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8 Effective Strategies to Write Argumentative Essays

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In a bustling university town, there lived a student named Alex. Popular for creativity and wit, one challenge seemed insurmountable for Alex– the dreaded argumentative essay!

One gloomy afternoon, as the rain tapped against the window pane, Alex sat at his cluttered desk, staring at a blank document on the computer screen. The assignment loomed large: a 350-600-word argumentative essay on a topic of their choice . With a sigh, he decided to seek help of mentor, Professor Mitchell, who was known for his passion for writing.

Entering Professor Mitchell’s office was like stepping into a treasure of knowledge. Bookshelves lined every wall, faint aroma of old manuscripts in the air and sticky notes over the wall. Alex took a deep breath and knocked on his door.

“Ah, Alex,” Professor Mitchell greeted with a warm smile. “What brings you here today?”

Alex confessed his struggles with the argumentative essay. After hearing his concerns, Professor Mitchell said, “Ah, the argumentative essay! Don’t worry, Let’s take a look at it together.” As he guided Alex to the corner shelf, Alex asked,

Table of Contents

“What is an Argumentative Essay?”

The professor replied, “An argumentative essay is a type of academic writing that presents a clear argument or a firm position on a contentious issue. Unlike other forms of essays, such as descriptive or narrative essays, these essays require you to take a stance, present evidence, and convince your audience of the validity of your viewpoint with supporting evidence. A well-crafted argumentative essay relies on concrete facts and supporting evidence rather than merely expressing the author’s personal opinions . Furthermore, these essays demand comprehensive research on the chosen topic and typically follows a structured format consisting of three primary sections: an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.”

He continued, “Argumentative essays are written in a wide range of subject areas, reflecting their applicability across disciplines. They are written in different subject areas like literature and philosophy, history, science and technology, political science, psychology, economics and so on.

Alex asked,

“When is an Argumentative Essay Written?”

The professor answered, “Argumentative essays are often assigned in academic settings, but they can also be written for various other purposes, such as editorials, opinion pieces, or blog posts. Some situations to write argumentative essays include:

1. Academic assignments

In school or college, teachers may assign argumentative essays as part of coursework. It help students to develop critical thinking and persuasive writing skills .

2. Debates and discussions

Argumentative essays can serve as the basis for debates or discussions in academic or competitive settings. Moreover, they provide a structured way to present and defend your viewpoint.

3. Opinion pieces

Newspapers, magazines, and online publications often feature opinion pieces that present an argument on a current issue or topic to influence public opinion.

4. Policy proposals

In government and policy-related fields, argumentative essays are used to propose and defend specific policy changes or solutions to societal problems.

5. Persuasive speeches

Before delivering a persuasive speech, it’s common to prepare an argumentative essay as a foundation for your presentation.

Regardless of the context, an argumentative essay should present a clear thesis statement , provide evidence and reasoning to support your position, address counterarguments, and conclude with a compelling summary of your main points. The goal is to persuade readers or listeners to accept your viewpoint or at least consider it seriously.”

Handing over a book, the professor continued, “Take a look on the elements or structure of an argumentative essay.”

Elements of an Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay comprises five essential components:

Claim in argumentative writing is the central argument or viewpoint that the writer aims to establish and defend throughout the essay. A claim must assert your position on an issue and must be arguable. It can guide the entire argument.

2. Evidence

Evidence must consist of factual information, data, examples, or expert opinions that support the claim. Also, it lends credibility by strengthening the writer’s position.

3. Counterarguments

Presenting a counterclaim demonstrates fairness and awareness of alternative perspectives.

4. Rebuttal

After presenting the counterclaim, the writer refutes it by offering counterarguments or providing evidence that weakens the opposing viewpoint. It shows that the writer has considered multiple perspectives and is prepared to defend their position.

The format of an argumentative essay typically follows the structure to ensure clarity and effectiveness in presenting an argument.

How to Write An Argumentative Essay

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an argumentative essay:

1. Introduction

  • Begin with a compelling sentence or question to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Provide context for the issue, including relevant facts, statistics, or historical background.
  • Provide a concise thesis statement to present your position on the topic.

2. Body Paragraphs (usually three or more)

  • Start each paragraph with a clear and focused topic sentence that relates to your thesis statement.
  • Furthermore, provide evidence and explain the facts, statistics, examples, expert opinions, and quotations from credible sources that supports your thesis.
  • Use transition sentences to smoothly move from one point to the next.

3. Counterargument and Rebuttal

  • Acknowledge opposing viewpoints or potential objections to your argument.
  • Also, address these counterarguments with evidence and explain why they do not weaken your position.

4. Conclusion

  • Restate your thesis statement and summarize the key points you’ve made in the body of the essay.
  • Leave the reader with a final thought, call to action, or broader implication related to the topic.

5. Citations and References

  • Properly cite all the sources you use in your essay using a consistent citation style.
  • Also, include a bibliography or works cited at the end of your essay.

6. Formatting and Style

  • Follow any specific formatting guidelines provided by your instructor or institution.
  • Use a professional and academic tone in your writing and edit your essay to avoid content, spelling and grammar mistakes .

Remember that the specific requirements for formatting an argumentative essay may vary depending on your instructor’s guidelines or the citation style you’re using (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). Always check the assignment instructions or style guide for any additional requirements or variations in formatting.

Did you understand what Prof. Mitchell explained Alex? Check it now!

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Prof. Mitchell continued, “An argumentative essay can adopt various approaches when dealing with opposing perspectives. It may offer a balanced presentation of both sides, providing equal weight to each, or it may advocate more strongly for one side while still acknowledging the existence of opposing views.” As Alex listened carefully to the Professor’s thoughts, his eyes fell on a page with examples of argumentative essay.

Example of an Argumentative Essay

Alex picked the book and read the example. It helped him to understand the concept. Furthermore, he could now connect better to the elements and steps of the essay which Prof. Mitchell had mentioned earlier. Aren’t you keen to know how an argumentative essay should be like? Here is an example of a well-crafted argumentative essay , which was read by Alex. After Alex finished reading the example, the professor turned the page and continued, “Check this page to know the importance of writing an argumentative essay in developing skills of an individual.”

Importance of an Argumentative Essay

Importance_of_an_ArgumentativeEssays

After understanding the benefits, Alex was convinced by the ability of the argumentative essays in advocating one’s beliefs and favor the author’s position. Alex asked,

“How are argumentative essays different from the other types?”

Prof. Mitchell answered, “Argumentative essays differ from other types of essays primarily in their purpose, structure, and approach in presenting information. Unlike expository essays, argumentative essays persuade the reader to adopt a particular point of view or take a specific action on a controversial issue. Furthermore, they differ from descriptive essays by not focusing vividly on describing a topic. Also, they are less engaging through storytelling as compared to the narrative essays.

Alex said, “Given the direct and persuasive nature of argumentative essays, can you suggest some strategies to write an effective argumentative essay?

Turning the pages of the book, Prof. Mitchell replied, “Sure! You can check this infographic to get some tips for writing an argumentative essay.”

Effective Strategies to Write an Argumentative Essay

StrategiesOfWritingArgumentativeEssays

As days turned into weeks, Alex diligently worked on his essay. He researched, gathered evidence, and refined his thesis. It was a long and challenging journey, filled with countless drafts and revisions.

Finally, the day arrived when Alex submitted their essay. As he clicked the “Submit” button, a sense of accomplishment washed over him. He realized that the argumentative essay, while challenging, had improved his critical thinking and transformed him into a more confident writer. Furthermore, Alex received feedback from his professor, a mix of praise and constructive criticism. It was a humbling experience, a reminder that every journey has its obstacles and opportunities for growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

An argumentative essay can be written as follows- 1. Choose a Topic 2. Research and Collect Evidences 3. Develop a Clear Thesis Statement 4. Outline Your Essay- Introduction, Body Paragraphs and Conclusion 5. Revise and Edit 6. Format and Cite Sources 7. Final Review

One must choose a clear, concise and specific statement as a claim. It must be debatable and establish your position. Avoid using ambiguous or unclear while making a claim. To strengthen your claim, address potential counterarguments or opposing viewpoints. Additionally, use persuasive language and rhetoric to make your claim more compelling

Starting an argument essay effectively is crucial to engage your readers and establish the context for your argument. Here’s how you can start an argument essay are: 1. Begin With an Engaging Hook 2. Provide Background Information 3. Present Your Thesis Statement 4. Briefly Outline Your Main 5. Establish Your Credibility

The key features of an argumentative essay are: 1. Clear and Specific Thesis Statement 2. Credible Evidence 3. Counterarguments 4. Structured Body Paragraph 5. Logical Flow 6. Use of Persuasive Techniques 7. Formal Language

An argumentative essay typically consists of the following main parts or sections: 1. Introduction 2. Body Paragraphs 3. Counterargument and Rebuttal 4. Conclusion 5. References (if applicable)

The main purpose of an argumentative essay is to persuade the reader to accept or agree with a particular viewpoint or position on a controversial or debatable topic. In other words, the primary goal of an argumentative essay is to convince the audience that the author's argument or thesis statement is valid, logical, and well-supported by evidence and reasoning.

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How‌ ‌to‌ ‌Write‌ ‌an‌ ‌Argumentative‌ ‌Essay

how to write an argumentative essay steps

An argumentative essay is on the more serious side of things when it comes to academic papers It involves a lot of effort and time on behalf of a student. It is frequently used as an ultimate test to see if learners have fully grasped a given topic. The scale of this assignment can get pretty overwhelming. But if you know how to handle yourself and do serious academic research - well, then there's nothing to fear.

What Is an Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay is a type of academic writing that requires a student to take a stance on an oftentimes controversial topic. You'll collect and compile evidence in support of a chosen stance, and attempt to prove the viewpoint using the gathered material. 

This task is frequently used as a final test due to the amount of in-depth research and knowledge of the topic that is required. 

Argumentative essays topics come in all shapes and sizes. But they don't define this format of writing. Truly defining features of an argumentative essay are its type and elements.

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Argumentative Essay Types

Argumentative writing comes in several different forms. The most common of them are the following:

Persuasive essay

Persuasive essays are frequently used as thought experiments. In this format, the author is trying to make a case for one side of the argument that should be undeniably better than the other. Oftentimes the stance picked opposes the one the author agrees with, which makes learners look at the topic from a totally different angle;

Analysis essay

Analysis essays focus on looking into other argumentative type essays instead of good old argumentative essays topics. These usually take a form of a dialogue or debate, in which one author refutes or affirms the claims of another one;

Personal essay

This type does not usually require much research. The presented arguments are based on the author's subjective reasoning and personal opinion. But you are still expected to make a compelling case even though the objective and logical approach are off-limits.

Argumentative Essay Elements

An argumentative essay has a range of essential elements that make this task stand out from other forms of academic writing. These basic features should be distinctly identifiable in your paper:

Ordinarily, it is not simply a flow of the author's thoughts. In most cases, it should be based on extensive research or previous work.

The structure is what makes it easy to read and understand the author's arguments. A typical argumentative essay consists of an introduction paragraph complete with a thesis statement, 3-4 body paragraphs, and a conclusion section.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of this kind of essay is the style of writing. It is usually presented in the form of a scientifically founded debate or argument (hence the name) in which the author attempts to prove a specific claim.

Argumentative Essay Format

Following rather strict structure guidelines is an important part of any research writing assignment. It is meant to serve a practical purpose of helping the reader follow along with the author's argument. It is also one of the major factors that influence your grade.

What are the 5 parts of an argumentative essay? Here is a rough outline. The most common form is a 5-paragraph model -there should be an introduction paragraph completed with a thesis statement, three body paragraphs showcasing evidence in support of your claim (there can be more or fewer of them depending on your assignment guidelines), and a conclusion paragraph with a quick summary of your work.

Here's a more detailed breakdown for you:

  • Introduction

1 paragraph

  • Body: Argument + supporting evidence
  • Body: Opposing argument + refuting evidence

3-5 paragraphs

Did you like our inspiring Argumentative Essay Guide?

For more help, tap into our pool of professional writers and get expert essay editing services!

How to Start an Argumentative Essay: Introduction

Even though an argumentative essay introduction is probably the easiest part of the work that is ahead of you, many students still have questions about how to start an argumentative essay. 

Introduction and thesis are usually merged into one paragraph. But even though they serve largely the same purpose, there are also some distinct differences. An introduction is a general overview of the problem you are addressing in your essay. It should also offer a context overview to the readers.

Here you can allow yourself some liberties. Your main goal throughout the introduction paragraph is to prepare your audience for the onslaught to come. 

Briefly go through what your paper is going to be about, and why it is important. You don't have to go into very much detail, save that for the body paragraphs. 

An introduction is a sort of buildup that culminates in your thesis statement. Once you hit the latter, you should start getting serious. Now you know how to start an argumentative essay. 

This is probably the most important component of the introduction. A thesis in an argumentative essay doesn't really have many differences when compared to other types of writing. 

When working on this part, your job is to build a foundation on which you'll be building the rest of your argumentative writing. While the introduction in general leads your audience to the main problem covered in an essay, the thesis should nail that issue.

It is important to get this part right. The thesis statement is the cornerstone that largely defines the rest of your essay. Try to make it as clear and concise as possible. It may be tempting to make this part purposefully vague to have more room for maneuver later on. But that's going to cause more harm than good down the line.

Pay attention to the specifications of your assignment. Your thesis statement should be narrowed down to fit it. Nothing extra. A good way to check if your thesis hits the mark is to test it against the rest of your essay. The point brought up throughout a good argumentative essay should all serve as a logical extension of the thesis statement and complete it.

Body Paragraphs

The majority of your essay will be comprised of body paragraphs. As opposed to the introduction, where you raise the questions, here you have the opportunity to provide the answers. 

Argumentative essays should be based on extensive research and\or previous work. So before you get to shaping the body paragraphs, make sure you do the legwork to the fullest extent.

Maintaining a clear structure should be your first priority. The exact number of paragraphs may vary. But each one should address one specific argument. This serves several purposes, such as:

  • It helps your audience navigate the text;
  • It allows for readers to follow your reasoning;
  • It helps in organizing your thoughts clearly.

The main purpose of the body part of the text is to present the evidence that guides your audience along with you from your thesis statement all the way to the conclusion. 

It's the perfect time to make use of all that research you might have done previously. Don't go overboard by writing down your entire thought process. Instead, take a shortcut. If an argument doesn't drive the point forward, then it probably can be omitted.

It is also a good idea to use at least one paragraph to look at the topic from another angle. Analyzing and pointing out the flaws in arguments that oppose your conclusion is a valid approach. It can support and complete your previous observations and claims as well as further reinforce your argument. 

If you are sticking to this approach, it's best to put it after paragraphs in which you make a positive claim.

Every paragraph should be interconnected with the preceding and following ones. Even though they are showcasing different pieces of evidence, they are still all parts of consistent reasoning. Smooth and logical transitions are what keeps a good argumentative essay together. 

The gaps in your flow may not be so apparent when you are in the process of writing. But beware that they will jump out at you during proofreading.

By this point, you are done arguing. It is time to summarize all your findings. Do not present any new information in the conclusion section. Instead, use this space to reiterate the main points. Come back to your introduction once again. Here's what you should do:

  • Remind your reader what your thesis is;
  • Focus on why it is important;
  • Rehash it in light of all the information you have presented throughout your essay.

Another thing you can briefly address in conclusion is the white spots in your research. In some cases, you won't have the time or resources to get conclusive answers for all the questions your problem poses. 

It's okay to admit that you don't have the full picture yet. Write about what scientific research should be done in the future in order to get a more educated answer.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay Step by Step Tips

What are the steps in writing an argumentative essay? These are the main phases you should go through when writing it. Allocate a certain amount of time for each step so that you wouldn't get stuck with one of them. 

Follow our instructions on how to write an argumentative essay step by step, and you will end up with a great paper to turn in when the deadline comes.

Check the Assignment Details

This might seem like an obvious thing to do. But you'd be surprised to know how many students fall flat on their faces with their essays just because they didn't understand the specifications of the assignment. 

Read the initial instructions. Then, read them again. Read it a third time out loud. Make sure you understand everything. If you don't - ask for clarification. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Gather the Materials

This phase is dedicated entirely to gathering as much information on your argumentative essay topic as you can. Even if you consider yourself fairly knowledgeable in the given field, take your time with this one. 

Look for hard facts to confirm your thoughts, try approaching the issue from a different angle, challenge your understanding of the subject. You may very well change your opinion on the topic while doing your research.

Create a Structure

You already have a rough outline of what paragraphs of your essay should be there. Based on those, create a more specific structure of an argumentative essay. 

Think about what arguments you will use, where you will put them, how you will transition between them, and so on. This is the logistics step and getting it right will make creating your first draft much easier.

Make the First Draft

With a decent chunk of research and a good outline of how to write it all down, making the first draft should be a piece of cake. Most of this process is just assigning what you already know to paragraphs and making sure you maintain the structure of an argumentative essay.

Edit Without Mercy

Write without fear and edit without mercy. This is a golden rule every student should keep in mind. Your first draft is unlikely to make the cut. That's when proofreading comes in. 

Ideally, you should have a day or two in between the first draft and editing steps. This will help you spot the mistakes easier. But if you are pressed for time, you could recruit friends, family, or fellow students to assist you. It is always better to get a second opinion.

Submit the Final Version

Your final draft will never be perfect. You can make minor improvements here and there pretty much forever. But following the deadlines is imperative in higher ed. 

So you will have to settle with what you have eventually. Don't get too worked up over minor details. 

How Many Paragraphs Should an Argumentative Essay Have?

The exact number depends on your preference and assignment specifications. But the basic lineup usually includes five paragraphs.

These are the introduction, conclusion, and three body paragraphs showcasing your arguments. You can increase or decrease the number of body paragraphs as long as you stay within the guidelines.

Can You Use Personal Experience?

Yes, you can use personal experience in an essay. However, in order for it to be compelling, it should fulfill the same criteria as the rest of your arguments. 

If you use a personal experience to set up a claim, you should look at it in a general sense and as a part of a greater picture rather than equating your personal feelings as infallible truth.

How Do You Introduce an Argument?

Introducing an argument should follow a clear and logical structure. Look at your thesis and create a transition to each of your arguments. It's sort of like opening the door to a pathway you are about to explore. 

Go step by step, presenting your evidence, thought process, and logic. Don't jump to conclusions. Things that might seem obvious to you may not appear so to your audience. 

Can You Use First-Person in an Argumentative Essay

You should definitely avoid using first-person sentences like 'I believe' or 'I feel' in an argumentative essay. Sentences like these can give off the impression that your arguments lack a proper evidential basis and are supported only on your personal opinion. Using matter of fact statements instead of first-person will make for a much stronger writing voice.

Example of an Argumentative Essay

Using essay examples as a rough template is one of the easiest and quickest ways to complete your assignment. Use this essay to get the hang of the structure and style of writing what's required when working on an argumentative-type paper.

Here’s a sneak-peek for you:

how to write an argumentative essay steps

Argumentative essay format may seem a bit too intimidating. It's especially true for those who encounter this type of writing for the very first time. 

After all, it really does require extensive research and a deep understanding of the topic of your writing. But even though this type of essay is a bit more serious than you might be used to, you shouldn't worry about getting caught off-guard.

An argumentative essay is usually given as some sort of final assignment after you've amassed some knowledge on a given topic. Using that intellectual baggage, you should have no problem at all navigating the pitfalls ofyour essays. 

So instead of stressing about your understanding of the subject, you should probably focus more on the technical aspects of the assignment like its structure or language. The most difficult part about writing is to write the first word. So don't hesitate and go straight to working on your assignment after reading this guide. 

The earlier you start, the better. With this guide on how to write an argumentative essay, it will be a cakewalk. And if you still encounter any issues, our custom essay order, rewrite essay, write a paper for me , write an essay for me , and admission essay writing service can provide you with expert assistance. Don't hesitate to contact us right away to proofread your essay or get more help!

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay

How to Write an Argumentative Essay

4-minute read

  • 30th April 2022

An argumentative essay is a structured, compelling piece of writing where an author clearly defines their stance on a specific topic. This is a very popular style of writing assigned to students at schools, colleges, and universities. Learn the steps to researching, structuring, and writing an effective argumentative essay below.

Requirements of an Argumentative Essay

To effectively achieve its purpose, an argumentative essay must contain:

●  A concise thesis statement that introduces readers to the central argument of the essay

●  A clear, logical, argument that engages readers

●  Ample research and evidence that supports your argument

Approaches to Use in Your Argumentative Essay

1.   classical.

●  Clearly present the central argument.

●  Outline your opinion.

●  Provide enough evidence to support your theory.

2.   Toulmin

●  State your claim.

●  Supply the evidence for your stance.

●  Explain how these findings support the argument.

●  Include and discuss any limitations of your belief.

3.   Rogerian

●  Explain the opposing stance of your argument.

●  Discuss the problems with adopting this viewpoint.

●  Offer your position on the matter.

●  Provide reasons for why yours is the more beneficial stance.

●  Include a potential compromise for the topic at hand.

Tips for Writing a Well-Written Argumentative Essay

●  Introduce your topic in a bold, direct, and engaging manner to captivate your readers and encourage them to keep reading.

●  Provide sufficient evidence to justify your argument and convince readers to adopt this point of view.

●  Consider, include, and fairly present all sides of the topic.

●  Structure your argument in a clear, logical manner that helps your readers to understand your thought process.

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●  Discuss any counterarguments that might be posed.

●  Use persuasive writing that’s appropriate for your target audience and motivates them to agree with you.

Steps to Write an Argumentative Essay

Follow these basic steps to write a powerful and meaningful argumentative essay :

Step 1: Choose a topic that you’re passionate about

If you’ve already been given a topic to write about, pick a stance that resonates deeply with you. This will shine through in your writing, make the research process easier, and positively influence the outcome of your argument.

Step 2: Conduct ample research to prove the validity of your argument

To write an emotive argumentative essay , finding enough research to support your theory is a must. You’ll need solid evidence to convince readers to agree with your take on the matter. You’ll also need to logically organize the research so that it naturally convinces readers of your viewpoint and leaves no room for questioning.

Step 3: Follow a simple, easy-to-follow structure and compile your essay

A good structure to ensure a well-written and effective argumentative essay includes:

Introduction

●  Introduce your topic.

●  Offer background information on the claim.

●  Discuss the evidence you’ll present to support your argument.

●  State your thesis statement, a one-to-two sentence summary of your claim.

●  This is the section where you’ll develop and expand on your argument.

●  It should be split into three or four coherent paragraphs, with each one presenting its own idea.

●  Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that indicates why readers should adopt your belief or stance.

●  Include your research, statistics, citations, and other supporting evidence.

●  Discuss opposing viewpoints and why they’re invalid.

●  This part typically consists of one paragraph.

●  Summarize your research and the findings that were presented.

●  Emphasize your initial thesis statement.

●  Persuade readers to agree with your stance.

We certainly hope that you feel inspired to use these tips when writing your next argumentative essay . And, if you’re currently elbow-deep in writing one, consider submitting a free sample to us once it’s completed. Our expert team of editors can help ensure that it’s concise, error-free, and effective!

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General Education

feature-couple-arguing-1

If there’s one writing skill you need to have in your toolkit for standardized tests, AP exams, and college-level writing, it’s the ability to make a persuasive argument. Effectively arguing for a position on a topic or issue isn’t just for the debate team— it’s for anyone who wants to ace the essay portion of an exam or make As in college courses.

To give you everything you need to know about how to write an argumentative essay , we’re going to answer the following questions for you:

  • What is an argumentative essay?
  • How should an argumentative essay be structured?
  • How do I write a strong argument?
  • What’s an example of a strong argumentative essay?
  • What are the top takeaways for writing argumentative papers?

By the end of this article, you’ll be prepped and ready to write a great argumentative essay yourself!

Now, let’s break this down.

body-brick-wall-question-words

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is a type of writing that presents the writer’s position or stance on a specific topic and uses evidence to support that position. The goal of an argumentative essay is to convince your reader that your position is logical, ethical, and, ultimately, right . In argumentative essays, writers accomplish this by writing:

  • A clear, persuasive thesis statement in the introduction paragraph
  • Body paragraphs that use evidence and explanations to support the thesis statement
  • A paragraph addressing opposing positions on the topic—when appropriate
  • A conclusion that gives the audience something meaningful to think about.

Introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion: these are the main sections of an argumentative essay. Those probably sound familiar. Where does arguing come into all of this, though? It’s not like you’re having a shouting match with your little brother across the dinner table. You’re just writing words down on a page!

...or are you? Even though writing papers can feel like a lonely process, one of the most important things you can do to be successful in argumentative writing is to think about your argument as participating in a larger conversation . For one thing, you’re going to be responding to the ideas of others as you write your argument. And when you’re done writing, someone—a teacher, a professor, or exam scorer—is going to be reading and evaluating your argument.

If you want to make a strong argument on any topic, you have to get informed about what’s already been said on that topic . That includes researching the different views and positions, figuring out what evidence has been produced, and learning the history of the topic. That means—you guessed it!—argumentative essays almost always require you to incorporate outside sources into your writing.  

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What Makes Argumentative Essays Unique?

Argumentative essays are different from other types of essays for one main reason: in an argumentative essay, you decide what the argument will be . Some types of essays, like summaries or syntheses, don’t want you to show your stance on the topic—they want you to remain unbiased and neutral.

In argumentative essays, you’re presenting your point of view as the writer and, sometimes, choosing the topic you’ll be arguing about. You just want to make sure that that point of view comes across as informed, well-reasoned, and persuasive.

Another thing about argumentative essays: they’re often longer than other types of essays. Why, you ask? Because it takes time to develop an effective argument. If your argument is going to be persuasive to readers, you have to address multiple points that support your argument, acknowledge counterpoints, and provide enough evidence and explanations to convince your reader that your points are valid.

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Our 3 Best Tips for Picking a Great Argumentative Topic

The first step to writing an argumentative essay deciding what to write about! Choosing a topic for your argumentative essay might seem daunting, though. It can feel like you could make an argument about anything under the sun. For example, you could write an argumentative essay about how cats are way cooler than dogs, right?

It’s not quite that simple . Here are some strategies for choosing a topic that serves as a solid foundation for a strong argument.

Choose a Topic That Can Be Supported With Evidence

First, you want to make sure the topic you choose allows you to make a claim that can be supported by evidence that’s considered credible and appropriate for the subject matter ...and, unfortunately, your personal opinions or that Buzzfeed quiz you took last week don’t quite make the cut.

Some topics—like whether cats or dogs are cooler—can generate heated arguments, but at the end of the day, any argument you make on that topic is just going to be a matter of opinion. You have to pick a topic that allows you to take a position that can be supported by actual, researched evidence.

(Quick note: you could write an argumentative paper over the general idea that dogs are better than cats—or visa versa!—if you’re a) more specific and b) choose an idea that has some scientific research behind it. For example, a strong argumentative topic could be proving that dogs make better assistance animals than cats do.)

You also don’t want to make an argument about a topic that’s already a proven fact, like that drinking water is good for you. While some people might dislike the taste of water, there is an overwhelming body of evidence that proves—beyond the shadow of a doubt—that drinking water is a key part of good health.  

To avoid choosing a topic that’s either unprovable or already proven, try brainstorming some issues that have recently been discussed in the news, that you’ve seen people debating on social media, or that affect your local community. If you explore those outlets for potential topics, you’ll likely stumble upon something that piques your audience’s interest as well.  

Choose a Topic That You Find Interesting

Topics that have local, national, or global relevance often also resonate with us on a personal level. Consider choosing a topic that holds a connection between something you know or care about and something that is relevant to the rest of society. These don’t have to be super serious issues, but they should be topics that are timely and significant.

For example, if you are a huge football fan, a great argumentative topic for you might be arguing whether football leagues need to do more to prevent concussions . Is this as “important” an issue as climate change? No, but it’s still a timely topic that affects many people. And not only is this a great argumentative topic: you also get to write about one of your passions! Ultimately, if you’re working with a topic you enjoy, you’ll have more to say—and probably write a better essay .

Choose a Topic That Doesn’t Get You Too Heated

Another word of caution on choosing a topic for an argumentative paper: while it can be effective to choose a topic that matters to you personally, you also want to make sure you’re choosing a topic that you can keep your cool over. You’ve got to be able to stay unemotional, interpret the evidence persuasively, and, when appropriate, discuss opposing points of view without getting too salty.

In some situations, choosing a topic for your argumentative paper won’t be an issue at all: the test or exam will choose it for you . In that case, you’ve got to do the best you can with what you’re given.

In the next sections, we’re going to break down how to write any argumentative essay —regardless of whether you get to choose your own topic or have one assigned to you! Our expert tips and tricks will make sure that you’re knocking your paper out of the park.

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The Thesis: The Argumentative Essay’s Backbone

You’ve chosen a topic or, more likely, read the exam question telling you to defend, challenge, or qualify a claim on an assigned topic. What do you do now?

You establish your position on the topic by writing a killer thesis statement ! The thesis statement, sometimes just called “the thesis,” is the backbone of your argument, the north star that keeps you oriented as you develop your main points, the—well, you get the idea.

In more concrete terms, a thesis statement conveys your point of view on your topic, usually in one sentence toward the end of your introduction paragraph . It’s very important that you state your point of view in your thesis statement in an argumentative way—in other words, it should state a point of view that is debatable.

And since your thesis statement is going to present your argument on the topic, it’s the thing that you’ll spend the rest of your argumentative paper defending. That’s where persuasion comes in. Your thesis statement tells your reader what your argument is, then the rest of your essay shows and explains why your argument is logical.

Why does an argumentative essay need a thesis, though? Well, the thesis statement—the sentence with your main claim—is actually the entire point of an argumentative essay. If you don’t clearly state an arguable claim at the beginning of your paper, then it’s not an argumentative essay. No thesis statement = no argumentative essay. Got it?

Other types of essays that you’re familiar with might simply use a thesis statement to forecast what the rest of the essay is going to discuss or to communicate what the topic is. That’s not the case here. If your thesis statement doesn’t make a claim or establish your position, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board.

Example Thesis Statements

Here are a couple of examples of thesis statements that aren’t argumentative and thesis statements that are argumentative

The sky is blue.

The thesis statement above conveys a fact, not a claim, so it’s not argumentative.

To keep the sky blue, governments must pass clean air legislation and regulate emissions.

The second example states a position on a topic. What’s the topic in that second sentence? The best way to keep the sky blue. And what position is being conveyed? That the best way to keep the sky blue is by passing clean air legislation and regulating emissions.

Some people would probably respond to that thesis statement with gusto: “No! Governments should not pass clean air legislation and regulate emissions! That infringes on my right to pollute the earth!” And there you have it: a thesis statement that presents a clear, debatable position on a topic.

Here’s one more set of thesis statement examples, just to throw in a little variety:

Spirituality and otherworldliness characterize A$AP Rocky’s portrayals of urban life and the American Dream in his rap songs and music videos.

The statement above is another example that isn’t argumentative, but you could write a really interesting analytical essay with that thesis statement. Long live A$AP! Now here’s another one that is argumentative:

To give students an understanding of the role of the American Dream in contemporary life, teachers should incorporate pop culture, like the music of A$AP Rocky, into their lessons and curriculum.

The argument in this one? Teachers should incorporate more relevant pop culture texts into their curriculum.

This thesis statement also gives a specific reason for making the argument above: To give students an understanding of the role of the American Dream in contemporary life. If you can let your reader know why you’re making your argument in your thesis statement, it will help them understand your argument better.

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An actual image of you killing your argumentative essay prompts after reading this article! 

Breaking Down the Sections of An Argumentative Essay

Now that you know how to pick a topic for an argumentative essay and how to make a strong claim on your topic in a thesis statement, you’re ready to think about writing the other sections of an argumentative essay. These are the parts that will flesh out your argument and support the claim you made in your thesis statement.  

Like other types of essays, argumentative essays typically have three main sections: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Within those sections, there are some key elements that a reader—and especially an exam scorer or professor—is always going to expect you to include.

Let’s look at a quick outline of those three sections with their essential pieces here:

  • Introduction paragraph with a thesis statement (which we just talked about)
  • Support Point #1 with evidence
  • Explain/interpret the evidence with your own, original commentary (AKA, the fun part!)
  • Support Point #2 with evidence
  • Explain/interpret the evidence with your own, original commentary
  • Support Point #3 with evidence
  • New paragraph addressing opposing viewpoints (more on this later!)
  • Concluding paragraph

 Now, there are some key concepts in those sections that you’ve got to understand if you’re going to master how to write an argumentative essay. To make the most of the body section, you have to know how to support your claim (your thesis statement), what evidence and explanations are and when you should use them, and how and when to address opposing viewpoints. To finish strong, you’ve got to have a strategy for writing a stellar conclusion.

This probably feels like a big deal! The body and conclusion make up most of the essay, right? Let’s get down to it, then.

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How to Write a Strong Argument

Once you have your topic and thesis, you’re ready for the hard part: actually writing your argument. If you make strategic choices—like the ones we’re about to talk about—writing a strong argumentative essay won’t feel so difficult.

There are three main areas where you want to focus your energy as you develop a strategy for how to write an argumentative essay: supporting your claim—your thesis statement—in your essay, addressing other viewpoints on your topic, and writing a solid conclusion. If you put thought and effort into these three things, you’re much more likely to write an argumentative essay that’s engaging, persuasive, and memorable...aka A+ material.

Focus Area 1: Supporting Your Claim With Evidence and Explanations

So you’ve chosen your topic, decided what your position will be, and written a thesis statement. But like we see in comment threads across the Internet, if you make a claim and don’t back it up with evidence, what do people say? “Where’s your proof?” “Show me the facts!” “Do you have any evidence to support that claim?”

Of course you’ve done your research like we talked about. Supporting your claim in your thesis statement is where that research comes in handy.

You can’t just use your research to state the facts, though. Remember your reader? They’re going to expect you to do some of the dirty work of interpreting the evidence for them. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between evidence and explanations, and how and when to use both in your argumentative essay.

What Evidence Is and When You Should Use It

Evidence can be material from any authoritative and credible outside source that supports your position on your topic. In some cases, evidence can come in the form of photos, video footage, or audio recordings. In other cases, you might be pulling reasons, facts, or statistics from news media articles, public policy, or scholarly books or journals.

There are some clues you can look for that indicate whether or not a source is credible , such as whether:

  • The website where you found the source ends in .edu, .gov, or .org
  • The source was published by a university press
  • The source was published in a peer-reviewed journal
  • The authors did extensive research to support the claims they make in the source

This is just a short list of some of the clues that a source is likely a credible one, but just because a source was published by a prestigious press or the authors all have PhDs doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best piece of evidence for you to use to support your argument.

In addition to evaluating the source’s credibility, you’ve got to consider what types of evidence might come across as most persuasive in the context of the argument you’re making and who your readers are. In other words, stepping back and getting a bird’s eye view of the entire context of your argumentative paper is key to choosing evidence that will strengthen your argument.

On some exams, like the AP exams , you may be given pretty strict parameters for what evidence to use and how to use it. You might be given six short readings that all address the same topic, have 15 minutes to read them, then be required to pull material from a minimum of three of the short readings to support your claim in an argumentative essay.

When the sources are handed to you like that, be sure to take notes that will help you pick out evidence as you read. Highlight, underline, put checkmarks in the margins of your exam . . . do whatever you need to do to begin identifying the material that you find most helpful or relevant. Those highlights and check marks might just turn into your quotes, paraphrases, or summaries of evidence in your completed exam essay.

What Explanations Are and When You Should Use Them

Now you know that taking a strategic mindset toward evidence and explanations is critical to grasping how to write an argumentative essay. Unfortunately, evidence doesn’t speak for itself. While it may be obvious to you, the researcher and writer, how the pieces of evidence you’ve included are relevant to your audience, it might not be as obvious to your reader.

That’s where explanations—or analysis, or interpretations—come in. You never want to just stick some quotes from an article into your paragraph and call it a day. You do want to interpret the evidence you’ve included to show your reader how that evidence supports your claim.

Now, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be saying, “This piece of evidence supports my argument because...”. Instead, you want to comment on the evidence in a way that helps your reader see how it supports the position you stated in your thesis. We’ll talk more about how to do this when we show you an example of a strong body paragraph from an argumentative essay here in a bit.

Understanding how to incorporate evidence and explanations to your advantage is really important. Here’s why: when you’re writing an argumentative essay, particularly on standardized tests or the AP exam, the exam scorers can’t penalize you for the position you take. Instead, their evaluation is going to focus on the way you incorporated evidence and explained it in your essay.

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Focus Area 2: How—and When—to Address Other Viewpoints

Why would we be making arguments at all if there weren’t multiple views out there on a given topic? As you do research and consider the background surrounding your topic, you’ll probably come across arguments that stand in direct opposition to your position.

Oftentimes, teachers will ask you to “address the opposition” in your argumentative essay. What does that mean, though, to “ address the opposition ?”

Opposing viewpoints function kind of like an elephant in the room. Your audience knows they’re there. In fact, your audience might even buy into an opposing viewpoint and be waiting for you to show them why your viewpoint is better. If you don’t, it means that you’ll have a hard time convincing your audience to buy your argument.

Addressing the opposition is a balancing act: you don’t want to undermine your own argument, but you don’t want to dismiss the validity of opposing viewpoints out-of-hand or ignore them altogether, which can also undermine your argument.

This isn’t the only acceptable approach, but it’s common practice to wait to address the opposition until close to the end of an argumentative essay. But why?

Well, waiting to present an opposing viewpoint until after you’ve thoroughly supported your own argument is strategic. You aren’t going to go into great detail discussing the opposing viewpoint: you’re going to explain what that viewpoint is fairly, but you’re also going to point out what’s wrong with it.

It can also be effective to read the opposition through the lens of your own argument and the evidence you’ve used to support it. If the evidence you’ve already included supports your argument, it probably doesn’t support the opposing viewpoint. Without being too obvious, it might be worth pointing this out when you address the opposition.

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Focus Area #3: Writing the Conclusion

It’s common to conclude an argumentative essay by reiterating the thesis statement in some way, either by reminding the reader what the overarching argument was in the first place or by reviewing the main points and evidence that you covered.

You don’t just want to restate your thesis statement and review your main points and call it a day, though. So much has happened since you stated your thesis in the introduction! And why waste a whole paragraph—the very last thing your audience is going to read—on just repeating yourself?

Here’s an approach to the conclusion that can give your audience a fresh perspective on your argument: reinterpret your thesis statement for them in light of all the evidence and explanations you’ve provided. Think about how your readers might read your thesis statement in a new light now that they’ve heard your whole argument out.

That’s what you want to leave your audience with as you conclude your argumentative paper: a brief explanation of why all that arguing mattered in the first place. If you can give your audience something to continue pondering after they’ve read your argument, that’s even better.

One thing you want to avoid in your conclusion, though: presenting new supporting points or new evidence. That can just be confusing for your reader. Stick to telling your reader why the argument you’ve already made matters, and your argument will stick with your reader.

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A Strong Argumentative Essay: Examples

For some aspiring argumentative essay writers, showing is better than telling. To show rather than tell you what makes a strong argumentative essay, we’ve provided three examples of possible body paragraphs for an argumentative essay below.

Think of these example paragraphs as taking on the form of the “Argumentative Point #1 → Evidence —> Explanation —> Repeat” process we talked through earlier. It’s always nice to be able to compare examples, so we’ve included three paragraphs from an argumentative paper ranging from poor (or needs a lot of improvement, if you’re feeling generous), to better, to best.

All of the example paragraphs are for an essay with this thesis statement: 

Thesis Statement: In order to most effectively protect user data and combat the spread of disinformation, the U.S. government should implement more stringent regulations of Facebook and other social media outlets.

As you read the examples, think about what makes them different, and what makes the “best” paragraph more effective than the “better” and “poor” paragraphs. Here we go:

A Poor Argument

Example Body Paragraph: Data mining has affected a lot of people in recent years. Facebook has 2.23 billion users from around the world, and though it would take a huge amount of time and effort to make sure a company as big as Facebook was complying with privacy regulations in countries across the globe, adopting a common framework for privacy regulation in more countries would be the first step. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg himself supports adopting a global framework for privacy and data protection, which would protect more users than before.

What’s Wrong With This Example?

First, let’s look at the thesis statement. Ask yourself: does this make a claim that some people might agree with, but others might disagree with?

The answer is yes. Some people probably think that Facebook should be regulated, while others might believe that’s too much government intervention. Also, there are definitely good, reliable sources out there that will help this writer prove their argument. So this paper is off to a strong start!  

Unfortunately, this writer doesn’t do a great job proving their thesis in their body paragraph. First, the topic sentence—aka the first sentence of the paragraph—doesn’t make a point that directly supports the position stated in the thesis. We’re trying to argue that government regulation will help protect user data and combat the spread of misinformation, remember? The topic sentence should make a point that gets right at that, instead of throwing out a random fact about data mining.

Second, because the topic sentence isn’t focused on making a clear point, the rest of the paragraph doesn’t have much relevant information, and it fails to provide credible evidence that supports the claim made in the thesis statement. For example, it would be a great idea to include exactly what Mark Zuckerberg said ! So while there’s definitely some relevant information in this paragraph, it needs to be presented with more evidence.

A Better Argument  

This paragraph is a bit better than the first one, but it still needs some work. The topic sentence is a bit too long, and it doesn’t make a point that clearly supports the position laid out in the thesis statement. The reader already knows that mining user data is a big issue, so the topic sentence would be a great place to make a point about why more stringent government regulations would most effectively protect user data.

There’s also a problem with how the evidence is incorporated in this example. While there is some relevant, persuasive evidence included in this paragraph, there’s no explanation of why or how it is relevant . Remember, you can’t assume that your evidence speaks for itself: you have to interpret its relevance for your reader. That means including at least a sentence that tells your reader why the evidence you’ve chosen proves your argument.

A Best—But Not Perfect!—Argument  

Example Body Paragraph: Though Facebook claims to be implementing company policies that will protect user data and stop the spread of misinformation , its attempts have been unsuccessful compared to those made by the federal government. When PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a Federal Trade Commission-mandated assessment of Facebook’s partnerships with Microsoft and the makers of the Blackberry handset in 2013, the team found limited evidence that Facebook had monitored or even checked that its partners had complied with Facebook’s existing data use policies. In fact, Facebook’s own auditors confirmed the PricewaterhouseCoopers findings, despite the fact that Facebook claimed that the company was making greater attempts to safeguard users’ personal information. In contrast, bills written by Congress have been more successful in changing Facebook’s practices than Facebook’s own company policies have. According to The Washington Post, The Honest Ads Act of 2017 “created public demand for transparency and changed how social media companies disclose online political advertising.” These policy efforts, though thus far unsuccessful in passing legislation, have nevertheless pushed social media companies to change some of their practices by sparking public outrage and negative media attention.

Why This Example Is The Best

This paragraph isn’t perfect, but it is the most effective at doing some of the things that you want to do when you write an argumentative essay.

First, the topic sentences get to the point . . . and it’s a point that supports and explains the claim made in the thesis statement! It gives a clear reason why our claim in favor of more stringent government regulations is a good claim : because Facebook has failed to self-regulate its practices.

This paragraph also provides strong evidence and specific examples that support the point made in the topic sentence. The evidence presented shows specific instances in which Facebook has failed to self-regulate, and other examples where the federal government has successfully influenced regulation of Facebook’s practices for the better.

Perhaps most importantly, though, this writer explains why the evidence is important. The bold sentence in the example is where the writer links the evidence back to their opinion. In this case, they explain that the pressure from Federal Trade Commission and Congress—and the threat of regulation—have helped change Facebook for the better.

Why point out that this isn’t a perfect paragraph, though? Because you won’t be writing perfect paragraphs when you’re taking timed exams either. But get this: you don’t have to write perfect paragraphs to make a good score on AP exams or even on an essay you write for class. Like in this example paragraph, you just have to effectively develop your position by appropriately and convincingly relying on evidence from good sources.

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Top 3 Takeaways For Writing Argumentative Essays

This is all great information, right? If (when) you have to write an argumentative essay, you’ll be ready. But when in doubt, remember these three things about how to write an argumentative essay, and you’ll emerge victorious:

Takeaway #1: Read Closely and Carefully

This tip applies to every aspect of writing an argumentative essay. From making sure you’re addressing your prompt, to really digging into your sources, to proofreading your final paper...you’ll need to actively and pay attention! This is especially true if you’re writing on the clock, like during an AP exam.

Takeaway #2: Make Your Argument the Focus of the Essay

Define your position clearly in your thesis statement and stick to that position! The thesis is the backbone of your paper, and every paragraph should help prove your thesis in one way or another. But sometimes you get to the end of your essay and realize that you’ve gotten off topic, or that your thesis doesn’t quite fit. Don’t worry—if that happens, you can always rewrite your thesis to fit your paper!

Takeaway #3: Use Sources to Develop Your Argument—and Explain Them

Nothing is as powerful as good, strong evidence. First, make sure you’re finding credible sources that support your argument. Then you can paraphrase, briefly summarize, or quote from your sources as you incorporate them into your paragraphs. But remember the most important part: you have to explain why you’ve chosen that evidence and why it proves your thesis.

What's Next?

Once you’re comfortable with how to write an argumentative essay, it’s time to learn some more advanced tips and tricks for putting together a killer argument.

Keep in mind that argumentative essays are just one type of essay you might encounter. That’s why we’ve put together more specific guides on how to tackle IB essays , SAT essays , and ACT essays .

But what about admissions essays? We’ve got you covered. Not only do we have comprehensive guides to the Coalition App and Common App essays, we also have tons of individual college application guides, too . You can search through all of our college-specific posts by clicking here.

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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What is an Argumentative Essay? How to Write It (With Examples)

Argumentative Essay

We define an argumentative essay as a type of essay that presents arguments about both sides of an issue. The purpose is to convince the reader to accept a particular viewpoint or action. In an argumentative essay, the writer takes a stance on a controversial or debatable topic and supports their position with evidence, reasoning, and examples. The essay should also address counterarguments, demonstrating a thorough understanding of the topic.

Table of Contents

  • What is an argumentative essay?  
  • Argumentative essay structure 
  • Argumentative essay outline 
  • Types of argument claims 

How to write an argumentative essay?

  • Argumentative essay writing tips 
  • Good argumentative essay example 

How to write a good thesis

  • How to Write an Argumentative Essay with Paperpal? 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an argumentative essay.

An argumentative essay is a type of writing that presents a coherent and logical analysis of a specific topic. 1 The goal is to convince the reader to accept the writer’s point of view or opinion on a particular issue. Here are the key elements of an argumentative essay: 

  • Thesis Statement : The central claim or argument that the essay aims to prove. 
  • Introduction : Provides background information and introduces the thesis statement. 
  • Body Paragraphs : Each paragraph addresses a specific aspect of the argument, presents evidence, and may include counter arguments. 

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  • Evidence : Supports the main argument with relevant facts, examples, statistics, or expert opinions. 
  • Counterarguments : Anticipates and addresses opposing viewpoints to strengthen the overall argument. 
  • Conclusion : Summarizes the main points, reinforces the thesis, and may suggest implications or actions. 

how to write an argumentative essay steps

Argumentative essay structure

Aristotelian, Rogerian, and Toulmin are three distinct approaches to argumentative essay structures, each with its principles and methods. 2 The choice depends on the purpose and nature of the topic. Here’s an overview of each type of argumentative essay format.

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Argumentative essay outline

An argumentative essay presents a specific claim or argument and supports it with evidence and reasoning. Here’s an outline for an argumentative essay, along with examples for each section: 3  

1.  Introduction : 

  • Hook : Start with a compelling statement, question, or anecdote to grab the reader’s attention. 

Example: “Did you know that plastic pollution is threatening marine life at an alarming rate?” 

  • Background information : Provide brief context about the issue. 

Example: “Plastic pollution has become a global environmental concern, with millions of tons of plastic waste entering our oceans yearly.” 

  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position. 

Example: “We must take immediate action to reduce plastic usage and implement more sustainable alternatives to protect our marine ecosystem.” 

2.  Body Paragraphs : 

  • Topic sentence : Introduce the main idea of each paragraph. 

Example: “The first step towards addressing the plastic pollution crisis is reducing single-use plastic consumption.” 

  • Evidence/Support : Provide evidence, facts, statistics, or examples that support your argument. 

Example: “Research shows that plastic straws alone contribute to millions of tons of plastic waste annually, and many marine animals suffer from ingestion or entanglement.” 

  • Counterargument/Refutation : Acknowledge and refute opposing viewpoints. 

Example: “Some argue that banning plastic straws is inconvenient for consumers, but the long-term environmental benefits far outweigh the temporary inconvenience.” 

  • Transition : Connect each paragraph to the next. 

Example: “Having addressed the issue of single-use plastics, the focus must now shift to promoting sustainable alternatives.” 

3.  Counterargument Paragraph : 

  • Acknowledgement of opposing views : Recognize alternative perspectives on the issue. 

Example: “While some may argue that individual actions cannot significantly impact global plastic pollution, the cumulative effect of collective efforts must be considered.” 

  • Counterargument and rebuttal : Present and refute the main counterargument. 

Example: “However, individual actions, when multiplied across millions of people, can substantially reduce plastic waste. Small changes in behavior, such as using reusable bags and containers, can have a significant positive impact.” 

4.  Conclusion : 

  • Restatement of thesis : Summarize your main argument. 

Example: “In conclusion, adopting sustainable practices and reducing single-use plastic is crucial for preserving our oceans and marine life.” 

  • Call to action : Encourage the reader to take specific steps or consider the argument’s implications. 

Example: “It is our responsibility to make environmentally conscious choices and advocate for policies that prioritize the health of our planet. By collectively embracing sustainable alternatives, we can contribute to a cleaner and healthier future.” 

how to write an argumentative essay steps

Types of argument claims

A claim is a statement or proposition a writer puts forward with evidence to persuade the reader. 4 Here are some common types of argument claims, along with examples: 

  • Fact Claims : These claims assert that something is true or false and can often be verified through evidence.  Example: “Water boils at 100°C at sea level.”
  • Value Claims : Value claims express judgments about the worth or morality of something, often based on personal beliefs or societal values. Example: “Organic farming is more ethical than conventional farming.” 
  • Policy Claims : Policy claims propose a course of action or argue for a specific policy, law, or regulation change.  Example: “Schools should adopt a year-round education system to improve student learning outcomes.” 
  • Cause and Effect Claims : These claims argue that one event or condition leads to another, establishing a cause-and-effect relationship.  Example: “Excessive use of social media is a leading cause of increased feelings of loneliness among young adults.” 
  • Definition Claims : Definition claims assert the meaning or classification of a concept or term.  Example: “Artificial intelligence can be defined as machines exhibiting human-like cognitive functions.” 
  • Comparative Claims : Comparative claims assert that one thing is better or worse than another in certain respects.  Example: “Online education is more cost-effective than traditional classroom learning.” 
  • Evaluation Claims : Evaluation claims assess the quality, significance, or effectiveness of something based on specific criteria.  Example: “The new healthcare policy is more effective in providing affordable healthcare to all citizens.” 

Understanding these argument claims can help writers construct more persuasive and well-supported arguments tailored to the specific nature of the claim.  

If you’re wondering how to start an argumentative essay, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with the argumentative essay format and writing process.

  • Choose a Topic: Select a topic that you are passionate about or interested in. Ensure that the topic is debatable and has two or more sides.
  • Define Your Position: Clearly state your stance on the issue. Consider opposing viewpoints and be ready to counter them.
  • Conduct Research: Gather relevant information from credible sources, such as books, articles, and academic journals. Take notes on key points and supporting evidence.
  • Create a Thesis Statement: Develop a concise and clear thesis statement that outlines your main argument. Convey your position on the issue and provide a roadmap for the essay.
  • Outline Your Argumentative Essay: Organize your ideas logically by creating an outline. Include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each body paragraph should focus on a single point that supports your thesis.
  • Write the Introduction: Start with a hook to grab the reader’s attention (a quote, a question, a surprising fact). Provide background information on the topic. Present your thesis statement at the end of the introduction.
  • Develop Body Paragraphs: Begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that relates to the thesis. Support your points with evidence and examples. Address counterarguments and refute them to strengthen your position. Ensure smooth transitions between paragraphs.
  • Address Counterarguments: Acknowledge and respond to opposing viewpoints. Anticipate objections and provide evidence to counter them.
  • Write the Conclusion: Summarize the main points of your argumentative essay. Reinforce the significance of your argument. End with a call to action, a prediction, or a thought-provoking statement.
  • Revise, Edit, and Share: Review your essay for clarity, coherence, and consistency. Check for grammatical and spelling errors. Share your essay with peers, friends, or instructors for constructive feedback.
  • Finalize Your Argumentative Essay: Make final edits based on feedback received. Ensure that your essay follows the required formatting and citation style.

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Argumentative essay writing tips

Here are eight strategies to craft a compelling argumentative essay: 

  • Choose a Clear and Controversial Topic : Select a topic that sparks debate and has opposing viewpoints. A clear and controversial issue provides a solid foundation for a strong argument. 
  • Conduct Thorough Research : Gather relevant information from reputable sources to support your argument. Use a variety of sources, such as academic journals, books, reputable websites, and expert opinions, to strengthen your position. 
  • Create a Strong Thesis Statement : Clearly articulate your main argument in a concise thesis statement. Your thesis should convey your stance on the issue and provide a roadmap for the reader to follow your argument. 
  • Develop a Logical Structure : Organize your essay with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point of evidence that contributes to your overall argument. Ensure a logical flow from one point to the next. 
  • Provide Strong Evidence : Support your claims with solid evidence. Use facts, statistics, examples, and expert opinions to support your arguments. Be sure to cite your sources appropriately to maintain credibility. 
  • Address Counterarguments : Acknowledge opposing viewpoints and counterarguments. Addressing and refuting alternative perspectives strengthens your essay and demonstrates a thorough understanding of the issue. Be mindful of maintaining a respectful tone even when discussing opposing views. 
  • Use Persuasive Language : Employ persuasive language to make your points effectively. Avoid emotional appeals without supporting evidence and strive for a respectful and professional tone. 
  • Craft a Compelling Conclusion : Summarize your main points, restate your thesis, and leave a lasting impression in your conclusion. Encourage readers to consider the implications of your argument and potentially take action. 

how to write an argumentative essay steps

Good argumentative essay example

Let’s consider a sample of argumentative essay on how social media enhances connectivity:

In the digital age, social media has emerged as a powerful tool that transcends geographical boundaries, connecting individuals from diverse backgrounds and providing a platform for an array of voices to be heard. While critics argue that social media fosters division and amplifies negativity, it is essential to recognize the positive aspects of this digital revolution and how it enhances connectivity by providing a platform for diverse voices to flourish. One of the primary benefits of social media is its ability to facilitate instant communication and connection across the globe. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram break down geographical barriers, enabling people to establish and maintain relationships regardless of physical location and fostering a sense of global community. Furthermore, social media has transformed how people stay connected with friends and family. Whether separated by miles or time zones, social media ensures that relationships remain dynamic and relevant, contributing to a more interconnected world. Moreover, social media has played a pivotal role in giving voice to social justice movements and marginalized communities. Movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #ClimateStrike have gained momentum through social media, allowing individuals to share their stories and advocate for change on a global scale. This digital activism can shape public opinion and hold institutions accountable. Social media platforms provide a dynamic space for open dialogue and discourse. Users can engage in discussions, share information, and challenge each other’s perspectives, fostering a culture of critical thinking. This open exchange of ideas contributes to a more informed and enlightened society where individuals can broaden their horizons and develop a nuanced understanding of complex issues. While criticisms of social media abound, it is crucial to recognize its positive impact on connectivity and the amplification of diverse voices. Social media transcends physical and cultural barriers, connecting people across the globe and providing a platform for marginalized voices to be heard. By fostering open dialogue and facilitating the exchange of ideas, social media contributes to a more interconnected and empowered society. Embracing the positive aspects of social media allows us to harness its potential for positive change and collective growth.
  • Clearly Define Your Thesis Statement:   Your thesis statement is the core of your argumentative essay. Clearly articulate your main argument or position on the issue. Avoid vague or general statements.  
  • Provide Strong Supporting Evidence:   Back up your thesis with solid evidence from reliable sources and examples. This can include facts, statistics, expert opinions, anecdotes, or real-life examples. Make sure your evidence is relevant to your argument, as it impacts the overall persuasiveness of your thesis.  
  • Anticipate Counterarguments and Address Them:   Acknowledge and address opposing viewpoints to strengthen credibility. This also shows that you engage critically with the topic rather than presenting a one-sided argument. 

How to Write an Argumentative Essay with Paperpal?

Writing a winning argumentative essay not only showcases your ability to critically analyze a topic but also demonstrates your skill in persuasively presenting your stance backed by evidence. Achieving this level of writing excellence can be time-consuming. This is where Paperpal, your AI academic writing assistant, steps in to revolutionize the way you approach argumentative essays. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use Paperpal to write your essay: 

  • Sign Up or Log In: Begin by creating an account or logging into paperpal.com .  
  • Navigate to Paperpal Copilot: Once logged in, proceed to the Templates section from the side navigation bar.  
  • Generate an essay outline: Under Templates, click on the ‘Outline’ tab and choose ‘Essay’ from the options and provide your topic to generate an outline.  
  • Develop your essay: Use this structured outline as a guide to flesh out your essay. If you encounter any roadblocks, click on Brainstorm and get subject-specific assistance, ensuring you stay on track. 
  • Refine your writing: To elevate the academic tone of your essay, select a paragraph and use the ‘Make Academic’ feature under the ‘Rewrite’ tab, ensuring your argumentative essay resonates with an academic audience. 
  • Final Touches: Make your argumentative essay submission ready with Paperpal’s language, grammar, consistency and plagiarism checks, and improve your chances of acceptance.  

Paperpal not only simplifies the essay writing process but also ensures your argumentative essay is persuasive, well-structured, and academically rigorous. Sign up today and transform how you write argumentative essays. 

The length of an argumentative essay can vary, but it typically falls within the range of 1,000 to 2,500 words. However, the specific requirements may depend on the guidelines provided.

You might write an argumentative essay when:  1. You want to convince others of the validity of your position.  2. There is a controversial or debatable issue that requires discussion.  3. You need to present evidence and logical reasoning to support your claims.  4. You want to explore and critically analyze different perspectives on a topic. 

Argumentative Essay:  Purpose : An argumentative essay aims to persuade the reader to accept or agree with a specific point of view or argument.  Structure : It follows a clear structure with an introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs presenting arguments and evidence, counterarguments and refutations, and a conclusion.  Tone : The tone is formal and relies on logical reasoning, evidence, and critical analysis.    Narrative/Descriptive Essay:  Purpose : These aim to tell a story or describe an experience, while a descriptive essay focuses on creating a vivid picture of a person, place, or thing.  Structure : They may have a more flexible structure. They often include an engaging introduction, a well-developed body that builds the story or description, and a conclusion.  Tone : The tone is more personal and expressive to evoke emotions or provide sensory details. 

  • Gladd, J. (2020). Tips for Writing Academic Persuasive Essays.  Write What Matters . 
  • Nimehchisalem, V. (2018). Pyramid of argumentation: Towards an integrated model for teaching and assessing ESL writing.  Language & Communication ,  5 (2), 185-200. 
  • Press, B. (2022).  Argumentative Essays: A Step-by-Step Guide . Broadview Press. 
  • Rieke, R. D., Sillars, M. O., & Peterson, T. R. (2005).  Argumentation and critical decision making . Pearson/Allyn & Bacon. 

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay

Last Updated: June 14, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 845,571 times.

Understanding how to structure and write an argumentative essay is a useful skill. Strong argumentative essays present relevant evidence that supports an argument and convinces the audience of a particular stance. This type of essay provides the reader with a thorough overview of a topic, covering all facets, but also attempts to persuade the reader into agreeing with the author's point of view.

Understanding the Format

Step 1 Understand the purpose of an argumentative essay.

  • Argumentative essays also provide your audience with a well-rounded summary of the issue at hand, but clearly indicate what your own point of view is and why this view is the best option over others.

Step 2 Understand the methodology of an argumentative essay.

  • The effectiveness of this type of essay depends on the author's ability to parse through the various facets of the topic and lead the reader toward an obvious and logical conclusion. To this end, you must familiarize yourself with all opinions about the topic so that you can also outline the viewpoints that oppose your own view (counterarguments).

Step 3 Understand the desired outcome of an argumentative essay.

  • Make sure you have your desired outcome in mind as you move forward in the writing process.

Selecting a Topic

Step 1 Choose something that fits the format.

  • For example, writing an argumentative essay on the fact that exercise is good for you would be undesirable because it would be difficult to find contradicting views on the topic; everyone agrees that exercise is good for people.

Step 2 Pick an issue that is interesting to you.

  • Avoid choosing a topic that has been overdone, or, on the other hand, one that is too obscure (since supporting evidence may be more difficult to find).

Step 3 Test your argument.

  • Try a debate-style conversation in which you each bring up aspects of the controversy and attempt to explain your view on the topic.

Step 4 Keep your audience in mind.

  • Are you writing the paper for a class, in which case your audience is your professor and your classmates? Or perhaps you are writing it for a presentation to a larger group of people. Regardless, you must think about where your audience is coming from in order to lead them to your desired outcome.
  • People's backgrounds and experiences often influence how they will react to views different from their own, so it is helpful for you to be knowledgeable about these factors.
  • You also use different language when addressing different groups of people. For example, you would speak to the pastor at your church differently than you might speak in a casual setting with your best friend. It is important to be mindful of these distinctions when considering your audience.

Step 5 Understand the rhetorical situation.

  • Rhetorical situations usually involve employing language that is intended to persuade someone toward a particular view or belief. That is why rhetoric is important in an argumentative essay. These types of essays aim to convince the reader that the author's view on the subject is the most correct one. [6] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Structuring Your Argument

Step 1 Create a catchy title.

  • A good title will act as a "preview" for what your paper will be about. Many titles for academic papers come in two parts, separated by a colon. The first part is often a catchy hook that involves a pun on your topic or an impactful quote, and the second part is usually a sentence that sums up or provides details about your argument. [8] X Research source

Step 2 Come up with a thesis statement.

  • A good thesis statement is concise and clear. It tells the reader what the point of the paper is and why it's important. The thesis must make a claim of some sort. [10] X Research source This can be a claim of value (describing the worth of how we view a certain thing), a claim of definition (arguing that the way we define a term or idea needs to be altered in some way), a claim of cause and effect (claiming that one event or thing caused another event or thing), or a claim about policy solutions (arguing that the way we do things needs to be changed for some reason).
  • Here is an example of a strong thesis statement: Excessive meat consumption in America is the leading cause of pollution today, and, thus, is a significant influence on global warming. This thesis makes a claim (specifically a cause and effect claim) about a debatable topic with a narrow enough focus to create an interesting, manageable argumentative essay.
  • Here is an example of a weak thesis statement: Pollution is a problem in the world today. This is not a debatable issue; few people would argue that pollution is not a problem. The topic is also too broad. You can't write a paper on every single aspect of pollution.

Step 3 Avoid the standard three-part thesis often taught to beginning writers.

  • Changing the thesis to avoid this form will make for a much more functional essay that is written at a more advanced level. A more effective thesis would be something like this: Due to increasing global temperatures and rising ocean levels, global warming has become an issue that needs to be acknowledged by a wider audience in order to begin reversing the effects.

Step 2 Write an introduction.

  • There are many different ways to organize your argument, but the most important thing is that you cover all aspects of the issue. Leaving out information simply because it contradicts your thesis idea is unethical as it does not provide an accurate portrayal of the issue.
  • Be sure to include counterarguments (those ideas that are at odds with your own view), but explain to your reader why your own viewpoint is more logical and accurate, perhaps because the opposing view is based on outdated information, etc. Avoid implicating opposing views as wrong because it could alienate your readers.

Step 4 Write a conclusion.

  • Be sure to review your main points and restate your thesis. But make sure not to introduce any new information in the conclusion so that you can effectively wrap up what you've already said.
  • Often, it is helpful to end with a look forward to further research that could be done on the topic in light of what you have said in your paper.

Including Research and Sources

Step 1 Do your research.

  • Ask a reference librarian for assistance in finding reputable, useful sources for your argument. They will probably be happy to help you.

Step 2 Pick sources that are reputable and provide accurate, up-to-date information.

  • Scholarly sources should be written by experts in the field (i.e. use a quote from someone with a PhD in environmental science if you are writing an argumentative paper on the dangers of global warming) or published in scholarly, peer-reviewed outlets. This means that sources are fact-checked by a panel of experts before they are approved for publication.
  • It is important to remember that anyone can write things on the internet without any kind of publication standards for accuracy, so using blogs and many websites is not a good idea in an academic paper.

Step 4 Cite your sources.

  • Citing sources involves writing quotation marks (") around the verbatim quotes and then including a parenthetical in-text citation at the end of the quote that refers to a source listed on the Bibliography or Works Cited page at the end of your paper.
  • There are several different formatting methods that are used in different fields. [16] X Research source For example, in English departments they use MLA formatting and in history departments they usually implement Chicago style formatting.

Editing and Applying Final Touches

Step 1 Take a step back.

  • Sentence fragments. [18] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source Fragments are incomplete phrases that cannot stand alone as a sentence because they are missing either a verb, a noun, or a complete thought.
  • Parallelism. [19] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source Errors in parallelism occur when words or groups of words do not appear in the same format or structure within a sentence.
  • Subject-verb agreement. [20] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source Errors with subject-verb agreement happen when an incorrect verb form is used with a particular subject. For example, he know instead of he knows.

Step 3 Check for problems with formatting or quote incorporation.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Include only relevant information. Don't drift off-topic. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Try to make each paragraph about a different aspect. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Use basic writing techniques to write the essay. Sentences should logically flow and have a specific purpose. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to write an argumentative essay steps

  • It is important to respect different views and to only use information, not insults, to support your claim. Thanks Helpful 41 Not Helpful 7
  • It is also important not to base your reasons on opinions. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0

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Write an Argumentative Research Paper

  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/argumentative_essays.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/establishing_arguments/organizing_your_argument.html
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/argumentative-essay/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/rhetorical_situation/index.html
  • ↑ https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/top-10-argumentative-essay-topics.html
  • ↑ https://umanitoba.ca/student/academiclearning/media/Writing_a_Great_Title_NEW.pdf
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 20 May 2020.
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/01/
  • ↑ https://slc.berkeley.edu/writing-worksheets-and-other-writing-resources/suggestions-developing-argumentative-essays
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/argumentative-writing
  • ↑ https://guides.skylinecollege.edu/c.php?g=279231&p=4339683
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/proofreading_for_errors.html
  • http://homeworktips.about.com/od/essaywriting/a/argument.htm

About This Article

Jake Adams

To write an argumentative essay, select a debatable topic that you have a strong opinion about. Your job is to convince the reader that your view on the subject is the best one, so choose a topic you can investigate and support with research. Open the essay with a concise thesis that asserts your viewpoint, then sum up all aspects of the issue, including your opinion and counterarguments. Pull quotes from reputable sources to support your stance, and end by restating your thesis and reasserting your main points. If you want to learn more, like how to format your Works Cited page to list your sources, keep reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay: 101 Guide [+ Examples]

An argumentative essay is a genre of academic writing that investigates different sides of a particular issue. Its central purpose is to inform the readers rather than expressively persuade them. Thus, it is crucial to differentiate between argumentative and persuasive essays.

While composing an argumentative essay, the students have to demonstrate their research and analytical skills. The secret of a successful paper lies behind strong arguments and counterarguments. So, the writer should focus on facts and data rather than personal values and beliefs.

Besides, a good argumentative essay should be structured appropriately:

  • The introduction and conclusion have to create a frame for the entire essay.
  • The body paragraphs are supposed to cover the essential points.
  • Supporting evidence should make a paper more professional and reputable.

Are you still wondering what an argumentative essay is and how to write it? Check out the sections below prepared by our experts . Here, you can find the most valuable info, helpful tips, and useful examples.

📜 Classic Strategy

📋 toulmin strategy, 🗣️ rogerian strategy, ✒️ fill in the blanks, 🔍 edit and proofread, 🔗 references, 📌 argumentative essay in a nutshell.

Are you trying to figure out what an argumentative essay is? It’s a type of academic paper that covers both sides of a given issue. An author can decide whether they aim to present both sides equally or support one side more dynamically.

One of the mistakes among students is the confusion of argumentative and persuasive essays . Do you want to figure out the differences? Take a look at the following table.

Before writing an argument essay, it would be helpful to choose an appropriate model to rely on. There are three strategies to consider: Classical, Toulmin, and Rogerian.

Look at the following sections and choose the most suitable one for you.

Are you wondering how to write an argumentative essay? Consider using the classical approach. It is the most popular way of composing an argumentative paper.

Under the classical strategy, the author has to follow these rules:

  • research the issue;
  • present both sides;
  • express own opinion;
  • prove the reader the validity of the conclusion.

It is up to the audience to decide whether your position is right or wrong. Yet, you should try to convince the readers of the effectiveness of your opinion.

Usually, the classical argument paper is structured in the following way:

  • Introduction . Use the hook to catch the readers’ attention. State the problem and explain why your topic is relatable to the audience.
  • General background. Introduce the general info and several facts about your issue.
  • Thesis statement . State your position clearly and concisely.
  • The central argument. Provide valid evidence and appropriate examples to support your position. Refer only to reliable sources.
  • Rebuttal . Include a counter paragraph in your essay, presenting the opposing arguments. Provide specific examples to make the reader understand your position. Also, explain to the audience why the counterclaims are incorrect.
  • Conclusion . Synthesize your arguments and counterarguments. Give the readers a question for further investigation of your problem. To make your essay more impressive, compose a memorable concluding sentence.

Toulmin strategy is the most suitable for the discussion of controversial issues. This model aims to find common ground through clear logic and valid evidence. Besides, the Toulmin strategy eliminates unnecessary things and limits the points to agree upon.

An argumentative essay written by the Toulmin model includes the following elements:

  • Claim . A viewpoint that the author aims to prove.
  • Evidence . Supportive facts from reliable resources that highlight the significance of the claim.
  • Warrant . An element that connects the claim and that evidence.
  • Backing . Additional reasoning that underlines the warrant’s validity.
  • Rebuttal . Counterarguments that contradict the author’s position.
  • Qualifier . An additional element (usually, a word or a short phrase) that narrows the claim’s capacity. Several examples of qualifiers: “typically,” “usually,” “occasionally,” etc.
  • Exceptions . Specific limitations that indicate the cases where that claim may not be valid.

Like the Toulmin approach, Rogerian strategy attempts to find common ground between two sides of one issue. However, the technique is slightly different.

The Rogerian model is often used in highly controversial debates when the parties do not accept each other’s position. Thus, the given strategy focuses on finding the agreement by proving the validity of the opposing arguments.

Below, you can find the primary outline for the Rogerian argumentative essay:

  • Introduce the problem. Present the issue clearly and explain why it is worth the readers’ attention.
  • Summarize and analyze the counterarguments. Take into consideration all the possible counterpoints and look at them from different perspectives. Discuss the cases in which the opposing claims could be valid. Demonstrate your open-mindedness. This will make the opposite party more loyal to you.
  • Present your position. After discussing the counterpoints, state your opinion. Convince the audience about the validity of your points.
  • Prove the advantages of your position. Explain to the opposite party how the acceptance and adoption of your points will benefit them.

🧐 How to Write an Argumentative Essay

Before working on your essay, carefully read the assignment. Make sure you understand all the instructor’s requirements and the purpose of the paper.

  • Pay enough attention to the task. Did your professor assign you a topic? Or do you need to choose it yourself ? Make sure you have an idea that will turn into an outstanding essay.
  • Select the strategy you are going to apply. An argumentative essay format will depend on the model you choose to compose your paper. Analyze the issue you will arise and decide what strategy is the most suitable. Is it the Classical model, the Toulmin, or the Rogerian one?

After that, start composing your argumentative essay. Check out the following sections. We have a lot of insightful info to share with you!

📚 Research the Topic

The first step of writing an argumentative paper is an in-depth investigation of the topic. To validate your arguments, you have to refer to credible resources. The essay will look more professional if you use reliable sources in it.

How to research for an argumentative essay.

To research like a professional , do the following:

  • Use only credible sources. You can refer to the books, research articles, materials from academic databases, or Google Scholar. Webpages registered as governmental or educational institutions (.gov, .edu.) and widely-known news websites (New York Times, BBC, CNBC) are also considered appropriate. Avoid using blog posts, outdated materials, and any other data from unreliable sources. You may get into huge trouble, taking information from random websites, since it may be invalid.
  • Pay attention to the publishing date . You may be required to use the sources released no later than five years ago. Yet, it is not always the case, especially when you’re dealing with historical documents. Thus, double-check your instructions regarding recommended sources.
  • Keep your topic in mind. Concentrate on what you are writing about and select the sources for your exact issue. Avoid sources that provide too general information and look for more limited ones. If your idea is World War II’s economic consequences, the history book from ancient times to modern days will not be the best option.
  • Become an expert. Take enough time to investigate the issue you are writing about. Read numerous articles, compare and contrast the scientists’ opinions. Prove your reader that you are a reliable person who selected the best sources.

📝 Outline Your Essay

The majority of students tend to underestimate the power of outlining. Don’t do this! An argumentative essay outline is a helpful tool for planning, structuring, and composing.

Firstly , a well-developed outline helps the writer to put all their thoughts in an appropriate order. None of the essential points will be lost if the student plans the essay before writing.

Secondly , it lets the writer figure out what evidence suits what argument most. Before writing, draft your essay first. Put examples, facts, etc. in the right parts of the paper. Then, write the entire text.

Thirdly , an outline provides a perfect opportunity to change the essay’s parts without rewriting the paper. Are you unsure of specific details? Not a problem. Change them in the outline without ruining the text.

There are essential elements that your outline should contain. Check out the following section to see them.

Introduction

How to start an argumentative essay? First and foremost, include an argumentative essay introduction in your outline.

This part should grab the readers’ attention from the first words. Thus, put enough effort into composing a compelling hook . What can it be? An impressive statistic or an exciting fact? Be creative – decide yourself! But make sure that your intro is catchy enough.

After the hook, introduce your topic’s general background . Prove the readers the significance of your issue and gradually come to the thesis statement .

The concept of studying abroad is becoming increasingly popular in both developed and developing countries. Students around the globe strive to explore the world and broaden their minds, and studying in a foreign country is an excellent opportunity to do so. Such experience may be extremely beneficial because meeting new people and discovering foreign cultures help students to gain valuable knowledge and see the world from a new perspective. However, while presenting significant opportunities for personal growth, it may also bring about some challenges.

Thesis Statement

A thesis is an essential part of your argumentative essay. It should state your position regarding the issue clearly and concisely. Avoid general statements, vague words, and be as specific and possible. Your thesis statement should guide the readers throughout the main points of the paper.

The location of the thesis in the essay plays a crucial role. The most appropriate place for it is the last sentence of the introductory paragraph.

Although students face difficulties such as loneliness while studying abroad, it is a worthy experience to introduce them to new knowledge, people, and culture and promote their independence.

Body Paragraphs

The body of your paper is supposed to develop your position, provide valid evidence and examples. Each paragraph has to focus only on one idea. This will ensure the logical structure of your argumentative essay.

A body paragraph should start from the topic sentence and end with the concluding sentence . Such a frame around every section will make your readers stay concentrated on your ideas and get your opinion.

  • The topic sentence is the first sentence of the passage. It should reflect its point and correspond to the thesis statement.
  • The concluding sentence aims to wrap up the author’s thoughts. Thus, make sure that the last sentence of a paragraph is insightful enough.

Each body paragraph should include an argument (or a counterargument) with supporting evidence. Get your proof from credible sources and ensure that it directly corresponds to the point.

An example of a topic sentence :

The benefits of education abroad are almost innumerable, prominent examples being gaining new knowledge, making friends with people who have different mindsets, and discovering new cultures.

An example of a concluding sentence:

Participants of student exchange programs usually return more driven and eager to develop both themselves and their country.

A conclusion plays a critical role in understanding the entire paper. It summarizes the body and leaves the final impression. Besides, it may push the readers on further investigation of the issue.

  • To make your argumentative essay conclusion powerful, it is not enough just to summarize the arguments. It has to synthesize your ideas and show the connection between them. In other words, your points should be summarized and analyzed.
  • Moreover, a conclusion refers to the thesis statement . A mere restatement of the central idea is not the most successful way of finishing your paper. You should try to develop it to demonstrate the reason you’ve written the previous paragraphs.

One more tip:

  • Give the audience an incentive to explore the topic more in-depth. Insert the questions for further investigation at the end of your essay. It would play a significant role in making an impressive conclusion.

To sum up, studying abroad is beneficial as it helps a person evolve and perceive a world from new perspectives. It is an opportunity for a participant to explore the world, meet new people, gain valuable knowledge and experience, and broaden their horizons. Education abroad might pose problems like homesickness, loneliness, and trouble with getting accustomed to a new environment. However, all of them can be easily overcome if a student is flexible and eager to become autonomous and independent.

The list of references is a crucial part of any argumentative essay. It should contain all the sources the writer uses in the paper.

Before organizing your reference list , double-check your argumentative essay format. Is it written in MLA, APA, or maybe in Chicago style? How many references does the professor expect you to include? What kind of sources are you required to use?

After figuring out these issues, move to the format requirements of the writing style you use for your paper. The most popular ones are APA (7th edition), MLA, and ChicagoAD (author-date) styles. Below, you can find the examples of a reference for the same book in different formatting styles.

Did you develop a good outline? Congratulations! You are almost done with the essay. Now, you need to fill in the blanks and create a final version of your paper. Here is where you need to demonstrate a high level of your writing skills.

  • Make sure your paper has no logical fallacies. Information from an untrustworthy source, a hasty generalization, or a false conclusion may put your reliability as an author under threat. So double-check all the data you include in your essay. Moreover, make sure all your statements are well-developed and supported by valid evidence.
  • Check your argumentative essay structure . All the arguments should refer to the thesis statement and must be presented in the logical sequence. The supporting evidence and examples have to be inserted in the text logically, according to the arguments.
  • Pay enough attention to the citations. References and in-text citations are incredibly tricky. Always check every detail according to your essay format. If you are unsure of specific issues, refer to a citation guide and make your paper free of formatting mistakes.
  • Ensure the coherence of your argumentative essay. Often, the paper’s material seems raw only because it is presented without a logical connection. To ensure a smooth connection between the ideas, use transitions between the paragraphs and linking words inside them. Insert them in the text to connect the points. As a result, you will have a coherent essay with the logical flow of the arguments.

A list of linking words for an argumentative essay.

The final step of your writing process is editing and proofreading. Although it is not that energy and time consuming, it still plays a critical role in the work’s success.

While writing your argumentative paper, plan your time accordingly. This will provide you with an opportunity to polish your essay before submitting it. And take a look at our checklist and always use it to improve your papers:

  • NO first and second person. Use only the third person in your argumentative essay. It is a general requirement for any kind of academic paper.
  • NO slang. The word choice is an essential part of the essay writing process. Ensure you use only formal vocabulary and avoid using informal language (jargon, slang, etc.).
  • NO unchecked words. Sometimes, words can raise questions and lead to misunderstandings. If you are unsure whether the term is used appropriately, double-check its meaning or replace it with another.
  • NO plagiarism. While proofreading, make sure your citations are either properly paraphrased or taken in quotation marks. You can change the sentence structure to avoid plagiarism.
  • NO minor mistakes. Grammar, spelling, punctuation play a crucial role. Want to make your paper look professional? Make sure it is free of minor mistakes then.

Argumentative Essay Topics

  • Should student-athletes benefit from sports?  
  • Do celebrities really have influence on people behavior?  
  • Will decriminalization of drugs increase drug menace?  
  • Does social and environmental reporting promote organizations’ financial success? 
  • Should online learning be promoted?  
  • Can space exploration resolve human problems?  
  • Is success really the outcome of hard work? 
  • Is there discrimination against women in sports?   
  • Will banning tobacco sales promote public health?  
  • Is euthanasia a clemency?  
  • Should college education be free and accessible for every student?  
  • Should football be banned for being too dangerous?  
  • Is it time to change social norms?  
  • Should public servants’ strikes be prohibited?  
  • Does media create a negative image of ageing and older people?  
  • Is capitalism the best economic system?  
  • Can children under 18 make an appropriate decision on getting tattoo ?  
  • Should net neutrality be protected?  
  • Can an improper use of social media provoke a family crisis?  
  • Is it right to use animals in biomedical research ?  
  • Does the climate change affect our indoor environment? 
  • Are children’s crimes a result of poor parenting?  
  • Should health care be universal? 
  • Does the increased use of technology hurt students’ efficiency? 
  • Is transformative education a key to the system modernization?  
  • Why should patients have access to truthful information?  
  • How does language barrier affect health care access?  
  • Would allowing adoption by same-sex couples benefit the country’s child welfare system? 
  • Is spanking children a proper way to improve their behavior?  
  • Does gun control law lowers crime rates?  
  • Will ban on spamming improve users’ internet experience?  
  • Should behavior be made illegal because it’s immoral?  
  • Is globalization really a progress?  
  • Does aid to developing countries bring more harm than good?  
  • Can parents improve children mental health by restricting internet use ?  
  • Is trusting our senses the best way to get the truth?  
  • Why parents should not have the right to choose their children based on genetics.  
  • Is college education really worth it? 
  • Will wearing a body camera by police officer enhance public trust?    
  • Immigration : a benefit or a threat?  
  • Is it a duty of adult children to take care of their elderly parents?  
  • Should abortions be legal? 
  • Are agents an integral part of professional sports?  
  • Will ban of cellphones while driving decrease the car accident rates? 
  • Should marijuana be legal for medical use?  
  • Is veganism diet universally beneficial?  
  • Should museums return artefacts?  
  • Is water birth beneficial for women’s health?  
  • Will paying people to stay healthy benefit the nation in the long-term perspective?  
  • Is obesity a disease or a choice?  

It is up to you to decide how many parts to include in your essay. However, the 5 paragraph structure is the most appropriate model for an argumentative paper. So, write an introduction, a conclusion, and three body paragraphs.

The pronoun “you” is acceptable for informal writing. Yet, in academic papers, avoid using the second person. The same situation is with the first person. Generally, academic papers require the use of the third person.

A hook aims to grab the readers’ attention. Thus, you could start your essay with an interesting fact about your issue. Another way to create a catchy hook is to prove the audience the relatability of your topic. Make the readers want to explore your essay by demonstrating the significance of your issue.

Yes, you can. A question might become a compelling hook. Just make sure that it is profound, thought-provocative, and concise. A too broad or complicated question will only confuse your readers.

A title is an essential part of the essay since it causes the first impression. While selecting a heading, take into consideration the following points:

1. The title must be catchy.

2. It has to be not too long (5-12 words).

3. The title has to reflect the topic of the paper.

4. It should not be too complicated: the simpler – the better.

Thank you for visiting our page! We hope the information was helpful and insightful. Do you have friends who seek help with writing an argumentative essay? Share our article with them. And don’t forget to leave your comments!

  • Sample Argument Essays: Mesa Community College
  • Argument: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay: Grace Fleming, ThoughtCo
  • Tips for Organizing an Argumentative Essay: Judith L., Beumer Writing Center, Valparaiso University
  • Argumentative Essay: Oya Ozagac, Bogazici University, Online Writing Lab
  • Argumentative Essays: Purdue Online Writing Lab, College of Liberal Arts, Purdue University
  • How to Write an Argumentative Essay Step by Step: Virginia Kearney, Owlcation
  • Counterargument: Gordon Harvey for the Writing Center at Harvard University
  • Basic Steps in the Research Process: North Hennepin Community College, Minnesota
  • How to Recognize Plagiarism, Overview: School of Education, Indiana University Bloomington
  • 15 Steps to Good Research: Georgetown University Library
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Argumentative Essay – Outline, Form, and Examples

Daniel Bal

What is an argumentative essay?

An argumentative essay requires the writer to investigate a specific topic by collecting and evaluating evidence to establish a position on the subject matter.

When preparing to compose a good argumentative essay, utilize the following steps:

Step 1: Select a topic.

Step 2: Identify a position.

Step 3: Locate appropriate resources.

Step 4: Identify evidence supporting the position. ( NOTE: If there is little evidence in support of the claim, consider re-examining the main argument.)

Steps to write an argumentative essay

When gathering evidence, use credible sources . To determine the credibility of the source, consider authority, currency, accuracy, and objectivity:

Who is the author ? Are they an expert in the field? Has a reputable publisher published the work?

How current is the information in the source? Does the currency of the source matter? Does the age of the source impact the content? Is there newer information that disproves the source’s information?

Can other sources verify the accuracy of the information? Does the information contradict that found in other commonly accepted sources?

Is there any evidence of bias, or is the source objective ? Is the research sponsored by an organization that may skew the information?

The following are typically recognized as providing appropriate, credible research material:

Peer-reviewed journals/research papers

Government agencies

Professional organizations

Library databases

Reference books

Credible sources

Writers should avoid using the following sources:

Social media posts

Out-of-date materials

Step 5: Utilize the research to determine a thesis statement that identifies the topic, position, and support(s).

Step 6: Use the evidence to construct an outline, detailing the main supports and relevant evidence.

Steps to write an argumentative essay

Argumentative essay outline

After gathering all of the necessary research, the next step in composing an argumentative essay focuses on organizing the information through the use of an outline:

Introduction

Attention Grabber/Hook

Background Information: Include any background information pertinent to the topic that the reader needs to know to understand the argument.

Thesis: State the position in connection to the main topic and identify the supports that will help prove the argument.

Topic sentence

Identify evidence in support of the claim in the topic sentence

Explain how the evidence supports the argument

Evidence 3 (Continue as needed)

Support 2 (Continue as needed)

Restate thesis

Review main supports

Concluding statement

Invite the audience to take a specific action.

Identify the overall importance of the topic and position.

Argumentative essay outline

How to write an argumentative essay

Regardless of the writer’s topic or point of view, an argumentative essay should include an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, a conclusion, and works cited.

Background information

Body Paragraphs

Analysis of evidence

Rephrased thesis

Review of main ideas

Call to action

Works Cited

Components of an argumentative essay

Argumentative essay introduction

The introduction sets the tone for the entire paper and introduces the argument. In general, the first paragraph(s) should attract the reader’s attention, provide relevant context, and conclude with a thesis statement.

To attract the reader's attention , start with an introductory device. There are several attention-grabbing techniques, the most common of which consist of the following:

The writer can emphasize the topic’s importance by explaining the current interest in the topic or indicating that the subject is influential.

Pertinent statistics give the paper an air of authority.

There are many reasons for a stimulating statement to surprise a reader. Sometimes it is joyful; sometimes it is shocking; sometimes it is surprising because of who said it.

An interesting incident or anecdote can act as a teaser to lure the reader into the remainder of the essay. Be sure that the device is appropriate for the subject and focus of what follows.

Provide the reader with relevant context and background information necessary to understand the topic.

Conclude with a thesis statement that identifies the overall purpose of the essay (topic and position). Writers can also include their support directly in the thesis, which outlines the structure of the essay for the reader.

Avoid the following when writing the introduction to argumentative writing:

Starting with dictionary definitions is too overdone and unappealing.

Do not make an announcement of the topic like “In this paper I will…” or “The purpose of this essay is to….”

Evidence supporting or developing the thesis should be in the body paragraphs, not the introduction.

Beginning the essay with general or absolute statements such as “throughout history...” or “as human beings we always...” or similar statements suggest the writer knows all of history or that all people behave or think in the same way.

Argumentative essay thesis

The thesis statement is the single, specific claim the writer sets out to prove and is typically positioned as the last sentence of the introduction . It is the controlling idea of the entire argument that identifies the topic, position, and reasoning.

When constructing a thesis for an argumentative paper, make sure it contains a side of the argument, not simply a topic. An argumentative thesis identifies the writer’s position on a given topic. If a position cannot be taken, then it is not argumentative thesis:

Topic: Capital punishment is practiced in many states.

Thesis: Capital punishment should be illegal.

While not always required, the thesis statement can include the supports the writer will use to prove the main claim. Therefore, a thesis statement can be structured as follows:

TOPIC + POSITION (+ SUPPORTS)

No Supports: College athletes (TOPIC) should be financially compensated (POSITION).

Supports: College athletes (TOPIC) should be financially compensated (POSITION) because they sacrifice their minds and bodies (SUPPORT 1), cannot hold

Argumentative essay body paragraphs

Body paragraphs can be of varying lengths, but they must present a coherent argument unified under a single topic. They are rarely ever longer than one page, double-spaced; usually they are much shorter.

Lengthy paragraphs indicate a lack of structure. Identify the main ideas of a lengthy paragraph to determine if they make more sense as separate topics in separate paragraphs.

Shorter paragraphs usually indicate a lack of substance; there is not enough evidence or analysis to prove the argument. Develop the ideas more or integrate the information into another paragraph.

The structure of an argumentative paragraph should include a topic sentence, evidence, and a transition.

The topic sentence is the thesis of the paragraph that identifies the arguable point in support of the main argument. The reader should know exactly what the writer is trying to prove within the paragraph by reading the first sentence.

The supporting evidence and analysis provide information to support the claim. There should be a balance between the evidence (facts, quotations, summary of events/plot, etc.) and analysis (interpretation of evidence). If the paragraph is evidence-heavy, there is not much of an argument; if it is analysis-heavy, there is not enough evidence in support of the claim.

The transition can be at the beginning or the end of a paragraph. However, it is much easier to combine the transition with the concluding observation to help the paragraphs flow into one another. Transitions in academic writing should tell the reader where you were, where you are going, and relate to the thesis.

Some essays may benefit from the inclusion of rebuttals to potential counterarguments of the writer’s position.

Argumentative essay conclusion

The conclusion should make readers glad they read the paper. It can suggest broader implications that will not only interest readers but also enrich their understanding in some way. There are three aspects to follow when constructing the conclusion: rephrase the thesis, synthesize information, and call the reader to action.

Rephrased the thesis in the first sentence of the conclusion. It must be in different words; do not simply write it verbatim.

Synthesize the argument by showing how the paper's main points support the argument.

Propose a course of action or a solution to an issue. This can redirect the reader's thought process to apply the ideas to their life or to see the broader implications of the topic.

Avoid the following when constructing the conclusion:

Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase such as "in conclusion," "in summary," or "in closing;" although these phrases can work in speeches, they come across as trite in writing

Introducing a new idea or subtopic in the conclusion

Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of the paper

Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper

Argumentative essay examples

Examples of argumentative essays vary depending upon the type:

Academic essays differ based upon the topic and position. These essays follow a more traditional structure and are typically assigned in high school or college. Examples of academic argumentative essay topics include the following:

Advantages or disadvantages of social media

Animal testing

Art education

Benefit or detriment of homework

Capital punishment

Class warfare

Immigration

School uniforms

Universal healthcare

Violence in video games

Argumentative literary essays are typically more informal and do not follow the same structure as an academic essay. The following are popular examples of argumentative literary essays:

“Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf

“Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell

“Thoughts for the Times on War and Death” by Sigmund Freud

“Does the Truth Matter? Science, Pseudoscience, and Civilization” by Carl Sagan

“Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Argumentative Essay Writing

Cathy A.

Argumentative Essay - A Complete Writing Guide

11 min read

Published on: Mar 10, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

argumentative essay writing

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Writing an argumentative essay is in every student’s academic life. No matter which level you are on, writing essays will be part of your life.

So learning to write good essays is essential if you want to be successful. Students who want to ace their language class often forget that their grades massive chunk depends on essay writing.

Writing about these arguments can be tricky, but one should know the art of doing so. This blog focuses on what an argumentative essay is and how it is written.

So without further ado, let’s begin!

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What is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is a piece of writing in which your argument is the most important thing.

An argumentative essay has various other approaches, but they all share the basic idea and purpose. In this essay, a writer is asked to investigate and analyze a topic or a subject. 

Moreover, the writer chooses which side of the issue he stands on and asks for reasons and evidence for his stance.

Unlike other essay types, this essay is based on the logic and facts that a writer uses to prove his claim.

Although an argumentative essay is based on an argument, this is nothing like a verbal argument between two informal people in a really heated situation. Therefore, the presentation of the argument in this essay is different.

The primary goal of this essay is based on a point-counterpoint idea. Thus, the writer presents his argument and the counter-argument and leaves it to the audience to decide which side to support.

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Types of Arguments

Generally speaking, there are three types of arguments. These arguments are used in the formation of your argumentative essay. 

All these types of arguments can be separately used or used in combination in your essay, depending on the topic and how you present it.

Rogerian Argument Strategy

A Rogerian model is a negotiating strategy in which you identify common ideas or goals. Also, opposing arguments and views are presented objectively to reach an agreement.

Topic: Should smoking be banned in public places?

In a Rogerian argument, you would aim to find common ground between those in favor of and those against the ban on smoking in public places. 

For example:

Aristotelian Argument Strategy

According to this strategy, a writer tries to persuade their audience to a specific point of view. This argument is made on ethos, pathos, and logos.

Topic: Should school uniforms be mandatory?

Using the Aristotelian argument strategy, you would appeal to the audience's emotions, credibility, and logical reasoning. 

For instance:

Toulmin Argument Strategy

This argument strategy breaks down an argument into several parts using logic and facts. This argument style has 6 elements; backing, warrant, claim, quantifier, grounds, and rebuttal.

Topic: Should the use of plastic bags be banned?

No matter which argument type you choose, make sure to persuade the audience with powerful reasoning.

Check our expert blog on types of arguments to learn more in detail!

How to Start an Argumentative Essay?

A writer can not just jump onto the writing process of an argumentative essay. Before beginning the actual writing process, there is a whole pre-writing procedure that should be considered.

The pre-writing procedure involves drafting a plan according to which the writer will craft his essay. The following are the steps that you should take to plan out your argumentative essay:

  • Discover your topic
  • Decide on the claim
  • Pick your stance
  • Conduct research
  • Develop an argumentative essay outline

These steps will make the writing procedure easier for you. Each step is discussed in detail in the following section.

1. Discover your Topic

To begin your essay, you must have a topic or a subject to write your paper on. A good argumentative essay is based on a strong persuasive topic presented to the reader by a writer.

Choose a topic of interest or an issue that prevails widely in your society to talk and persuade people about it.

There is a criterion while selecting a topic. If your topic answers the following question vividly, then it is “The Topic”.

  • Why did that particular event happen?
  • Significance
  • Writer's reaction
  • Select a topic that you can think can be proved with logic and facts.

Check out this video to learn more about selecting a topic!

2. Decide on the Claim

After you have your topic, develop your claim. Generally, there are five types of claims that are used in the argumentative essay.

If not all, try to use some of these claims to give your essay strength.

  • Value - Is your topic valuable? Is it meaningful and worthy enough to talk about?
  • Authenticity - Is your claim a fact or not?
  • Cause and Effect - How it happened and what was the cause of the occurrence of the issue? Its effects?
  • Definition - What the particular issue is? Its interpretation, definition, and classification?
  • Policy - What are the courses of action that should take? How to tackle the specific issue?

Try to use some of these claims to give your essay strength.

3. Pick your Stance

Every coin has two sides. When you select your topic of the issue, you know there is another side to it as well. 

To write an argumentative essay, a writer needs to weigh both sides of the argument. They need to analyze which side is stronger and can be justified by logic and facts .

Unlike a persuasive essay, an argumentative essay presents the argument of an opposing side, letting the audience decide which side to choose.

4. Conduct Research

When you choose a topic for your essay, ensure the information can be easily gathered. You want maximum logic and facts to prove your point.

Opinions will not make a difference in this essay type, so it is important to present authentic and reliable information for the readers.

You can only convince the reader with your point of view that is logically sound and by providing supporting material to your thesis statement. So, first, do research and write the essay.

5. Develop an Argumentative Essay Outline

An argumentative essay follows the basic 5 paragraph outline. An outline of an argumentative essay includes:

A complete argumentative essay outline guide will help you further. After arranging all the gathered information in these sections, grab a pen to start writing your essay.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay?

Once you have a proper plan for your essay, it is time to start drafting it. Keep in mind the outline developed and start writing your argumentative essay in the following order:

1. Argumentative Essay Introduction

As the name suggests, the introductory paragraph introduces the topic or the issue that a writer selected for his audience.

In these paragraphs, a hook is written to grab the reader’s attention and motivate them to read your essay. A hook is the opening line of an essay and plays a significant role in your essay.

Another ingredient that is used to make an introduction is the background information about your topic. 

Here, provide information about the previous works concerning your topic, their findings, etc. Mention the strengths and weaknesses of the chosen topic.

The last and most important part is the thesis statement of your essay.

It is the main argument on which your entire essay is based. All the information in the content aims to prove this statement by providing evidence and facts.

2. Argumentative Essay Body Paragraphs

The body of an argumentative essay contains shreds of evidence and material that support the claim and the major thesis statement.

Each paragraph starts with a topic sentence. Then, all the information in that paragraph talks about a particular idea about the subject.

In the body paragraphs of an argumentative essay, the writer presents his arguments, supporting information that proves the argument is valid, and the counter-argument.

All of this information is provided by maintaining the transition. It helps protect the essay’s flow. Together, all the paragraphs aim and lead up to the conclusion.

3. Argumentative Essay Conclusion

In the conclusion of an argumentative essay, the writer describes the key ideas, restating the thesis statement. Also, in the concluding paragraphs, the writer put forward the courses of action and gives the final verdict.

 Argumentative Essay Examples

Below are some examples of argumentative essays presented for you by experts.

Argumentative Essay Outline

Argumentative Essay Example

Argumentative Essay Format

Follow these examples to get an idea of how a professional argumentative essay is written.

Argumentative Essay Topics

Topics for an argumentative essay can easily take from your day-to-day life. But for your ease, our experts have gathered some good essay topics so that you can write the best essays.

Following is a list of some good topics:

  • Are college degrees worth their price?
  • Does everyone need to go to college to be successful?
  • Why is Shakespeare the greatest poet of all time?
  • College students must be providing practical life knowledge as well.
  • Are SATs effective for everyone?
  • What is the importance of learning multiple languages?
  • Do violent video games affect child behavior?
  • How does social media lead to isolation?
  • How important is the censorship of online content?
  • Is fast food really the cause of obesity and other diseases in the United States?
  • Is it justified to test animals for beauty products in any way?
  • Is mercy killing justified?
  • Women can multitask better.
  • Electronic voting - What are its pros and cons?
  • Should there be an option for Youtubers to edit foul and derogatory comments?

Check our extensive blog on argumentative essay topics to get inspired. 

Writing an argumentative paper for high school can be overwhelming, but you can score best in it once you get to know the basics. 

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Praxis Core Writing

Course: praxis core writing   >   unit 1, argumentative essay | quick guide.

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Argumentative essay (30 minutes)

  • states or clearly implies the writer’s position or thesis
  • organizes and develops ideas logically, making insightful connections between them
  • clearly explains key ideas, supporting them with well-chosen reasons, examples, or details
  • displays effective sentence variety
  • clearly displays facility in the use of language
  • is generally free from errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
  • organizes and develops ideas clearly, making connections between them
  • explains key ideas, supporting them with relevant reasons, examples, or details
  • displays some sentence variety
  • displays facility in the use of language
  • states or implies the writer’s position or thesis
  • shows control in the organization and development of ideas
  • explains some key ideas, supporting them with adequate reasons, examples, or details
  • displays adequate use of language
  • shows control of grammar, usage, and mechanics, but may display errors
  • limited in stating or implying a position or thesis
  • limited control in the organization and development of ideas
  • inadequate reasons, examples, or details to explain key ideas
  • an accumulation of errors in the use of language
  • an accumulation of errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
  • no clear position or thesis
  • weak organization or very little development
  • few or no relevant reasons, examples, or details
  • frequent serious errors in the use of language
  • frequent serious errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
  • contains serious and persistent writing errors or
  • is incoherent or
  • is undeveloped or
  • is off-topic

How should I build a thesis?

  • (Choice A)   Kids should find role models that are worthier than celebrities because celebrities may be famous for reasons that aren't admirable. A Kids should find role models that are worthier than celebrities because celebrities may be famous for reasons that aren't admirable.
  • (Choice B)   Because they profit from the admiration of youths, celebrities have a moral responsibility for the reactions their behaviors provoke in fans. B Because they profit from the admiration of youths, celebrities have a moral responsibility for the reactions their behaviors provoke in fans.
  • (Choice C)   Celebrities may have more imitators than most people, but they hold no more responsibility over the example they set than the average person. C Celebrities may have more imitators than most people, but they hold no more responsibility over the example they set than the average person.
  • (Choice D)   Notoriety is not always a choice, and some celebrities may not want to be role models. D Notoriety is not always a choice, and some celebrities may not want to be role models.
  • (Choice E)   Parents have a moral responsibility to serve as immediate role models for their children. E Parents have a moral responsibility to serve as immediate role models for their children.

How should I support my thesis?

  • (Choice A)   As basketball star Charles Barkley stated in a famous advertising campaign for Nike, he was paid to dominate on the basketball court, not to raise your kids. A As basketball star Charles Barkley stated in a famous advertising campaign for Nike, he was paid to dominate on the basketball court, not to raise your kids.
  • (Choice B)   Many celebrities do consider themselves responsible for setting a good example and create non-profit organizations through which they can benefit youths. B Many celebrities do consider themselves responsible for setting a good example and create non-profit organizations through which they can benefit youths.
  • (Choice C)   Many celebrities, like Kylie Jenner with her billion-dollar cosmetics company, profit directly from being imitated by fans who purchase sponsored products. C Many celebrities, like Kylie Jenner with her billion-dollar cosmetics company, profit directly from being imitated by fans who purchase sponsored products.
  • (Choice D)   My ten-year-old nephew may love Drake's music, but his behaviors are more similar to those of the adults he interacts with on a daily basis, like his parents and teachers. D My ten-year-old nephew may love Drake's music, but his behaviors are more similar to those of the adults he interacts with on a daily basis, like his parents and teachers.
  • (Choice E)   It's very common for young people to wear fashions similar to those of their favorite celebrities. E It's very common for young people to wear fashions similar to those of their favorite celebrities.

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Argumentative Essay Guide

Argumentative Essay Writing

Last updated on: Feb 9, 2023

Learn How to Write an Argumentative Essay

By: Jared P.

Reviewed By: Chris H.

Published on: Oct 15, 2019

Argumentative essay

If you’re faced with writing an argumentative essay, you might be wondering…

How to write an argumentative essay?

How to start an argumentative essay?

What am I going to write about?

What are the best argumentative essay topics?

Do I need to write an argumentative essay outline first?

Is there a specific argumentative essay format?

Those are great questions. This blog will answer all your questions and help you compose your argumentative essay easily and in less time.

Let’s get started.

Argumentative essay

On this Page

What is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is a genre of essay in which a writer is supposed to present a well-structured argument. It is a type of essay that establishes a stance on a topic or particular issue and supports it with evidence and facts. It is a well-balanced piece of writing that demonstrates both strengths and weaknesses of a specific subject.

The argumentative essay is one of the most common types of essays that students will encounter in their academic life. Although there are different variations of an argumentative essay, they all share the same foundation.

The writer is required to investigate an issue, pick a side and find strong evidence to prove his claim logically. He has to convince the reader to accept his perspective on the chosen topic.

The argument one presents in an essay must be specific, reasonable, has details and sound evidence.

The goal of an argumentative essay is to provide the reader with counterpoint perspectives on topics and issues. The problems may not be fully resolved in the existing literature or society at large.

Argumentative Essay Format and Structure

There are three different types of arguments that you can use for the argumentative essay format. Use them separately or combine them together to form your argument.

 1. Classical or Aristotelian Model

This is the most frequently used argument strategy. Here, you will highlight the problem, provide its solution. And then try to persuade the reader that you have proposed the correct solution.

2. Toulmin Model

Toulmin argument strategy uses logic and breaks down an argument into different parts. It presents both the writer's perspective and opposing views on the topic and explains why the writer’s stance is more beneficial.

3. Rogerian Model

This strategy is used for topics where it is difficult to find common ground. The entire idea is to find a point of agreement by showing the reader that you are considering the counter-argument.

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay doesn’t need to be an enormous headache or a project so overwhelming that you don’t even know where to start.

Steps to Write an Argumentative Essay

Like any major project, the best way to tackle an argumentative essay is to break it down into “baby steps.” Take the following steps as your guideline. Accomplish them one at a time, and before you know it, you’ll have a workable first draft that informs, entertains, and challenges the reader:

1. Explore Different Argumentative Essay Topics

One of the essential components of an argumentative essay is having a persuasive topic.

While there is no scarcity of persuasive topics, you can find something in the newspaper or TV. Moreover, you might have overheard two people arguing in your class; there must be two strongly conflicting viewpoints.

When you’re thinking about which topic to go for, ask yourself these questions.

  • Why did a particular thing happen?
  • What was its cause?
  • Does it hold any significance?
  • What should our reaction be towards it?

Also, bear in mind that being interested in a topic and agreeing to it is one thing, but writing about it to persuade the reader is a different thing altogether.

You need to prove that your point is logical without becoming emotional and by using concrete evidence.

2. Choose the Types of Argument Claims

Once you have selected your topic, you must give considerable thought to developing your claim. There are different types of claims. If not all, then include some of them in your argumentative essay.

  • Authenticity

Whether your claim is a fact or not. Is it true? Will it occur or not?

What exactly is it? How can we define it? How to interpret it? How to classify it?

The importance of the issue. Is it worthy or not? How critical is it to address this issue?

  • Cause and Effect

How did it happen? What is the possible cause? What are its effects?

What should be done to tackle the issue? What laws should be enforced? What changes need to be made?

These components play an integral part in your essay. These claims make a presentable argumentative essay and help you discuss both supporting and opposing arguments.

3. Determine Your Stance

You have decided on the topic you are most passionate about; the next step is to assess both sides of the argument.

After evaluating both sides, determine the argument you can most relate to and look for strong evidence to support your claim.

The thing with argumentative essays is that to prove the validity of your point, you must educate the reader about both sides of the argument.

4. Collect Evidence and Supporting Examples

Since your reader isn’t in front of you, you can’t interpret the body language to see whether you have convinced the reader or not. Therefore, it is necessary to use strong proof, evidence from credible sources, and convincing data to support your stance.

When assessing a claim, consider the following points:

  • Is the statement factual?
  • What is its definition?
  • What are the causes of the issue?
  • Is the fact valuable?
  • What action should be taken, or what should be done about it?
  • What impact will it have on living things and our environment in general?
  • You might want to interview the experts of the field and use it to sketch an argument.

5. Create Argumentative Essay Outline

The argumentative essay is the most difficult type of essay that high school and college students have ever come across. Writing a well-structured and properly formatted essay needs effort and strong writing skills. The best option to make things easier is to draft an outline.

An essay outline is like a roadmap that guides you to reach your destination. The outline works the same for an essay. Therefore, it is a good idea to create an outline before starting an essay.

If you avoid writing an outline, you might have to suffer the following consequences.

  • Disjointed writing structure.
  • Pointless research.
  • Convoluted composition style.
  • Wandering point of view.
  • Disjointed and contradictory arguments.
  • Confused readers.
  • A lousy grade.

However, crafting an argumentative essay outline can offer you several benefits.

  • All research will be “on point” and support your argumentative topic theme.
  • Discussing both sides of the argument will become easy.
  • Both sides of the argument will be well-reasoned; weaknesses will be easily identified.
  • You’ll save a lot of time editing and revising the whole essay. You can do that with the outline.
  • Your conclusions will be supported by evidence.

A typical argumentative essay outline usually consists of 5 sections.

  • Introductory paragraph
  • Body Paragraphs I
  • Body Paragraphs II
  • Body Paragraphs III

The number of body paragraphs can be increased or decreased depending on the word limit and the essay topic.

6. Compose a Strong Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the main building block of an argumentative essay. Therefore, it is essential to draft a strong thesis statement that makes a substantial point about the topic. Your whole essay will revolve around the thesis statement, so make sure it is worthy of discussion.

7. Write a Compelling Introduction

The introduction paragraph outlines the topic, some relevant background information essential to understanding the topic, and the thesis statement. It gives a glimpse of all the claims you are going to make in your essay. It also outlines the facts and evidence that you will present to support your topic and thesis statement.

‘How do you start an argumentative essay introduction?'

Here are the four steps you can follow to write a compelling argumentative essay introduction:

  • Start with an attention-grabbing hook statement.
  • Outline the main subject of your essay.
  • Present some background information that is necessary to understand the topic.
  • Lay the foundation of your claim with a strong thesis statement.

8. Draft the Body Section

As discussed in the outline section, a typical essay usually has three body paragraphs. However, the number can vary according to the nature of the topic and the information that needs to be presented to support your claim.

Here are the three steps that you need to write a body section:

  • Start with a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement.
  • Present facts, evidence, examples, and relevant data from credible sources to back up your claim.
  • End the paragraph with concluding remarks and smoothly transition to the next paragraph.

9. Write a Convincing Conclusion

Although the conclusion paragraph is the last section of the essay, it holds the same significance as the introductory paragraph. It should be convincing and persuasive enough to prove your side of the argument right.

Here are the steps for writing the argumentative essay conclusion:

  • Summarize the whole essay in two to three sentences.
  • Rewrite the thesis statement to remind your reader what your essay was all about.
  • Provide a call to action.

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Argumentative Essay Samples

Here are a few argumentative essay examples on interesting topics for your guidance

ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY SAMPLE (PDF)

ABORTION ESSAY SAMPLE (PDF)

SAMPLE ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY (PDF)

Good Argumentative Essay Topics

‘What are good topics to write an argumentative essay on?’

Here are some amazing argumentative essay topic s that will help you get started.

  • Is an MS degree in business necessary for your business to be successful?
  • Mobile phones as educational tools: is it the right approach?
  • Should you be friends with your professor on social media?
  • Every student possesses writing skills. Do you agree?
  • Is it right to blame social media for the use of incorrect grammar?
  • Are social networks an effective platform for communication?
  • Do people really get a job through LinkedIn?
  • Is Facebook legally allowed to leak the private information of its users?
  • Is it possible to earn a good amount of money from YouTube?
  • Should Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter be banned permanently?

Hire a Professional Argumentative Essay Writer

If the work it takes even to get started writing your argument paper is more daunting than you feel you can’t handle at the moment. Or if you remain uncertain about how to even go about selecting a viable argumentative essay topic. It is time to find a professional argumentative essay writer to help you deliver a paper you can be proud of.

Finding the right expert help and learning from it is often the best alternative to starting from scratch. Remember, your grades count. If you’re in doubt about your ability to deliver a compelling argumentative or persuasive essay. Or, even to decide upon the right argumentative essay topic, then you need to work with the best ‘ do essay for me? ’ service and get the help you need.

The professional essay writers at 5StarEssays.com essay writing service are standing by, waiting to help with your academic writing. You can easily get their help by placing an order .

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main goal of an argumentative essay.

The main goal and aim of an argumentative essay are to develop your opinion and support it with relevant arguments and evidence.

What is the purpose of reasoning in an argumentative text?

The key purpose of reasoning is to clarify your main point and provide supporting evidence and arguments to back and support your claims

What are the five parts of an argument?

Here are the five parts of an argument.

  • Acknowledgment

What are the types of argumentative essays?

The main types of argumentative essays are persuasive, analysis, research, and personal essays.

Jared P.

College Admission Essay, Literature

Jared P. is a renowned author and writing service provider with over fifteen years of experience in the publishing industry. He has a Ph.D. degree in English Literature and has spent his entire career helping students achieve their academic goals by providing expert writing assistance.

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Essay 3: A How-To Guide

What makes an effective researched argument.

Goal: The goal of any literary research paper is to add an original interpretation to a scholarly conversation about a literary text. Take a look at how rhetorical and literary theorist Kenneth Burke describes all acts of researched writing:

Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally’s assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress. [1] [2]

In a researched argument, you should:

  • Establish the scholarly conversation that you are entering.
  • Engage in debate with other scholars by analyzing the literary text
  • Form an original interpretation about the literary text through close reading

Introductions

  • Develops an interpretive or intellectual problem—either drawn from research into how other scholars have interpreted the poem or short story or drawn from a detail in the story itself that bears some tension, irony, ambiguity, or disjunction that connects to a larger scholarly conversation.
  • Adds new evidence
  • Adds a new interpretation
  • Disagrees with a previous interpretation

Sample Introductions

The Introduction should accomplish four steps:

  • Establish an Interpretive Problem: Observe the juxtaposing elements in the story that have caused an interpretive gap or tension and establish the significance of these elements.
  • Describe a Major Interpretive Debate: Describe, in a couple of sentences, how various scholars have approached this text, genre, or work from this poet/time period. What problems have emerged in writing about this exhibit? What conversation are you joining?
  • Thesis Statement: After reviewing the previous scholarship, state your claim. What are you arguing in this paper?
  • Road Map: How are you going to support your argument? What’s the layout for this paper?

Take a look at the sample introductions from Laura Wilder and Joanna Wolfe’s  Digging into Literature.  [3]   Where/How does this introduction accomplish each of these four steps?

Schwab, Melinda. “A Watch for Emily.” Studies in Short Fiction 28.2 (1991): 215-17.

The critical attention given to the subject of time in Faulkner most certainly fills as many pages as the longest novel of Yoknapatawpha County. A goodly number of those pages of criticism deal with the well-known short story, “A Rose for Emily.” Several scholars, most notably Paul McGlynn, have worked to untangle the confusing chronology of this work (461-62). Others have given a variety of symbolic and psychological reasons for Emily Grierson’s inability (or refusal) to acknowledge the passage of time. Yet in all of this careful literary analysis, no one has discussed one troubling and therefore highly significant detail. When we first meet Miss Emily, she carries in a pocket somewhere within her clothing an “invisible watch ticking at the end of [a] gold chain” (Faulkner 121). What would a woman like Emily Grierson, who seems to us fixed in the past and oblivious to any passing of time, need with a watch? An awareness of the significance of this watch, however, is crucial for a clear understanding of Miss Emily herself. The watch’s placement in her pocket, its unusually loud ticking, and the chain to which it is attached illustrate both her attempts to control the passage of years and the consequences of such an ultimately futile effort (215).

Fick, Thomas, and Eva Gold. “’He Liked Men’: Homer, Homosexuality, and the Culture of Manhood in Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily.’” Eureka Studies in Teaching Short Fiction 8.1 (2007): 99-107.

Over the last few years critics have discussed homosexuality in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” one of Faulkner’s most frequently anthologized works and a mainstay of literature classes at all levels. Hal Blythe, for example, asserts outright that Homer Barron is gay, while in a more nuanced reading James Wallace argues that the narrator merely wishes to suggest that Barron is homosexual in order to implicate the reader in a culture of gossip (Blythe 49-50; Wallace 105-07). Both readings rest on this comment by the narrator: “Then we said, ‘She will persuade him yet,’ because Homer himself had remarked—he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men at the Elks’ Club—that he was not a marrying man” (Faulkner 126)…While we agree that the narrator’s comment suggests something important about Homer’s sexual orientation, in contrast with Blythe we believe that it says Homer is combatively heterosexual.

  • Engages in conversation with literary scholars throughout the essay, showing how their interpretation affirms, contrasts, contradicts and resolves the interpretive problem posed by literary scholars.
  • Uses contextual and argumentative sources to support and challenge their analysis of the text.
  • Uses close reading strategies to deeply analyze the literary text.
  • Resolves the interpretive problem through a deep analysis of the text.

Conclusion:

  • Discuss the significance of their analysis to the research being done on that area of literary study.
  • Identify one question or problem that still remains for the field of scholarship on the subject.

Sample Researched Argument

The White Gaze in “On Being Brought from Africa to America”

Paragraph 1

Phillis Wheatley was born in West Africa, captured at a young age, and sold into slavery. Despite the violent history that she lives through, her poem “On Being Brought from Africa to America” opens by expressing gratitude towards a system only referred to in the poem as “mercy.” Due to this discrepancy between the violent history she lives through and the evangelical understanding of that history expressed in the poem, critics have long questioned whether her poetry is a true expression of herself. No one tells the story of Wheatley’s legacy better than Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who, in his article “Phillis Wheatley on Trial,” describes how the Black Nationalist movement zeroed in on “On Being Brought from Africa to America” because there was no outcry in the poem—no objection to being brought to America. The poem was absent of the longing to return back to Africa that the Black Nationalist movement invested in (Gates 87). These critics also decried her poetic style, which imitated White, Enlightenment poets like Alexander Pope (Baraka, Barnum, and Thurman, as cited in Gates 87). Despite this backlash to Wheatley’s poetry, the authenticity of her work remains hotly debated today. Debates over her poetry were revived in the 80’s/90’s when scholars like William J. Scheik, Sondra O’Neale, James Levernier, and Mark Edelman Boren began to document how the biblical allusions and metaphors of her poetry, when read closely, were more subversive than appeared on first glance. This is how Wheatley has continued to be read today, with scholars questioning to what extent her subversions were explicit enough to change the cultural landscape of eighteenth-century America.

Paragraph 2

This paper will argue that the binary readings of Wheatley presented—one in which she is an “Uncle Tom figure” (Gross, as cited in Gates 87) and another in which she is a subversive, revolutionary poet (Levernier)—are both self-consciously represented by Wheatley in the poem. The poem is an example of early discussions of Black identity formation, one in which she is locked into two modes of being: gratitude and resistance. We will start by looking at the most contentious aspects of the poem—the gratitude for Christianity. Looking at the rhetorical construction of the speaker/reader relationship, we will uncover how the poem imagines her White, Christian reader and, in turn, how that White, Christian reader imagines her subjectivity. Following, we will then look at the allusions to the Transatlantic Slave Trade to affirm that these allusions demonstrate the subversiveness of her poetry. Subversive both in demonstrating the White reader’s understanding of her diasporic identity and in showcasing the fluidity of that identity in its early formation.

Paragraph 3

Arguments against reading Wheatley in a subversive light hinge on the evangelical Christian sentiments that open the first lines, particularly the idea that Africa consists of a “pagan land.” As Henry Louis Gates discusses, for Black nationalist thinkers, her description of her African origins as a “pagan” place was a rejection of her Black identity, an attempt to assimilate to her white readership. However, these opening lines are particularly interesting because of the pronoun usage in the opening lines. The opening line says, “’Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,” (Wheatley 1). While on the surface the line looks like a benign Christian gratitude for salvation, the pronoun usage in these early lines suggests an alienation that Wheatley feels between herself and her African origins. She has been “brought,” perhaps we might imagine “removed” from her land. The disjunction between “me” and “my pagan land,” suggests a fundamental bifurcation of the self that begins the poem. In many accounts of Wheatley’s Black identity, she is conceived to be assimilationist because her poem suggests, “ludicrous [departure] from the huge black voices that splintered southern nights with their hollers, chants, arwhoolies, and ballits,” (Baraka, as cited in Gates 87). But, I want to suggest that the bifurcation of the self that begins the poem, which initially may look like an assimilationist rejection of Africa—is actually a meditation on how the transatlantic slave trade has shaped her identity—an early example of Du Bois’s “double consciousness” of African-American identities.

Paragraph 4

As many scholars have noted, the poem seems to subversively contend with her relationship with evangelical Christianity, which we may note was a condition of her education. The reference to “mercy” in the first line is particularly troubling—as we know that it was not mercy, but the transatlantic slave trade that brought her to the U.S. How are we to read this reference to mercy? Are we to read it as a moment of cognitive dissonance between Wheatley’s understanding of her history and herself? Are we to read it as an imitation of forms of poetry that she was reading as part of her education? I suggest that we read it as ironic. In both of the interpretations mentioned above, there is a fundamental tension between the reader’s awareness and, supposedly, Wheatley’s awareness. In fact, the title page of the original publication announces that she was a “servant to John Wheatley”—the 18th century reader would have been well-aware of the implications of this position of servitude, would have been aware of the conditions of life that brought Africans to the U.S. Rather than looking at this line for absence of reference to the transatlantic slave trade, I think we should attend to the passivity of the line—the lack of agency she expresses in this opening of the poem. The passive construction of the sentence gives agency to mercy rather than any singular person for the double-consciousness that she is expressing in the rest of the line. It is because of this passivity that she is able to call the land “pagan,” the italicization of which suggests irony. In fact, Mark Edelman Boren suggests that stress is being put on the term pagan in order to undercut the conventional association between the idea of Africa as a pagan landscape and the Africa that Wheatley comes from (45). In this opening line, Wheatley seems to be undercutting the conventional notions that the reader might have of African poets—undercutting the idea that they are grateful for the violence being inflicted on them.

Paragraph 5

This passive construction continues to influence Wheatley’s perception of herself in the next line of the poem: “Taught my benighted soul to understand” (2). Based on the claims I’ve made in the previous paragraphs, we can trust that Wheatley has already unmoored the reader’s associations between both: the evangelical conception that the transatlantic slave trade was founded on benevolence and the association between Africa and paganism. The poem continues to make her identity the focus of the poem. In this line, she is now thinking about her “benighted soul.” While we may look at the denotative definition of this line and think that it suggests that her soul was lacking of the opportunity to be saved before she was enslaved, we might also continue to look at the passive construction of this definition. Wheatley uses the term benighted because, while suggesting that she lacked the opportunity to be saved, it also suggests that the lack of opportunity was bestowed on her by another force or person. There is an external influence shaping Wheatley’s identity in the poem—perhaps, that of the reader. As James Levernier notes, despite, or because of, the reader’s awareness of the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, the poem would not have been published if Wheatley expressed explicit protest of the conditions of her enslavement (174). At the same time, this passive construction as well as the irony in these opening lines suggests that Wheatley is self-consciously aware of the suppression of her ideas brought about by the presence of the reader. As she constructs the image of herself as a poet, she has to remove herself from her African origins, has to invest in the gratitude conditioned by evangelical Christianity, has to alienate herself from the consciousness of her enslaved condition.

Paragraph 6

In other words, our reading of the first two lines of the poem suggests that this poem is actually about her identity as a Black poet. In W.E.B. DuBois’s “Strivings of the Negro People,”, he describes “double-consciousness” as “this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” In the first two lines of the poem, we see the measurements of White evangelical Christianity—with its expectation that an African poet is grateful for her servitude—being ironically unsettled by Wheatley. If we look at the pattern of pronouns being used throughout the poem, we can see a self-consciousness in the first half of her octave, with a consistent attention on “me…my land…my benighted soul…I…” (1, 2, 4). Then, in the second half of the poem, as Wheatley shifts from a discussion of Christianity to a more overt discussion of the perceptions of Africans, her pronouns shift as well: “Our…Their…Christians…” (5-7). While the first half of the poem may look assimilationist, the second half of the poem showcases a conscious alignment with an African race. She is, as DuBois writes “an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body.”

Paragraph 7

In the opening lines of the poem, Wheatley seems to be contesting the White reader’s idea that the Black poet, Black person, is ultimately grateful for their condition. In the second half of the poem, her task is to define the Black identity. As she tries to do so, she realizes that she is limited by the terms given to her by the White Christian establishment. In the final lines of the poem, she writes, “Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,/May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train” (7-8). It is here that we get our first references to the transatlantic slave trade, if we choose to read them that way. The final line describes the condition of reformed Black Christians as “refin’d” an oddly classed word to use if we perceive that line as depicting the conversion of Christians (8). However, the word would also have been used as a reference to the process of ‘refining sugar,’ a process by which manufacturers remove impurities and color from the unprocessed cane. Given its most popular usage in the eighteenth century, I suspect that the eighteenth century reader would have associated the word “refined” with sugar manufacturing (“Refine, V.”). Levernier also notes that these words had already taken on the association with these industries in Quaker circles—that is, circles that sought to abolish slavery it the Americas (182). Upon further looking at the language of the last two lines, we may also see the simile “black as Cain” as contributing to our imagination that she is referring to sugar (7). While she is making a biblical allusion to the more violent of Cain and Abel, the homophone also makes the allusion to sugar cane, which is black in nature. By looking carefully at the language she is using, we can see that her description of the religious system of conversion is also an allusion to the process of refining sugar. As White Christians take indigenous people and convert them to Christianity, so too do enslaved Africans farm black cane and refine it into white sugar. In these final lines of the poem, Wheatley seems to acknowledge that the language of Christianity can’t escape the slave trade. As a poet and author, neither can she.

Paragraph 8

As Wheatley tries to define and articulate a Black identity, she finds herself limited by the language of the transatlantic slave trade. In other words, we can read her poem as an articulation of the ways Black identity becomes founded on the violence of the transatlantic slave trade. While the reference to the sugar refinement process is her most referenced subversive metaphor, she also refers to her Black-ness as a “die” and the race itself as “sable.” In other words, when Wheatley constructs race, she does it under the metaphors of the valuable industrial trades: either a dye used for clothing or a valuable fur. We can read these metaphors in two complementary respects. First, the metaphors are skin-based, suggesting that this early social construction of race is partially based on skin color. Second, the metaphors are both references to a violent process enacted on an object that is then likened to violence being perpetuated on the bodies of African slaves—either through the burning of skin as a result of the dying process or the skinning of an animal. As Gates notes, Seymour Gross has said that Wheatley was a “perfect Uncle Tom Figure” (87). However, this ironic use of dialogue suggests otherwise. This suggests that, while criticizing the White reader’s perception of Black writers, she also must criticize the transatlantic slave trade, for limiting her ability to articulate Black identity in the first place.

Paragraph 9

In other words, we may re-read Wheatley’s poem as an early articulation of Black diasporic identities. In Michelle Wright’s Becoming Black: Creating Identity in the African Diaspora , she discusses the difficulties of expressing diasporic identities in Western literature. “On one end stands the…hypercollective, essentialist identity, which provides comfort of absolutist assertions in exchange for the total annihilation of self…” she writes. “On the other end stands the hyperindividual identity…which grants a hyperindividualized self in exchange for the annihilation of ‘Blackness’ as a collective term” (2). Wheatley’s poem seems to be straddling these two identity positions—one in which her individuality as a poet, something she is praised for in the opening advertisement of her 1773 volume of poetry, is founded on a rejection of her African heritage and one in which she can be Black, but must be perceived as part of a “diabolic” or “sable” race. Looking back at my own analysis of this poem, it seems Wheatley is limited by these dual conceptions of her identity. However, I think the poem ultimately represents an act of liberation: by self-consciously examining the limitations placed on her by the transatlantic slave trade and Christianity’s role in perpetuating the ideologies of slavery, she is able to express a fundamental tenet of Black oppression—the inability to exist outside of socially constructed categories of being.

Works Cited

Boren, Mark Edelman. “A Fiery Furnace and a Sugar Train: Metaphors That Challenge the

Legacy of Phillis Wheatley’s ‘On Being Brought from Africa to America.’” CEA Critic ,

vol. 67, no. 1, 2004, pp. 38–56.

Du Bois, W. E. B. “Strivings of the Negro People.” The Atlantic, Aug. 1987,

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1897/08/strivings-of-the-negro-people/305446/ . Accessed 12 Aug. 2023.

Gates Jr., Henry Louis. “Phillis Wheatley on Trial.” The New Yorker, 20 Jan. 2003, pp. 82-87.

Levernier, James A. “Style as Protest in the Poetry of Phillis Wheatley.” Style , vol. 27, no. 2,

1993, pp. 172–93. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/42946037. Accessed 12 Aug. 2023.

“Refine, V.” Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford UP, March 2024, https://doi.org/10.1093/OED/1053806037.

Wheatley, Phillis. “On Being Brought from Africa to America.” Penguin Book of Migration 

Literature , edited by Dohra Ahmad, Penguin, 2019.

—. Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral . London, A. Bell, 1773.

Wright, Michelle. Becoming Black: Creating Identity in the African Diaspora . Duke UP, 2004.

  • Burke, Kenneth. The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action . Louisiana State UP, 1941. ↵
  • Wilder, Laura, and Joanna Wolfe. Digging into Literature. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016, 222-226. ↵

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