All around the world, students are assigned essays in school. But what exactly is an essay? The simplest definition of an essay is that it is a piece of writing with an opinion or point of view on something that you’ve researched and support with evidence.
There are three main types of essays: analytical, argumentative, and narrative.
Each type has its own distinct purpose, some more common than others; knowing which type you are writing can help you organize your thoughts easier so that they make sense to someone else besides yourself.
An analytical essay analyzes the pieces of work presented to present its information in a persuading way. It tells the reader why or how something was done so well or so poorly, often trying to convince the reader towards one opinion.
An argumentative essay presents its point of view on an issue, usually trying to convince the reader towards one side or another. It analyzes the topic being discussed and gives reasoning why the writer believes what they do.
A narrative essay tells a story. It can be about any topic, but it is mainly used for describing events that have happened to you personally or things that have changed your perspective drastically. It does not try to convince anyone of anything; it just tells a story as factually as possible. So let’s briefly define those now:
Analytical Essay – A piece of writing with an opinion or point of view on something that is supported by evidence (and tries to convince the reader towards this particular opinion).
Argumentative Essay – Presents a point of view on an issue, usually trying to convince the reader towards this particular point of view. It analyzes the topic and gives reasoning why the writer believes what they do (and tries to convince the reader towards this particular point of view).
Narrative Essay – A story. Can be about any topic but mainly used for describing events, it does not try to convince anyone of anything; it just tells a story as factually as possible (no opinion or argument is presented).
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s take a look at how you would write each kind:
Analytical Essays are typically broken up into four paragraphs: the introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In this format, you would have an intro paragraph telling your reader why you’re writing about this topic, one body paragraph for each piece of evidence that supports your claim (and is called a ‘supporting sentence’), and finally a conclusion that wraps everything up in a nice little bow.
Argumentative essays are similar to analytical essays in some ways but not all ways. The first thing you should know is there’s no formula for making argumentative essays; they can be broken up however you want them to be broken up. You still have an introduction and conclusion like any other essay, but instead of three body paragraphs for evidence-based claims with supporting sentences, you’ll have a body paragraph with a claim you’re trying to prove and then the following body paragraph that gives evidence for why it’s true.
Finally, narrative essays use so many different formats it would be hard to list them all out here. But the point of a narrative essay is to tell a story rather than argue one side or another, so you should follow the basic rules of writing persuasive essays while remembering your main goal isn’t to convince anyone; it’s just to share what happened in an interesting way. You can even break up descriptive passages into different paragraphs if you’d like!
So, now hopefully you have a better understanding of what each type is and how to write it.