Types of essays with examples

Writing essays is an essential skill that every student needs to master. There are many different types of essays, but expository, argumentative, descriptive, and narrative essays are among the most common academic essays.

In this article, we will explore some of the most common types of essays and provide examples to help you understand their characteristics and requirements.

Quick summary

types of essays

Narrative essays

If you are telling a story, it is probably a narrative essay. Narrative essays are about telling personal stories.

But sometimes, you may need to write an imaginary reflection or storytelling, depending on your essay instructions.

My First Life Lesson

When I was five years old, I always favored exploring new things in streets and different places. I found deep satisfaction in analyzing the things I found when I was walking as a kid. Background: You set the background of your story My grandfather taught me a life lesson that I still don’t forget: Always think good for other people.Theme: You introduce the theme of your narrative essay.

As usual, I was looking for different objects in our backyard, covered with apple trees. When I came down from a tree, I came up with an exceptionally exciting pin needle. The pinhead was cubic, and I could easily put it on the floor, heading upwards. I really didn’t want to hurt someone. I was only shocked by the fact that I found a pin needle with a cubic head, and I started playing with it.Description: This part expands on author’s feelings and story. My grandfather, who was around his 60s, saw me placing the pin needle heading upwards. He warned me –“You can hurt someone walking by putting the pin needle like this, watch out!”Character introduction:This part introduces the teacher of the story. After a while, I somehow left it heading upwards rather than getting rid of the pin needle. When I was running towards the backyard, I stepped on the needle and felt a crazy pain in my hell. Yes, I totally forgot the needle, and I was the one who stepped on it. When the doctor came, I instantly remember my grandfather’s advice.Development:Here you develop and detail your story.

The experience has taught me to think more “deeply” when making an action—It may hurt someone even if you don’t want to. I also learned that I should listen to older adults as they have much more experience than us.Conclusion: You conclude your essay, preferably with a memorable sentence.

As you see from the example, narrative essays are much more creative and personal.

While writing one, focus on the structure. It generally follows the traditional essay structure: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion at the end.

Descriptive essays

Descriptive essays are used to describe something. Similar to narrative essays, you may use a more creative and detailed language.

Instead of telling the whole story or incident, you better dig deep into a subject and describe it in detail. 

League of Legends Nights

On weekend afternoons, I love to play League of Legends in my study room. The game is online, addictive, and enjoyable, but I usually have a good time when I play with my friends.Introductory sentences: You introduce the scene/setting. I am in my own space without work and daily stress. I feel the competitive environment resulted from this game’s nature. Impression: You state your feelings and personal impression.Usually, we play a 5v5 ranked game, and we always start with a rush to enemy resources. As usual, I follow my support player as my champion is an attack damage carrier and extremely vulnerable. The rest of the team positions themselves to get kills and, of course, enemy resources.Description: This part expands on the story. Meanwhile, I need to position myself to damage enemy tanks, which are hard to combat. I save my leap for their engagement and press it when they rush on me. While my support tries to protect me, I damage enemy champions and try not to die soon. Because without me, my team wouldn’t be able to win the fight. But, whenever I use my leap, I have no choice but to die.Analogy: This part describes the behavior. Waiting in the base to respawn, I feel hopeless and pray for my friends to win the fight without me. However, I still have high hopes of winning the game as there are many combats to fight. After all, I lost the first fight, but why not try another?Conclusion: You conclude by highlighting the author’s feelings.

The formatting may be loose when compared with the other types. But be careful at choosing your words (see taboo words, transition words) and the gradual development of the paper.

Argumentative essays

Argumentative essays are one of the most common types of essays. You present a detailed and evidence-based claim or argument, which is the thesis statement.

Remember, the aim is to persuade the reader when writing an argumentative essay, so making use of scientific evidence and arguments are essential for this type.

The excessive use of social media is a concern for many psychologists.Topic sentence: What will the paragraph be about? Its prevalence among society is extremely high; research found that almost every individual has a social media account (Radovic et al., 2017). However, many studies have stressed a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts (Scheinbaum, 2017).Evidence: You state and cite your evidence. Psychologists are not mistaken to think that social media can have serious impacts on human psychology; however, a further and expanded investigation is also necessary. Interpretation: This part evaluates the evidence. At this point, many psychologists stress the negative aspects of social media, but scholars have also highlighted the positive impacts of social media such as the availability of social networks, the feeling of belonging, and numerous business opportunities (Akram & Kumar, 2017). Counter-argument: You present a counter-evidence to argue against the original claim. Therefore, the use of social media has positive sides that help individuals look for opportunities and different communities. Final sentence: You state your point made in this paragraph.

Expository essays

This type of essay requires a specific and focused explanation of a subject or topic.

In other words, you don’t need to have an original argument. Instead, explain a topic in your own words. The example below presents insights into the expository essays.

The political shape of the world has drastically changed after the Second World War.Topic sentence: What will the paragraph be about? A new era for each country involved has begun. We have seen the rise of two superpowers: the United States (USA) and the Soviet Union (USSR). They have become competitors and engaged in the Cold War. Also, the Allies created the United Nations to prevent a possible third world war. The devastated Western nations formed a union, which is now called European Union.Explanation: You explain your topic in detail. After all, one can highlight that the world political formation has rapidly transformed into new alliances and unions that would lead to a more peaceful environment. Concluding sentence: You summarize your key point.

The formatting of expository essays is not as demanding as argumentative essays. While writing: 

Textual analysis and critique essays

While essays usually test your ability to organize your thoughts and write clearly, you need to read carefully and reflect critically when writing rhetorical and literary analyses

Therefore, rather than presenting and summarizing your findings, closely analyze the text from a chosen or assigned perspective in textual analysis and critique essays.

Rhetorical analysis essay

This type of essay is focused on analyzing a persuasive paper such as cartoon, speech, or an essay from perspectives of rhetorical devices. 

  • Introduction of rhetorical analysis essay provides the text, background, and of course, the thesis statement.
  • Body paragraphs include a deep analysis. At this part, if you’re confused, further make use of online tools to generate or rewrite paragraphs to make them more engaging and unique.
  • Conclusion presents the sum of your analysis by highlighting certain aspects and reiterating the thesis statement.
Along with strong logos appeals, Grose effectively makes appeals to pathos in the beginning and middle sections.Topic sentence: What will the paragraph be about? Her introduction is full of emotionally-charged words and phrases that create a sympathetic image; Grose notes that she “was eight months pregnant” and her husband found it difficult to “fight with a massively pregnant person.” The image she evokes of the challenges and vulnerabilities of being so pregnant, as well as the high emotions a woman feels at that time effectively introduce the argument and its seriousness. Her goal is to make the reader feel sympathy for her. Adding to this idea are words and phrases such as, “insisted,” “argued,” “not fun,” “sucks” “headachey,” “be judged,” “be shunned” (Grose). All of these words evoke negative emotions about cleaning, which makes the reader sympathize with women who feel “judged” and shunned”—very negative feelings. Another feeling Grose reinforces with her word choice is the concept of fairness: “fair share,” “a week and a half more of ‘second shift’ work,” “more housework,” “more gendered and less frequent.”Evidence and analysis: You evaluate the rhetoric of the author. These words help establish the unfairness that exists when women do all of the cleaning, and they are an appeal to pathos, or the readers’ feelings of frustration and anger with injustice. Concluding sentence: This part summarizes the analysis.

Literary analysis essay

You present a close reading of a literary work when writing this type of essay. Literary analysis presents reflection and interpretation of the choices made by author. 

Unlike a review or a book report, a good literary analysis presents a deep interpretation of literary elements in an author’s work.

  • In the introduction, present the source text and some background, and thesis statement. 
  • The body paragraphs consists of deep reading, quotation, and analysis. 
  • In the conclusion, emphasize your analysis and rephrase your thesis statement.
Though Chopin relates Mrs. Mallard’s story, she does not do so in first person.Topic sentence: What will the paragraph be about? Chopin reveals the story through a narrator’s voice. The narrator is not simply an observer, however. The narrator knows, for example, that Mrs. Mallard, for the most part, did not love her husband (paragraph 15). It is obvious that the narrator knows more than can be physically observed. Chopin, however, never tells the reader what Mrs. Mallard is feeling.Evidence and analysis: You evaluate the literary elements. Instead, the reader must look into Mrs. Mallard’s actions and words in order to understand what Mrs. Mallard feels. Concluding sentence: This part summarizes the analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main types of essays?

Argumentative, narrative, descriptive, expository, and textual analysis essays are generally considered the main types. 

What are the two types of textual analysis essays?

Rhetorical analyses and literary analyses are two types of textual analysis essays. Their toning and language, as well as objective, are different than traditional three paragraph essays. 

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Osman Sirin
Founder @Tamara Research, Linguistics major and full time digital marketeer, loves dogs, sports, and nature