Essays - Classification
Many essays do not readily fit into special categories. Essays are usually
classified according to content and style. What the author says in the
essay is the content. How the author presents his material, or the
manner in which he says it, is the style of the essay.
Under the heading of content, essays may be classified as either
informational or personal. The informational or expository essay is
written to provide information or to give instruction.
Most of the essays written in school or read in newspapers or
magazines are informational. The tone of an informational essay is
generally serious; subject matter rather than the per. sonal viewpoint of
the author is stressed. Although it is the subject matter that is stressed,
often the personality of the author shines through the facts. The author
may entertain while he instructs.
In the personal essay the author's intent is to entertain. He may write
on any subject that appeals to him. The subject of the essay is of less
importance than the mood of the writer; he may be serious, amusing,
satirical, reflective or chatty. He must never be dull. The personal essay
reveals more about the author than does the expository essay.
Essays are always classified according to style as well as content. They
are either formal or informal. In a formal essay the language is formal
and often bookish. The author presents his material without personal
information or anecdotes. He does not resort to familiar expressions
(slang). Generally expository or informational essays are formal in style
and are longer, logically and impersonally presented. Personal essays
are often informal in style. The informal essay is friendly and chatty.
Language is correctly used but the writer may use familiar or colloquial
expressions (slang). Colour will be added to an essay by using personal
experience, anecdotes and personal pronouns (I. you, we, our).
"Children are Monsters" is an informal personal essay.
What, according to the author, is one objective that all children
have as they come out to play? How do they react when the
attain this objective?
How does the author show that children are natural born
How does the author show that mothers understand little
children and are not too perturbed about the tales they tell? Give
an example to illustrate this.
It do you think the author's purpose in writing this essay? Did he
wish to entertain the reader,or to inform him, and warm him to
beware of little children?
Do you really believe that the author really regards the little
children as monsters? Is R.T. Allen serious or is he writing
tongue in cheek? Is he exaggerating? State your opinion and
support your view.
"The Importance of Loafing" is a formal expository essay".
According to Lin Yutang , when do the Chinese feel that a man
possesses culture? When is he truly wise?
In saying that efficiency is one of the three great vices of
America, is Lin Yutang condemning efficiency? What is his quarrel
Why does Lin Yutang say that the Chinese newspaper editor is
wiser than the American editor?
How does Lin Yutang explain that the Chinese really are punctual,
even though they do not adhere to the western concept of
What do you think is Lin Yutang's purpose in writing " The
Importance of Loafing" ? What concepts does he wish to leave
with the reader?
Essays are classified according to content and style.
I. Personal essays
Personal essays are entertaining and written on any subject that meets
the authors need. The subject is often less important than mood and
attitude. It can be reflective, serious, amusing, satirical chatty, but is
never dull. It appears to be, the extension of an interesting
conversation. It reveals much about the author,
II. Expository essays
Expository essays provide information or give instruction.
III. Formal essays
The language is formal and often bookish. There is no personal or
anecdotal information. They generally are expository in nature and as a
result do not contain slang, colloqual or familiar language. The formal
essay is generally longer than the informal essay.
IV. Informal or familiar essays
These types of essays are friendly or chatty. The standard of English
used is correct but slang or colloqualisms are used. Personal experience
is drawn upon and personal pronouns are used ie. I you he,... This type
of essay is generally fairly short.
1. This is a composition which tries to make clear the meaning of
ideas, terms, facts, problems, situations, processes and opinions.
2. It is an explanation.
3. Its purpose is to increase knowledge, give information and solve
Three Types of Writing
a) description - It answers questions such as: What does it look like?
smell like? feel like? taste like? (ex.) How a football
game looked as it was played.
b) narrative - It answers questions such as: What is it? How is it
made? How does it work? What are it's parts? (ex.) It
gives an account of the game or what happened.
NOTE: Both a) and b) appeal to senses and emotions.
c) exposition - It explains the principles of football so the reader could
understand the game. (ex.) lectures, reports,
newspapers, and book reviews.
Paragraph - Expository
It is a unit of composition which develops adequately a single idea or
topic. In a composition therefore, it is a paragraph whose meaning is
distinct by itself, isolated and independant. It does not give a full
discussion of the topic but develops one idea. Related or chain
paragraphs develop and present one idea throughout. It is part of a
larger composition. It develops one idea in the relationships between
preceeding and following paragraphs. Every paragraph must have unity,
coherence a oneness and must be related. The order of sentence
(continuity) is arranged in logical order and has smooth transitions. The
most important ideas are given precedence.
The topic sentence tells the reader what the paragraph is about and it
usually appears at the beginning of the paragraph.
Paragraphs in an essay must be connected by transitional expressions
joining what has gone on before and what comes after. (ex.) next, also,
however, furthermore, thus, therefore... (pg. 289 English Grammar and
Composition) The longer composition develops one topic. A larger idea is
presented with the result that each paragraph develops one phase of
the entire idea.
Exposition is a term used for a composition which tries to make clear the
meaning of terms, ideas, facts, problems, processes,, situations, and
opinions. Since the main purpose of exposition is to make things clear ...
information must be set out in a clear, orderly and readable manner.
While description tries to appeal to the readers imagination, exposition
appeals to the readers intellect. Narrative and description both appeal
to the readers senses and emotions. A description of a particular
football game would tell you about how it looked as it was played. A
narrative of the same game would tell you about what happens, while
an exposition would tell you how to play the game. description answers
the questions: What does it look like? smell like? feel like? taste like?
Exposition answers the questions: What is it? How is it made? How
does it work? What are its parts? and Why was it made? Narration
answers the questions: What happened? when?