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.
As you may already know, an argumentative essay is a writing genre where the student establishes a position on a given or chosen topic and then uses evidence to persuade the audience to see things from his/her point of view. To write a great argumentative essay the students first have to investigate several sides of the argument, which allows them to make an educated stance. Then, they have to collect evidence, including facts, statistics, and claims from experts in the topic’s field.
Generally, the primary objective of writing an argumentative essay is to learn how to convince people to change their mind about things which many of them are pretty firm about.
What Makes a Good Argumentative Essay Topic?
When you are asked to choose a good topic for your argument, start with something you are familiar with. Even if you hire a professional writer to help you with this assignment, speaking about something you know will be a much better sounding presentation of your arguments. Choosing an emotional topic is also a good idea. Appealing to the readers’ emotions connects them to the side of the writer and draws them in. One of the best ways to change anyone’s mind is with an emotional investment.
Pick Your Own Topic or Get Your Essay Done For You
We offer a great list of topics for writing your own argumentative essay. Did you also know you can get your essay written for a small fee? We employ hundreds of professional writers, who specialize in essay, dissertation and research writing. They have written literally hundreds of academic papers for students worldwide. We know how to write a perfect custom-written argumentative essay that will meet your requirements and will get you the grade you want. Contact us now to get professional essay writing help!
If you would like to write the paper on your own, below is the actual list of argumentative essay topics along with sample essays on most discussed ones:
Middle/High School-Level Argumentative Essay Topics
College-Level Argumentative Essay Topics
Try to Avoid These Argument Topics
Funny Argumentative Essay Topics
Classic Argumentative Essay Topics
Argument on Bioethics
Argument on Issues in the IT Sphere
Argumentative Topics for Legal Discussions
Argumentative Topics of Social Concerns
Society and the Media
Now, once you have chosen a good topic from the list, try to lay down your thoughts on your screen. Here are some tips on how to do it right:
Tips on Writing a GREAT Argumentative Essay
Here is how your argumentative essay should be structured:
Adhering to the above structure of an argumentative essay will hold your creative process together:
- The first paragraph offers a brief review of the topic, explains its importance, and shares the essay’s clear and concise thesis statement.
- After the introduction come the body paragraphs, in which the writer develops his/her arguments and supports them with valid and reliable evidence.
- The support should be anecdotal, logical, statistical, or factual depending on the essay’s topic.
- Following the argument paragraphs, the writer shares the opposing views.
- Ending the paragraph is the conclusion. This paragraph is quite important since it leaves the reader with the most immediate impression. The writer should synthesize the information shared in the body of the essay as they restate the topic’s importance, review main points, as well as review the thesis. No new information should be shared in the conclusion.
Here is another cool tip to make your arguments sound stronger: use connection words!
How Do I Use Connection Words While Writing an Argumentative Essay?
Transition or connection words and phrases hold your essay together. They provide flow as they connect thoughts and ideas.
|Addition||additionally; also; and; as a matter of fact; as well as; equally; equally important; furthermore; identically; in addition; in the first place; like; likewise; not only…but also; not to mention; similarly; together with; too|
|Contrast||above all; after all; albeit; although; although this may be true; as much as; be that it may; besides; but; conversely; despite; different from; even so/though; however; in contrast; in reality; in spite of; nevertheless; nonetheless; notwithstanding; of course…, but; on the contrary; on the other hand; or; otherwise; rather; regardless; whereas;|
|Cause or Purpose||as; as/so long as; because of; due to; for fear that; for the purpose of; given that; granted (that); if…then; in case; in view of; in order to; in the event that; in the hope that; lest; only/even if; owing to; provided that; seeing/being that; since; so as to; so that; unless; when; whenever; while; with this in mind|
|Examples or Support||another key point; as an illustration; by all means; chiefly; especially; for example; for instance; for this reason; in fact; in other words; notably; specifically; surprisingly; to point out; truly|
|Consequence or Result||accordingly; as a result; because the; consequently; due to; for; for this reason; hence; in effect; in that case; since; so that; therefore; with the result that|
|Conclusion / Summary / Restatement|
after all; all things considered; as a result; as can be seen; as shown above; consequently; for the most part; generally speaking; given these points; in conclusion; in fact; to summarize;
How Is Knowing All This Going to Help Me?
Writing a good argumentative essay develops your argumentative thinking. You will need it to not only survive among your peers today but also succeed among the humans around you in the future. Most of the businesses and partnerships prosper through argument. Getting the right arguments will help you prove your point and win.
The modern world is ruled by the intellect. Those win who keep themselves focused on becoming stronger at what they are set to choose as the profession. It means no distraction on things of little importance.
That's right, in order to succeed, you need to stay focused on what you really feel and are willing to devote your life to. And it should really take up most of your time. Seriously. The more research you can do to get better at your future profession, the better.
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