Expository vs Argumentative Essay: What are the Differences?

November 2, 2021

expository vs argumentative essay

One of the most commonly asked questions about essay writing is on the differences and similarity between expository essay vs argumentative essay. 

While they both have some common elements, the two essays have a number of attributes that set them far apart.

That’s what we’re going to look at in this guide. Before we get deeper into the topic, let’s first make sure you understand, in summary, what each type of these essays focus on.

What is the Focus Angle of an Expository Essay?

If asked to write an expository essay, your focus angle will be to explain a subject in a clear and concise manner. Unlike with an argumentative essay, an expository assignment doesn’t have to make an argument.

However, you have to be as objective as possible in your approach to writing, while making sure you present a balance exploration of a topic.

In expository essay writing, students shouldn’t take a position on an issue. Rather, your writing needs to include a set of evidence, facts, and statistics for the entire topic.

More often than not, your instructor will ask you to write this type of essay primarily to test your knowledge and understanding of a given issue, which explains why they are a lot more common in the universities than argumentative essays are.

If you check the prompt of an expository essay, part of the instruction will ask you to classify concepts, compare and contrast a subject, explain how something works, or simply give a clear definition and explanation.

Notice here that you don’t have a room to take a side and therefore you shouldn’t try to convince your audience on anything.

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What is the Focus Angle of an Argumentative Essay?     

The focus of an argumentative essay is to make a claim and give an original argument based on a given subject.

You will have to do a lot of independent research to come up with a claim. Besides making a strong claim in the thesis statement of your argument, you will have to provide objective, statistical, and factual evidence to defend your position.

While the length of an argument writing tends to vary depending on the topic, the essay will be longer than an expository. Your primary goal with this assignment is to try to convince your audience that your side of an issue is the correct one so that they can agree with you even if they initially hadn’t.

When it comes to writing an argumentative essay, the number one mistake you need to avoid is being biased.

Keep in mind that while you have taken a position and you’re willing and able to convince your readers that your position on an issue is the correct one, it doesn’t mean the other side is wrong.

If you make your entire essay look so, you end up portraying yourself as prejudiced and narrow-minded. But this is something you can avoid. You do that by including counterclaims in the persuasion, so you show that you have looked at both sides of an issue before arriving to your conclusion.

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Expository vs Argumentative Essay: What are the Differences?

Now that you know the focus angle of an argumentative and expository essay, it’s time to look at how the two differ from each other. Knowing the difference will enable you to handle each assignment with the right approach.

Expository vs Argumentative Essay: Arguments

An expository essay doesn’t require you to make a value judgment. As such, the essay shouldn’t reflect a personal position on an issue in question. 

On the other hand, an argumentative essay requires that you take a personal position on an issue and then use reasonable evidence and arguments to convince an audience that your stand on a subject is the right one. It’s here that you can even make valuable judgments.

Expository vs Argumentative Essay: Writing

These two essays even differ in terms of writing, so it’s important to know the rules to get the writing concept right.

When it comes to writing an expository essay, the general rule of thumb is that you should use third person pronoun.

Also, you need to analyze an issue in question in-depth and then look at the topic from all the possible angles. In other words, instead of being taking a side, look at the issue from multiple perspective.

It’s different with an argumentative essay. Sometimes your professor may instruct you to use a first person language.

An argumentative essay also requires you to look at an issue in-depth and explore it on multiple perspective. 

However, you eventually do have to take a position which you feel the most appropriate for the subject and then support your stand with reasonable, objective evidence.

Expository vs Argumentative Essay: What are the Similarities?

There are some similarities between argumentative and expository essays that we’d like you to know before you start writing either assignment.

Frist, both essays must have an introduction, which should include a thesis statement, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Make sure that every paragraph covers one primary idea, each starting with a topic sentence and ending with a strong closing link.

Second, your essay should include referencing to back any point that you make in the assignment. You can learn more about sources and citations.

Third, an important rule to observe when writing either essay is to make sure you refrain from using subheadings in the essay. This is something you shouldn’t even do in the first place.

Help With Essay Writing

You now know the difference between an argumentative essay and an expository essay. And you can comfortably write either assignment given that you have all the knowledge and resources to do so.

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About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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