What are the Different Types of Essays

An essay is a piece of academic writing that describes, analyzes, and evaluates a certain topic or an issue. An essay generally contains a combination of facts and figures and the personal opinions, ideas of the writer. In this article, we are first going to  look at some different types of essays and then highlight some commonly written essays.

 Different Types of Essays

  • Descriptive Essay
  • Narrative Essay
  • Argumentative Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Expository Essay
  • Compare/Contrast Essay
  • Critical Essay
  • Cause /Effect Essay     
  • 5 Paragraph Essay
  • Deductive Essay

How to Write an Essay

Descriptive Essay

Descriptive Essay is a piece of creative writing that contains many descriptions. This type of essay often provides information about a person, a place, an object etc. In this type of an essay, the writer can capture the attention of the readers by using a lot of sensory details (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste). There is no strict format as this genre of essays permits lot of artistic freedom to the writer. Some examples of descriptive essay topics are “My favorite food”, “My family”, “My school” etc.

different types of essays - descriptive essay

What does this look like? • How does this taste? • How does this smell?


How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Narrative Essay

As the name suggests, a narrative essay narrates a story. A good writer of a narrative essay can make the readers feel that whatever he is writing is genuine and interesting. First person point of view is generally used in narrative essays. A conversational tone is used in this genre as the essay contains a story. Some Examples of Narrative essay topics are”First day at school”,”Trip to the zoo”,”An unforgettable day” etc. 

different types of essays - narrative essay

Narrative Essay: Tells a story


How to Write a Narrative Essay

Difference Between Narrative and Descriptive Essay

Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay is a piece of writing that attempts to convince the readers to agree with writer’s opinions. In this genre of writing, the writer can use his own views, opinions and stir up the emotions in the reader in order to convince them to agree to his opinion. Some examples for persuasive essay topics are “Extracurricular activities should be made obligatory in School”, “Skipping meals is better than eating junk food”, “Grades can’t measure students’ intelligence and performance” etc.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay

Expository Essay

This is a simple, informative type of writing that provides a step by step analysis of an issue. In this type of essay, an explanation for a major concern is provided with the help of evidence, facts, and statistics. The purpose of expository writing differs. The purpose could be identifying cause and effect relationships, comparing and contrasting pieces of work, or providing step-by-step instructions. “What causes people to become addicts? Is there a way to provide environmental pollution?” “What is your favorite book? What did you enjoy the most about it?” ,”What were the direct and indirect causes of World War II?” are some examples for expository essay topics.

How to Write an Expository Essay

Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essay is a piece of writing that  attempts to convince the reader to accept the writer’s opinion as truth. This essay is based on logic and reasoning. The writer tries to validate his opinion by presenting facts, statistics and evidence. A writer should do a complete research; gather accurate facts and figures to defend his  views, before writing an argumentative essay as this is more like a debate written on paper. Some examples for argumentative essays are “Sex education is the only way to prevent many issues, including teenage pregnancy.”,”Women are less involved in crime than men.”,”Are social networking sites harmful?” etc.

Difference Between Argumentative and Persuasive Essay

Difference Between Argumentative and Expository Essay

Cause /Effect Essay

Cause /Effect Essays explain why and how something happened and/or discuss results of a certain event. This type of essay studies the connection between two or more events or experiences. This essay can discuss both causes and effects, or it can simply address one or the other. A cause essay usually analyzes the reasons why something happened. An effect essay analyzes the effects/results of a specific event. “Effects of Global Warming,” “Major factors of environmental pollution,” “Positive effects of social media sites” etc.

Compare/Contrast Essay

This essay discusses similarities and differences between two things. It could analyze both similarities and differences or focus on either similarities or differences.

Contrast Essay is an essay that focuses only on differences. (Examples: Discuss differences between leadership and management, Discuss difference between efficiency and effectiveness etc.)

Comparison essay is an essay that focuses only on similarities. (Examples: Discuss similarities between Buddhism and Christianity, Discuss similarities between Cane and Bamboo etc.)

Critical Essay

A critical essay analyzes the strengths, weaknesses, and techniques of someone’s work. These essays begin with a brief summary of the main points of the text, film, or piece of art, etc., followed by an analysis of the work’s meaning. Then the writer should discuss how successful is the creator/author of the original work in accomplishing his goal.

5 Paragraph Essay

5 paragraph essay is an essay format that consists of 5 paragraphs. The first paragraph acts as the introduction and the next 3 paragraphs include the main body of the essay. This part of the essay should include all supporting ideas, details, and examples. Each paragraph should focus on a single subtopic or idea to support the main idea. The last paragraph which reinstates the main idea serves as the conclusion.

Deductive Essay

Deductive essay is a specific method of evaluating the academic progress of students in many different subjects. A deductive essay examines the ability of the writers to use the given information to arrive at a logical conclusion. There are 3 main parts in a deductive essay: Premise, Evidence, and Conclusion. In premise, the writer is the basic idea or the fact used in the essay. There can be more than one premise in an essay. Evidence is the information that is analyzed in the essay.

Definition Essay

A definition essay is writing that explains the meaning of a term. Some terms like cat, house, tree, ocean etc. have definite, concrete meanings. However, the meaning of certain terms depend on a person’s point of view (Examples: nobility, feminism, love, fear). The writer can define these terms by explaining their  function, format or comparing them to similar and/or different aspects. 

How to Write a College Essay

How to Write a Scholarship Essay


Image courtesy:
“blueberry’s storyboard 2” by Roland O’Daniel (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.