Four types of essays exist including: narration, description, exposition, and argument. Each type has a unique purpose: some tell a story, some are descriptive and others prevent viewpoints. One of the best ways to better understand each type of essay is to review examples.
Types of Essays
Narration is telling a story from a certain viewpoint, and there is usually a reason for the telling. All narrative essays will have characters, setting, climax, and most importantly, a plot. The plot is the focus of the story and is usually revealed chronologically, but there are sometimes flash forwards and flash backs.
In writing a narrative essay, remember to:
- Include sensory and emotional details, so the reader will experience the story, not just read about it
- Have the story support the point you are making, and make reference to that point in the first sentence.
- Write in the first or third person
Descriptive essays have text which describes traits and characteristics of people, objects, events, feelings, etc in intricate detail.
Whatever is being described will be thoroughly examined. For example, if you were describing roses, you would explain:
- Where they come from
- What they look like
- What colors they are
- How they grow and smell
When you write a descriptive essay, you want to involve the reader’s senses and emotions. For example, you could say, “I got sleepy” or describe it like this, "As I was waiting for Santa, my eyelids began to get heavy, the lights on the tree began to blur with the green branches, and my head started to drop." The second sentence gives vivid details to make the reader feel like he is there.
Expository essays can compare, explore and discuss problems, or tell a story. An exposition essay gives information about various topics to the reader. It:
In writing an exposition, the text needs to:
- Be concise and easy to understand
- Give different views on a subject or report on a situation or event
- Explain something that may be difficult to understand as you write your essay.
Remember that your purpose is to explain.
In an argumentative essay the writer is trying to convince the reader by demonstrating the truth or falsity of a topic. The writer’s position will be backed up with certain kinds of evidence, like statistics or opinions of experts.
The writer is not just giving an opinion, but making an argument for or against something and supporting that argument with data.
To know how to write an essay in an argumentative way, you have to research and backup what you say in the text.
Learn by Example
When learning how to write an essay, sometimes the best way to learn is to look and analyze essay examples.
Following are excerpts from narrative essays:
"Looking back on a childhood filled with events and memories, I find it rather difficult to pick on that leaves me with the fabled "warm and fuzzy feelings." As the daughter of an Air Force Major, I had the pleasure of traveling across America in many moving trips. I have visited the monstrous trees of the Sequoia National Forest, stood on the edge of the Grande Canyon and have jumped on the beds at Caesar’s Palace in Lake Tahoe."
"The day I picked my dog up from the pound was one of the happiest days of both of our lives. I had gone to the pound just a week earlier with the idea that I would just "look" at a puppy. Of course, you can no more just look at those squiggling little faces so filled with hope and joy than you can stop the sun from setting in the morning. I knew within minutes of walking in the door that I would get a puppy… but it wasn't until I saw him that I knew I had found my puppy."
"Looking for houses was supposed to be a fun and exciting process. Unfortunately, none of the ones that we saw seemed to match the specifications that we had established. They were too small, too impersonal, too close to the neighbors. After days of finding nothing even close, we began to wonder: was there really a perfect house out there for us?"
The following is an example of a famous narrative written by John Updike, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu":
"The afternoon grew so glowering that in the sixth inning the arc lights were turned on--always a wan sight in the daytime, like the burning headlights of a funeral procession. Aided by the gloom, Fisher was slicing through the Sox rookies, and Williams did not come to bat in the seventh. He was second up in the eighth. This was almost certainly his last time to come to the plate in Fenway Park, and instead of merely cheering, as we had at his three previous appearances, we stood, all of us, and applauded."
Following are excerpts from descriptive essays:
"Like his twisted feathers, his many scars, the reliable old owl chose the gnarled, weather-beaten, but solid branch often—it being a companion to the wise alone with the night and the last branch to creak in the heaviest wind. He often came to survey the fields and the clouds before his hunt, to listen to the steady sound of the stream passing through reeds under the bridge, while combing his feathers for the unwanteds—whatever they might be."
Here is a descriptive essay about a first visit to a favorite diner written by a student at Roane State Community College:"When entering the door at Lou’s, two things are immediately noticeable: the place is rarely empty and seems to consist of a maze of rooms. The first room, through the door, is the main part of the restaurant. There is another, rarely used, dining room off to the right. It was added during the oil well boom of the seventies. Through the main dining room is yet another room; it guards the door leading into the kitchen. This room contains the most coveted table in the place. The highest tribute Lou can bestow on anyone is to allow them access to seats at this table. This table is the family table; it is reserved for Lou’s, and her daughter Karen’s, immediate family and treasured friends."
Here is an example of a descriptive essay from St. Cloud State:"Billy Ray's Pawn Shop and Lawn Mower Repair looked like a burial ground for country auction rejects. The blazing, red, diesel fuel tanks beamed in front of the station, looking like cheap lipstick against the pallid, wrinkled texture of the parking lot sand. The yard, not much larger than the end zone at General G. Patton High School on the north end of town, was framed with a rusted metallic hedge of lawn mowers, banana seat bicycles, and corroded oil drums. It wasn't a calico frame of rusted parts, but rather an orchestra of unwanted machinery that Billy Ray had arranged into sections. The yellow-tanked mowers rested silently at the right of the diesel fuel. Once red, now faded orange, mowers stood at attention to the left. The oil barrels, jaded and pierced with holes, bellared like chimes when the wind was right. The bikes rested sporadically throughout the lot. In the middle of it all was the office, a faded, steel roof supported by cheap two-by-fours and zebra paneling. Billy Ray was at home, usually, five blocks east of town on Kennel Road."
Following are excerpts from exposition essays:
"This family was a victim of a problem they could have avoided-a problem that, according to Florida park rangers, hundreds of visitors suffer each year." Several times a month," ranger Rod Torres of O'Leno State Park said, "people get scared and leave the park in the middle of the night." Those people picked the wrong kind of park to visit. Not that there was anything wrong with the park: The hikers camped next to them loved the wild isolation of it. But it just wasn't the kind of place the couple from New Jersey had in mind when they decided to camp out on this trip through Florida."
Here is an example of a student model answer of an Expository Essay from The Write Source:"Did you know that 7 out of 10 students have cheated at least once in the past year? Did you know that 50 percent of those students have cheated more than twice? These shocking statistics are from a survey of 9,000 U.S. high school students.Incredibly, teachers may even be encouraging their students to cheat! Last year at a school in Detroit, teachers allegedly provided their students with answers to statewide standard tests."Here is an another example of an expository essay.
This example comes from Essay Start:"Throughout history and through a cross-section of cultures, women have transformed their appearance to conform to a beauty ideal. Ancient Chinese aristocrats bound their feet as a show of femininity; American and European women in the 1800s cinched in their waists so tightly, some suffered internal damage; in some African cultures women continue to wear plates in their lower lips, continually stretching the skin to receive plates of larger size. The North American ideal of beauty has continually focussed on women's bodies: the tiny waist of the Victorian period, the boyish figure in vogue during the flapper era, and the voluptuous curves that were the measure of beauty between the 1930s and 1950s. Current standards emphasize a toned, slender look, one that exudes fitness, youth, and health. According to psychologist Eva Szekely, "Having to be attractive at this time . . . means unequivocally having to be thin. In North America today, thinness is a precondition for being perceived by others and oneself as healthy" (19). However, this relentless pursuit of thinness is not just an example of women trying to look their best, it is also a struggle for control, acceptance and success."
Finally, here are excerpts from argumentative essays:
"Gun control has been a controversial issue for years. A vast majority of citizens believe that if gun control is strictly enforced it would quickly reduce the threat of crime. Many innocent people feel they have the right to bear arms for protection, or even for the pleasure of hunting. These people are penalized for protecting their lives, or even for enjoying a common, innocent sport. To enforce gun control throughout the nation means violating a persons Constitutional rights. Although some people feel that the issue of gun control will limit crime, the issue should not exist due to the fact that guns are necessary for self defense against crime, and by enforcing gun control is violating a citizen’s second amendment right to bear arms."
Another examples of an argumentative essay comes from Bogazici University:"Throw out the bottles and boxes of drugs in your house. A new theory suggests that medicine could be bad for your health, which should at leastcome as good news to people who cannot afford to buy expensive medicine. However, it is a blow to the medicine industry, and an evenbigger blow to our confidence in the progress of science. This new theory argues that healing is at our fingertips: we can be healthy by doing Reikion on a regular basis."
On Essay By Example, on the other hand, the sample argumentative essay addresses online games and socialization:
"Online games aren't just a diversion, but a unique way to meet other people. As millions of gamers demonstrate, playing online is about friendship and cooperation, not just killing monsters. These games are a viable social network because players focus on teamwork, form groups with like-minded people and have romantic relationships with other players."Massively-Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) feature millions of players interacting in the same environment. The games are social in nature as they allow players to band together and complete missions based on a story line, or test their skills by fighting against each other. At the start of the game, the user creates a fictional character, and customizes its physical appearance. Since many games involve combat, players also outfit their characters with armor and weapons, as well as choose their "profession." Many popular game titles like World of Warcraft and Everquest follow a fantasy theme, so most professions have magical abilities like healing other players or raising undead minions. While the process seems simple, players may spend hours agonizing over the perfect look for their character, from their armor color to the type of skills to use in battle. Once their character is created, the player is free to explore the vast, digital world and interact with other players; however they must pay on average $15 a month for game content. MMOG users are mostly male - usually between the ages of 18-34 - although titles like World of Warcraft have a healthy population of female players as well. With millions of players, there are plenty of people to adventure with."
The key to learning to write a good essay is to read and study other essays and then practice, practice, rewrite and practice some more.
Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.comments powered by
By YourDictionaryFour types of essays exist including: narration, description, exposition, and argument. Each type has a unique purpose: some tell a story, some are descriptive and others prevent viewpoints. One of the best ways to better understand each type of essay is to review examples.
How many times have you received a software update notification? If you’re like me, you have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with these notifications. Too often, what you think will be a quick and easy process turns into an hour-long nightmare.
Sound familiar? Something so seemingly simple becomes deceptively complex.
The same is true for a short essay. It seems easy to type up a few hundred words and whip up a clever essay in no time flat.
But as you may have guessed, it’s not that simple. Because you only have a short space, you need to be careful with your word choices AND make sure you fit in everything you have to say in just a few pages.
If you’re wondering how to accomplish such a task, you might first want to check out How to Write a Short Essay That Stands Above the Rest.
Next, you should (of course) read the two short essay examples that follow.
2 Short Essay Examples That Are Easy to Digest
Here are two short essay examples to help you see what the finished product looks like. I’ve also made a few comments within the essays to help you see what works and what doesn’t work in a short essay.
For both short essay examples, my commentary is below each paragraph (or paragraphs, in some cases).
Short Essay Example #1: A Study on McDonald’s Adopting an Environmentally Friendly Business Model
A Study on McDonald’s Adopting an Environmentally Friendly Business Model
Protecting the environment is very important to many people today. They are concerned with making sure that people treat the earth right through actions like creating less pollution and recycling. They are also concerned with how the way a business operates may affect the environment.
While the introduction above serves its purpose—to introduce the topic—it isn’t exactly the catchiest of openings. The writer might use a statistic or quote here to create a more interesting hook.
Read How to Write an Essay Introduction in 3 Easy Steps to learn how to write an eye-popping opener.
McDonald’s is well aware of these concerns. This is why they have set new goals for sustainability and social responsibility for the business by 2020. Some of their goals include increasing in-restaurant recycling by 50%, serving 100% more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy or whole grains in nine of its top markets, supporting sustainable beef production, and purchasing 100% fiber based packaging from either certified or recycled sources.
The above paragraph is concise and to the point. It introduces readers to the focus: McDonald’s.
It also provides a list of strategies the business is implementing in order to be more sustainable and socially responsible.
If you’re writing a short essay and need to provide readers with a quick list of items or statistics, you might write in paragraph form or try adding bullets (if they’re appropriate for your essay) to draw attention to information.
Adopting this new business model involves a cost for McDonald’s. Their overall business is based on being able to create cheap food that is cheaply produced, and these new goals that they have set are likely to make the cheap food go up in price because it will not be as easily cheaply produced. This may deter a few of their customers who are used to the extremely cheap prices.
McDonald’s is also able to economize through this decision. They know that their millennial customer is increasingly attracted to businesses that practice sustainable business habits. By changing their business model to reflect these views, they will most likely attract more customers into their restaurants and increase their profits.
The two paragraphs above focus on a business model and McDonald’s goal of maintaining profits and attracting customers.
Notice how the writer uses short, specific topic sentences to focus each paragraph.
Using these short topic sentences is the perfect strategy for a short essay. They help the reader quickly understand the paragraph without reading the entire section.
This new business model offers incentives for McDonald’s customers. Their customers who are concerned with the environment will see this move as a good thing and will probably go to McDonald’s more often because the restaurant reflects their views and they feel as if their voices are being heard.
As there is an increasingly bigger amount of emphasis on sustainability and protecting the environment, more businesses are likely to follow in McDonald’s footsteps. These other businesses will also want a share in the success of McDonald’s and claim some of their customers back that they may have lost because having a business model of being sustainable was not a top priority to them.
The two paragraphs above focus on attracting and maintaining customers through the company’s business model of being socially aware.
While the structure of both of these paragraphs works well, the writer could revise to use more specific and impactful word choices.
For instance, the paragraph states, “…customers…will see this move as a good thing…” The words “good” and “thing” aren’t exactly the most concise choices.
The writer might instead replace these with something more concise like this: “…customers…will see this as a positive step toward sustainability …”
Looking for help choosing the perfect words for your short essay? Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Word Choice for Your Essay.
McDonald’s is able to create wealth through voluntary trade. Although the cost of this new model may seem like it would be detrimental and cost a lot up front in comparison with McDonald’s old business model, the company knows that in the long run it will pay off. With an increase in customers who find protecting the earth to be important to the restaurants, McDonald’s profits will sharply increase. The consequence of this decision lies in the future. Customers are more likely to go to a business that they feel matches their views. More businesses will try and follow McDonald’s lead to make their restaurants more sustainable in order to attract these types of customers.
The above paragraph serves as a brief counterargument as it explains why, even though the new business model might seem counter-productive, it will actually benefit McDonald’s.
Want to learn more about arguments and counterarguments, take a look at this argument infographic.
The author’s view that this decision is a good thing for McDonald’s is correct. With an increasingly large focus on protecting the environment, more people will realize the importance of what McDonald’s is trying to do. This will lead to an even bigger increase in customers, in addition to the millennial customers that will already flock to the restaurant. In this case, the food that McDonald’s produces would be considered a pure private good because its use by one person lowers the quantity available to someone else (rival) and it is possible to prevent someone from enjoying its benefits (excludable). In the future, businesses are likely to try to become more sustainable for the sake of staying profitable as this becomes more important of an issue to an increasingly large amount of their customers.
The final paragraph of this short essay works well to sum up key ideas and the author’s viewpoint.
Learn more about effective conclusions by reading How to Write a Killer Essay Conclusion.
Short Essay Example #2: Intelligent Characters in the Media
Intelligent Characters in the Media
The incredible thing about television is that characters have the potential to be represented in a million different ways. Unfortunately, producers tend to stick to the same few archetypes and tropes. Nearly every show about high schoolers includes a tough jock or a rebellious bad boy. As such, it is no surprise that television follows a few patterns and stereotypes when it comes to portraying intelligence.
The writer of this essay might spice things up a bit with a more interesting opening.
But for the most part, the intro provides a clear thesis statement that explains that television producers stick to the same stereotypes when portraying intelligent teens.
Also notice that the opening paragraph is short. While longer essays might develop a detailed and meandering opening, a short essay introduction needs to be brief and concise.
Quick Tip: Concise wording is important throughout your short essay, so cut any words that aren’t necessary.
Check out Why Eliminating Wordiness Is So Important for Your Essay for help with writing concisely.
While longer essays might develop a detailed and meandering opening, a short essay introduction needs to be brief and concise.
One of the most obvious and frankly painful depictions of intelligence is the socially awkward genius. In spite of their high IQs and brilliant minds, these characters have trouble understanding jokes and other social cues. Dr. Temperance Brennan from the show Bones is a perfect example. Although she is a leading authority in the field of forensic anthropology, a key catchphrase of hers is “I don’t know what that means” when faced with simple references to Hannibal Lecter, The Blair Witch Project, and Star Trek. Nearly every character in The Big Bang Theory acts this way, too. Most of the show’s humor comes from the contrast between the awkwardness of the brilliant physicists like Sheldon and Leonard and the “normal” people like Penny, the waitress who lives across the hall. The blatant awkwardness portrayed by these characters is likely an attempt by the shows’ writers to give the geniuses a noticeable flaw to ensure that their characters aren’t infallible.
In the above paragraph, the writer uses several key examples to support the thesis statement and describe the socially awkward genius.
Remember, including sufficient support is crucial to any successful essay.
If you’re not sure what types of support to include in your paper, read 3 Types of Essay Support That Prove You Know Your Stuff.
Another kind of intelligent character is the one whose abilities are limited to helping the protagonist. For example, in the show Arrow, Felicity Smoak is a computer whiz who worked as an IT girl for superhero Oliver Queen’s company before joining “Team Arrow” as a hacker. She could do anything from finding shortcuts during a car chase to sending a greedy criminal’s illegally-earned income to a charity as a twisted form of blackmail — all from the comfort of her computer screen. However, when she wasn’t busy saving the world, she was reduced to little more than Oliver Queen’s love interest. She was only a minor character in the comic book series that the show was adapted from, but when she became a regular on the show, the writers scrambled for ideas to keep her character interesting. She quickly turned into another ditzy blonde who couldn’t string together two sentences in front of Oliver without there being an unintentional innuendo. Despite her intelligence, Felicity Smoak has been underutilized as a character, and her knowledge is only ever highlighted when it comes in handy to the plot.
The above paragraph includes one example of the character type who is only present to assist the protagonist.
Because this is a short essay with limited available space, the writer might consider shortening the description of Felicity Smoak in order to include an additional example.
The final type of smart character is the one that is constantly picked on. In a high school scenario, it’s the nerdy kid who gets shoved into lockers and made fun of. The show Glee created an entire series based on this idea. The kids who joined the glee club were either outcasts like Rachel Berry, who strived for perfection in every way, or they were using the club for an ulterior motive. The gorgeous, popular cheerleaders were pressured into joining by their meddling coach, and the football players were offered a better grade. They weren’t the ones being made fun of; it was the unpopular kids who got stuffed into dumpsters or had slushies thrown in their faces. Even after the club won awards and competitions, it was still met with resentment from the majority of the student body. Although the audience wanted the students in the glee club to succeed, the prevailing theme throughout the show was that the kids who were smart and hard-working were not the ones who were cool and popular.
The above paragraph, like the previous one, is effective in its descriptions, but only one television show is profiled. Adding another example would create a stronger argument.
The fact is, smart people aren’t as unique as television makes them out to be. They should not be marveled at like zoo animals or be used as an easy target. Additionally, the characters who are presented in the media shouldn’t have their intelligence be their defining characteristic. Although television has come a long way in normalizing intelligence, there is still more ground to be gained in creating characters that are complex and interesting — not just smart.
The concluding paragraph wraps up key ideas nicely and uses specific word choices (such as “marveled at like zoo animals” and “defining characteristics”) to create engaging writing.
The Long and Short of It
Short essays are like almost any other type of academic essay. You need an introduction, body, and conclusion. You need a clear focus and evidence to support your claims.
(And of course, sometimes you think you can write essays in an hour, but they take a heck of a lot longer to write!)
The big difference between a longer essay and a short essay is just that—the length. Writing a short essay means you need to write concisely in order to pack everything you need to say into a brief paper.
If you’re still struggling with fitting your ideas into a brief piece of writing, here are two more short essay examples:
Looking for a bit of advice on how to make your short essay stand out? Send your paper to a Kibin editor for feedback.
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