The Purpose of an Essay

The Free Cozy Grammar Newsletter with Marie Rackham and Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma

In the Basic Cozy Essay Course, Marie distinguishes between the format of an essay and the purpose of an essay.

The format of an essay is the technique of the essay, the simple building blocks with which it is made. In her course, Marie teaches a simple but powerful technique that can be use to write all sorts of essays. (If you missed our newsletter about the secret of a basic essay format, take a peek here!)

The purpose, on the other hand, is the reason why any particular essay is being written. This reason might be to make a point, tell a story, review a book, or compare two pieces of literature, for instance.

Each of these purposes leads to a different style of essay, even though the same basic format can be used to write all of them effectively.

In our first free excerpt this month, from the conclusion to the Basic Cozy Essay Course, watch how Marie explains this difference and the different lengths that each style or purpose may have.

Then, after you've had a chance to watch, I'll tell you how you can enter to win a free lifetime subscription to the Basic Cozy Essay Course.

Here's a complete list of the different styles of essays that Marie mentions in her workbook.

Click on each of style or purpose below to see its definition.


The function of the expository or demonstrative essay is to explain, demonstrate, or acquaint your reader with a body of knowledge.


The function of the research essay is to compare the thoughts of published authors with your own thoughts.


The function of the literary or response essay is to adopt a position with regard to the assigned topic, and to illustrate, with examples from the text, how these examples support your opinions.


The function of the persuasive or argumentative essay is to defend one side of an argument, or, in another variation, to present all sides of an argument.


The function of the cause and effect essay is to discuss a condition or situation. It asks the questions why?—the cause—and what is the result?—the effect.


The function of the character analysis essay is to focus on a specific character or characters in literature, in history, or still living.


The function of the compare and contrast essay is to show the differences and/or similarities between two persons, places, things, or ideas.


The function of the definition essay is to define a topic both concretely (by the dictionary) and abstractly (by imagination, imagery, or personal impressions).


The function of the informal essay is mainly for enjoyment. It can be both informative or persuasive but with a casual expression of opinion, observation, or humor.


A personal narrative essay relates a personal experience that has somehow effected a change in the writer.


The function of the review essay is to determine whether a new book or play has achieved something new and significant.


An admissions essay is a personal essay (usually 500 to 1000 words) designed to tell a college or university admissions committee something about you that test scores, and fill-in-the-blank information cannot tell.

In the final section of the workbook for the Basic Cozy Essay Course, we've included a sample essay for each style or purpose, complete with a description of how it uses our basic essay format.

How To Learn More About Writing Essays

As Marie suggests, having a basic essay format can be extraordinarily useful for writing a variety of different styles of essays, each tailored to a different purpose.

In addition to the essays she and I walk our students through in the Basic Cozy Essay Course, I also recommend reading essays from three different writers as a way to continue learning more about this surprisingly powerful form of writing.

I invite you to take a peek before I explain all about our drawing this month.

Win a Lifetime Subscription to the Basic Cozy Essay Course!

If you've seen our past several newsletters, you know that we've recently released the second edition of our Basic Cozy Essay Course. We're thrilled to be able to offer this revised and updated edition for a new generation of students.

It even includes a trip to London to explore the interesting connections between London and essay writing, as well as the ways that J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has inspired many other forms of creativity.

Since November is the month of Thanksgiving, we wanted to show our gratitude to our faithful subscribers by giving away one Lifetime Subscription to the Basic Cozy Essay Course and one 1-Year Subscription to the Basic Cozy Essay Course.

You can enter the contest using the form below. There's no cost to enter, and you can enter the contest in up to six ways. You are particularly welcome and invited to share the contest as many times as you'd like with friends. Each time you do so, you'll earn additional entries.

The deadline for entries is midnight, November 30, 2019.

If you have any questions about the drawing or Cozy Grammar more generally, please feel free to contact us.

We'll do our best to get back to you right away!

Thank You!

Thank you for joining us this month.

We'll look forward to seeing you again soon!

Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma



Marie's Language Consultant
The Cozy Grammar Series of Courses