We often have to deal with different types of essays. We read some works in books or journals and cite them afterward; others seem boring to us, and we do not want to spend our time on checking them out. What is more, essay writing is one of the most popular tasks among school teachers; tutors usually assign them to a student to see how well the one understood the topic and how effectively he can state on paper. That’s why it is so important to know the main features of the most popular essay types to understand how to write them properly. Otherwise, you risk missing out something really important.
Still wonder why do you need to know the different types of an essay? The fact is that knowing all the assignment types will help you write work in a certain direction following all the rules and specs of the genre, without just randomly writing down your thoughts jumping from one idea to another. For example, if you have been assigned to an argumentative essay, then your job will be to convince readers of something with the help of strong arguments or to induce them to perform some action. But to know all these specs, you need to dive deeper into each and every paper.
What are the most popular essay types?
There are many different variations of essays – each having a set of its unique features and characteristics. Depending on a paper type, there is a different set of content and structure requirements to be met when working on a task. That’s why it is so important to discuss the essay type and instructions to the task with your teacher to avoid doing the double work or fixing content inconsistencies.
A paper can be written in different ways depending on what goals its author pursues and how he is going to achieve them. For you not to get lost in the process of writing, there is a general essay classification by the method of data presentation that covers the following essay types:
- descriptive and narrative;
- analytical and critical;
- comparison and contrast;
Let’s start the classification with the easiest essay type.
This type of writing presupposes describing an object in detail. It can be a flower, any product, a person or an animal, the work of an artist or a film - in short, it can be just anything. In the description, it is important not only to convey the main characteristics of the object being under discussion – its appearance, smell, or texture - but to reflect their feelings and other deep meanings. There is no place for criticism and analysis in the descriptive paper. Nevertheless, subjectivity is still present in this type of writing - in the very signs and features that you notice, in the wording you use, in the emotional coloring of your writing.
Action and story – these are the main features of a narrative essay. Narration is a chronological presentation of events from the first or third person. This may be a short biography or a story about some important event. The main components of this paper are the plot, climax, and denouement. Accordingly, there must be a conflict. Without it, your paper will be boring and difficult to read.
The only goal of the definition essay is to reveal a particular concept. For this, you can use elements of narration, descriptions, illustrations, analytics – anything that works best for you.
The text that you are now reading can be called a classification essay. How does it work with this type of writing? We take the concept, highlight the main principle, and create a classification based on a particular criterion or feature. Thus, we consider the topic deeper.
Comparison and contrast essay
As its name suggests, a comparison and contrast essay presupposes that a writer compares and contrasts the two objects, whatever they may be. Thus, in comparison, you take a related concept, draw parallels, look for similarities and highlight them, whereas the contrast part is for outlining differences of the two.
Illustration/ expository essay
Everything is simple here: your goal is to prove a statement. For this, you prepare main points and provide examples that support the idea you are striving to deliver to the reader. That’s why it is crucially important that these examples really prove your words.
If examples are the main elements in the illustration essay, then facts that confirm your statement perform the same function in the argumentative paper. Once you have a list of statements to use for this purpose, it is important to build their order logically. Unlike in the illustration paper, you should make emphasis on rational connection between arguments and your thesis statement, turning your emotions off.
Cause and effect essay
When writing a cause and effect essay, you are no longer just presenting the course of facts but analyzing the data and building all statements in a logical sequence.
As you can see, the text of an essay can have a different structure and different goals. The choice in favor of a particular genre or method of content presentation depends on the tasks you/ your teacher set for you. Having become acquainted with different variations and genres of academic papers, you can already understand how to write a piece in your case and what to focus on.
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