Different Types of Essays: Purpose and Distinction of Each

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by Will Martins / Updated February 12, 2024

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Essay are much more common than we suspect, but mainly during the student years. Teachers can either clearly define the type of essay or give free choice. You must understand what’s in front of you to do a good job. We’ve created this types of essays guide - to make the process easier and more transparent. Let's get to the bottom of it!

What is an essay in general?

Some people say that an essay is a piece of cake. Well, it is if you use someone’s help on essaymarket.net or other reliable writing sites. But even though the requirements are minimal, that’s the main difficulty. Everything seems appropriate, and you can't cross the line in creativity. But there are rules and regulations, so let's take a look.

An essay is a small prose work, an outline of a scientific problem in a non-scientific style. The genre allows you to interpret a private topic, create a free composition, convey your thoughts, and argue them.

The structure is three-part and includes:

    • Introduction. Here, you have to captivate the reader and make them read on. Also, at the beginning, the author forms a problem they want to discuss but doesn’t yet give an answer - the intrigue is preserved.
    • The central part. Now, the whole "processing" of the problem begins. You use different points of view, examples, explanations, and analysis. Each new thought must be consistent and logical.
    • Conclusion. All of the above is combined to create a summary. The reader consolidates your opinion in the mind and determines their own.

Besides the university, you can find essays at work. Some employers give this task as an interview or as a preliminary stage. And now to the specifics so you can select an essay type.

Personal essay

This one is also known as a narrative essay and takes the top position. The work involves telling an authentic and thought-provoking story. But at the same time, it has entertaining, humorous, or simply life aspects, making it personal. It's a golden ticket to creative freedom. You can write anything from describing your happiest moment to a lesson that changed you.

Your best friends here are metaphors, dialogues, quotes, analogies, and other literary devices. Where is it most commonly found? When applying to college or university and in regular classes. The structure is standard, so there should be no problems.

Expository essay

Such papers remove emotions and almost all personal opinions, leaving the facts. Your task is to explain a topic neutrally based on specific information. For example, you must write a type of expository essay about gender equality. You don’t take a position on either side, rejecting prejudice. Instead, you look for statistics, real-life examples, research, and other relevant data. The structure remains the same: an introduction with the central thesis, the main body with facts, and the conclusion.

Persuasive essay

As the name suggests, we’re dealing with persuasion here. This type of essay is considered successful if the reader accepts the promoted idea. You should arm yourself with a combo of facts and emotions to do this. Moral reasoning and appeals create a connection with the reader, especially if the topic is close to them. If the problem isn't relevant for some, make it so.

Compare and contrast essay

It’s a form of writing in which the author compares and contrasts two or more objects, ideas, concepts, or phenomena. The goal is to identify similarities and differences, expanding understanding through comparison analysis. The academic environment is fond of these types of essays.

The introduction gives the subjects being compared, the body explains the similarities, and the conclusion traditionally wraps it up. Even from our text, you could take a topic for a comparative essay, such as "The difference between persuasive and expository types."

Cause and effect essay

The author analyzes why and how certain events led to other events. For example, how the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange affected the economic situation worldwide. The main thing is to connect the selected events and consistently describe further significant changes.

Cause and effect essays do not give room for emotions - only facts, actual data, evidence, etc. The topic can be any, depending on your subject and purpose.

Definition essay

This type of essay is designed to provide a definition, usually of a specific term. But these are not simple words or ideas, but something the general public doesn’t understand well. You need:

      • A thesis statement for the discussion. Choose something abstract that needs to be explained.
      • Specific examples. You must show readers where the term is used and why it’s essential to understand.
      • Logic. As in any type of essay, it’s necessary for complete understanding here.

Academia loves definition essays, especially in linguistics and philosophy, but the hard sciences are not far behind.

Process essay

You describe how to do something or how something works. The main requirement is to choose a process and follow a sequence. You don't have to write in a dry, factual manner; emotions are also allowed in this type. Sometimes, explaining a complex process through a simple life situation is even more appropriate. If the reader gains an understanding, anything goes.

The introduction mentions the action you chose and why you did so. Answer the question: what is the importance of the issue? Fill the main body with the process steps and how they work. At the end, conclude with a summary of the information presented.

Argumentative essay

Here, as in persuasive essays, the author pulls the readers to a particular side. However, this time, the author uses facts, not emotions, to persuade the reader to take a side. For example, you can justify why employees need regular rest to be more productive. Even though the author takes a specific position, it’s better to formulate the statement in the third person - they have proven it, implemented it, statistics show it, etc.

How to prepare and succeed?

So, you've got a task and a topic in front of you. The first step is to study it in detail, forming your opinion. Search for reliable sources and collect different points of view - the more, the better. Next, create a plan to help you in your future work. Write down quotes or arguments you want to use in your work if necessary. Now, write, following the rules of your essay type. Here are the most common mistakes to avoid:

        1. Inconsistency with the topic. At first, everything is logical, but the thought gradually goes in a different direction. It can take off a lot of points.
        2. Unstructured plan. An incorrect structure makes your essay difficult to read. Identify the main sections and the logical order of the arguments.
        3. Insufficient analysis. The lack of a deep analysis of the topic won’t prove the correctness of your opinion to the readers.
        4. Lack of specific examples. Evidence enriches your essay and makes it more convincing.
        5. Disconnected ideas. Ensure your ideas are logically connected and flow into each other.
        6. Excessive use of words. More is not always better. Avoid water and stick to brevity.
        7. Failure to meet the deadline. Burning deadlines won’t bring happiness. Start early to avoid unnecessary stress and research the topic fully.

When you're done, take a break from the text and start checking it in a few hours or the next day. Use tools to detect spelling and punctuation errors. It's also worth asking your mentor to check it if you have one. If not, you can order the service for a fee on essaypro or other similar services, as long as they’re reliable. There, professors will proofread your essay and provide feedback.

Bottom line

The leading polarity between the different types of essay is the writing style. Some allow for more straightforward language with personal stories, while others only use scientific style and dry facts. Before writing, you should understand these features so you don't have to rewrite half of the text. For those who want to free up some time and enjoy student life, there’s an option to delegate essays completely. If you’re all for it, visit this essay writing service review for suitable options.

That's all; you're ready to conquer academic heights. Use the framework above and choose the style that suits you. Or, if the college or university doesn't give you a choice, go with the suggested type of essay.


The purpose of a narrative essay is to tell a story or recount an event or experience. It typically involves personal anecdotes and focuses on engaging the reader through descriptive language and a compelling narrative arc.

While both persuasive and argumentative essays aim to convince the reader of a particular viewpoint, persuasive essays often rely more on emotional appeals and personal opinion, while argumentative essays prioritize logical reasoning and evidence to support claims.

A descriptive essay focuses on vividly describing a person, place, object, or experience using sensory details. Unlike other essays that may analyze or argue a point, the primary goal of a descriptive essay is to create a vivid impression in the reader's mind.

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