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Knowing how to write each different genre of essay effectively is now crucial to succeeding in one’s academic endeavors. Essay writing is a common assignment in schools and colleges, when applying to colleges, and as part of standard tests. Selecting the right type of essay to respond to the prompt in a test is vital in order to answer the question correctly. Hence, it is obvious that no student can afford not to understand the different essay types.

Essays come in more than a dozen different types, so there is plenty room for confusion. However, we assure you the number of essays can actually be managed. There are four main genres of essays while the variations make up the rest.

Four Main Essay Types

Telling the difference between the various essay types involves no more than determining what the goal of the writer is. Is it the writer’s aim to describe something or other, explain something or other, tell readers about some experience they had, or persuade readers to agree with a particular point of view. The following are the four main genres of essay and each one addresses one of the above purposes:

  1. The Descriptive Essay: Paints a Vivid Picture

The descriptive essay and the narrative essay are cousins where the former type uses words to paint a picture. The writer of such an essay may choose a person, object, place, or even their memory of something significant as a descriptive subject. A descriptive essay, however, does not describe something just for the sake of describing it. Instead, it attempts to use description to communicate to the reader a more in-depth meaning of a subject. When writing a descriptive essay, it is the writer’s task to show, rather than tell, using sensory details and vivid words. The most effective type of descriptive writing appeals to the emotions of the reader, creating a highly compelling and evocative result.

  1. The Expository Essay: Sets Out Facts

Expository essays are informative written pieces that aim to provide a well-balanced analysis of the subject matter. With expository writing, the writer’s task is to define or explain a chosen topic with the use of examples, facts, and/or statistics. This type of writing takes in a number of other essay variants including the cause and effect variety, the compare and contrast variety, and the process or “how to” variety. Since expository writing uses facts rather than personal opinion and/or feelings, the writer should not write from the first person perspective or reveal any of their own emotions.

  1. The Narrative Essay: Tells a Story

In the case of narrative essays, the task of the writer is to tell a story based on some life experience they have had. While it may appear easy to tell a story, narrative writing forces the writer to think about themselves and write accordingly. When a writer begins to write a narrative essay, they should attempt to get the reader involved by making their writing as descriptive and vivid as they possibly can. This type of essay is mostly written from the first person perspective, a tactic that is good for engaging readers. Sentences that contain “I” tend to make the reader feel as if they are part of the narrative. Effectively written narratives also tend to build up to a personal statement or conclusion on the part of the writer.

4. The Persuasive Essay: Convince Your Reader

While the persuasive essay bears some resemblance to expository writing in the way it presents facts, the primary aim of this genre of essay is to persuade readers to accept or agree with the writer’s recommendations or viewpoint. Therefore, it is the writer’s task to build a strong case with the use of expert opinion, facts, examples, logic, and reason. It is also important they present every side of a particular argument while communicating clearly and unambiguously why a particular stance is the right one.

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