What is an Argumentative Essay?
An argumentative essay is a paper that gets the reader to recognize author’s side of the argument as valid. The purpose of this specific essay is to pose a question and answer it with compelling evidence. At its core, the argumentative essay works to champion a specific viewpoint. The key, however, is that the topic of the argumentative essay has multiple sides, which can be explained, weighed, and judged by relevant sources.
This essay often explores common questions associated with any type of argument including:
- What caused this particular issue?
- Who does this issue affect?
- What are the potential outcomes?
- What should people know about this issue?
Argumentative VS Persuasive Essay
It’s important not to confuse argumentative essay with a persuasive essay – while they both seem to follow the same goal, their methods are slightly different. While the persuasive essay is here to convince the reader (to pick your side), the argumentative essay is here to present the information that supports the claim. In simple words, the argumentative essay explains why author picked this side of the argument, and persuasive essay does it best to persuade the reader to agree with your point of view.
Now that we got this straight, let’s get right to our topic – how to write an argumentative essay. As you can easily recognize, it all starts with a proper argument. First, let’s define the types of the argument available and strategies that you can follow.
Types of Argument
When delving into the types of argument, the vocabulary suddenly becomes quite “lawyerish”; and that makes sense since lawyers stake their whole livelihood on their ability to win arguments. So step into your lawyer shoes, and learn about the five kinds of arguments that you could explore in an argumentative paper:
- Claims of cause and effect
This paper focuses on answering what caused the issue(s), and what the resulting effects have been.
This paper explores a controversial interpretation of a particular definition; the paper delves into what the world really means and how it could be interpreted in different ways.
This argumentative essay examines whether a particular fact is accurate; it often looks at several sources reporting a fact and examines their veracity.
This is a favorite argumentative essay in government and sociology classes; this paper explores a particular policy, who it affects, and what (if anything) should be done about it.
This essay identifies a particular value or belief and then examines how and why it is important to a particular cohort or a larger, general population.
The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress. Joseph Joubert
When mulling over how to approach your argumentative essay, you should be aware that three main argument strategies exist regarding how exactly to argue an issue: classical, Rogerian, Toulmin.
This argument structure dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. In this strategy, the arguer introduces the issue, provides context, clearly states their claim, provides key arguments backed by lots of evidence, and nullifies opposing arguments with valid data.
Hate conflict? This may be the argumentative essay strategy for you. At its core, this strategy works to identify compromise aspects for both sides; this approach works to find commonality and an ultimate agreement between two sides rather than proclaiming a winner or loser. The focus in this argument in compromise and respect of all sides.
Remember Spock? This is his type of strategy; the Toulmin approach focuses solely on logic to persuade the audience. It is heavy on data and often relies on qualifies to narrow the focus of a claim to strengthen the writer’s stance. This approach also tends to rely on exceptions, which clearly set limits on the parameters of an argument, thus making a particular stance easier to agree with.
With that in mind, we can now organize our argument into the essay structure.
Organizing the Argumentative Essay Outline
An argumentative essay follows the typical essay format: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. However, the body paragraphs are structured a bit differently from other body paragraphs. Surely, not something you can see in a cause and effect essay outline.
While the introduction should still begin with an attention getter sentence that grabs the reader’s interest and compels him or her to continue reading and provides key background information, the following paragraphs focus on specific aspects of the argument.
Let’s begin with the introduction.
As its name suggests, this paragraph provides all the background information necessary for a reader unfamiliar with the topic to understand what it’s about. A solid introduction should:
- Begin with a descriptive title that communicates your position regarding the topic
- Use an attention getter to grab the audience’s interest
- Rhetorical question
- Personal anecdote
- Provide necessary background, including definitions of any relevant words
- End with a thesis statement that communicates your position
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Body paragraphs can range in size from six to fifteen or more sentences. The goal of these paragraphs is to support the thesis statement. Recommended areas of focus for the body paragraphs within an argumentative essay include:
- Identifying and explaining the problem
- Identifying the two (or more) sides to the problem
- Exploring the side the writer believes is more appropriate than the others
- Shooting down the other sides, with evidence
- Recommending a course of action for the reader to take
One major way an argumentative essay differs from other kinds is its specific nature. At the end of reading such an essay, the audience should clearly understand an issue or controversy and have enough information to make an informed decision regarding the issue. But what makes an audience make an informed decision? Several things!
- Authoritative sources (experts in their field)
- Real-world examples
- Attributable anecdotes
In this paragraph, often the shortest of all the paragraphs, the writer reviews his or her most compelling reasons for taking a particular stance on an issue. The persuasion should be strong here, and the writer should use combative language including examples such as:
- “,then” statements
- There can be no doubt
- Without immediate action
- Research strongly supports
In an argumentative essay, it is also appropriate to refute opposition in the conclusion. By stating the objections readers could have, and show why they should be dismissed; the conclusion resonates more strongly with the reader.
Argumentative Essay Sample
Be sure to check the sample essay, completed by our writers. Use it as an example to write your own argumentative essay. Link: Argumentative essay on white rappers’ moral rights to perform.
Remember: the key to winning any argument should be reliable sources — the better, the more trustworthy your sources, the more likely the audience will be to consider a viewpoint alternative to their own. And while you may feel a deep passion towards a particular topic, keep in mind that emotions can be messy; an argumentative essay should present all sides to the argument respectfully and with a clear intention to portray each fairly. Let the data, statistics, and facts speak loudly and clearly for themselves. And don’t forget to use opinionated language — using such diction is a must in any strong argumentative essay!
Sure, you’re a lover not a fighter. I am too. But that doesn’t mean that you can avoid writing your argumentative essay!
Since you have to write an argumentative essay, you might as well learn how to write it well, right?
I’ve said it time and time again—there’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page. Putting together an argumentative essay outline is the perfect way to turn your blank document into a ready-to-use template. All you have to do is fill in the blanks!
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you how to create an argumentative essay outline. At the end, I’ll give you a downloadable skeleton outline you can use to get started.
Structure of the Argumentative Essay OutlineIf you distill your argumentative essay outline down to its basics, you’ll find that it’s made of four main sections:
- Developing Your Argument
- Refuting Opponents’ Arguments
That’s not so bad! There’s really nothing to be afraid of.
Here’s how your argumentative essay outline would look if you turned it into a pretty picture:
Each of these four sections requires some important elements. Let’s break those down now.
Argumentative Essay Outline Section 1: Your Intro
Your introduction is where you lay the foundation for your impenetrable argument. It’s made up of a hook, background information, and a thesis statement.
1. Hook. Your first sentence is comprised of a “hook.” Don’t know what a hook is? A hook is a sentence that grabs your reader’s attention just like a good Jackie Chan movie grabs the attention of a martial arts fan.
Let’s say I’m writing an argumentative essay about why American people should start eating insects.
My hook could be, “For those interested in improving their diets and the environment, say ‘goodbye’ to eating chicken, fish, and beef and ‘hello’ to eating silk worms, crickets, and caterpillars.”
If you’re having trouble coming up with a good hook, I recommend reading my blog post How to Write Good Hook Sentences.
2. Background information. The next part of your intro is dedicated to offering some detailed background information on your topic.
Try answering the following questions:
What is the issue at hand? Who cares? Where is this issue prevalent? Why is it important?
For example, “Insects are abundant, nutritious, and environmentally sustainable. Currently, people in the United States shun the idea of eating insects as part of their diets, favoring instead less nutritious and environmentally destructive food options, such as beef and pork. The UN recently issued a statement calling for more world citizens to embrace the many benefits of eating insects.”
3. Thesis. Your thesis typically makes up the last sentence of your intro paragraph. This is where you clearly state your position on the topic and give a reason for your stance.
For example, “A diet of insects can help fix problems related to starvation, obesity, and climate change, and therefore, United States citizens should learn to rely on a variety of insects over chicken, beef, and fish as their main source of protein and nutrition.”
Notice the word “should” in my thesis statement? Using this word makes it clear I’m taking a stance on the argument.
You’ll also notice that my thesis statement sets up the three claims I’m going to expand on later: a diet of insects can help fix problems related to starvation, obesity, and climate change.
Here are even more example argumentative thesis statements.
Let’s talk about adding those claims to our argumentative essay outline now.
Argumentative Essay Outline Section 2: Developing Your Argument
Now that you have filled in the general points of your topic and outlined your stance in the introduction, it’s time to develop your argument.
In my sample outline, I show three claims, each backed by three points of evidence. Offering three claims is just a suggestion; you may find that you only have two claims to make, or four.
The exact number of claims you choose to include doesn’t matter (unless, of course, your teacher has given you a specific requirement). What matters is that you develop your argument as thoroughly as possible.
1. What is a claim? A claim is a statement you make to support your argument.
For example, “Bugs are highly nutritious and eating them can fix the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the United States.”
Great! So I’ve made my claim. But who’s going to believe me? This is where evidence comes into play.
2. What is evidence? For each claim you make, you need to provide supporting evidence. Evidence is factual information from reliable sources.
It is not personal knowledge or anecdotal.
For example, “Researchers at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United States state that ‘Termites are rich in protein, fatty acids, and other micronutrients. Fried or dried termites contain 32–38 percent proteins.’“
My outline shows three pieces of evidence to support each claim, but you may find that each claim doesn’t necessarily have three pieces of evidence to back it. Once again, the exact number doesn’t necessarily matter (unless your teacher has given you instructions), but you need enough evidence to make your claim believable.
Once you have gathered your evidence to support your claims, it’s time to add the next important element of your argumentative essay outline: refuting your opponents’ arguments.
Let’s talk about that now.
Argumentative Essay Outline Section 3: Refuting Opponents’ Arguments
In this section, you state your opponents’ views and then offer a rebuttal.
For example, “Opponents of insect eating from the Beef Council of America say that it is too difficult and time consuming to catch crickets, so it is not easy to gather enough food for a meal, whereas a cow is large and contains a lot of meat for many meals.”
Oh diss! We know the Beef Council just wants us to keep eating McD’s hamburgers and skip the cricket soup. (By the way—I just made that up. The Beef Council did not say that. In your essay, make sure to use real facts.)
Now it’s time to set the opponents straight with a refutation that is full of hard evidence and that will bring them to their knees.
For example, “According to researchers Cerritos and Cano-Santana, the best time to harvest crickets is to catch them in the hour just before sunrise when they are least active. What’s more, it is easy to develop the infrastructure to farm crickets in a way that is more sustainable than cattle farming.”
Booyah! The Beef Council has been served (crickets).
Once you have refuted your opponents’ viewpoints, it’s time to sail to the finish line with your conclusion.
Argumentative Essay Outline Section 4: Conclusion
In your conclusion, you are going to accomplish two important tasks.
1. Restate the importance of your issue. Similar to what you did in your introduction, you want to restate why this topic is critical.
For example, “Simply by incorporating insects into their diets, U.S. citizens can improve the sustainability and nutrition of the American diet.”
2. Paint a picture of the world if your argument is (or is not) implemented. In the final part of your conclusion, make your audience think about the ramifications of your argument. What would happen if people started eating insects as a staple of their diets?
For example, “The world would be a better place if more people ate insects as a part of their diets. Fewer people would go hungry, more people would get the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients they need to live healthy lifestyles, and our planet would be relieved of the burden of an unsustainable food system.
Closing with a clear picture of the world as you would like it to be can leave your reader convinced that your argument is valid.
Download the Argumentative Essay Outline TemplateOnce you break it down, writing an argumentative essay outline isn’t that daunting.
Download this skeleton Argumentative Essay Outline to get started.
Before you go off into the sunset and use my outline template, make sure that you are following the guidelines specific to your course. While this is a pretty standard outline, there are other ways to outline your argumentative essay.
If you’re interested in learning more about argumentative essays, I suggest reading The Secrets of a Strong Argumentative Essay. Want even more knowledge? Check out this argumentative essay infographic!
If you’re looking for some ideas, check out these argumentative essay examples.
When you have your argumentative essay and outline ready to go, you can always have one of our awesome editors give it a second look.
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