Understanding What an Expository Essay Is

Girl in class

David Schaffer/Caiaimage/Getty Images

If you search the Internet for a definition of an expository essay, you might become confused. Some books and websites define them as "how to" essays, while others give a long and confusing definition that seems to include every possible essay type out there.

Expository essays are simply essays that explain something with facts, as opposed to using opinion to inform the reader. Sample styles for expository essays may include:

  • Papers that described how to do something (how to essay).
  • Papers that analyze events, ideas, objects, or written works.
  • Papers that describe a process (step by step essay).
  • Papers that explain/describe a historical event (descriptive essay).

Expository essays are often written in response to a prompt that asks the writer to expose or explain a specific topic. Essay questions on tests are normally written to prompt an essay in this very style, and may look like the following:

  • Explain the events leading up to the Revolutionary War.
  • Explain how to balance a checkbook.
  • Describe the composition and function of a chicken's egg.
  • Explain the process of changing a tire.

An expository essay should have the same basic structure as any typical essay, with an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and a summary or conclusion. The length of your essay can vary, according to context.

The introductory paragraph will contain the thesis sentence, and the topic of the thesis should be grounded in fact.

A concluding essay will provide a summary of your main points and re-statement of your goal or thesis.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Fleming, Grace. "Understanding What an Expository Essay Is." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/what-are-expository-essays-1856992. Fleming, Grace. (2023, April 5). Understanding What an Expository Essay Is. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-expository-essays-1856992 Fleming, Grace. "Understanding What an Expository Essay Is." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-expository-essays-1856992 (accessed June 3, 2023).