What Is an Argumentative Essay? Definition and Examples

If you cannot find information online, you can try local libraries or archives. The letter can be a lot of fun, allowing you to feel like the main character of “Independence Day.” An argument paper should be based on evidence from trusted and up-to-date sources. Therefore, exclude any references older than 5-10 years whenever possible. Mastering argumentative writing allows you to gain some valuable insights.

  • That’s why argumentative essays don’t just talk about the writer’s own thesis but discuss other contradicting points of view as well.
  • Teaching our students the basics of argument and discussion is not about tooling them up to ‘win’.
  • Public interest, with print media, television, radio, and the Internet constantly discussing it.
  • A primary ability for any writer in academic and professional writing contexts is constructing effective arguments.
  • This great warm-up exercise allows students to explore a topic, weigh up the different possible opinions, and even offers a chance for the student to discover what they think about a topic.

An academic argument is not a fight, a battle, or a negative confrontation. An academic argument is also not emotional nor focused on one person’s opinion. The sample essay on the following page will provide more details about developing this type of argument. Second Piece – Provide detailed definitions of the key term or terms. Although there may always be variations, a good basic outline for a definition argument might look like this. Consider two recent examples of fairly ineffective use of the three appeals.


With this type of writing, you need to propose a solution to a problem. First, you must establish a clear problem and then propose a specific solution to that problem. For example, you might argue for a removal of parking fines on students who use the parking deck on campus.

what does argumentative writing mean

To write well, it is important to listen carefully and understand the conversations that are going on around you. Writers who are able to listen to these conversations and pick up important topics, themes, and arguments how to quote a article in an essay are generally more effective at reaching and impressing their audiences. Research writing is often categorized as “non-argumentative.” This happens because of the way in which we learn about research writing.


First Piece – In your introduction, which may be more than one paragraph, summarize the details of the problem. Watch the video below to learn more about the structure of a definition argument. Think not only of school papers, but also of letters to relatives and friends, e-mails, shopping lists, online postings, and so on. When you receive a writing assignment, it is very tempting to see it as just another hoop to jump through and not as a genuine rhetorical situation, an opportunity to influence others what does argumentative writing mean with your writing. It is certainly tempting to see yourself writing only for the teacher, without a real purpose and oblivious of the context of your writing. 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.

RESPECTED SOURCES Valued information comes from respected sources. LOGICAL & RATIONAL You are not a “shock jock” or a biased blogger. You are presenting both sides of an argument to let your readers make a decision. Keep things in order by creating paragraphs that lead us from opinion A to opinion B through well-crafted segways and transitions. If you cannot state your purpose clearly, try to freewrite about your topic. Despite the careful construction of an argument, there may still be counter-arguments that can be used.

Toulmin Argument

An argument based on the appeal to logic, or emotions alone will not be an effective one. Argumentative essays also take specific sides on debatable topics. The former draws more on emotion, while the latter is more about hard numbers, data, and quantitative research. Arguments in academic writing are usually complex and take time to develop. An argumentative essay is one of the most frequently written types of essays and is something that you may need to write for yourself. In this article, we are going to be looking at what an argumentative essay is and how you can write one. We are also going to take a look at some examples of argumentative essays as a way of gaining a further understanding of how they are written.

  • To develop ethos, you need to use language that is suitable to the rhetorical situation—including an appropriate vocabulary and correct grammar—and offer a sincere and fair-minded presentation of the information.
  • Moreover, changing on or more characteristics of any of the elements depicted in the figure above will change the other elements as well.
  • But, ultimately, Copernicus made the choice to side with his beliefs and observations above all and published his work for the world to see .
  • I currently work in the content marketing department at Studybay, building strong, effective, and respectful communication between the platform and our clients.
  • This alone leads to even more considerations, like whose argument to address first, and at what point to introduce key evidence.

Or, in your literature class, you might be asked to argue the effects of protest literature on public policy in the United States. Pros and Cons involve students making a list of a given topic’s pro and con arguments. This is often best done in small groups where the students can brainstorm together and bounce ideas off one another. The process of comparing the for and against of an issue gives them an awareness of the range of opinions on the matter, helping them on their way to forming their own opinion. In this article, we will explore the process of constructing a high-quality argumentative essay.

Descriptive vs Argumentative Essay

Just to get you started on what a fully-fleshed out argumentative essay looks like, let’s see some examples in action. Fill in your topic, your reasons, and your supporting evidence into each of the categories. The concluding paragraph summarizes the essay, touches on the evidence presented, and re-states the thesis statement. The argument is that some people have asserted that they give equal weight to their conflicting loyalties. The refutation is that, though some may claim to be able to maintain conflicting loyalties, they’re either lying to others or deceiving themselves.

Usually, supporting evidence includes facts, ideas, and quotes from current research and/or experts, examples of cases related to your topic, and quotes from people who are affected by it. Everything that you have read about here and every activity you have completed as you worked through this chapter is applicable to all research writing projects in this book and beyond. Most school writing assignments give you direct instructions about your purpose, intended audience, and rhetorical occasion. Truly proficient and independent writers, however, learn to define their purpose, audiences, and contexts of their writing, on their own.

Good Examples of Argumentative Essays Online

For example, it’s pretty hard to write an argumentative essay on whether or not people should be allowed to murder one another—not a whole lot of debate there for most people! —but writing an essay for or against the death penalty has a lot more wiggle room for evidence and argument. Now that you are aware of how to write an argumentative essay and have chosen a topic, you might need a little inspiration or a further understanding of how this type of essay is written. We are now going to take a look at some passages from argumentative essays to inspire you. Such pieces not only allow the writer to advance and articulate their own position, but often help readers to consider their own thoughts on the subject of the argument. Argumentative writing is often most persuasive when it incorporates other perspectives on the subject and dismantles them or provides counter-arguments to likely rebuttals.

Search engines may offer too many template variations, so stick to the most common one, and decide how many body paragraphs you will have based on the number of supporting evidence. The information you have gathered during your research will help you decide. A mistake would be to assume that your reader knows everything about your topic, or that the subject is too simple to go into more detail. Yes, whoever is reading your argumentative paper can be familiar with the topic or the ideas you write about. Still, they won’t be able to know what we plan on doing with those ideas unless we provide enough explanations. Argument is persuading someone to come to your side or agree with your ideas.

Writing Activity 14 1

But, encourage your students to be careful here; the suitability of a humorous opening will largely depend on the topic being discussed. As jokes may not always be appropriate to the material, they must be used wisely. Be sure to spend some time researching your topic before writing about it, and make sure you reference where you have sourced this knowledge.

what does argumentative writing mean

This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. Do plenty of research until you have enough data to support each of your main points. Feel free to cite other sources or studies to improve your credibility as well.

argumentative essay

When your work cites arguments of all the involved parties, it makes the audience perceive the author as more trustworthy and competent. So, you can mention some opposite standpoints to disprove them, thus strengthening your arguments. This article stresses the importance of argumentative writing across disciplines. I make short tutorial videos on essay writing for my students, which really helped me pass across my points. There were many great tips also borrowed to use in my instructional content. The construction of the document must comply with the rules of logic.

  • This skill helps our students not only engage with the world but also to process their thoughts and discover their opinions about things.
  • Fill in your topic, your reasons, and your supporting evidence into each of the categories.
  • Argumentative writing is designed to prove a particular point with the use of supporting evidence, effective rhetoric, and persuasive debate.
  • This model of applying argument is also called the Aristotelian model developed by Aristotle.
  • This exercise can also serve as a fantastic prep exercise for a piece of extended writing and involves minimal prep.

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You should always ensure that you use credible sources to make sure that facts are real and up to date. The Rogerian model lays out two sides of an argument and gives weaknesses and strengths related to both. After this, the author can give a recommendation of his or her own thoughts based on the evidence provided. Conclusion, where you revisit your thesis in the context of all preceding evidence and succinctly wrap up everything. Introduction, which clearly presents your thesis, sets up the rest of the essay, and maybe even adds a little intrigue. If you are active on social media, your personal life will improve greatly.

  • She has years of tutoring experience and writes creative works in her free time.
  • Make sure your language is clear and appropriate for the reader, and double-check that you effectively made all your points and rebuttals.
  • If your research contains data which is likely to cause your readers to be emotional, it data can enhance the pathetic aspect of your argument.
  • Put all the core pieces together and sum up your arguments in the conclusion.
  • Kairos is one of the most fascinating terms from Classical rhetoric.