Glossary of Essay Terms

To write a brilliant paper in English, you need to understand clearly of what the essay question supposes you to do. Mastery of academic terminology is the first crucial step for essay writing. This vocabulary provides detailed definitions of typical terms you may come across throughout your academic career. Please mind that professors might have other objectives and explanations than the ones presented below.

Essay Dictionary: Types of Essay

Regardless of their academic level, writing experience, and knowledge of English, students are regularly worn out by the requests to prepare various types of essay on a particular topic. Being versed in the characteristics and features of essay types that set them apart is the prerequisite to submitting a flawless writing piece. Here is a quick online definition guide to sort it all out.

  • 5-paragraph essay – the classic format of essays, typically having five paragraphs: one introductory part, three main body paragraphs with support and development, and one concluding part.
  • Admission essay – the paper you are to present when applying to a certain educational institution to prove the admission officers you are the worthy candidate and deserve to study there. It usually includes personal statements, information about your personality, interests, achievements and further plans.
  • Argumentative essay – the genre of writing that aims to establish a particular point and persuade the reader that it is correct. It does not solely provide statements but also proves them with logical facts and arguments.
  • Cause and effect essay – the type of essay that defines and demonstrates the logical parallels between causes and their results. It is a common method of discussing and organizing ideas.
  • Classification essay – the kind of academic writing aimed to organize things (ideas, concepts, objects, events, etc.) into several categories and classify them. It is designed to test student’s skills of generalization and categorizing.
  • Comparison/contrast essay – the essay that critically analyzes any two things (objects, concepts, ideas, etc.), finds and points out their differences and similarities.
  • Critical essay – the analysis of something (a movie, a book, an article, a piece of art, etc.) that includes the author’s statements on whether he/she agrees with it.
  • Deductive essay – the popular way to evaluate student’s knowledge of the subject matter. In such an essay, the author draws a certain conclusion reasoning on a set of given circumstances (premises).
  • Definition essay – the short piece of writing on a particular subject explaining what this concept means. Though the concept might be very abstract, the essay is to be well-researched and supported by evidence.
  • Exploratory essay – the short paper in which the writer examines the issue and strives to come to a conclusion without an attempt to prove or disprove the thesis.
  • Expository essay – the genre of writing which illustrates another person’s point of view or explains an event or ideas in the way understandable to readers.
  • Informal essay – the piece of the more personal manner of writing aimed to amuse the reader organize thoughts or reflect on readings. Nevertheless, you should still mind its organization.
  • Literature essay – the academic assignment that evaluates a piece of text (article, short story, novel, etc.). Usually, it reflects on the main idea and provides linguistic or some other analysis.
  • Narrative essay – the type of essay that tells readers a story (personal, experiential, anecdotal) in a creative and moving way.
  • Personal essay – the short work of autobiographical nonfiction that describes the personality of the author, showcases his/her life experience, explains positive traits and shortcomings. In most cases, it is written to be presented to the admissions officers.
  • Persuasive essay – the essay that aims to convince the reader about a particular idea using logical reasoning, facts, argumentation, statistics, etc.
  • Research essay – the common writing assignment in the course of which the reader proves some concept or idea. It involves researching information and synthesizing it with your own point of view.
  • Response essay – the type of essay which expresses the author’s reaction to something (it can be a show, a movie, a fashion trend, but most often it is a piece of writing).
  • Scholarship essay – the essay written to prove to the admission committee that the author deserves receiving the scholarship. It provides a sense of who the author is, why he/she is interested in the scholarship, what his/her achievements in the field are.

Useful Essay Terminology

Whether it be an essay of a few sentences in English or a take-home paper, vocabulary used in the college examinations is rather repetitive for various subject-matters and disciplines. Thus, it’s advisable to learn the essay writing terminology to have a deep understanding of rhetorical strategies and academic expectations.

  • Brainstorming – the group-solving technique aimed to generate creative ideas on the topic and writing points prior to producing an essay.
  • Literature research – the process of studying the literature before writing an essay in order to gather the required information as well as a factual and statistical backup for ideas.
  • Statement – the declarative phrase expressing the main point of the essay.
  • Outline – the general description or plan composed before writing an essay.
  • Proofreading – the act of finding and correcting misprints, grammar mistakes, plain errors and omissions before the final copy is submitted or printed.
  • MLA style – the style of formatting accepted by the Modern Language Association that deals with the manner of providing bibliography list and citing sources. Generally, it is used in humanities.
  • APA style -the style of formatting by the American Psychological Association that defines the organization of citing sources, the bibliography list as well as formatting of the general It is most commonly used within social sciences.
  • Chicago/Turabian style – one of the commonly used styles of formatting, that mainly deals with the citation sources. It is also called humanities or documentary-note
  • ASA style – a widely accepted formatting style that specifies the arrangement of footnotes and bibliographies. It is provided by the American Sociological Association and mainly used in sociology.
  • Harvard style – the style of formatting citation within which partial citations should be embedded in the general text and arrange in round brackets.
  • Bluebook style – one of the widely used citation systems within the community of law researchers.
  • Vancouver style – the manner of formatting references when writing academic papers that is most commonly spread within physical sciences, for example, medicine.
  • Stylistics – the branch of linguistics that study the styles, application of stylistic devices and the manner they are used in different types of academic writing.
  • Grammar – the set of language rules consisting, in general, of morphology, syntax, semantics, and
  • Punctuation – the set of rules defining the usage of symbols like full stops, commas, colons, and so on in the text.
  • Vocabulary – the body of words used in a particular language or writing style.
  • Writer’s block – the condition, generally associated with writing when a person is unable to think on what to write or produce creative writing.
  • Plagiarism – the practice of taking someone else’s idea, text, a piece of writing and passing them as if they were your own.
  • Motivation – the reason, set of reasons or feeling making the person behave in some way or do something.