Difference Between Narrative and Argumentative Essay

By: | Updated: Mar-11, 2024
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While being in college, students are facing a wide variety of academic challenges. But, among all of them, essay writing seems to be the toughest. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common types of tasks assigned in college. It takes a while to complete, and it also always has a huge impact on a student’s final grade, which is why it can be such a challenge.

To complicate matters, it is also worth noting that there is more than one type of essay. In fact, there are a few different kinds, and each of them requires a different approach from you.

Given the impact such assignments have on your grades, it is clear that understanding the difference between essay types is crucial for academic success. Of course, you can always come to essayservice.com for professional help and score high grades for your essays. Still, if you want to grasp the difference, keep on reading, and we will tell you about the difference between the two most common essay types – narrative and argumentative.

What Is a Narrative Essay?

Difference Between Narrative and Argumentative Essay

As you can guess from its name, a narrative essay is a piece of writing that narrates something. So, to put it simply, you can think of writing this type of essay as telling a story.

Since narrative essays are used for telling stories, they, unlike the majority of other essays, give students more space for creativity. Such essays can have a personal, anecdotal, or experiential nature. They allow the use of plenty of vivid sensory details, metaphors, and other literary devices that will help the author immerse their readers into the epicenter of the story and help them experience it to the fullest.

Writing a narrative essay requires the writer to create an engaging and well-structured story. Although the structure of a narrative essay differs from that of an argumentative essay, the narrative essay still requires an opening and an ending to express the point of the story (what was learned from the experience or why it made such an impression).

These essays rely usually on past experiences; this is what makes narrative essays more personal and subjective.

Also, one more thing worth noting concerning narrative essays is that they allow authors to elicit emotions in their readers. That is, such essays can and even should evoke certain emotions in the process of reading. They can be sad, funny, moving, or refer to any other emotional response.

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

On the other hand, an argumentative essay is a piece of writing that informs the readers about a specific topic and argues on something. Writing such essays, students are required to do plenty of pre-writing work. They have to investigate the selected topic, collect and evaluate evidence, and define a clear personal position they will support in their essays.

The argumentative essay is also based on evidence, and it’s necessary to create a strong thesis statement for this type of essay. The goal is to write a clear thesis demonstrating your stance on the topic. Then the essay must persuade the reader to see your side of the issue. This is the most common type of college essay.

The argumentative essay is divided into different sections:

  • Introduction (opens your topic to the reader and includes the thesis statement)
  • Body (presents your evidence & arguments)
  • Conclusion (summary of the argument and emphasizes its importance)

Argumentative essays rely on logic and evidence to persuade the reader to accept the thesis.

In the essay itself, the authors will be providing the gathered evidence and establishing their position on the topic. Such essays are much less creative than narrative ones. And they are often harder to cope with.

Narrative vs. Argumentative Essay: What’s the Difference?

Now that you know the definitions of narrative and argumentative essays, let’s look at the five core distinctive features between them.

1. Purpose

First and foremost, the most significant difference between an argumentative and a narrative essay is the purpose of why you are writing each. As mentioned earlier, narrative essays tell a story, whereas argumentative ones inform and argue on a topic.

2. Structure

Another distinctive feature is the structure used in each type of these two essays. In general terms, the structure is pretty standard and consists of an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. But, if you look closer at the elements used in every part of the structure, you will see how different these two essay types are.

A narrative essay gets straight to the story from the very first sentence. An introduction typically familiarizes readers with characters and creates a setting for the story. Body paragraphs evolve the plot and, typically, indicate the main conflict. And a conclusion typically shares the culmination of the story.

In an argumentative essay, students use the first paragraph to introduce the topic and the thesis statement. Then each body paragraph shares specific evidence relevant to the topic. And the conclusion wraps up all pieces of evidence and makes the final statement that aligns with the essay’s thesis.

3. Tone of Voice

Narrative essays can evoke emotions and entertain readers, which is why they can use a casual and unconventional tone of voice. Depending on the emotional background of the story, the author’s voice can be positive, negative, joyful, etc. Moreover, in such essays, every paragraph can have a different tone.

Argumentative essays have to adhere to a neutral, academic tone of voice.

4. Point of View

As a rule, argumentative essays are impersonal and, thus, rarely can be written in the first person. Instead, they have to be written in the third person for the sake of retaining an academic tone of voice and objectivity. Narrative essays, on the other hand, can be personal, so you can write them in the first person.

5. Paragraph Length

One more difference is the paragraph length. In an argumentative essay, your paragraphs should be about the same length as each has to represent separate evidence. However, the length of paragraphs in a narrative essay can vary significantly – it can be a long paragraph or even a single line. It all depends on the author’s style and the flow of the story.

To Sum Up

The writing process for narrative and argumentative essays also varies. For instance, narrative essays make it necessary for a writer to choose something that happened to them in real life. The body of the narrative is written in chronological order. The essay may also include sensory details that are quite vivid.

On the other hand, the argumentative essay starts with an attention-grabbing statement in the introduction section. From there, the body of the essay deals with presenting evidence and writing persuasive content that brings the reader to accept the thesis statement.

Here you have it, these are the key differences narrative and argumentative essays have. As these essays are practically the opposites, it should be easy to remember what each should include. But you also shouldn’t forget that there are more essay types out there.

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