6 Types of Essays

An essay is a piece of writing that revolves around a particular theme and contains the academic opinions of the person writing it.

An essay can perform one or more of the following functions:

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  • Analyses and critically evaluates a topic
  • Presents the writer‘s argument for or against an idea
  • Describes something
  • Narrates a story
  • Persuades the reader
6 Types of Essay

Types of Essays

There are 6 Types of Essays…

  1. Narrative Essay
  2. Descriptive Essay
  3. Expository Essay
  4. Argumentative Essay
  5. Reflective Essays
  6. Proverb Essays

Types of Essay #1

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay tells the reader a story or narrates an incident.

The characteristics of narrative essays are

  • They follow a chronological order.
  • They may contain firsthand accounts of the narrator.
  • They may use first-person, second person or third-person narrative techniques.
  • They may contain dialogues or conversations between characters.
  • They use vivid descriptions of scenes, characters and moods in the story.
  • They can contain elements of suspense or twists in the conclusion.

Example of Narrative Essay

The Funniest Boy

He was the funniest boy I had ever met. He would make everyone laugh till they toppled over their chairs and fell. His smartness was equally famed. There was no one in the school who did not know Dean Peters. He was just like me. We played football, topped the Math class, participated in Science exhibitions, and acted in the annual plays. We were both all-rounders and best friends. However, there was one more side to us that no one knew about. We were not really as good as all thought us to be. We had a little secret.

We loved to play pranks on others. It was like science for us. We planned, we experimented, and finally, we implemented. We were so good at what we did that no one ever suspected us of the action. The entire school was left baffled every time we pulled off a prank as the prankster would never be caught. On one such occasion, all the teachers found their attendance registers missing. All the children cheered with joy when the news reached them. Some of them even ran off home as they knew that they could not be marked absent without the registers.

The entire school was searched but to no avail. This trick worked well till our very own friend Jay told the teachers that he heard us speaking about the registers. We were caught and asked to confess. We finally accepted our mischief and apologized for the same. We were forgiven but not before completing the punishment of scrubbing all the trophies in the entire school. Our mischief was pardoned taking into consideration our academic performance.

That is when we realized that being smart did not give us the right to play pranks on others and that every action had a consequence. We surely improved our mistakes, but our qualities remain intact. We are still the most famous pair in the school and take part in every activity as before.

Types of Essay #2

Descriptive Essay

A descriptive essay simply describes something to the reader.

The characteristics of descriptive essays are

They appeal to one or more of the five senses of the reader—sight, smell, sound, taste, and feel.

  • Sight: The light travelled through the canopy of leaves to break into various fragments. The flowers in various colours stood in full bloom.
  • Smell: As soon as you enter her house, you will be greeted by the fresh, warm and savoury smell of bread baking. You also catch a citrusy whiff of her famous lemon pie.
  • Sound: The corridor reverberated with the sound of sharp clicks emanating from the heels of somebody‘s shoes. The sounds were well spaced with a difference of a second between each click.
  • Taste: As soon as I bit into the exotic-looking fruit, my mouth was flooded with its succulent juices. It was the tastiest thing I had ever had.
  • Feel: Tinkerbelle my Persian cat brushed against my face in a rare show of affection. Her soft, cottony fur grazed against my chin and her pointy whiskers tickled me.

They try to replicate in the reader the emotions or feelings experienced by the writer.

Example of Descriptive Essay

Ajji’s Treats

Appetizing foods are those that appeal both to the eyes and the palate. You may have seen on television how great chefs go to any lengths to make sure that the carefully crafted food is aesthetically presented to taste. They meticulously measure the colour, feel, smell, and dimensions of the food when they mount it onto the plate.

Whenever I watch such shows, I am reminded of Ajji who had the ability to give any seasoned chef a run for his money. She never bothered to follow any of the fastidious rules of modern-day chefs or presented her culinary creations in an appealing manner. She did not believe in fussing over how food was presented, but she did believe in how food was cooked.

Ajji‘s food was not attractive to look at. The laddoos were sometimes not round enough. Lumps and chunks would be barely holding onto one other in a hastily crafted sphere. Her Puran polis reminded me of the map of Europe. The dal curry looked pallid without any garnishing. My heart did ache at the sight of rosy basundi served in ugly plastic bowls. Her food was definitely not meant for someone who feasted with his eyes; it was meant to be enjoyed with the soul.

The haphazardly made laddoos were made with so much love that we would not let a crumb go to waste. Her golden Puran polis with jagged edges was filled with a delicious mixture that would melt in your mouth. The fragrance of her pallid dal curry was welcomed into the homes of the neighbours. We joked that the neighbours would be full by the aroma alone.

On special occasions, she made basundi by stirring the milk meticulously for hours. Even though it was served in ugly bowls, we would never pass a chance to enjoy it. Today she is not with us and neither are her recipes. As a token of her love for me, she bequeathed her personal cookbook to me. No matter how well I try to recreate her laddoos, I can never make them look as beautifully lumpy as she did.

Types of Essay #3

Expository Essay

An expository essay explains an instruction, a process, or a method. The purpose of such essays is to orient the reader with the knowledge the writer wishes to share.

The characteristics of expository essays are

  • To present facts or details in an objective and organised manner
  • To provide information and analysis
  • To compare and contrast features
  • The use of the cause-and-effect method
  • An approach that may directly address the reader

Example of Expository Essay

How to Optimise Your Time as a Student

It is generally believed that students have a lot of free time. They can afford to spend their time without a care in the world and have the liberty to live as they please. Nothing can be further from the truth. Childhood and adolescence are not simply about whiling away time with immature pursuits; those years play a fundamental role in building one‘s ambitions and shaping one‘s career.

Students have to juggle their studies along with their social and familial commitments. Some students are naturally attuned to using their time wisely, but some may not be blessed with those skills. In order to optimize one‘s time, students should discipline themselves by incorporating some time-saving tips.


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Being organized is the cardinal rule in saving time. It simplifies one‘s life. Being a student involves extensive perusal and note-making. Students also take down notes in class which is dictated by their teachers. The lazy ones do not keep a track of where these notes are. As the exams are near, such students may find themselves in a chaotic situation.

The diligent ones can access all their notes and use them with ease. In order to save time, students should start by adopting small practices. They could maintain separate notebooks for different subjects and organize notes in a folder that is labelled according to date and subject.

Keeping the right company also matters. Good fruits when left with spoilt ones turn rotten themselves. Similarly, the company of lazy, insincere people can turn any diligent student bad. Good habits, like bad ones, rub off on others. So, students should make a conscious effort to avoid falling into bad company. They should seek out the ones who could instil more discipline into their lives.

Focus on understanding the basics of every subject. The bedrock of the subject lies in its basics. Without it, education will not have a strong foundation. Knowing the basics also helps students in grasping difficult concepts easily. Therefore, students intent on saving time should go back to their textbooks.

Prioritizing tasks can help students save time if they are on a tight deadline. Create a timetable by prioritizing the difficult subjects so that more time can be spent on them.

Following these basic rules can help students optimize their time. They needn‘t fret about balancing studies with recreation if they were to make some smart choices.

Types of Essay #4

Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay tests the student‘s ability to convince the reader about the topic given in the prompt. The writer has to defend his or her position by giving evidence to the reader.

The characteristics of argumentative essays are

  • They are written either for or against an argument.
  • The writer has to sound convincing by providing evidence to support his/her point of view.
  • The tone of the essay should be persuasive.
  • Unlike expository essays, argumentative essays present the readers with the opinions of the writer.

Example of an Argumentative Essay

Co-education Should Be Stopped

Co-education is the new trend of the age. However, parents need to understand that selecting a school for their child is an essential responsibility which should not be overshadowed by their attempt of creating an image of themselves.Co-education is a system of educating boys and girls together. It is economical and generates a spirit of comradeship between boys and girls. Same-sex schools, on the other hand, are expensive and increase gender discrimination.
It is observed that in co-ed schools, there is often a power struggle between boys and girls. This is harmful to the mental health of the students receiving negative feedback as it crushes their self-esteem. Also, research states that in co-ed schools, boys are always treated will less care and attention.Student diversity suffers in same-sex schools. It may be easier for students to participate actively and do well academically at a single-sex institution. However, the world outside is not single-sex. Therefore, when students step out of a same-sex school, it may prove difficult for them to adjust to a co-ed work atmosphere after they graduate. On the other hand, students from co-ed schools are comfortable talking to people of the opposite sex and are not intimidated by their presence.

Right from their childhood, they are expected to be tougher, stronger, and better than girls. This is a disadvantage for both. The girls are not challenged enough which makes them depressed and dependent, while the boys are challenged to such an extent that their childhood is lost.
Same-sex schools may promote gender bias in a country like India. In a co-education system, there is no discrimination between boys and girls. Co-education is a boon to a country where there is a shortage of well-trained teachers. The same staff can teach both boys and girls at the same time in the same class. Establishing more co-educational institutes can help in spreading literacy even with the limited teaching staff and infrastructure.
In contrast to this, same-sex schools are advantageous at various levels. Especially in countries like India, where there is a need for sex education, it becomes easier to educate children without making them embarrassed when all of them are of the same sex. Finally, I would like to say that like a flower a child grows and blooms best between the surrounding of its own kind. It is our duty to ensure that our children feel this sense of security and freedom at school. Thus, I believe that same-sex schools are better than co-ed schools.
In conclusion, co-education is better than single- sex education. It is economical and generates a spirit of comradeship among students

Types of Essay #5

Reflective Essays

A reflective essay is a mirror of the writer‘s psyche. In a reflective essay, the writer analyses his or her own mind and writes by drawing on his or her personal experiences. It expresses how the experiences have changed the writer or made him or her grow.

The characteristics of a reflective essay are

  • It is not a product of the writer‘s extensive research.
  • It is a product of his or her beliefs and experiences.
  • It identifies the outcome of his or her experiences.

Examples of Reflective Essays

Who Are We?

I have always thought about the nature of my existence. What am I? What is my identity? Made of flesh, blood, and a complex system of internal organs, is my body my identity? My countenance expresses my various moods and emotions, is my face my identity? Are my thoughts that make me who I am? We are much more than what we perceive ourselves to be. We need to move beyond the obvious to ponder upon the truth of our existence. Ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’

The Upanishads state, ‘Aham Bhrahmasmi’, meaning ‘I am Brahman’. The term Brahman here does not refer to the caste; it refers to the ultimate truth that underlies all the phenomena in the universe. According to the Vedas, the real self is not the body or the mind. Beyond the realms of the body and the mind is the soul. The soul represents our consciousness; consciousness is nothing but the awareness of the self by the self. It does not arise out of our material interactions.

Physically, we are composed of various elements—oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, etc. These elements constitute our bodies. If so, we are our bodies. What role does consciousness play in our identity?

Consciousness is a difficult term to define or understand. It cannot be explained with the help of numbers or explained with words. We identify ourselves with materials because they provide pleasure to our physical selves. We form attachments for our need to be loved. We form ties that we cannot break free from. This further wedges a gap between us and our consciousness and we lose ourselves in the maze of worldliness.

We should never get distracted from our quest to uncover mysteries about ourselves. Only then will we realize our purpose in the vast system of planets, stars, life, and galaxies.

Types of Essay #6

Proverb Essays

A proverb essay is one in which a proverb or a saying has to be expanded and explained to the reader.

The characteristics of proverb essays are

  • They are based on how the writers interpret the proverbs.
  • Proverbs are not to be understood literally; context is provided in the form of examples.
  • They are not scientific in nature.
  • The writers do not present scientific data.
  • The tone is sombre or reflective.

Examples of Proverb Essays

Next to Love, Sympathy is the Most Divine Passion

The word ‘Sympathy’ is derived from the Greek prefix ‘syn’ or ‘sym’ which means together or joint and the root word ‘pathy’ which means to feel. Therefore, sympathy means to have a fellow feeling towards another living thing. It is characterized by the ability to understand the suffering of others and feel sorry for their plight. It is a trait that makes us distinctly human. It sets man apart from the beast; the civilized apart from the uncivilized; and the kind apart from the cruel.

The feeling of sympathy has a role to play in human society. It facilitates bonding between human beings and makes the burden of suffering lighter. Sympathy makes us extend a helping hand to someone in need and fosters a feeling of fellowship. Often the kind words of a stranger, a reassuring embrace of a friend and the patient ears of a dear one take the sting away from our pain.

Sympathy also ensures harmony in society. Apart from the role it plays in abating somebody’s pain, sympathy also acts as a deterrent against crimes. It prevents us from wrongdoing through the voice of our conscience. Lack of sympathy is the foremost trait of a criminal.

The ability to shed a tear for someone is seen as a sign of weakness by a shallow society. But the perpetrators of this belief often forget that the strongest of individuals sometimes yearn for sympathy. Only hearts as cold as a stone would be devoid of this beautiful emotion since sympathy is a celebration of everything that makes us human.

Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer

The proverb in its literal sense may seem counterintuitive. Why in the world would anybody want to keep their enemies closer than they keep their friends? The answer to this can be sought in the figurative implications of the proverb. The quote ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer is sometimes attributed to Nicolo Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and even to Don Corleone, the protagonist of the novel The Godfather. In the heart of the proverb lies the message that one can learn more from enemies than one does from friends. There are many reasons why this proverb holds water.

First, you can learn a lot from someone whom you despise. The best wisdom does not necessarily come from being with friends. A friend is someone who is agreeable and who does not become an obstacle or a threat to your ambitions. Chances are that you and your friend share a similar worldview.

He or she is an extension of your own self. An enemy, on the contrary, is someone who you don‘t trust and who is aiming for the same things as you are. They are your polar opposites. Their ideas, beliefs, and world views may be in stark contrast with your own. By observing them, you can get a fresh perspective on a situation that you may not receive from your friends.

To outwit your enemies, you should pay close attention to their moves. This can help you stay ahead of them all the time. Keeping them at close quarters helps you in determining their motives. This helps you in anticipating all their moves.

Your enemy may have a lot of weaknesses that he does not like to bring to the fore. On the outside, he may seem like a formidable foe, but on the inside, he may be hiding some flaws which he does not wish to show the world. Knowing your enemy‘s weakness is the biggest instrument in anybody‘s arsenal.

Sometimes, unexpectedly, you may find that your enemy may not be the ‘scheming’ and ‘evil’ villain you have imagined him to be. You may be surprised to find that he shares some of your values as well. An enemy may cease to be an enemy and you may learn to empathize with him/her. Hence, in order to be successful, you should be able to exploit your friendships and gain wisdom by observing your enemies.

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