An essay is a form of writing that gets information across in an organized way. Informative essays also have a purpose - some are to inform, some are to persuade, some are to argue, some are to analyze, and some are to explain. For the most part, essays fall into one of four categories.
Essays are written with many purposes in mind, but there are four main types of essays: persuasive, expository, analytical, and argumentative.
The goal of a persuasive essay is to convince the reader of something. The writer chooses a point, or thesis, to prove. For young students, this might entail trying to convince someone that chocolate is the best ice cream flavor or that being the oldest kid in the family is the toughest.
Students in high school and college should have a thesis that is much more complex. It may pertain to current events or the best weekend activity for young couples. In the upper levels, various essay styles might overlap. A persuasive essay might contain argumentative elements, while an expository essay might incorporate some personal narrative writing (see Other Types of Essays)
The main point is that the writer should be saying things in a convincing manner. It often helps writers pretend they're talking to a friend, trying to convince them about their point. The language can easily become informal with this style, so the requirements of the professor or teacher should play a role in how the writer edits his/her work.
Expository essays focus on an idea, thought, or theory that the writer is trying to make. Often, these essays are used when reacting to literature. A teacher might assign the topic, ask a student to create their own theory, or give a general topic of bullying, for example, asking the students to create their own response or idea for that topic.
After a thesis is stated, an expository essay should include the writer providing evidence that matches his/her idea. The student should also expand upon their initial claim. If they are stating that Shakespeare's work is inspirational, then examples should be provided for a deeper level of thinking on the topic. This is different from persuasive and argumentative essays, because the writer is not trying to prove or convince the reader of anything. They are simply stating their thoughts.
To be analytical means a person is analyzing, interpreting or trying to logically make sense of something. This is an expository essay amped up to the next level. Instead of saying Shakespeare's inspirational, a student might say that his work alludes to strains in family dynamics. The proof required for a thesis like this should be more in depth, with specific quotes proving that writer's interpretation of Shakespeare's writing.
Analytical essays are often associated with academic essays. A scientist might create a theory regarding a protein in the heart, then write an analysis of that protein. The essay would need to be logical and based in fact. An analytical essay would not have an opinion directly stated, though the writer's theory and interpretations are focused upon.
These essays are similar to persuasive in that they are based on an opinion. However, a persuasive essay can comes across as an advertisement. An argumentative essay is similar to what the debate team in a high school might use to defend their point. These essays are firmer. They do not ask the reader to try a new organic product, they tell the reader that the only obvious option is to buy organic due to their list of reasons on the subject.
These essays must include evidence to support the writer's claim. Depending on the age of the writer, the evidence may vary. For a young elementary student, a thesis might be that chocolate milk should be a choice at lunch. Part of the proof could entail a survey of the kids at school, asking their thoughts on the subject. At a high school or college level, the proof would be more standard and involve citing sources. Books or articles would be used as sources, with quotes included in the writing.
Though expository essays can be a reaction to a piece of literature, some consider literary essays to be their own category. The premise is similar, in that it would be a reaction or theory regarding a literary work. Narratives and personal narratives both require a more informal approach. A narrative is like telling a story, though there should be a thesis or point that is being made during it. A personal narrative would simply mean that the story was about the author.
The style of essay and grade of the writer are a factor here. As a student goes from elementary school up to college, the expectations become greater. Typically, essays in elementary school and sometimes even middle school, follow a cookie cutter template. There is a thesis, supporting details, and a conclusion. The introduction paragraph would state the thesis and supporting details. The second paragraph would discuss the first of the supporting details. It would be more in-depth, with an explanation and example. The remaining supporting details would each have their own paragraph. Then the conclusion would essentially restate the introduction.
Essays at a high school and college level require the student to organize their ideas more independently. Often, students are told to start in one of three ways, then to expand upon in on their own.
These three ways are: "Yes, and...," "Yes, but...," and "No, because..."
If a student agrees with an article, quote or theory, they would use "Yes, and..." to agree, but then build upon it. "Yes, but..." would be if the student agrees somewhat, while having some contradicting thoughts. Finally, if they completely disagree with a theory or quote, they would write a "No, because..." essay.
This format does not always fit the assignment. Another requirement with older students is to incorporate more components.
They should have quotes and cited work
They could also include a counter argument. This would mean that if they were defending the school's grading system, they would use a paragraph to explain that some people feel differently. The writer would then be expected to finish up by stating why this opposing view is incorrect. Essays can also include surveys, charts, statistics, and personal experiences.
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