If you take any controversial question, you see that it can be viewed from at least two points. For example, a topic like euthanasia can occasionally pop up in your conversation with a friend. It may happen that you believe that allowing a hopeless patient to die or even facilitating it is an act of mercy, while your friend is convinced that a human life in itself is the most precious thing that cannot be taken away from a person by someone else under any possible condition. Of course, you want to convince your friend, because you know you are right. The problem is that so does s/he. The argument can become so fierce that you might even fight and never be friends again.
Conducting an argument in a civilized manner to reach a compromise conclusion is an art. The good news is that it can be learned. The best way to learn to formulate your thoughts in a logical and well-structured manner and back them up with solid evidence is to put them to writing. This is why your teachers and professors give you tasks to write argumentative or persuasive essays every now and then.
The two are not to be confused. While both argumentative and persuasive essays share the same goal of convincing the opponent in the rightfulness of your point of view, they use different methods to achieve that purpose. According to Aristotle, you can convince your opponent by employing one of the three techniques (or any combination thereof): ethos – appealing to the ethics and the sense of authority, pathos – appealing to emotion, and logos – appealing to the rationality by using facts and evidence. When tasked with writing a persuasive essay, you are expected to reason the opponent by using what both of you already know about the topic, without introducing any new facts or supporting evidence. So, in a persuasive essay, you use ethos and pathos. In an argumentative essay, on the other hand, you are supposed to prove your point with logic, i.e. using logos.
As we have mentioned, you can write an argumentative essay about any topic that suggests some controversy and that you have a strong opinion about. Here are some examples of possible argumentative essay topics:
Now that we know what an argumentative essay is, it is evident that one cannot just sit down, grab a pen and paper, and write one. Since you have to deal with facts and logic here, you should take care that you are well prepared. Naturally, the most important part of preparing to write an argumentative essay is putting together a detailed and comprehensive outline. Overall, your argumentative essay will consist of three sections – the introduction, the main body, and the conclusion, – same as with most written assignments. However, the more detailed your outline will be, the easier and less stressful it will be for you to write the essay itself. We would like to share some pointers on writing each of these sections:
INTRODUCTION. It is common to begin the introduction to an argumentative essay with a hook sentence. It is literally meant to hook your reader, to get them engaged and interested to read your essay to the end. This can be rendered in the form of a rhetorical question or just an interesting statement with some shock value. For example: “Can it really be called a life when you are plugged into a life support machine, and you cannot remember what sunlight looks like not only because it was such a long time ago, but also because your reason and memory keep failing you ever more?” Regardless of your reader’s opinion on the point, you get them hooked and wondering what you have to say on the topic.
Now that your reader is hooked, you can go on introducing them to the argument by listing some historical or statistical facts that are related to your essay topic. Take care that they are explicitly connected to the subject of your essay, you don’t want your reader to stop to question the relevance of your writing. This gives your reader a better view of what lies ahead. They get a clearer understanding of what they should expect further as they go on reading your essay.
The final part of the introduction to your argumentative essay should be your thesis statement. This is the statement that you are proving in this writing, the core of your entire essay. This is why, it is crucial that your thesis statement is strong, straightforward, and to the point. Here are some tips for that:
MAIN BODY. Sometimes, your teacher or professor will set the requirement as to how big your argumentative essay should be. Often, however, it will be up to you to decide how many words and paragraphs you need to cover your topic in full and leave no details unattended.
As one might expect, the degree of controversy of possible argumentative essay topics may vary. This determines the volume of your essay body because some facts are easier to prove than others. Often, a thorough research is necessary to validate a point. This research will need to be demonstrated in detail in your essay if you want to stick to the goal of convincing your reader that what you are stating did not come from nowhere.
As for the argumentative essay structure, it goes as follows:
For example: “To crown it all, sustaining the life of a terminally ill individual is not justified from an economic or any other standpoint. The funds and effort invested in this artificial extension can surely be put to better use.”
CONCLUSION. Once the main body of your essay is ready, all that is left to do is to sum it all up in the final section of your argumentative essay – the conclusion. Basically, you just restate all the previous information in brief form. This includes the thesis statement and the key points. No new information should be put here.
First, you paraphrase your thesis statement in a straightforward and comprehensive manner. Then you list your supportive facts and arguments. And finally, you talk about the importance of your topic and the conclusions that you have made.
You can also speculate about how your findings can be implemented and what can come out of it. It is a good way to show that you did not write this argumentative essay just because you teacher or professor gave you such an assignment. Instead, you relate to the topic and believe that it should be approached in the manner that you have described with the common good in mind.
Once you are done writing, you can relax a little bit, but it does not mean that your argumentative essay is ready. You see, when you write about something that matters to you, the content often easily prevails over the form, and it is easy to overlook some small details, such as grammar and style. It is also easy to get self-centered and start thinking that what is obvious to you is obvious to everybody else, including your reader. Therefore, it is a good idea to have your first draft ready a few days before you have to submit it, then lay it aside and forget about it for a few days, and then give it a fresh look.