Argumentative essays are some of the most common assignments students will face in their academic careers. At the same time, it can be difficult to understand how these papers differ from other essay types and what makes them special. This article will help you to understand the basic building blocks of an argumentative essay and point out some typical mistakes that students make when writing one.
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The definition of an argumentative essay is an essay that presents an argument on a given topic. The writer of an argumentative essay is not only supposed to present his/her own opinion about a good argument topic, but also present evidence and use logic in order to convince the reader to agree with the writer.
The goal of an argumentative essay is clear: the writer is trying to persuade you to agree with his/her points by using logic and evidence. If you don’t believe the writer’s argument and think he is exaggerating, ask for proof. Is there some piece of evidence he is trying to hide that supports his claim? how persuasive is the essay?
There is what I’ve labeled as an ad hominem argument for invalidating the argument. This type of argument focuses on rhetorical devices that invalidate the assumed point of the argument. Let’s take a look at an example of a persuasive essay.
Joe, an employee at XYZ firm who was sick of being treated like an object, made a speech criticizing XYZ’s employer, arguing that even though Joe considers XYZ to be a prestigious company, he feels trapped and belittled because of his working conditions. He then blamed his poor treatment on XYZ because, at that point, Joe assumed, XYZ didn’t care about its workers as much as it cares about profit. In order to change this cycle and to convince Joe that XYZ’s employer is horrible, Joe offered to quit (an offer that was accepted by Joe). Now Joe is siding with XYZ and against his best friend and employer. He has found evidence that the scary and stalkerish boss treats his employees poorly so that he can convince Joe to vote against XYZ in an upcoming election.
Consider such type of argumentative examples. This type of ad hominem argument immediately assumes that the person being attacked is weak or stupid. If you substitute the word quirky for boss in this argument, it takes on a completely different meaning.
This sort of argument does not fall into the vein of demonstrating why a certain opinion is true.
An argumentative essay is made up of three parts:
The introduction is where you make your argument and tell the reader what you’re going to talk about.
The body is where you go more in-depth about your argument, using evidence from your research.
Then the conclusion is where you summarize your argument and tell the reader whether or not you’re right.
An argumentative paper is very similar to a non-argumentative paper, except that you essentially rewrite the introduction into an argument.
Although there are several ways you can structure an argumentative paper, there are also some general patterns for different formats. Please note that there is no best way to structure an argumentative paper due to the fact that every paper will differ in certain ways.
An argumentative essay is overwhelmingly written in the first-person singular. Even in your own life, you probably consider yourself a unique snowflake. If you have a story to tell or an experience to back up your claims, you should be able to make them as compelling as possible using only first-person singular. If you can’t do this, your passage will be very flimsy, even if you have excellent evidence for your claims.
Personal stories are risky for many reasons. You don’t have an audience yet. If your story is terrible, nobody cares. As much as you want to have the world fully believe your story, you won’t be able to if this is untrue. To bolster your argument, you should be in as much detail about your story as possible. This will make it easier for readers to connect your stories and more convincing for you to sell your story. Therefore, a personal story is a risky topic for argument essay.
The Humanosphere is an excellent example of a story with an excellent first-person argumentative structure. Let’s take a look at the story of Mary Smith, a long-time ballet dancer, and how she became an advocate for animal rights. At the risk of oversimplifying, Mary started dancing at the age of five.
Writing good argumentative texts requires that you have a strong thesis statement and an argument that follows this thesis. The thesis statement is the major idea of the argumentative essay. It answers the question of what you’re trying to argue in your persuasive essay. Your argumentative thesis statement should also be debatable. That means it should be open to debate. Debating your thesis statement helps you to understand the intellectual environment during which it was written and how its author (you) framed the argument. Because most arguments are debatable, you should debunk any ideas that the author of your essay failed to consider. This forms a great basis when analyzing a topic for a persuasive essay.
Two types of argumentative texts are considered standard:
In a personal essay, you’re writing to share some aspects of your life, giving information related either to yourself or someone you admire.
In a comparative essay, you’re writing to compare or contrast two or more things: things like people, ideas, events, or places.
As mentioned above, arguments also vary greatly between these two types. Some arguments are more simple, while other arguments can be quite complex.
Just about any person can make an argument. Unfortunately, many people try to write with an all-encompassing view of their personality when making an argument: “I am rational and logical. Therefore, I am an intelligent person, who agrees with objective facts.” The Autocrat by George Ciccariello-Maher is a good example of this.
In this persuasive essay, he argues that contrary to other rulers, he is different from past autocrats due to a lack of interest in and care about the individual. This is shown through his use of personas (e.g. “Simplicity is strength,” “Timidity is endurance,” and “Estrogen makes you strong and general.”):
Because people tend to relate themselves to exemplars of their personality type (e.g. “I am rational and logical,” “I am confident and calm,” or “I am prudent and reserved), an all-encompassing view of your personality is difficult to be especially confident and deliberate about. However, there is one person who meets the goal perfectly: “I am beautiful.
First, the structure of an argumentative essay is based on the dynamics of the argument. Just like a discursive essay. For each clause of a sentence, there is an opposite clause placed opposite the first. Like this:
“Ah, the beauty of a good argument. Unfortunately, it is one that can never be won.”
When writing an argumentative essay, keep in mind two things that will help make your ideas better.
First, the main purpose of an argumentative essay is to provoke thought and improve communication skills in general.
Second, your argumentative essay writing typically emerges from the integration of the opposing ideas of two or more other ideas. Therefore, one must adhere to two basic rules in order to write an argumentative essay that works as intended.
Avoid using negative language. Instead, form as neutral a tone as possible. It should be evident that either side is right and the best way to win an argument is to present the other side’s most persuasive argument. Treat it as a persuasive essay.
Avoid formulaic language. It is incredibly rare for a student to improve their argumentative essay writing by simply copying/pasting the formulaic language of people who they admire. Instead, it is often better to investigate trends in language among your friends and discover what kind of words they are using. Involve them in the brainstorming process and meet their feedback.
Here are some key points to keep in mind in terms of argumentative essay writing and refining arguments in an argumentative essay.
The 5 steps of inspecting arguments are as follows:
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It’s a part of life and you can learn from them. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough. Failure is an inevitable part of success. The more you fail, the more you learn. To write a well-crafted argumentative essay, it should follow these four steps:
The important takeaway from this step is that all readers are human beings. Therefore you must be human to write an effective argumentative essay. Additionally, your essay must demonstrate why your statement is materially true.
Perhaps the most common style of an argumentative essay is the indirect statement. This type of statement consists of two or more facts that support a particular point.
Since it is essentially a discussion of facts, it is more of a general argumentative essay writing style. While some might consider this type of essay a step down from the direct statement style, it can cover more bases. For example, it can be a productive way to extend arguments you already present in any argumentative paragraph.
There are a few problems with using this tactic alone, however.
The first is that it is easy to get the details wrong when writing an indirect statement. When you include too many tangents, you lose the thread of the argumentation.
Secondly, it can lack uniqueness. The indirect style tends to repeat the same points hundreds of times instead of focusing on creating a unique argument.
The other drawback with this writing style is how simple it is. An indirect statement only requires the inclusion of familiar words. While this often improves readability, it can be exhausting to write.
Finally, because it relies on natural language, sourcing is not as necessary as with direct statements.
You may have noticed that some writers who struggle with writing arguments see it as a hindrance to their performance. In reality, an argumentative essay can help you to think more clearly and with more ease.
It’s important to try to imagine yourself in the shoes of the reader and when writing it.
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