What is an Argumentative Essay? How to Write It (With Examples)

by Dhanya Alex
Argumentative Essay

We define an argumentative essay as a type of essay that presents arguments about both sides of an issue. The purpose is to convince the reader to accept a particular viewpoint or action. In an argumentative essay, the writer takes a stance on a controversial or debatable topic and supports their position with evidence, reasoning, and examples. The essay should also address counterarguments, demonstrating a thorough understanding of the topic.

Table of Contents

What is an argumentative essay?

An argumentative essay is a type of writing that presents a coherent and logical analysis of a specific topic.1 The goal is to convince the reader to accept the writer’s point of view or opinion on a particular issue. Here are the key elements of an argumentative essay: 

  1. Thesis Statement: The central claim or argument that the essay aims to prove. 
  2. Introduction: Provides background information and introduces the thesis statement. 
  3. Body Paragraphs: Each paragraph addresses a specific aspect of the argument, presents evidence, and may include counterarguments. 
  4. Evidence: Supports the main argument with relevant facts, examples, statistics, or expert opinions. 
  5. Counterarguments: Anticipates and addresses opposing viewpoints to strengthen the overall argument. 
  6. Conclusion: Summarizes the main points, reinforces the thesis, and may suggest implications or actions. 

Argumentative essay structure

Aristotelian, Rogerian, and Toulmin are three distinct approaches to argumentative essay structures, each with its principles and methods.2 The choice depends on the purpose and nature of the topic. Here’s an overview of each type of argumentative essay format.

Aristotelian (Classical)RogerianToulmin
Introduction
Introduce the topic. 
Provide background information. 
Present the thesis statement or main argument.
Introduction
Introduce the issue. 
Provide background information. 
Establish a neutral and respectful tone. 
Introduction
Introduce the issue. 
Provide background information. 
Present the claim or thesis. 
Narration
Provide context or background information. 
Set the stage for the argument. 
Contextualization
Describe opposing viewpoints without judgment. 
Show an understanding of the different perspectives. 
Claim
Clearly state the main argument or claim. 
Confirmation
Present the main argument with supporting evidence. 
Use logical reasoning. 
Address counterarguments and refute them. 
Thesis and Common Ground
Present your thesis or main argument. 
Identify areas of common ground between opposing views. 
Data (Evidence)
 Provide evidence to support the claim. 
Include facts, examples, and statistics. 
 
Refutation
Acknowledge opposing views. 
Provide counterarguments and evidence against them. 
Body
Present your arguments while acknowledging opposing views. 
Emphasize shared values or goals. 
Seek compromise and understanding. 
Warrant
Explain the reasoning that connects the evidence to the claim. 
Make the implicit assumptions explicit. 
Conclusion
Summarize the main points. 
Reassert the thesis. 
End with a strong concluding statement.
Conclusion
Summarize areas of agreement. 
Reiterate the importance of finding common ground. 
End on a positive note.
Backing
Provide additional support for the warrant. 
Offer further justification for the reasoning. 
Counterclaim: 
Address potential counterarguments. 
Provide evidence and reasoning to refute counterclaims. 
Rebuttal: 
Respond to counterarguments and reinforce the original claim. 
Conclusion: 
Summarize the main points. 
Reinforce the strength of the argument.

Argumentative essay outline

An argumentative essay presents a specific claim or argument and supports it with evidence and reasoning. Here’s an outline for an argumentative essay, along with examples for each section:3 

1. Introduction

  • Hook: Start with a compelling statement, question, or anecdote to grab the reader’s attention. 

Example: “Did you know that plastic pollution is threatening marine life at an alarming rate?” 

  • Background information: Provide brief context about the issue. 

Example: “Plastic pollution has become a global environmental concern, with millions of tons of plastic waste entering our oceans yearly.” 

  • Thesis statement: Clearly state your main argument or position. 

Example: “We must take immediate action to reduce plastic usage and implement more sustainable alternatives to protect our marine ecosystem.” 

2. Body Paragraphs

  • Topic sentence: Introduce the main idea of each paragraph. 

Example: “The first step towards addressing the plastic pollution crisis is reducing single-use plastic consumption.” 

  • Evidence/Support: Provide evidence, facts, statistics, or examples that support your argument. 

Example: “Research shows that plastic straws alone contribute to millions of tons of plastic waste annually, and many marine animals suffer from ingestion or entanglement.” 

  • Counterargument/Refutation: Acknowledge and refute opposing viewpoints. 

Example: “Some argue that banning plastic straws is inconvenient for consumers, but the long-term environmental benefits far outweigh the temporary inconvenience.” 

  • Transition: Connect each paragraph to the next. 

Example: “Having addressed the issue of single-use plastics, the focus must now shift to promoting sustainable alternatives.” 

3. Counterargument Paragraph

  • Acknowledgement of opposing views: Recognize alternative perspectives on the issue. 

Example: “While some may argue that individual actions cannot significantly impact global plastic pollution, the cumulative effect of collective efforts must be considered.” 

  • Counterargument and rebuttal: Present and refute the main counterargument. 

Example: “However, individual actions, when multiplied across millions of people, can substantially reduce plastic waste. Small changes in behavior, such as using reusable bags and containers, can have a significant positive impact.” 

4. Conclusion

  • Restatement of thesis: Summarize your main argument. 

Example: “In conclusion, adopting sustainable practices and reducing single-use plastic is crucial for preserving our oceans and marine life.” 

  • Call to action: Encourage the reader to take specific steps or consider the argument’s implications. 

Example: “It is our responsibility to make environmentally conscious choices and advocate for policies that prioritize the health of our planet. By collectively embracing sustainable alternatives, we can contribute to a cleaner and healthier future.” 

Types of argument claims

A claim is a statement or proposition a writer puts forward with evidence to persuade the reader.4 Here are some common types of argument claims, along with examples: 

  1. Fact Claims: These claims assert that something is true or false and can often be verified through evidence. 
    Example: “Water boils at 100°C at sea level.”
  2. Value Claims: Value claims express judgments about the worth or morality of something, often based on personal beliefs or societal values.
    Example: “Organic farming is more ethical than conventional farming.” 
  3. Policy Claims: Policy claims propose a course of action or argue for a specific policy, law, or regulation change. 
    Example: “Schools should adopt a year-round education system to improve student learning outcomes.” 
  4. Cause and Effect Claims: These claims argue that one event or condition leads to another, establishing a cause-and-effect relationship. 
    Example: “Excessive use of social media is a leading cause of increased feelings of loneliness among young adults.” 
  5. Definition Claims: Definition claims assert the meaning or classification of a concept or term. 
    Example: “Artificial intelligence can be defined as machines exhibiting human-like cognitive functions.” 
  6. Comparative Claims: Comparative claims assert that one thing is better or worse than another in certain respects. 
    Example: “Online education is more cost-effective than traditional classroom learning.” 
  7. Evaluation Claims: Evaluation claims assess the quality, significance, or effectiveness of something based on specific criteria. 
    Example: “The new healthcare policy is more effective in providing affordable healthcare to all citizens.” 

Understanding these argument claims can help writers construct more persuasive and well-supported arguments tailored to the specific nature of the claim.  

How to write an argumentative essay?

If you’re wondering how to start an argumentative essay, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with the argumentative essay format and writing process.

  1. Choose a Topic:
    Select a topic that you are passionate about or interested in.
    Ensure that the topic is debatable and has two or more sides.
  2. Define Your Position:
    Clearly state your stance on the issue.
    Consider opposing viewpoints and be ready to counter them.
  3. Conduct Research:
    Gather relevant information from credible sources, such as books, articles, and academic journals.
    Take notes on key points and supporting evidence.
  4. Create a Thesis Statement:
    Develop a concise and clear thesis statement that outlines your main argument.
    Convey your position on the issue and provide a roadmap for the essay.
  5. Outline Your Argumentative Essay:
    Organize your ideas logically by creating an outline.
    Include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
    Each body paragraph should focus on a single point that supports your thesis.
  6. Write the Introduction:
    Start with a hook to grab the reader’s attention (a quote, a question, a surprising fact).
    Provide background information on the topic.
    Present your thesis statement at the end of the introduction.
  7. Develop Body Paragraphs:
    Begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that relates to the thesis.
    Support your points with evidence and examples.
    Address counterarguments and refute them to strengthen your position.
    Ensure smooth transitions between paragraphs.
  8. Address Counterarguments:
    Acknowledge and respond to opposing viewpoints.
    Anticipate objections and provide evidence to counter them.
  9. Write the Conclusion:
    Summarize the main points of your argumentative essay.
    Reinforce the significance of your argument.
    End with a call to action, a prediction, or a thought-provoking statement.
  10. Revise, Edit, and Share:
    Review your essay for clarity, coherence, and consistency.
    Check for grammatical and spelling errors.
    Share your essay with peers, friends, or instructors for constructive feedback.
  11. Finalize Your Argumentative Essay:
    Make final edits based on feedback received.
    Ensure that your essay follows the required formatting and citation style.

Argumentative essay writing tips

Here are eight strategies to craft a compelling argumentative essay: 

  1. Choose a Clear and Controversial Topic: Select a topic that sparks debate and has opposing viewpoints. A clear and controversial issue provides a solid foundation for a strong argument. 
  2. Conduct Thorough Research: Gather relevant information from reputable sources to support your argument. Use a variety of sources, such as academic journals, books, reputable websites, and expert opinions, to strengthen your position. 
  3. Create a Strong Thesis Statement: Clearly articulate your main argument in a concise thesis statement. Your thesis should convey your stance on the issue and provide a roadmap for the reader to follow your argument. 
  4. Develop a Logical Structure: Organize your essay with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point of evidence that contributes to your overall argument. Ensure a logical flow from one point to the next. 
  5. Provide Strong Evidence: Support your claims with solid evidence. Use facts, statistics, examples, and expert opinions to support your arguments. Be sure to cite your sources appropriately to maintain credibility. 
  6. Address Counterarguments: Acknowledge opposing viewpoints and counterarguments. Addressing and refuting alternative perspectives strengthens your essay and demonstrates a thorough understanding of the issue. Be mindful of maintaining a respectful tone even when discussing opposing views. 
  7. Use Persuasive Language: Employ persuasive language to make your points effectively. Avoid emotional appeals without supporting evidence and strive for a respectful and professional tone. 
  8. Craft a Compelling Conclusion: Summarize your main points, restate your thesis, and leave a lasting impression in your conclusion. Encourage readers to consider the implications of your argument and potentially take action. 

Good argumentative essay example

Let’s consider a sample of argumentative essay on how social media enhances connectivity:

In the digital age, social media has emerged as a powerful tool that transcends geographical boundaries, connecting individuals from diverse backgrounds and providing a platform for an array of voices to be heard. While critics argue that social media fosters division and amplifies negativity, it is essential to recognize the positive aspects of this digital revolution and how it enhances connectivity by providing a platform for diverse voices to flourish.

One of the primary benefits of social media is its ability to facilitate instant communication and connection across the globe. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram break down geographical barriers, enabling people to establish and maintain relationships regardless of physical location and fostering a sense of global community. Furthermore, social media has transformed how people stay connected with friends and family. Whether separated by miles or time zones, social media ensures that relationships remain dynamic and relevant, contributing to a more interconnected world.

Moreover, social media has played a pivotal role in giving voice to social justice movements and marginalized communities. Movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #ClimateStrike have gained momentum through social media, allowing individuals to share their stories and advocate for change on a global scale. This digital activism can shape public opinion and hold institutions accountable.

Social media platforms provide a dynamic space for open dialogue and discourse. Users can engage in discussions, share information, and challenge each other’s perspectives, fostering a culture of critical thinking. This open exchange of ideas contributes to a more informed and enlightened society where individuals can broaden their horizons and develop a nuanced understanding of complex issues.

While criticisms of social media abound, it is crucial to recognize its positive impact on connectivity and the amplification of diverse voices. Social media transcends physical and cultural barriers, connecting people across the globe and providing a platform for marginalized voices to be heard. By fostering open dialogue and facilitating the exchange of ideas, social media contributes to a more interconnected and empowered society. Embracing the positive aspects of social media allows us to harness its potential for positive change and collective growth.

How to write a good thesis

  1. Clearly Define Your Thesis Statement: Your thesis statement is the core of your argumentative essay. Clearly articulate your main argument or position on the issue. Avoid vague or general statements.  
  2. Provide Strong Supporting Evidence: Back up your thesis with solid evidence from reliable sources and examples. This can include facts, statistics, expert opinions, anecdotes, or real-life examples. Make sure your evidence is relevant to your argument, as it impacts the overall persuasiveness of your thesis.  
  3. Anticipate Counterarguments and Address Them: Acknowledge and address opposing viewpoints to strengthen credibility. This also shows that you engage critically with the topic rather than presenting a one-sided argument. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the length of an argumentative essay? 


The length of an argumentative essay can vary, but it typically falls within the range of 1,000 to 2,500 words. However, the specific requirements may depend on the guidelines provided.

2. When to write an argumentative essay? 


You might write an argumentative essay when: 
1. You want to convince others of the validity of your position. 
2. There is a controversial or debatable issue that requires discussion. 
3. You need to present evidence and logical reasoning to support your claims. 
4. You want to explore and critically analyze different perspectives on a topic. 

3. What’s the difference between argumentative and narrative/descriptive essays? 


Argumentative Essay: 
Purpose: An argumentative essay aims to persuade the reader to accept or agree with a specific point of view or argument. 
Structure: It follows a clear structure with an introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs presenting arguments and evidence, counterarguments and refutations, and a conclusion. 
Tone: The tone is formal and relies on logical reasoning, evidence, and critical analysis. 
 
Narrative/Descriptive Essay: 
Purpose: These aim to tell a story or describe an experience, while a descriptive essay focuses on creating a vivid picture of a person, place, or thing. 
Structure: They may have a more flexible structure. They often include an engaging introduction, a well-developed body that builds the story or description, and a conclusion. 
Tone: The tone is more personal and expressive to evoke emotions or provide sensory details. 

References

  1. Gladd, J. (2020). Tips for Writing Academic Persuasive Essays. Write What Matters
  1. Nimehchisalem, V. (2018). Pyramid of argumentation: Towards an integrated model for teaching and assessing ESL writing. Language & Communication, 5(2), 185-200. 
  1. Press, B. (2022). Argumentative Essays: A Step-by-Step Guide. Broadview Press. 
  1. Rieke, R. D., Sillars, M. O., & Peterson, T. R. (2005). Argumentation and critical decision making. Pearson/Allyn & Bacon. 

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