What is an essay?

In this entry, we will explain what an essay is, its main types and parts. Knowing this before writing an essay is useful for you to write a good one.

What is an essay?

An essay is a short collection of paragraphs that presents facts, opinions, and ideas about a topic. Topics can range from a description of a visit to the beach to an argument for (or against) tax increases. In other words, an essay does not deal necessarily with complex topics only. You can also build an argument with simple topics you feel familiar with.

What is the length of an essay?

An essay usually has three to ten paragraphs. Each paragraph discusses one idea, often stated in the topic sentence of the paragraph.

Which are the different types of essays?

There are many different ways to write an essay. The writer needs to consider what kind of essay will convey his/her ideas in the clearest and most accurate way. The most common types of essays are narrative, comparison, cause-effect, and argumentative.

Which are the sections of an essay?

Any essay has three basic parts. These are:

  1. Introduction: first paragraph. Particularly, the introduction has specific subsections, namely, the hook, connecting information, and the thesis statement. You can read about these elements in our previous entries, but here you have a summary for you to remember what they are:
    *The opening sentence of any essay is called the hook. A hook in writing is used to “catch” readers’ attention and grab their interest so that they will want to read the essay.
    * The last sentence in the introduction is the thesis statement. It states the main idea of the essay and tells what the organisation of the information will be.

  2. Body: paragraphs between the introduction and the conclusion. The function of the body is to fully develop the argument outlined in the introduction. Each paragraph elaborates on one major point in the development of the overall argument (although some points may consist of a number of sub-points, each of which will need a paragraph).

  3. Conclusion: last paragraph. This should share the same ideas of the introduction. To do so, you can restate, summarise, or give final thoughts related to the main points and ideas developed in the essay. Remember that your conclusion is the final impression you give to your reader, so it is important to provide a strong final paragraph in which you wrap up your text and do not add new information.

As you can see, writing an essay is not so simple. You must follow a structure and keep in mind several aspects to convey your ideas clearly.

If you want to write an essay and practice your writing skills, try out WriteBetter

*Adapted from Folse, K. (2010). Great writing 4: Great Essays.


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