Expository vs. Argumentative Essays


The expository and argumentative essays are two variations on the typical basic essay structure described here. Some assignments (e.g. reviews, research reports) can involve sections of expository and argumentative text, so you will need to adapt these conventions to suit your purposes.


Expository Essay

Exposition is a type of discourse used to explain, describe or inform. In an expository essay, the purpose is to give the reader a balanced account of a subject, with a neutral, objective tone. The structure typically includes:


    Lead the reader into the topic and state the overall point/purpose of your essay 

    Main body:

    Divide the main topic of your essay down into sub-points. These points can involve describing, explaining, comparing, or classifying, depending on the purpose of your paper.


    As with any essay conclusion, the aim is to briefly remind the reader of your overall point, possibly suggest wider implications, and give the essay a satifying sense of closure

 Argumentative Essay

The purpose of an argumentative essay is to convince the reader of the validity of your point of view. Although your essay should still appeal to the reader's logic rather than emotion, you should clearly state an opinion rather than appearing neutral. The structure typically includes:


Lead the reader into the topic, the controversy or debate surrounding that topic, and clearly state your position.


        Begin by making points that support your overall position.

Then present and refute opposing arguments. Try to distance your own voice in the text from the opposing argument (e.g. It has been claimed that..., Several writers have argued that..., However,...).

Note that you can also refute possible opposing arguments after each supporting argument. Use whichever structure seems clearest.


This is your final chance to convince the reader. Do not introduce new arguments here, but rather restate your overall position clearly and briefly explain how you have demonstrated its validity.