What is an Argumentative Essay?
An argumentative essay is a paper that gets the reader to recognize author’s side of the argument as valid. The purpose of this specific essay is to pose a question and answer it with compelling evidence. At its core, the argumentative essay works to champion a specific viewpoint. The key, however, is that the topic of the argumentative essay has multiple sides, which can be explained, weighed, and judged by relevant sources.
This essay often explores common questions associated with any type of argument including:
- What caused this particular issue?
- Who does this issue affect?
- What are the potential outcomes?
- What should people know about this issue?
Argumentative VS Persuasive Essay
It’s important not to confuse argumentative essay with a persuasive essay – while they both seem to follow the same goal, their methods are slightly different. While the persuasive essay is here to convince the reader (to pick your side), the argumentative essay is here to present the information that supports the claim. In simple words, the argumentative essay explains why author picked this side of the argument, and persuasive essay does it best to persuade the reader to agree with your point of view.
Now that we got this straight, let’s get right to our topic – how to write an argumentative essay. As you can easily recognize, it all starts with a proper argument. First, let’s define the types of the argument available and strategies that you can follow.
Types of Argument
When delving into the types of argument, the vocabulary suddenly becomes quite “lawyerish”; and that makes sense since lawyers stake their whole livelihood on their ability to win arguments. So step into your lawyer shoes, and learn about the five kinds of arguments that you could explore in an argumentative paper:
- Claims of cause and effect
This paper focuses on answering what caused the issue(s), and what the resulting effects have been.
This paper explores a controversial interpretation of a particular definition; the paper delves into what the world really means and how it could be interpreted in different ways.
This argumentative essay examines whether a particular fact is accurate; it often looks at several sources reporting a fact and examines their veracity.
This is a favorite argumentative essay in government and sociology classes; this paper explores a particular policy, who it affects, and what (if anything) should be done about it.
This essay identifies a particular value or belief and then examines how and why it is important to a particular cohort or a larger, general population.
The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress. Joseph Joubert
When mulling over how to approach your argumentative essay, you should be aware that three main argument strategies exist regarding how exactly to argue an issue: classical, Rogerian, Toulmin.
This argument structure dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. In this strategy, the arguer introduces the issue, provides context, clearly states their claim, provides key arguments backed by lots of evidence, and nullifies opposing arguments with valid data.
Hate conflict? This may be the argumentative essay strategy for you. At its core, this strategy works to identify compromise aspects for both sides; this approach works to find commonality and an ultimate agreement between two sides rather than proclaiming a winner or loser. The focus in this argument in compromise and respect of all sides.
Remember Spock? This is his type of strategy; the Toulmin approach focuses solely on logic to persuade the audience. It is heavy on data and often relies on qualifies to narrow the focus of a claim to strengthen the writer’s stance. This approach also tends to rely on exceptions, which clearly set limits on the parameters of an argument, thus making a particular stance easier to agree with.
With that in mind, we can now organize our argument into the essay structure.
Organizing the Argumentative Essay Outline
An argumentative essay follows the typical essay format: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. However, the body paragraphs are structured a bit differently from other body paragraphs. Surely, not something you can see in a cause and effect essay outline.
While the introduction should still begin with an attention getter sentence that grabs the reader’s interest and compels him or her to continue reading and provides key background information, the following paragraphs focus on specific aspects of the argument.
Let’s begin with the introduction.
As its name suggests, this paragraph provides all the background information necessary for a reader unfamiliar with the topic to understand what it’s about. A solid introduction should:
- Begin with a descriptive title that communicates your position regarding the topic
- Use an attention getter to grab the audience’s interest
- Rhetorical question
- Personal anecdote
- Provide necessary background, including definitions of any relevant words
- End with a thesis statement that communicates your position
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Body paragraphs can range in size from six to fifteen or more sentences. The goal of these paragraphs is to support the thesis statement. Recommended areas of focus for the body paragraphs within an argumentative essay include:
- Identifying and explaining the problem
- Identifying the two (or more) sides to the problem
- Exploring the side the writer believes is more appropriate than the others
- Shooting down the other sides, with evidence
- Recommending a course of action for the reader to take
One major way an argumentative essay differs from other kinds is its specific nature. At the end of reading such an essay, the audience should clearly understand an issue or controversy and have enough information to make an informed decision regarding the issue. But what makes an audience make an informed decision? Several things!
- Authoritative sources (experts in their field)
- Real-world examples
- Attributable anecdotes
In this paragraph, often the shortest of all the paragraphs, the writer reviews his or her most compelling reasons for taking a particular stance on an issue. The persuasion should be strong here, and the writer should use combative language including examples such as:
- “,then” statements
- There can be no doubt
- Without immediate action
- Research strongly supports
In an argumentative essay, it is also appropriate to refute opposition in the conclusion. By stating the objections readers could have, and show why they should be dismissed; the conclusion resonates more strongly with the reader.
Argumentative Essay Sample
Be sure to check the sample essay, completed by our writers. Use it as an example to write your own argumentative essay. Link: Argumentative essay on white rappers’ moral rights to perform.
Remember: the key to winning any argument should be reliable sources — the better, the more trustworthy your sources, the more likely the audience will be to consider a viewpoint alternative to their own. And while you may feel a deep passion towards a particular topic, keep in mind that emotions can be messy; an argumentative essay should present all sides to the argument respectfully and with a clear intention to portray each fairly. Let the data, statistics, and facts speak loudly and clearly for themselves. And don’t forget to use opinionated language — using such diction is a must in any strong argumentative essay!
Question/Answer format: To make your topic idea into a thesis you need to turn the topic idea into a question first. Examples:
- Does divorce cause serious problems for the children? (fact)
- What is "domestic violence?" (definition)
- What are the causes of divorce? (cause)
- How important is it for couples to avoid divorce? (value)
- What can you do to make your marriage divorce-proof? (proposal)
Answer: Your question often can be the title of your paper, or it can be the last line of the introduction. Your answer to this question is your thesis.
Example: The most important way to make your marriage divorce-proof is to make sure you have carefully prepared for that commitment.
Refute Objections: You might want to put an introductory phrase in the first part of your thesis to show that you are refuting other ideas about the answer.
Example: While some people think there is no way to divorce-proof your marriage, studies have shown that there are fewer divorces when people carefully prepare for that commitment.
Roadmap: An additional way to make a strong thesis is to do a "Roadmap" which tells in just a few words the three or more main points you will cover.
Example: While some people think there is no way to divorce-proof your marriage, studies have shown that there are fewer divorces when people carefully prepare for that commitment by taking time to get to know the other person before becoming engaged, spending time with one another's family and friends, talking about hot-button issues like finances, and getting extensive premarital counseling.