Difference Between Narrative and Descriptive Essay

Main Difference – Narrative vs Descriptive Essay

Though there is a difference between narrative and descriptive essay, these two types of essays are often confused to be the same. Both narrative and descriptive essay can be written by any age group, as they do not contain many facts or information. They are usually used in creative writing activities for students. The main difference between narrative and descriptive essay is that a descriptive essay describes a certain person, an object or a scene while a narrative essay narrates a story.

What is a Descriptive Essay

Descriptive essay is a piece of writing that includes lot of descriptions. A descriptive essay can be about a person, a place, an object, or a feeling. In this type of essay, we can describe sensory details (sights, smells, sound, taste, touch). A good descriptive essay writer can describe his subject in such a way that vivid images are created in readers’ mind. Common descriptive essay topics include my pet, my family, my favorite place, my best friend, etc.

Extract from a Descriptive Essay:

difference between narrative and descriptive essay

“My best friend is my own cousin. Her name is Lily Adams and, she is in the same age as me. She is a pretty, tall girl with long black hair. Her deep green eyes like emeralds. Lily is a very talkative girl and she loves to help poor people. She often carries extra food in her bag to give to the poor people she meets on the road……”

What is a Narrative Essay

Narrative Essay is a piece of writing that narrates a story. A narrative essay can describe a writer’s personal experience or an imaginary incident. A good narrative essay writer can make the readers feel that he is writing about a true incident. First point of view is generally used in this type of an essay. A narrative essay also contains a plot, setting, and characters. Some narrative essay writers use dialogues as well. Some examples for narrative essays topics are an unforgettable day, my first day at school, an experience that changed, A day at the beach etc.

Extract from a Narrative Essay:

main difference between descriptive essay and narrative essay

“….As I started to swim in the warm ocean, jumping over waves, I left others behind. I was still wearing my long back skirt which was quite heavy in the water, but my feet was touching the ocean floor, so I was not worried. But at one instant, I felt my feet could not touch the ocean floor anymore and I was  plunged into the water, weighed down by my clothing. Giant  waves kept coming and I was getting sucked into the depths every time they came. I tried to call out to my friends, but no sound came out my mouth……”

How to Write a Narrative Essay

Difference Between Narrative and Descriptive Essay

As described above, the main difference between narrative and descriptive essay is their purpose. A narrative essay is written to narrate a certain incident or experience while a descriptive essay is written in order to describe a person, a thing, or a place. In a narrative essay, first person point of view is generally used and both first and third points of views are used in a descriptive essay. A narrative essay uses a logical, more often a chronological order, but a descriptive essay does not take time factor into account. Another significant difference between narrative and descriptive essay is that a narrative essay has a plot, setting and characters as it tells a story. In addition, a narrative essay can also contain dialogues.

Difference Between Narrative and Descriptive Essay - A Comparison 

Image Courtesy:
“trialsanderrors” by Konen Uehara: Waves, ca. 1910  via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.


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