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How to Write an Argumentative Essay

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What is an argumentative essay?

The purpose of an argumentative essay is to firmly declare a specific position on a particular issue or cause and to provide multiple reasons, backed up by supporting evidence and facts, for why the reader should change their way of thinking or adopt the author’s point of view. We will briefly explain you how to write an argumentative essay step by step.

Now that you have a basic grasp of an argumentative essay definition, it is time to learn how to write an argument paper.

In order to be effective, the argument must meet certain criteria so that it influences the reader. As such, a persuasive topic, a thorough assessment, qualified supporting evidence and convincing language are necessary.

RESEARCHING POTENTIAL TOPICS TO WRITE ABOUT

There is no shortage of worthy topics to argue. Consider the daily news headlines, or even a conversation overheard in a local deli – every day someone somewhere attempts to persuade another person to change their way of thinking and share their point of view.

When exploring potential topics, ask yourself:

  • Why did this happen?
  • Is this important?
  • How should we react?

The best topics for any argument driven paper have, at minimum, two strongly opposing viewpoints.

Having a keen interest in the chosen topic, while important, shouldn’t replace the ability to create a strong argument. Being able to firmly believe in something is one thing, but explaining why that belief is logical and reasonable, without becoming overly emotional, and then backing it up with tangible evidence is an entirely different beast.

When exploring potential subject matter, it may be wise to draft a list of potential points that could be used as evidence in favor of or against the chosen issue.

CONSIDER EACH SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT AND DETERMINE YOUR POSITION

After you’ve picked a topic that you feel passionate about, call upon your list of points for each side of the topic and determine which side you most closely relate to. One of the most crucial elements of an argument essay is to ponder and present both sides of the issue and undertake a thorough assessment of each.

Regardless of which position you take, it is important to consider educated arguments for the opposite positions so that you are able to clearly persuade them to see the validity of your argument.

COMPILE SUPPORTING MATERIAL AND EVIDENCE

Since written arguments, unlike in-person conversations, lack emotion and the ability to read body language, it is necessary to provide sound proof to support a particular claim by relying on the facts and available evidence. When assessing each side of the argument, consider the five most common questions addressed in argument claims:

  1. FACT: Is the statement factual?
  2. DEFINITION: What does the claim really mean?
  3. CAUSE: How valuable is it?
  4. VALUE: What is the cause of issue? What happens?
  5. PROPOSITION: What should be done about it?

WRITE THE ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY

Now that you’ve established a strong outline, you can begin to create your argumentative essay structure. Much like all other types of essays, argumentative essay format should consist of three main parts: The introductory paragraph, the body, and the closing statement. The length of each paragraph will vary depending on the overall length of the assignment, however, five to seven sentences (unless there are a lot of in-depth facts and figures) is a rational starting point.

Argumentative Essay Introduction

Similar to every other type of essay, the very first paragraph of an argumentative research paper should contain an opening statement (or a short explanation of the topic), key pieces of background information, and a solid thesis statement.  In this specific instance, the thesis statement will proclaim where you stand on the matter being argued.

HOW TO DRAFT YOUR THESIS STATEMENT

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In order to write a sound thesis, it is first necessary to consider the topic as a question. This can be done by referring back to the list of questions created when assessing both sides of the argument.

For example, if the author were to take a pro stance for the topic of government subsidized daycares, the questions asked might look like this:

  • Does unaffordable daycare cause serious problems for the average family? FACT
  • What is ‘licensed childcare’? DEFINITION
  • What are the effects of unaffordable or unreliable childcare? CAUSE & EFFECT
  • How important is it for families to have access to childcare? VALUE
  • What more can be done to make licensed daycare affordable and accessible for all families? PROPOSITION

More often than not, the question asked also doubles as the title of the argument paper, however, it may also be the concluding line of the introduction. The answer to this questions is what makes up the thesis. Have a look at the argumentative essay introduction example:

Example: The government has an obligation to ensure that all families have access to affordable and reliable childcare. This can be done by offering working parents with income-based subsidies.

It may be constructive to refute possible objections early on. This can be done by using an introductory phrase at the beginning of the thesis statement to indicate that you are refuting opposing views.

Example: While some may argue that licensed childcare is a luxury reserved for the working class and that subsidized childcare would only further tax an already overburdened social service system, studies have indicated that inefficient access to affordable childcare hinders a person’s ability to work and causes even more strain on the social service system.

A good argumentative essay clearly presents both sides of the argument. The body and supporting paragraphs should contain fact-based evidence to not only support your position, but also to refute all other positions. Each side of the argument should be explained with a fair amount of detail and the strongest points of the position that you are siding against should be stated for contrast.

Once the opposing side has been explained, clearly state your viewpoint and offer concrete evidence to strengthen your argument as being the most valid.

PROVIDE SUPPORTING EVIDENCE

Call upon the strongest available evidence and use this to back up your claims one at a time. Choose a variety of evidence, such as anecdotal stories, research studies or statistics. Following the structure of an argumentative essay, the body could be anywhere from a few paragraphs to several hundred pages in length.

Remember to re-state why your position is the most logical.

Argumentative Essay Outline

Argumentative essay structure is relatively direct.  A well thought out and properly executed research paper will:

  • Engage the reader, educate them about a particular issue and entice them to want to learn more.
  • Tactfully explain both viewpoints of the argument.
  • Persuade the reader to view your viewpoint as the most valid.
  • Diplomatically refute any possible objections that the reader might have.
  • Encourage the reader to adopt a new way of thinking.

ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY STEP-BY-STEP

The roadmap below can be used to create a solid outline for an argument essay.

  1. The Introduction: The introductory paragraph not only explains the topic, but it also compares and contrasts both sides of the argument and concludes with the thesis statement. Here are a few helpful tips:
    1. Use the title to deliver your viewpoint. Consider using a question as the title.
    2. Consider your readers – what key parts of the topic would be most attention-grabbing or persuasive for them?
    3. Ensure that your thesis statement is direct and answers the question asked. A good thesis statement will promote your position and should be the final sentence of the introductory paragraph.
  2. The Body: The body paragraphs explain why exactly it is that the reader should adopt your viewpoint and see your thesis as fact. It is crucial that the body refutes all possible objections and has evidence to support the facts.
    1. The Reasons and the Facts
      1. Typically, the body of an argumentative essay will contain no less than three reasons why the author’s position is the most valid. These reasons are known as ‘topic sentences’.
      2. Each topic sentence should be backed up by facts, statistics, sound arguments or other supporting data.
    2. Expect opposition and determine objections
      1. Consider the possible objections that a reader may have and refute them with fact-based evidence.
  3. The Conclusion: The final paragraph should be used to offer a closing statement that persuades the reader to adopt a specific viewpoint.
    1. Why should the reader change their stance and share your point of view?
    2. Consider using anticipated objections when making your closing remarks.

Argumentative Essay Conclusion

The final paragraph, or the closing statement, should effectively restate the initial topic and appeal to the character of the reader. This can be done by:

  • Reviewing the introductory argument and revising it so that it substantiates what will occur should the reader adopt your viewpoint.
  • Persuading the reader to feel differently by providing real-life examples supporting your argument.

In closing, create a single sentence statement that reiterates your opening argument and supports your viewpoint as being the most valid.

Argumentative Essay Examples and Guidelines

  • Stay away from overly emotional language and resist the urge to belittle the opposing views.
  • Understand the differences that exist between a logical conclusion and an emotional viewpoint.
  • Don’t embellish the fact, make up supporting evidence or use unreliable sources for research or evidence.
  • Clearly and properly cite all of your sources, use footnotes if needed.
  • Take the time to make an outline and stick with it.
  • Be prepared to deliver an educated rebuttal to support your position. This means having the foresight to know that most likely arguments for all possible objectives.
  • Read sample argumentative essays to gain stronger insight into what works and what doesn’t.
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Further reading:
  • How to Write an Essay FAST
  • Argumentative Essays
  • How to Write a Synthesis Essay
  • How to Write an Evaluation Essay
  • Some Tips How to Write an Admission Essay
  • A Handy Guide to How to Write a Position Paper
  • How to Write an Informative Essay