Essay Types: D

Essay Types: D

by Owen Fourie

What is involved in each of these kinds of essays?

(If you are a new reader of this blog, the introduction to this particular category will help you to understand how this post fits into the bigger picture.)


Take into consideration the facts of a topic about people, politics, ideas, science, anything that is currently in the news or relevant to your present studies.

Analyze these facts and take a commonly accepted point as a premise. Example: All men are mortal. This is the commonly accepted point, the assumption, the general rule.

As you research the topic and think about the premise, you come to a new conclusion about the topic. Example: Justin Timberlake is mortal. This is your thesis statement.

Proceed to show how you reached this conclusion–your use of deductive reasoning–and give the evidence you have found to support your conclusion. Example: Justin Timberlake is a man.

Deductive reasoning follows the syllogism of classical logic by which you reason from the general to the particular, showing that your conclusion necessarily follows from your premises:

  • Major premise: All men are mortal. (the assumption or general rule)
  • Minor premise: Justin Timberlake is a man. (the evidence or data derived by research)
  • Conclusion: Therefore, Justin Timberlake is mortal. (the claim deduced from the premises: the general rule and the evidence)

The deductive essay is a test not only of your grasp of a subject but also of your ability to think in a logical manner and to deduce a new conclusion from the available pool of knowledge.

Definition, Explanatory, Expository, Informative

Write about a specific term, idea, viewpoint, situation, event, object, quality, characteristic, or anything that is of interest to you and your readers by defining it, explaining it, expounding its details, and informing your reader.

The terms used for these types of essays can be regarded as synonyms, perhaps with a slight variation in emphasis in some.

These are essays that attempt to explain a particular topic to give the reader a clear grasp of its place, structure, function, meaning, relevance, and value.

Aspects of the subject that are difficult to understand must be clearly explained.

Create a thesis statement. Do the required research. Analyze the subject to its finest detail. Be well informed about the topic.

Write in support of your thesis giving accurate information and fitting examples. Use comparison and contrast, cause and effect, analogies, and anecdotes.

Your objective is simply to inform, not to criticize or persuade.


Create a vivid picture in your reader’s mind by describing something–people, animals, nature, places, objects, an experience–by using the reaction of your own senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste as well as your emotions, intellect, and spirit.

Use comparisons, contrasts, insinuation, allusion, satire, exaggeration, and understatement, besides adjectives that should not be overused.

Steer clear of stating the obvious: Instead of saying today is overcast, focus briefly on a pattern of raindrops beginning to form on the steps and the slow descent of yet another autumn leaf adding to the pile already there. This is both challenging and creative.

Having a focal point to convey a specific theme and message will save the essay from being broad and rambling.

Dissertation or Thesis

Look under Thesis or Dissertation.

DBQ (Document-based Questions)

Read all instructions and guidelines as well as the rubric (to be aware of how the DBQ essay will be graded).

Study the questions. Read, interpret, analyze, and synthesize the content of the supplied documents. Establish a thesis that will answer the questions and not stray from what the questions require. Make an outline.

Write the essay with introduction, body, and conclusion. The essay must present a logical argument that thoroughly supports your thesis with clear evidence from the supplied documents. In your writing, you should incorporate relevant knowledge gained in related fields of study.


What good or bad experiences have you had with any of the kinds of essays mentioned in this post? Under any of the types in this post, are there points about them that you feel are missing and should be included? Do you have any useful insights? What are your particular struggles? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

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