How to Write an Essay in English: Comprehensive Guide
If you’re a student in high school, college, or university, you need to know how to write different essays. It is a common skill, as teachers and professors frequently ask students to write essays on different topics.
If you’re not sure how to write essays properly, this guide is for you. We will share with you detailed information on how to write an English essay and, what is more important, how to do it much more effectively. So, let’s get started!
What Is Essay? — Definition & Purpose
First, let’s define what an English essay is. It is a formal piece of writing designed to present an idea or point, analyze a concept or specific subject, argue for or against an idea, or persuade a reader of your position.
The purpose of writing essays is to develop students’ writing skills, teach them how to think critically, analyze different works, and defend their position with arguments and evidence. Also, essays help professors and teachers to assess their students’ knowledge of a specific subject. So, writing essays is an effective tool for learning.
Usually, essays’ length is short compared to the length of other types of academic papers. The length also depends on the education level. For instance, a college essay is longer than a high school essay. So, when writing an essay you should take into account the instructions of your professor.
5 Main Types of an Essay
Before we share with you a guide on how to write an essay in English, let’s learn more about different types of essays. Basically, there are five main types of English essays: narrative, argumentative, persuasive, descriptive, and expository essays. You should be familiar with each of these types, as you will definitely encounter them throughout your education process. Down below we will tell you about each type’s peculiarities.
The first type, a narrative essay, is a genre of essay that tells a story, mostly an imaginary one or connected to the author’s personal experience. A narrative essay is one of the informal types of essay. When writing a narrative essay, students are allowed to be creative and don’t follow the common essay structure. This type of essay is also distinguished by key elements of a story: plot, characters, settings, problem, resolution, and others. In a narrative essay, you need to focus on a certain situation and tell about it from the beginning to the end.
The next type, an argumentative essay, requires students to extensively research a certain problem, idea, etc., explore it from different perspectives, and then establish a personal position regarding the question. Usually, topics for argumentative essays are controversial and debatable, so there are multiple points of view on the issue. For example, the death penalty and abortion are some of the most popular topics for argumentative essays.
In writing an argumentative essay, it is critical to explore the topic from different sides. Thus, you will be able not just to defend your position with strong arguments but also to refute supporting points of an opposite opinion.
Persuasive essays are distinctly different from other types, as they require students not just to describe something, to provide arguments for or against an idea, but also to make the readers believe you and accept your point of view. The main purpose is to convince your readers that your arguments are plausible and your position is the right one. Therefore, when writing a persuasive essay, a student should research a topic, establish their position, and develop strong argumentation presenting only the most powerful supporting points and evidence.
Descriptive essays are frequently confused with narrative essays, as they have a similar purpose — to describe an idea, subject, person, concept, etc. But, there are still a few features that distinguish a descriptive essay from a narrative essay.
While a narrative essay tells a story, usually a personal or imaginary one, a descriptive essay simply provides descriptions of something. There is no plot, conflict, dialogue, and other elements of a story. When writing a descriptive essay, you aim to give a reader a better understanding of a certain thing, place, person, etc., not just entertain.
The last type is an expository essay. It is an academic paper that intends to explain something, a certain idea, concept, subject, or problem. In writing expository essays, students should investigate a subject matter, define the key aspects, and present the information in a clear and precise way. Expository essays are always based on facts and should provide only objective, unbiased, and credible information.
How to Organize Your Writing Process: Steps of Essay Writing
If you’re a beginner, it can be difficult for you to understand where to start working on your essay. The whole process can be divided into three stages: preparation, writing, and editing. But, we want to share with you a more detailed guide on how to write an essay in English. By following the steps described down below, you will create an amazing English essay on any topic much easier.
Choose the Type of Essay
The first step is, obviously, to understand what type of essay you need to write. Usually, professors provide this information in the instructions for the assignment. But, sometimes, they can just provide general requirements without specifying the type of English essay.
If you already know the type, you can skip this step and move to the next one. But, if you are not sure what essay you need to write, here are a few questions that will help to figure it out:
- What is the purpose of the essay?
- Should I describe a certain subject or present a personal opinion on a concept, work, or idea?
- Should I convey facts or convince the audience in a certain position?
Take a look at the types of essays we described above and choose which one is more suitable for your assignment.
Choose the Topic
Now, you need to choose a topic for your essay. Your professor can ask you to write a paper on a specific topic, but keep in mind that it is usually expected that students will narrow down the topic to make their essays more specific and comprehensive. So, here are some steps you need to do to find a topic for your essay:
- Explore different aspects of the given topics.
- Take notes on the ideas or aspects you are interested in.
- Define what you want to focus on in your essay and formulate a specific topic.
This step can take a while, as you need to search for information on the general topic, brainstorm your ideas, and finally come up with a narrow topic for your essay. We don’t recommend choosing the first idea that comes to your mind, as it will affect the overall quality of your essay.
Choose the Formatting Style
Another critical thing to consider is the essay writing format. Formatting is all about the appearance of your essay. There are a lot of formatting styles, from the most popular ones like APA and MLA to specific ones designed by universities. For each style, there is a guidebook with detailed guidelines on how you need to format your paper.
Usually, professors require students to format their essays in a specific style. And to make sure you will meet all the requirements, you should ask your professor or teacher what style is preferable. If there are no specific instructions, you can choose how to format your paper on your own. Here are some options for you:
- APA: this style is usually used in medicine, phycology, sociology, and other scientific fields.
- MLA: this style is usually used by artists, theater students, and English majors.
- Chicago: this style is preferable for students studying literature, business, history, and art.
Explore Your Topic
Before writing an essay, you should get a better understanding of the topic. And it is impossible without spending some time exploring the topic and learning more about different aspects of the question.
So, you need to search for more information to look at the question from different perspectives and develop your opinion on it. To make the research process much easier, it is better to keep it organized. Here are a few tips for you:
- Take notes on any information you think will be useful for your essay
- Save resources that you want to refer to in your essay, so you won’t waste time searching for them again.
- Write down all ideas that come to your mind during the research.
Create an Outline
Once you have gathered enough information, it is time to create an outline for your paper. It will help to organize your thoughts and plan how you want to present information throughout your essay. So, how to outline your English essay? Here is a simple guide:
- Define the structure of your paper. Usually, an essay consists of 5 paragraphs: a 1-paragraph introduction, 3 paragraphs for the main body, and a 1-paragraph conclusion. But, follow the requirements from your professor, if there are any.
- Take a look at all your ideas and develop your thesis statement. Any essay should have a central idea that you will develop throughout the paper. The thesis statement is a sentence that summarizes your main point.
- Brainstorm your ideas and find the best points to defend or develop your thesis statement. Depending on the type of essay, you should choose the points you want to present, the arguments for your point of view, and the evidence to back up your argumentation.
- Map out how you will introduce your topic and thesis, develop your thesis in the main body, and conclude all your points in the last paragraph. Take notes on each paragraph.
Write Your Essay
After outlining your essay, it is time to write it. Now, you need to work on each paragraph, clearly present your ideas and logically develop all of them throughout the paragraphs. There is no one way to write an essay, but we want to give you some tips:
- Write body paragraphs before the introduction. It is easier to write a good introduction when you know what your essay is about.
- Pay attention to the concluding paragraph. It is equally important as other parts of an essay, as the conclusion is the last chance to make an impression on your reader.
- Maintain the sentence flow. Make sure all parts of your paper are logically connected.
Keep in mind that your essay won’t be perfect at the beginning. Create an initial draft and then consistently improve each paragraph until you’re satisfied with the result.
Proofread and Edit Your Essay
The last step of essay writing is proofreading and editing. You need carefully read your essay to understand if:
- All points are presented in a logical order.
- There are no spelling, grammatical, and other errors.
- You meet all the requirements of your professor.
It is an important step that ensures your paper is flawless. You can use online spell checkers and other tools to make sure you didn’t miss something. Also, don’t forget to check your paper for plagiarism. Add all necessary alterations and then read your text again. If there are no mistakes, you are ready to submit it!
How to Write an English Essay Introduction?
An introduction is a significant part of any essay, as it helps to grab the attention of the readers, set the mood, and prepare the readers for what you want to talk about. For many students, it is difficult to write an introduction paragraph for an essay, as they don’t know where to start and what information to include. That’s why we want to explain to you how to write essay introduction correctly. Here is a simple structure for an introduction paragraph:
- A hook sentence.
- Short orientation (a few sentences about the topic and background information).
- Thesis statement (your general position regarding the topic or an issue).
- Road map for your essay (in one sentence describe how you will develop your thesis in the body paragraphs).
Keep in mind that the structure above is not suitable for a narrative essay, as this genre of essay is more creative and usually more loosely structured.
How to Write Body Paragraphs?
Body paragraphs are the part where you develop your main points and present supporting ideas. To improve the readability, it is necessary to divide all the text into several paragraphs, focusing on one point in each paragraph. Here is an example of how you can structure each body paragraph:
- Topic sentence.
- A sentence with an argument for your thesis.
- Evidence to back up your point.
- Analysis of how the evidence supports your argument.
- Concluding sentence.
The template above is not suitable for narrative and descriptive essays, as they just tell a story or describe a certain idea, concept, or subject. In this case, you don’t need to convince your readers of your point, so the structure of each body paragraph in a narrative or descriptive essay should be the following:
- Topic sentence.
- A few sentences with background information.
- A few sentences with details and examples.
- Concluding sentence.
Follow this structure to write each paragraph and comprehensively develop your main idea throughout all paragraphs.
How to Write a Conclusion?
A conclusion paragraph is a part that ties together all your paragraphs and shows how all your points are connected and help to defend your position. A poorly written conclusion can ruin your essay and affect the overall impression of your work. So, here are a few points you should know to write a good conclusion and therefore improve your paper:
- Restate your thesis in the first concluding sentence to remind the reader of your main point.
- Briefly summarize all your arguments and show how they all together support your thesis.
- If it’s appropriate, mention some uncovered questions and limitations, or state a question that will make your reader think further about the problem.
Helpful Tips on Writing English Essays
Of course, practicing your skills is the best way to master essay writing. But, there are also a few tricks that will help you create better papers immediately. Here are some essay writing tips that will help to improve your essay:
- Don’t put your essay off for later. Start working on it immediately to make sure you will have enough time for research, writing, and proofreading.
- Keep your thesis statement in mind. It is easy to stray far from the topic, developing your points. But, you need to stay focused on your main question and make sure there is no unnecessary information in your essay.
- Revise your paper, even if you’re sure it is flawless. There is always a chance you made some unintentional mistakes.
- Always follow the instructions of your professor. It is critical to meet the requirements to get a good mark for your essay.
And keep in mind that there is nothing bad in asking for help. If you’re confident in your skills, just ask our expert writer for help!
English Topics for Essay
Don’t know what topic to choose? Don’t worry, we have plenty of ideas for you. Take a look at the essay topics list below to find inspiration for writing an excellent paper. We divided all topics according to the types of essay, so it will be easier to find a good topic.
Narrative Essay Topics
- Describe a situation when you were in danger.
- Tell me about the most impressive concert or other event.
- The time when you felt terrified or alone.
- Tell about a situation when you rescued someone.
- Describe the most memorable day of your life.
- The impact of curiosity on my life.
- The road to my ideal life.
- How did imagination save your life once?
Descriptive Essay Topics
- Factors that impact culture changes.
- How is a person defined by their culture?
- An athlete who inspired my love of sports.
- The world’s most breathtaking location.
- What’s it like to fly an airplane?
- The most significant event in the last 100 years.
- North America’s most picturesque locations.
- How can one improve the reality of our environment?
Argumentative Essay Topics
- Should doctors be permitted, at the parent’s demand, to genetically modify fetuses?
- Should people use cell phones while driving?
- Will unpaid internships be prohibited by law?
- Should it be prohibited to smoke in public?
- Do teenagers who participate in sports suffer academically?
- Are remote employees more productive?
- Should capital punishment be prohibited?
- Do social demonstrations have any impact?
Persuasive Essay Topics
- Which school regulation should be altered?
- Should sugary beverages be prohibited in schools?
- Why do you get a pet from a shelter?
- Do team sports have an advantage over individual sports?
- What is the greatest novel that has ever been published?
- Are modern teens ruder than previous generations?
- Should children have the same rights as adults?
- Are exams the most effective approach to determining the knowledge of students?
Expository Essay Topics
- Explain the positive impact of social media on society.
- Describe the impact having a sibling has on you as a person.
- Is it necessary to read the book before seeing the film?
- Disadvantages of working while still in high school.
- How does music affect our emotional state?
- Review the phases of identity formation.
- Why is it crucial today to have a basic understanding of information technologies?
- Explain the long-term impacts of global warming on our planet.
We hope the information below will help you to create high-quality essays without stress. Just follow our guide and don’t forget to check the specific requirements provided by your professor.
But, if you’re not sure about your writing skills or don’t have enough time right now to write an assignment on your own, don’t be afraid of asking for help. Specialists in our essay writing service are always ready to consult you and help with writing papers on any topic. So, don’t hesitate and contact us to get professional assistance!