Essay Types: An Introduction

Essay Types: An Introduction

by Owen Fourie

Why Are There So Many Different Types of Essays?

A student asked me why there are so many different types of essays. She wanted to know, too, how she could find a quick and easy way to understand what is meant by each of the many terms that are used. She also admitted that she found it all so confusing. Perhaps you do too.

Sorting out the confusion

To sort out this confusion, I have created a category in my blog that I call “A Glossary of Essay Types.”

Here I will list many of the different kinds of essays that you will see in your studies. I trust that those that are assigned to you will be covered in this category.

Essays can be written on every subject and every issue in all areas of life. As intricate as life is, there are many ways of regarding those subjects and issues; therefore, it is not really surprising that there can be such a variety of essays.

What can be confusing is that there are many terms that are synonymous, so in some instances we may employ different terms and be speaking of only one kind of essay.

How to use the glossary

In this glossary you will find a description of what each term requires as you write a particular kind of essay. The descriptions range in length from very brief to moderately lengthy depending on the clarification that I have sensed is needed.

If you feel that you need to know more in a particular instance, see if there is a fuller treatment in the category “Different Types of Essays.” If not, simply ask in the comments.

Where there is synonymous usage, this is noted. Despite the synonymity, you do need to be aware that a term may be employed to indicate a particular emphasis that is being required for a specific essay.

You need to consult your instructor to be sure that you are fully acquainted with the precise requirements for each essay. This glossary can help you to discuss these requirements intelligently.

Be mindful too of this truth: Since life is a daily interweaving of many different strands, the essay that is assigned as a particular kind will bear traces of other kinds too. The reaction essay might need to contain elements of description and persuasion. In other words, know what the required emphasis is and go there, but know also that life is a mix.

In the next post, we’ll consider the different categories of writing and the types of essays that fit into those categories.

The glossary itself will be developed in several posts that will be divided into sections of the alphabet:


What is your experience with the many terms used for essays? What experiences have you had being confused by so many different or synonymous terms? Do you have any useful insights? What are your particular struggles? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

Copyright © 2010 by English Essay Writing Tips


  1. So glad you are finding it useful, mithra. Thank you for commenting. There’s more to come.

    • mithra on December 26, 2010 at 02:18

    this is a useful site

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