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How to Write an Argumentative Essay

Performing all sorts of tasks of independent work, students come across writing different kinds of essays. Composing argumentative essay for the first time may seem hard for you but with our detailed instruction, this task becomes much easier. Besides, you get a bonus of free examples of topics for an outstanding argumentative essay.

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

Argumentative essay (AE) is a type of essay, which presents one or more sides of an issue and supports them with argumentsexampl and illustrations. Topic of AE allows having reasonable arguments and counterarguments.

The purpose of writing an argumentative essay lies in expressing and proving author’s opinion, convincing readers in a certain point of view. At the same time, much attention while writing AE is paid to criticism of the opposite position. Aim of an argumentative essay is to persuade or convince the reader that author’s point of view is the only correct.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay?

For a start, there are two key scenarios.

  1. The topic for argumentative essay was assigned to you.
  2. The topic for AE is free and you have to come up with one.

In the first case, carefully read the topic and check what arguments the topic requires: general arguments or you have an opportunity to express personal opinion. Think over the content and completeness of the assignment. When planning an essay with arguments and counterarguments, place the material in six paragraphs according to the common structure.

  • How to come up with an interesting topic for an argumentative essay?

In the second case, preparation work may require some more efforts and creativity. The first rule when choosing a topic is that it should interest you. Think about what worries you and determine the direction, then gradually narrow down to a specific thought.

For example:

  • ecology – global warming – causes of global warming and people – Topic “Humanity does not have a negative impact on the environment”
  • safety of children in schools – computer games are overloaded with violence – increasing incidence of shooting in schools may be related to computer games – Topic “The reason for the increased incidence of shooting in schools is the sequence of prevalence of the theme of violence in computer games”
  • capital punishment – a person’s life is inviolable – why people can not be executed – Topic “Why the profession of the executioner should not exist in modern society”

Remember that the topic of an argumentative essay should be controversial and the more challenging the title of your essay is, the more attention it attracts. If thoughts do not occur in your head, check out a list of examples of topics and use them for inspiration.

  • Simple argumentative essay structure

Essay is a creative genre of writing, so there can be no strict rules. Though, we propose you a simple structure, which can be used to get an absolutely outstanding essay at the end.

Argumentative Essay Structure

  1. Introduction (statement of the problem).
  2. Main body
  • First supporting argument
  • Second supporting argument
  • Third supporting argument
  • Arguments against
  1. Conclusion

As for the volume of each structural unit of the essay, it should be equal to the numbers shown at the picture, where 60% of the total volume is given to the main body, an introduction and conclusion take around 20% each. Introduction and conclusion are written in one paragraph each. Main part consists of four paragraphs: 3 supporting arguments and one counterargument.

What it takes to write an argumentative essay?
Prewriting stage 

  • Choose a topic (or get one)
  • Gather information
  • Understand the position you are going to support
  • List the arguments, which support and contradict your position
Writing processStart with writing the main body 

  • Start with choosing the strongest arguments supporting your position
  • Write down three paragraphs with one argument each
  • Support your arguments with examples, facts, scientific data, laws, etc.
  • Compose a paragraph containing the counterargument and explain its consistency

Proceed to introduction writing

  • Knowing the content, it’s easy to introduce the topic and author’s position
  • Introduction must be short, clear and catchy
  • Make the reader go on reading till the end

                   Finish with a conclusion

  • Sum up the main points of the essay
  • Make a strong ending statement
  • Make sure the reader agrees with you
Post-writing stage 

  • Proofread and edit the essay
  • Correct grammar mistakes
  • Are your arguments convincing?
  • Ask for someone’s opinion
  • Leave the paper for couple days and reread it again with a fresh mind

To learn more about structure and writing of an argumentative essay, watch the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAUKxr946SI) and learn a simpler structure proposed by British Council. When working on your essay, choose the one, which suits the required volume.

How to Start an Argumentative Essay

Before you start writing an essay, read the task carefully. Your text should be logically built. If it has a clear structure, then the reader will quickly understand its meaning. This is also evaluated.

Even before you begin, imagine the components of the text:

  • Introduction: reformulate the topic in other words and explain it.
  • Main part: give a few arguments for and against.
  • Conclusion: own experience and\or own opinion.

Useful Tips

  • Structure of sentences must be complex.
  • Try to use more impersonal sentences.
  • Do not use abbreviations.
  • Give examples where it is possible and appropriate.
  • Follow spelling and punctuation rules.
  • Compose complex sentences with unions. Change the structure of the sentence. Use reverse word order.
  • Use as many adverbs of time as possible, use time expressions, expressions of opinion, and expressions of probability.
  • In the introductory or concluding section, ask direct or indirect rhetorical questions.

Consider how you can improve your draft. Add adjectives (including comparative and superlatives), adverbs, descriptive phrases. Use synonyms, modal verbs, talking about what can or should happen; use the subjunctive mood. All these techniques will diversify your written speech, make it more colorful and interesting. Understand all the words you write. Your essay should be yours, do not try to sound smarter.

Argumentative Essay Introduction

The first paragraph – introduction – includes several sentences that represent the topic and express its dual nature. Introduction is a topic conveyed in other words. Learn how to rephrase the topic. Use synonymous constructions, or other grammatical constructions, or outline the topic in your own words. It is also necessary to clarify for whom and why this topic matters.

Content of introduction:

  1. Circumstantial remark;
  2. Motivation for choosing a topic;
  3. Statement of the problem;
  4. Narrowing of the material.
  • The term “circumstantial remark” is easy to understand: we need to explain in what conditions the chosen topic matters. Let us remember a very important thing: the wording of the topic is not included in the text of the essay, and it is impossible to start the essay with reformulating the topic.
  • The motivation for choosing a topic is an indication of the reason (motive) for addressing it specifically. There should be a statement of the problem next to it — that is, the formulation of that specific problem, which you will decide in your essay.
  • Narrowing of the material is the establishment (again motivated) of the boundaries within which you will solve the task. After all, you have only a small essay, and not a candidate dissertation!

Argumentative Essay Definition

As the main task of the argumentative essay is to persuade the reader, you need to give arguments “for” our position and explain why another position is wrong by giving “against” arguments.

So what is the argument?

Argument is a confirmation of the truth of a statement (thesis), a convincing idea that allows you to agree with the statement (thesis).

↑ Methods (types) of arguing:

  • Evidence
  • Definition
  • Rebuttal
  • Explanation
  • Interpretation
  • Confirmation
  • Justification

Justification of author’s position is the goal, and arguments are the means that we use to justify it.

There are two main ways to substantiate your own position (thesis):

  1. Confirm the thesis (give arguments “for”)
  2. Refute the opposite thesis (counterargument: prove the thesis by refuting the opposite position).

↑ The arguments may be:

  1. Logical (rational)
  • facts (undoubted empirical knowledge)
  • definition whose task is to generalize, to give an idea of ​​an object as part of a broader category, to reveal the essential features of a defined subject (for example: terminological definitions).
  • scientific knowledge (theories, hypotheses, data from experiments and examinations axioms, etc.)
  • statistics (checked, official)
  • appeal to logic (induction, deduction)
  • objective indicators of the state of affairs (only proven facts)
  • nature laws
  • provisions of legal laws, constitution, official documents, decrees and other normative acts obligatory for implementation
  • experience (personal, specific, universal, historical, research, etc.)
  1. Illustrative

In contrast to the fact (a generalized-objective statement), the illustrative example has a visual descriptive form; its task is to explain the understanding of the thesis, to prove its correctness.

  • A specific example: an example – a message about an event (taken from life, talks about a case that really took place);
  • A literary example (an example is a text from a well-known work).
  • Estimated example (talks about what could have happened under certain conditions).
  1. References to authority
  • Opinion of a specialist, expert.
  • The opinion of a well-known, respected person – a scientist, philosopher, public figure, etc.
  • Opinion of officials (when it comes to issues within their competence).
  • Quote from an authoritative source.
  • An appeal to the experience and common sense of the audience.
  • The opinion of eyewitnesses.
  • Public opinion.

When working on the arguments, remember that the arguments “for” and “against” are written in separate paragraphs.

Argumentative Essay Conclusion

In the last paragraph, we should summarize what has been expressed and draw a conclusion: we again write a sentence reflecting the inconsistency of the topic, but at the same time giving hope for a compromise. If the topic allows, here you can clearly express your opinion.

Types of conclusion techniques:

  • Generalization of the main thoughts of the author
  • Interrogative sentence, including a rhetorical question
  • Call, appeal to the reader
  • Using quotes

Typical wording used in conclusion

  • Thus,
  • Consequently,
  • So,
  • In conclusion, I want to emphasize.

Techniques Used for Upgrading Essay Writing

One of the most effective ways to improve your writing skills quickly and easily lies in mastering the art of building a sentence. Here, pay special attention to wording of the beginning of each sentence. It is recommended to use so-called transition words, which demonstrate relationships between thoughts. This technique will help the writer build more diverse sentences with different structures.

It is easier than it sounds. Just start every sentence with a different word. Try not to repeat the first words in one paragraph. The list of transition words will be very helpful while reading and revising. To understand what transition word or phrase to use, analyze how the sentences are corresponded. Use the following scheme:

  • If the sentence adds information, use such transition words as: also, same, moreover, coupled with, furthermore, indeed, likewise, similarly, additionally, not only…but also, as well as.
  • If the sentence contrasts or contradicts, use such transition words as: although, however, whereas, on the other hand, in contrast, besides, even though, yet, conversely, instead.
  • When it comes to showing the sequence of time, use such transition words as:later, during, then, next time, finally, in fact, eventually, similarly, meanwhile, later on, or a time word like first, second, third, and currently.
  • In case you need to add evidence, use such transition words as: as an illustration, for example, such as, consequently, namely, for this reason, specifically, chiefly.
  • When the sentence emphasizes an idea, use such transition words as: above all, as usual, obviously, no doubt, especially, as a rule, particularly, ordinary, generally speaking.
  • To start the conclusion, use such transition words as: in short, finally, in conclusion, all in all, in sum, in the final analysis, obviously, therefore, after all, to put it differently.

Examples of Topics for Argumentative Essay

  • People wanting kids should get license for this matter.
  • Christmas should be canceled.
  • The economy must be controlled by the government.
  • Medical care should be free.
  • Doping in sport should be allowed.
  • Transgender soldiers must get a legal right in the military.
  • The UN should expand the protection of cultural rights.
  • Tests as a way of knowledge control are not informative.
  • Smoking marijuana must be legalized.
  • Grades are not an effective tool for assessing student ability.
  • Women are only interested in one thing – how to get married.
  • Social networks cause addiction.
  • Technological progress has changed our lives for the worse.
  • Suicide is cowardice.
  • The use of animals in scientific research is not justified.
  • Depression kills people.
  • The use of atomic energy is not justified.
  • Having several children in a family is better than just one.
  • Sugar is not a reason of obesity.
  • Governments around the world should launch large-scale anti-smoking campaigns.
  • Human cloning should be allowed.
  • High school students should be free to choose their own curriculum.
  • The age of suffrage must be reduced.
  • Books, plays, films should be censored.
  • The death penalty must be abolished.
  • All sports related to danger and violence must be prohibited by law.
  • Legal assessment of cyber bulling must be revised.
  • We live better than our grandfathers and grandmothers.
  • Watching television is detrimental to mental health.
  • All health issues are caused by brain activity.
  • The USA is a great ideal.
  • The language of money is understandable to everyone.
  • Teachers will be replaced by teaching machines.
  • The customer is always right.
  • Social networks should be forbidden for kinds under 14.
  • Camping is the best way to spend holidays.
  • High school is not able to prepare students for real life.
  • Professional sport causes more harm than good to health.
  • Mustachioed men have evil intentions.
  • Advertisers perform useful functions for society.
  • Euthanasia must be allowed.
  • There is nothing better than village life.
  • Caring for the environment is a luxury we can no longer afford.
  • Social responsibility is the most important thing that should be taught in our schools.
  • It is dangerous to know too much.
  • Men are even bigger gossipers than women.
  • Progress invariably leads to regression.
  • Monogamy is not natural to humans.
  • Tourism does more harm than good to society.
  • History teaches us nothing.

Writing an argumentative essay is a truly creative activity and nothing can change it. Although, there are certain online instruments, which can help you master the art of essay writing.

You may also find interesting:


How to write a good argumentative essay?

If you want to write a good argumentative essay, you need to know the subject well and to be interested in it. All the rest is the matter of technique, which can be improved with the help of the article above.

Which question can help a writer analyze a prompt and develop a claim for an argumentative essay?

When it comes to analyzing the prompt and wording of the claim in the essay, the author questions his position on the matter of the essay. Questions “Why?” and “Why not?” may help a lot. Technique of reverse positioning (when writer supports the opposite to his position) can help create a very unusual essay.

How to conclude an argumentative essay?

In the conclusion, sum up the information of the main body and pronounce a general outcome. Besides, use of rhetorical question or raise for action may also be in the right place here.   

Which statement best describes the introduction of an argumentative essay?

In the introduction, the author introduces both the topic of the essay and the position he is going to support. Introduction is a sort of a trailer for an essay to come.

What is the second step in the prewriting process for an argumentative essay?

Studying the topic, choosing the position and sorting the best arguments are the main prewriting steps in the process of writing an argumentative essay.

In an argumentative essay, where should the writer present the counterclaim?

Composing an argumentative essay, include all your claims in the main body. In the first two-three paragraphs, write arguments “for”, the last one is left for counterarguments or counterclaims.

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