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What Is a Subjective Essay?

by Ashley Walton, studioD

A subjective essay includes your personal perspective and opinion, without the need to seem objective or base your essay on research. Many subjective essays are descriptive, meaning they describe how something looks or feels. These can include essays on lifestyles, backgrounds or attitudes. Other subjective essays take the form of opinion editorials, which try to convince the reader of a particular point of view. Whatever the purpose, good subjective essays have several elements in common.


A good subjective essay will incorporate vivid descriptions. Pepper your writing with figurative language, such as simile, imagery or personification, to make it interesting. Similes compare one thing to another using “like” or “as.” An example is “You’re as beautiful as a summer day.” Imagery means using visual language to describe something, including sensory perceptions. Personification is giving abstract human qualities to inanimate objects. An example is when Keats says a Grecian urn is “a sylvan historian.” Descriptive language will pull in your readers and help them empathize with your essay’s points.


In contrast to an objective essay, a subjective essay should brim with opinion. Instead of trying to remain an objective outsider, you should include your personal opinion, experiences and reasons. An opinion editorial is a common type of subjective essay, wherein you try to convince the reader of your point of view, whether you are reviewing the latest film or explaining why you think the legal drinking age should be changed. Opinion editorials often discuss political, community and local issues that directly affect you as a citizen.


A subjective essay should highlight your voice and tone. With many academic papers, such as a rhetorical essay or a research paper, you want to keep a neutral and formal tone. In contrast, with a subjective essay, you want your personality to shine through in your writing. Don’t be afraid to share personal anecdotes or use more conversational language than you would in a research paper. Your voice can be a valuable asset, endearing yourself to the reader and making your essay interesting to read.


The secret to any good essay is cohesion, or a good flow. You want your essay to make logical sense as it flows from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph. Use topic sentences introducing the point of each paragraph, and use transition phrases between sentences to transition from idea to idea. Just because a subjective essay is less stylistically strict than other types of academic papers does not mean it should lack substance. Your overall paper should have a point that it’s trying to prove, and each paragraph should work to prove that point.

About the Author

Ashley Walton holds a master's degree in English and has taught various courses at Brigham Young University, including rhetoric in new media and transatlantic literature. She has worked as an online copywriter for the last five years, and has eight years of copy editing experience.

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