Types of Essays

In a college English class, you may be asked to write several different common essays, including reflective essays, research essays, and expository essays. This page lists several common types of essays. Some of this terminology can be confusing, but don't worry. There's no need to memorize every type of essay. In almost every case, the writing assignment will identify the type of essay you are being asked to write and give instructions about what elements should be included in your essay.

Narrative Essay

The aim of a narrative essay is to describe a course of events from a subjective vantage point and may be written in first-person present or first-person past tense. Though not always chronological, narrative essays do follow the development of a person through a series of experiences and reflections. The focus of the essay is often to more clearly identify the point of view of the narrator and to express common features of subjectivity.


Persuasive Essay

In a persuasive essay, the writer tries to persuade the reader to accept an idea or agree with an opinion. The writer's purpose is to convince the reader that their point of view is reasonable. The persuasive essay should be written in a style that grabs and holds the reader's attention, and the writer's opinion should be backed up by strong supporting details.


Descriptive Essay

The aim of descriptive essays is to provide a vivid picture of a person, location, object, event, or debate. It will offer details that will enable the reader to imagine the item described.


Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays are most often used to address controversial issues – that is, serious issues over which there is some evident disagreement. An argument is a position combined with its supporting reasons. Argumentative papers thus set out a main claim and then provide reasons for thinking that the claim is true.


Compare and Contrast Essay

The aim of a compare and contrast essay is to develop the relationship between two or more things. Generally, the goal is to show that superficial differences or similarities are inadequate, and that closer examination reveals their unobvious, yet significant, relations or differences.

Source: Lauren Patty
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2021, 2:39 PM