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How To Write An Argumentative Essay

Updated on June 11, 2014

Guidelines to writing a good Argumentative Essay

Before we delve into how to go about writing an argumentative essay, let us first of all take a moment to find out exactly what an argumentative essay is.

As the name implies, an argumentative essay is all about arguments.

An argumentative essay is any essay where a writer writes “for” or “against” a given topic. In the argumentative essay, the writer is expected to take a stand or stance on a given topic and defend or support his or her stand with strong arguments.

In an argumentative essay, you are given a controversial topic and asked whether you agree with what has been said or not. You choose a side that you agree with and simply put forwards strong points to support the side you have chosen. Your aim here is to convince the readers with your points.

So how do we go about writing a good argumentative essay?

There are certain points you should take into consideration when writing argumentative essays. Below are some few points to bear in mind when dealing with argumentative essays:

  • Argumentative essays are always about controversial topics. A topic will be given you and you will be virtually asked whether you agree or disagree with it, what your opinion is, what you think about it, etc. An example of an argumentative essay question is this: “Should the government of your country legalize abortion?” This question is clearly on a controversial topic. The question wants you to take a stand or stance and give strong reasons why you have taken that particular stand.
  • In argumentative essays, you are not supposed to support both sides. You should always pick one side and support it with your arguments.
  • Just as you cannot support both sides in an argumentative essay, you also cannot decide to sit on the fence. What I mean by sitting on the fence is deciding not to support any side. You must support one side!
  • In supporting the stand that you have chosen, make sure that you come up with at least three strong points.
  • Remember that argumentative essays are all about arguments and trying to use these arguments to convince the reader into agreeing with you. It therefore goes without saying that the stronger your arguments are, the more your chances are of convincing your readers into agreeing with you.
  • You do not necessarily have to be sincere when writing an argumentative essay. It is always advisable to go in for the stand where you think you can generate stronger and more convincing points. For example, in the question: “Should the government of your country legalize abortion?” Here, you will be torn between saying the government should legalize abortion and the government should not legalize abortion. Let us say that you genuinely do not agree that abortion should be legalized in your country, but you find out that supporting the legalization of abortion in the essay can give your more convincing points to write about, then by all means you should do that!

It is important that you bear the above points in mind each time that you are writing an argumentative essay.

Now that we have at least a rudimentary idea what argumentative essays are all about and what they entail, let us turn our attention to another very important thing about the argumentative essay, which is the format.

Format for argumentative essays

Heading/Title

Your argumentative essay should have a heading or title. Let’s say you have been given a question which goes like this: “Do you agree that science is causing more harm than good in the world today?”

Here, it is advisable that you come up with a heading for your essay or composition. The heading of your essay can easily be extracted from the question. Depending on which stand you take, you can have a title that reads like this: "Science Causes More Harm Than Good" or "The Importance of Science In Today's World"

Take a stand

After you have come up with your heading, it is important that you take a stand or stance. By taking a stand, you declare to your readers whether you are “for” or “against” the topic. You basically let your readers know where you belong.

Start from the point you do not support

Begin writing the essay by raising some of your opponent’s points or by raising some points of the side you do not support. Here, it is advisable that you raise some very weak points of the side you do not support because you are going to refute them later.

Let us assume we are working on the same topic: Do you agree that science is causing more harm than good in the world today?

If you say “YES”, here are some of the points you could raise in defense of your stand: nuclear weapons, weapons, pollution, crime, cyber crimes, etc.

If you say “NO”, here are some of the points you could raise to defend your stance: medicine, electricity, computers that make life easier for people, machines, vehicles that help us travel faster, telephones, the internet, etc.

In starting from the point that you do not support, let us say you went in for “YES science is doing more harm than good in the world today”, you could talk about science giving birth to good things such as computers and electricity, but you should quickly rubbish that by putting forward your strong points. Your points should always outnumber and be stronger than the earlier points that you raised in favor of the side that you disagree with it.

When raising your points, make sure that each point is thoroughly elaborated upon and is contained in a paragraph.

The body of your argumentative essay should be logical and highly convincing. It is not wise to dwell on very weak points in your essay. Make sure that you always go in for very strong and convincing points. According to the experts, a few strong and convincing points that are well explained are far better than a lot of weak and unconvincing points. It is important that you hit hard here! Remember you want to convince your readers and make them follow you.

Conclusion

This is where you bring an end to your essay. You should always conclude in your favor. For example, I could easily conclude an essay on the above-mentioned topic by writing a sentence like this: “With all the irrefutable points I have raised above, it goes without saying that the disadvantages of science greatly outweigh the advantages. Science is obviously causing this world more harm than good.”

NOTE: If you follow the guidelines given in this article, your argumentative essays are always going to be rich and highly convincing.

In another article, we will take a detailed look at debate writing, which happens to be one of the most common forms of argumentative essays that students constantly have to battle with in their English Language examinations.

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