a beginning followed by a number of events that lead up to an ending. Plan carefully!
This type of essay involves a step by step explanation of how something happens or is done. Getting your steps in the correct order is important if you don’t want to turn your process into a muddle. Write your process essay in chronological order.
Are you opinionated? Good! The argumentative essay explains your opinions and the reasons why you believe they’re right. You can even look at some possible counter-arguments and why you believe they’re wrong. Ultimately, you’re trying to get your reader to agree with you, so the more facts you can present to support your points, the better.
You don’t have to criticize the thing you’re writing about unless you think there is reason for it, but you’ll be evaluating it critically. You’ll provide reasons why you think something was well done or badly done. If you think it was great, why did you think so? Are there any faults that bothered you? Why did they bother you? What evidence can you present to support your opinion?
You could sum this type of essay up as follows, “Get all the facts, and then interpret them!” You must reach a conclusion, and this has to be supported by your research or personal experience. In higher education, you have to show your ability to research your topic, and you’ll probably be citing experts along the way. In the end, you give your own opinion, but you’ll point out how several sources contribute to it. As long as there is logic in that, your answer can’t be wrong. These essays are exciting because even when you use existing knowledge, you may find yourself obtaining a new perspective or reaching a novel conclusion.
In a way, these are similar to argumentative essays, but they’re not quite the same. An argumentative essay will hit people with the facts, while a persuasive essay has a softer touch and may appeal to moral values or emotions. See it as the difference between winning a debate and winning someone over to support a cause. There are differences, but also similarities.
What Type of Essay to Write?
When looking at an instruction or exam question, study the VERBS your teacher has used. Circle them and think about what they imply. If you’ve just been told to name or list things, give nothing but the facts.
Other words indicating that you should usually give nothing but the facts:
In addition, you want to look for words indicating that you should give your opinion:
- In your opinion…
- What do you think about…
- How do you feel…
If you have any doubt about the type of essay you should be writing, ask. While your teacher likely won’t tell you when assigning, she will explain the correct type of essay to write for the particular situation and how you can figure that out. This should prove beneficial so you can deduct the correct type to write in future situations.