Argumentative Essay vs Narrative Essay | Everything You Need to Know

Argumentative Essay vs Narrative Essay
Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Content Writer At Gradehacker

Essay writing is one of the most required tasks of college life, and as writing is a developed skill, some people find more difficulties with it. The worst part is that with so many essay types, you need to adapt your writing to each specific set of rules. It’s important to understand how each format works, and the best way to do so is to compare the most common ones: Argumentative Essay vs. Narrative Essay.

If academic writing is not your strong suit, recognizing the purpose of an essay and knowing which rules you need to follow is an excellent start to perfecting your skill.

After all, you can’t approach one the same way as you would with the other. You don’t need to be the most creative writer to make the most persuasive essay, just as a well-developed thesis statement is not required for a narrative paper.

Each type of essay has its own set of requirements, and as a college student trying to improve your writing skills, you need the best tips on how to ace any academic essay.

Here at Gradehacker, we have years of experience helping non-traditional students with their assignments. Ranging from expository essays to narrative and research papers, we know what needs to be done to achieve a perfect piece of writing.

That’s why we are comparing Argumentative Essay vs. Narrative Essay and sharing the best tips for you.

Argumentative Essay vs Narrative Essay

But before we start, let’s clarify what each essay type is.

What is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is an evidence-based piece of writing that aims to inform on a particular topic. It’s a writing exercise where you need to convince the reader about what you are writing. You’ll have to develop a strong thesis statement and cite credible sources that support it. Plus, you also need to include a perspective that opposes your point of view and refute it with strong arguments.

Argumentative essay assignments require extensive research of previously published material on the chosen subject, but some might even require further investigation through observations, surveys, and interviews.

It’s a common assignment that every college student has to face at some point in their academic journey.

What is a Narrative Essay?

A narrative essay is a creative genre of writing in which students have to tell a story.

Generally, students are asked to share personal experiences or create an original story and are encouraged to engage with the reader’s emotions. It’s a more creative exercise where the writer can play with their imagination and tell a story whether they have been through it or not.

Argumentative Essay vs Narrative Essay

It’s clear that both are pretty different types of essays. Since each has a unique writing process, you need to understand how you need to approach them.


Argumentative Essay

As we’ve just stated, argumentative assignments have to persuade the reader into caring about your thesis statement. Besides having a strong opinion developed, it’s important to do extensive research first that backs up your argument.

The more relevant information you find, the more convincing your paper will be!

Narrative Essay

On the contrary, narrative essays are meant to tell a story. You have to develop a compelling narrative where the reader not only understands the flow of the story but also feels connected to the writing.

Here, citing other academic papers is not necessary. The voice and experience of the writer is the only source of information needed.


Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays follow a structure similar to the traditional introduction, body, and conclusion

First, start with an introductory paragraph that provides a general context and introduces the thesis statement. This argument must be explained and validated throughout the content.

Then, body paragraphs with evidence that supports your thesis. It’s good practice to limit one idea per paragraph to explain the information more clearly. Plus, it makes your paper easier to read!

And even though citing sources that back up your point of view is needed, you also need to include perspectives that argue the contrary. Depending on your paper’s length, you should dedicate one, two, or even three paragraphs to discussing different opinions. This way, you can refute their points and strengthen your original argument.

Finally, your last paragraph must be a conclusion where you review the main points and restate your thesis. This final paragraph is what the readers should have in mind after they finish reading, so make sure to readdress your argument with the most relevant evidence.

Narrative Essay

On the other hand, narrative essays have a structure directly related to storytelling.

The first paragraphs introduce your characters and create the setting of the story. The body paragraphs will continue developing the plot until it evolves into the climax, where the central conflict occurs. Lastly, the final paragraphs must be the conclusion, where the narrative comes to an end.

Still, a narrative essay doesn’t have to be strictly divided into this storytelling structure. You need to have in mind that you should always start by setting up the narrative and finish by expressing the main point of your story.

Argumentative Essay vs Narrative Essay

Tone And Language

Argumentative Essay

As argumentative writing is meant to be academic, the tone of your essay must be neutral. Even though the audience is meant to be knowledgeable people, language shouldn’t be too formal or specific. 

You must always think that you are writing to peers in the same field you are studying. Still, if your paper needs to include particular concepts that are limited to your topic, you can provide context by explaining what it is and why it’s so important.

Narrative Essay

Differently, narrative essays might be written for a broader audience. As the purpose of your writing is to evoke emotions, you can play more with the language.

From informal phrases to casual and specific vocabulary, the language style you use will help you shape a better-developed story. Depending on the setting of your story, your tone should reflect the emotions it aims to transmit.

Paper And Paragraph Length

Argumentative Essay

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that your paper’s length will always depend on your class and the professor in charge.

However, as argumentative essays are evidence-based papers that want to inform the reader, they typically range from two to four double-spaced pages.

Depending on your course and assignment type, it can be more. For example, a course’s final essay where you have to prove a clear understanding of the topics discussed in class might require you to write a paper between six to ten double-spaced pages.

Regarding paragraphs length, it’s key that each one has a similar length. This way, you’ll dedicate the same context to each supporting evidence of your thesis.

Narrative Essay

Once again, the length of a narrative essay depends on the class and the professor.

But as these are creative exercises, they tend to be shorter assignments. While, on average, they need to be two or three pages long, some can be up to five pages.

Unlike argumentative essays, paragraphs don’t need to be the same length. Since you need to add to the development of your story, you can constantly change from long paragraphs to short sentences.


Now that you understand the basics of how each essay type works, here are a few tips you can have in mind to improve your writing!

Think of a clear and precise thesis statement

One of the most common problems students face is choosing a solid subject that can lead to a clear thesis statement. In this case, vague and simple topics are not enough, as they cover too much ground.

Try thinking of a research topic that you like and find a more specific subject where you can come up with a persuasive argument.

For example, a vague topic would be: 

  • Mental health care needs to be promoted.

Instead, a focused and more interesting thesis would be:

  • Minority groups like African Americans and Latinos can’t access proper mental health care; hence the US government needs to promote new and better health policies.

See the difference? Not only does it make for a better case that calls the reader to action, but it also gives you a more specific subject to investigate.

Don't be afraid of using too many sources

Many assignments give you a minimum of academic sources to meet. But don’t get limited by that, and always try to look for any piece of information that adds to your case. Even if it’s only a single sentence or a statistic, each piece of evidence makes a difference.

As long as it provides more persuasive arguments, use as many sources as you need!

One idea per paragraph

Don’t fill a paragraph with two or more ideas. Thoroughly develop each topic separately, and find the connection between them so you can transition from one paragraph to the other.

Do not introduce new ideas in the conclusion

Another common mistake is adding information to the conclusion that wasn’t explained before. Only readdress previously mentioned arguments.

Argumentative Essay vs Narrative Essay

Quick Summary

Argumentative Essay
Narrative Essay

Persuade and inform the reader

Touch the reader's emotions

Traditional essay structure

Traditional storytelling structure

Evidence-based content

Content comes from the experience and creativity of the writer

Limited by neutral tone and language

Isn't limited by a specific tone or language

Peer audience

Broader audience

Paragraphs have similar lengths

Paragraphs can have different lengths

Nail Any Essay!

Essay writing is one of the most common college assignments. We know that to make the best essays, you need to fulfill all of their requirements, which can be hard.

Writing is a skill in which you get better with every experience, but in order to successfully nail your academic papers, you need to understand their purpose and structure. By knowing its basics, improving is way easier!

After reading this article, we hope that next time you need to write an argumentative or narrative essay, you know what you need to do to create an outstanding paper!

But if you still feel that writing is not for you and looking for help after this, you can always count on Gradehacker having your back. We have assisted students with all types of essays and have even accompanied them throughout their entire college journey

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