The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.
Contributors: Jack Baker, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2013-03-10 11:46:44
What is an argumentative essay?
The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.
Please note: Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay. These two genres are similar, but the argumentative essay differs from the expository essay in the amount of pre-writing (invention) and research involved. The argumentative essay is commonly assigned as a capstone or final project in first year writing or advanced composition courses and involves lengthy, detailed research. Expository essays involve less research and are shorter in length. Expository essays are often used for in-class writing exercises or tests, such as the GED or GRE.
Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material. Argumentative assignments may also require empirical research where the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that she/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.
The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following.
- A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.
In the first paragraph of an argument essay, students should set the context by reviewing the topic in a general way. Next the author should explain why the topic is important (exigence) or why readers should care about the issue. Lastly, students should present the thesis statement. It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay.
- Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.
Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. Transitions should wrap up the idea from the previous section and introduce the idea that is to follow in the next section.
- Body paragraphs that include evidential support.
Each paragraph should be limited to the discussion of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. In addition, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph. Some paragraphs will directly support the thesis statement with evidence collected during research. It is also important to explain how and why the evidence supports the thesis (warrant).
However, argumentative essays should also consider and explain differing points of view regarding the topic. Depending on the length of the assignment, students should dedicate one or two paragraphs of an argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic. Rather than explaining how these differing opinions are wrong outright, students should note how opinions that do not align with their thesis might not be well informed or how they might be out of date.
- Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).
The argumentative essay requires well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis. However, students must consider multiple points of view when collecting evidence. As noted in the paragraph above, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not aligning with the thesis. It is unethical to exclude evidence that may not support the thesis. It is not the student’s job to point out how other positions are wrong outright, but rather to explain how other positions may not be well informed or up to date on the topic.
- A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.
It is at this point of the essay that students may begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis. You may also want to include a short discussion of more research that should be completed in light of your work.
A complete argument
Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of World War II and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the argument in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the conflict. Therefore, the argumentative essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument.
The five-paragraph essay
A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of (a) an introductory paragraph (b) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may include discussion of opposing views and (c) a conclusion.
Longer argumentative essays
Complex issues and detailed research call for complex and detailed essays. Argumentative essays discussing a number of research sources or empirical research will most certainly be longer than five paragraphs. Authors may have to discuss the context surrounding the topic, sources of information and their credibility, as well as a number of different opinions on the issue before concluding the essay. Many of these factors will be determined by the assignment.
Writing an argumentative essay is a common task that most high school, college, and higher education students face, whether they know it or not. It is commonly assigned on standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, IELTS, and TOEFL. Regardless of your natural writing talents, following the step by step methodology provided by our writers team will help one produce high-quality content that is a joy to readers eyes!
The first question one may have when approaching this task is: "what is an argumentative essay?" If we take a look at the definition, Using tools such as facts, statistics, and references, the author must create a logically defendable explanation as to why their point of view is the "right one."
A common question students ask is: "what is the difference between argumentative and persuasive essay writing?" Well, while . Therefore, there is a clear distinction between the two types.
Table Of Contents
Argumentative Essay Topics
Just like with all other essay types, there are tons of topics to choose from when writing an argumentative essay. However, it is important to remember that they must be in a debate format. In other words, explain why option A is better than option B, or vice versa.
Here are some good argumentative essay topics to get you started:
- Apple vs. Microsoft: Which software brand is more useful for students?
- Do violent video games have a negative psychological impact on children?
- From a financial perspective, should one invest in cryptocurrencies?
- From an economic standpoint, are electric cars better overall?
- Has society become too reliant on technology?
Interesting Argumentative Essay Topics for High School
As students will begin writing this type of content in school, it is essential to give them easy essay topics so they can get a grasp of the task.
- What is the most important second language to know as a US student?
- Should the minimum driving age be lowered?
- Are standardized tests a fair reflection of students skills?
- Are athletes overpaid for their skills?
- Should high school students be free to choose their classes?
Topics for College
As we transition to the university level, the question asked alongside the complexity of content should increase. With that being said, here are some challenging topics for college students.
- Is there enough evidence to prove that news sources have a biased agenda?
- Would the legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug be economically justifiable?
- Can we constitute Russia as a superpower alongside the USA and China?
- What was the most influential technological advancement in the history of humanity?
- Should we sacrifice some public services for lowered tax brackets?
Creating An Outline
Now that we understand what this type of writing is all about, we can start putting pieces of the argumentative paper outline together. Usually written in the five-paragraph structure, this essay will consist of an introduction, 2-3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Logically, each of those three sections will have a unique structure, so understanding them on an individual level will help ensure a smooth writing process.
We will be using "the internet" as the most significant technological advancement in society as an example
Introduction (3 Parts)
How To Start An Argumentative Essay (Hook Statement): As with most other types of essays, one should attempt to captivate the reader's interest from the very beginning. To do this, create a sentence that stands out from the rest of the text. The goal is to get your audience reaching for that bag of popcorn right after reading the hook!
Background Information: After gathering the audience's attention, the next step is to present any necessary context to narrow the focus. Also, it should ideally transition the train of thought towards the thesis statement.
Thesis Statement:. It is essential to writing a thesis correctly, and this is accomplished through proper phrasing. your primary objective is to defend your idea, so the thesis must DIRECTLY state what your idea is and why it is correct.
Body Paragraphs (4 Steps)
Topic Sentence: Start with a sentence that transitions the focus from the previous paragraph to the current one; it should also introduce the main sub-argument for that particular section.
Claim: After presenting your topic sentence, it is time to link your main sub-argument with the thesis statement. The goal is to explain how this point validates and strengthens your central message.
Evidence: After providing a valid claim, you must defend it with factual support. Examples of this can be statistics, references or logical ideas that support ones claim since they are getting information from external sources, adding to the essays overall validity.
Concluding Statement: After presenting a defendable claim and supporting it with evidence, one must end the body paragraph with a concluding statement. In other words, why was this particular point so essential?
Note that this structure works for each body paragraph. The main difference comes with the actual claim, supporting evidence, etc.
Conclusion (3 Steps)
Restate The Thesis: (thesis statement). Using assertive language, restate your thesis in an "I have 100% proven this point" type of way. When information is presented to an audience with confidence, they are subconsciously more inclined to believe that it is in fact, true.
Brief Summarization of Sub Arguments: Most likely, the audience has already forgotten some of the information you presented. For this reason, go back through and review your main points, giving your argument closure.
Overall Concluding Statement: To end an argumentative essay with a bang, . Usually, this sentence will express the universal importance of the information and should leave the reader with a call to action for further investigation.
The Writing Process
When it comes to sitting down and writing an argumentative essay, the author has four primary objectives:
Brainstorm + Topic Selection: Obviously, before one can start putting pen to paper, they have to figure out what they will be writing about. Unless one has been given a predetermined topic, they will usually have freedom of choice. ; doing so will naturally give the author more enthusiasm and motivation to do a good job.
Research, Research, Research: Even if you are savvy in the field of choice, there is a bundle of information out there that is unknown to you. of a topic and what avenue you will approach.
Writing A Rough Draft: Now that you have a thesis and valid external information, you can start putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard.) Follow the outline laid out above for guaranteed success and keep in mind the following things:
- Writing a Final Draft: After finishing your rough draft, take some time away from the essay. Let your brain recover and come back to it the next day (or a few hours later, depending on how bad of a procrastinator you are) with a fresh perspective. More likely than not, you will see flaws in grammar, vocabulary, and logic. Make those final amendments and read your essay out loud for a final polish. If it sounds good, then looks like you are finished!
Tips For Success
Reason Trumps Emotion: Since we are writing an argumentative essay, it is crucially important to remember that we must fixate our points towards rational reasoning. Save the emotions for someone who cares!
Include Counter Arguments: Many writers forget this step, and this definitely harms their rate of success. A supported argument without a considered counter argument has reached half of its potential. Make sure to explain why your case carries more weight than the other!
Get outside peer editing: Just because your points make sense to you, doesn't mean that the readers will automatically understand your reasoning. Get some peer editing from a friend who can validate the logic behind your argument!
Argumentative Essay Examples
Down below you can find some good argumentative essay examples. The first essay talks about the value that comes with the freedom of strikes for public workers. The second essay discusses the importance of economic equality in a nation, alongside possible repercussions and potential threats if not met. Both present fantastic arguments that students in need of help can learn from!
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