Essays: 3 kinds of essays analysed

Descriptive, Discursive and Argumentative Essays



Aquí vemos los diferentes tipos de ensayos que pueden salir en el examen Trinity ISE: ensayo descriptive, discursivo o argumentativo. Para una mejor visualización hemos creado una tabla comparativa en la que se explican los elementos diferenciadores de cada uno de ellos, se dan consejos de qué elementos estilísticos usar y se ven modelos de respuesta (unos creados por nosotros y otros recopilados del libro del profesor) con la finalidad de poder ilustrar mejor las diferencias en cada redacción.




Essays are usually either neutral or formal in register.


All essays should have a title, introduction, body and conclusion and the ideas should be organised coherently and with cohesion.


Descriptive Essay

Discursive Essay

Argumentative Essay

A descriptive essay gives a vivid, detailed description of something—generally a place, an object or a process, but possibly something more abstract like an emotion.

You would have to provide factual unbiased information. No opinion or debatable arguments are exposed.

In discursive essays you have to ponder and discuss (remember, you should not “argue”, but “discuss”) different points of view.  You must analyse different options from an unbiased (neutral, not subjective) and balanced point of view.

Once you have evaluated the different stances (viewpoints) on the main topic, you should reach a conclusion where you give a solution and a short personal opinion. The opinion should not prevail throughout the whole writing.

In this kind of essay you need to state whether you agree or disagree (or both depending on your arguments) on a statement. Your opinion should prevail throughout and you need to explain and justify your standpoints.

Examples of statements

Examples of Reading into Writing Essay statements (ejemplos de enunciados con los que puedes identificar el tipo de ensayo que se te pide hacer en el Reading into Writing)

Use the information from the four texts to write an essay for a magazine. The topic of your essay is how food industry has transformed our workforce, economy and landscape. Use the information from the four texts to write an essay for a magazine looking at (discussing) ways to solve the fact that food waste worldwide. Use the information from the four texts to write an essay giving your opinion about the following topic: lack of equitability of the global food system.

Examples of Long Writing Essay statements (ejemplos de enunciados con los que puedes identificar el tipo de ensayo que se te pide hacer en el Long Writing)

Write an essay (200–230 words) for a magazine talking on the topic

The evolution of modern jobs’.

Write an essay (200–230 words) discussing and coming up with a solution on the topic

‘How not to get hooked on your phone?’

Write an essay (200–230 words) giving your opinion on the topic

‘When studying the past, it’s more important to know about ordinary people than famous people.

Do you agree?’

Style elements



·         Statistics, figures and data

·         Adverbs –ly

·         Passive voices and plurals as subjects (we believe, etc.)

·         Linkers that provide coherence

·         Evidence-based arguments: having analysed the data it cannot be disputed that, the claim is supported by the lengthy analysis conducted, there is sufficient evidence to make robust claim about.., such claims are reinforced by… etc.

·         Unbiased vocabulary




·         Statistics and data

·         Evidence-based arguments: having analysed the data it cannot be disputed that, the claim is supported by the lengthy analysis conducted, there is sufficient evidence to make robust claim about.., such claims are reinforced by… etc.

·         Appealing to authorities: experts claim that, advocates claim that, first-hand testimonies report that, he most reputable science points in that direction, etc.

·         Passives: it is often believed, it has been argued, etc.

·         Rhetoric questions usually asked at the end of the 1st paragraph

·         Random idioms



·         Linkers that provide coherence

·         Inversiones

·         Rhetoric questions usually asked at the end of the 1st paragraph

·         Opinionated introduction and conclusion

·         Evidence-based argument to support your arguments

·         Adverbs –ly

·         Use of English structures to decorate the composition (no matter, surprising as it seems, etc.)

·         Short and direct arguments

How to start your essays: examples given by Salón de Idiomas

Over recent centuries, developments in the agricultural sector have increased yields and the amount of land cultivated, thus enabling us to keep up with demand. However, during the last century in particular, deforestation, soil exhaustion, water pollution and decreased biodiversity have compromised the environment’s already fragile equilibrium. Jobs in this industry have also witnessed major changes. Hunger is still one of the most urgent development challenges, yet the world is producing more than enough food. According to studies, up to one third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. What is to be done? It is often believed the modern global world we live in stakes for equitability. No matter whether we are in a hectic Street in Shanghai or a village in the jungle of Nicaragua, almost everyone owns a mobile phone. Yet, surprising as it seems, not all may have the same access to food and water. Claiming we live in an equitable world would be false and certainly folly.

(The neutral introduction finishes with a statement that introduces the thread of the arguments to come)




(The introduction ends by raising a rhetorical question which is going to be answered along the following paragraphs from different standpoints. The conclusion will answer the main contention of the arguments coming back to this question)

(The subjective introduction directly contents your standpoint which will be reasoned)



How to start the 1st paragraph

When developing their land, farmers have always taken the geological and meteorological environment into account. However, what was once guided by collective memory and farmers’ common sense is now driven by science and often assisted by technological decision-making tools. Nowadays, computers and smartphones can control everything via sensors placed on the ground, aboard farm vehicles, on drones and in cowsheds, or even attached to livestock. Experts claim food waste is a massive market inefficiency, the kind of which does not persist in other industries. There is no denying in agreeing that the copious amounts of forgotten and disregarded food that are tossed mindlessly are a global travesty of massive proportions.




Firstly, those who strongly believe that we are moving towards a just world, as far from being realistic. The global food system is one example.



(The body starts with a fact and description using passive voices and data. In the exam you can come up with your own data)

(The body starts with a specific standpoint; of the experts, in this case)

(The body starts with an opinionated statement by judging other point of view)

Examples of conclusions

Technology and concerns for production and the environment are set to bring major changes to jobs in the food industry.


Food waste is indeed an environmental, economic, and ethical conundrum, but this issue is nevertheless reversible and steps toward a more sustainable food system can be undertaken locally.


In conclusion, the ability to transform the face of waste food while advocating change within supermarkets, shopping, and cooking lies in the hands of the everyday grocery shopper.


In the cycle of waste, hungry citizens hold the greatest power for they can change not only their own household waste dynamic, but also that of the supermarkets and in turn, their suppliers. Change must come through the voices of the consumers because the squandered food, as I see it, is wasted in their name.


Like most of the people, I am myself guilty of growing dispassionate toward food and apathetic towards food waste, as I thoughtlessly toss food with the privileged belief that more is always readily at my disposal. I therefore must hold myself accountable for waste, re-evaluate my relationship with food, and continue to question the unsustainable and unethical food system that encourages waste, as we all must if we are to feed growing populations and stave off looming environmental disasters.


(Unbiased conclusion that sums up the arguments and gives an alternative. It does not necessarily start with a conjunction like “in conclusion”)

(The conclusion answers the question posed in the introduction and has a short personal conclusion. Throuhout the text the writer refers more to «the people», «citizens», etc.)

(The conclusion shows more subjective statements written in 1st voice and many references to the narrator/writer «I», «myself», etc.)

Example of statements and essays from Trinity ISE III teacher’s book

Descriptive Essay

Discursive Essay

Argumentative Essay

Here you have real statements from the Trinity book where students are asked to write an essay (these statements appear in the Extended Writing exercise)
A lot of people believe the importance of what we say is in the words we use, but it’s not entirely true. Nonverbal communication, apart from being a crucial part of our speech, is probably what determines if the message is properly received or not. Write an essay on the importance of this type of communication and how it affects conversations. Write an essay to discuss how skills that are taught in schools are so different from what is needed in actual life. What aspects of our daily lives should be covered at school? Is it the teachers’ duty?


Technology on the whole, has greatly improved our quality of life. Communication, shopping, working… Most aspects of our lives have changed, and for the better. Do you agree?


Example of essays from Trinity ISE III teacher’s book

Descriptive Essay Discursive Essay Argumentative Essay
We commonly believe that it’s what we say, not what we do that is important. However, nothing seems to be farther from the truth: in fact the exact opposite is the case. Few realize for example, that the content of any conversation is barely relevant to our target audience. In fact it only accounts for 5% of the overall impression formed by others of ourselves, when speaking. Compare these to body language, however, which makes up 55% of that impression and you realize what an important role our gestures and voice play in interaction.

Job candidates often ignore the importance of body language at their peril. Little do most would-be employees realize that their interviewer has often already decided to hire them or not before they’ve even spoken a word! Employers frequently size up candidates within 30 seconds of meeting, based on a candidate’s body language alone.

Whilst this might sound alarming, all is not lost. Organizations now exist that can teach candidates how to use body language to positive effect in business situations, especially when dealing with foreign clientele. Cross-culturally, body language can differ substantially, so learning of these differences is vital to succeed in business as indeed in our social lives, too.

Becoming more aware of our body language is advisable. To ignore the role played by jesters and our intonation is pure ignorance if we want to get on not just in business but in our social lives, too.

According to our forebears, if you want to get on, you need to have a good education. It was taken for granted that the school curriculum based around the Three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic always stood school-children is a good stead for the future. However, many believe that the school curriculum has failed and is continuing to fail countless generations in preparing them for adult life.


Taking a look at surveys conducted with adults, it seems that course subjects such as the Three R’s are indispensable for later life. Whether we need simple geometry skills to work out how much wallpaper we need to cover our room or basic maths to add up a grocery bill, the skills we learned at school are invaluable.


It is a fact, however, that few of us actually use such skills when we grow up. We resort to calculators to perform basic calculations or call in a professional to carry out DIY tasks that involve numerical skills.

Furthermore, as adults, we discovered to our dismay that schools neglected to teach us the very things that we need to know, such as how loans work and basic electrics.

In some ways, therefore, the schools leave us woefully equipped for adult life. Perhaps schools would do better to take a leaf out of the books of alternative schools such as Summerhill and teach real life skills such as communication, empathy and teamwork. Better steel, teach students about work by placing them in work placements where they can learn about real life.

Undoubtedly technology facilitates our everyday lives and can be essential to our very existence. There is no denying in that. However some believe that our lives would be less complicated without modern technology. So who is right?

Certainly, the Advent of advanced technologies has led to more stressful lifestyles today. Technology has increased the pace of Life both in the workplace and in our everyday lives. The invention of faster transport allows us to reach our destination faster, causing us to schedule in more appointments, to fill time freed up by traveling less hours.

Similarly, in the workplace, modern technologies, such as computers, allow us to work faster, leading to increased expectations of what workload can be accomplished in any given time, again leading to stressed out employees. In addition, mobiles and the internet are another source of stress, allowing us to theoretically be on call 24/7 to the outside world.

However it would be folly to dismiss modern technologies on the grounds that they induce stress. The benefit of technology such as improved transport has made our lives easier and richer in many ways. Worldwide destinations, exotic or otherwise can now be reached fairly easily. With regard to scientific technology, many inventions have increased our longevity and quality of life, by effectively tackling previously life threatening illnesses and medical disorders.

It can be seen therefore, that the advantages of technology far outweigh the disadvantages. Technology is also now part and parcel of modern society and has become indispensable to our way of living.

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