How to Write an Argumentative Essay?

The purpose of an argumentative essay is to prove that your idea, opinion or theory is correct or more appropriate than another idea or other ideas.



The main characteristics of an argumentative essay:

1. The writer has to choose a side. Only one side of the writing topic can be supported:

Sample Topic: Homeschooling

Possible argument 1: Homeschooling is an effective way of education and it should be promoted.
Possible argument 2: Homeschooling should not be promoted because it prevents education in terms of socializing, academic knowledge and culture.



2. The writer should try to persuade the reader that his or her idea is more appropriate or the most appropriate.

Sample Topic: Capital Punishment

Possible sentence to persuade the reader: Capital punishment should not be practiced because the convict might actually be innocent of the crime.

3. While supporting his or her side, the writer should also try to refute the other idea.

Sample topic: Animal testing

Possible argument: Animal testing should not be practiced.
Possible refutation of the opposing idea: Animal testing helps scientist develop new drugs. However, saving the life of a living being while killing another is too cruel.

Organization of an argumentative essay:

Generally an argumentative essay has five paragraphs. The first paragraph is used as an introduction and the last paragraph is used as a conclusion. The introduction and the conclusion paragraph should mention all the main ideas of the writer. The developing paragraphs are used to support the writer's idea or to refute the opposite site. So you talk about the pros (positive sides) of your idea and cons (negative sides) of the opposing idea.

Sample argumentative essay organization 1 (the most common style):

1st paragraph: Introduction
2nd paragraph: Pros (Supporting your idea)
3rd paragraph: Pros (Supporting your idea)
4th paragraph: Cons (Refuting the other idea)
5th paragraph: Conclusion

Sample 1st paragraph (introduction) organization. 

Lets say the essay is about homeschooling and the writer supports homeschooling with 3 main ideas. The writer thinks that homeschooling is better than formal education in terms of effectiveness and health. Effectiveness and health are the pros of homeschooling. The writer's 3rd main idea is that formal schooling is not individual. This is a con of formal schooling.

The introduction paragraph briefly mentions:

Main idea 1 > effectiveness
Main idea 2 > health
Main idea 3 > individual education
Thesis statement

Each new developing paragraph (2nd, 3rd and 4th paragraphs) should include a main idea and minor ideas.

2nd Paragraph (1st Developing Paragraph) Organization

The main idea of the 2nd paragraph is effectiveness. The writer tries to support the idea that homeschooling is better than formal schooling in terms of effectiveness.

Sample 2nd paragraph organization (first developing paragraph).

Main idea > effectiveness
Minor idea one > Better focus on lessons (The lessons are mostly one on one rather than as a class)
Minor idea two > Flexible lesson schedule (the lessons can be arranged easily and differently)
Minor idea three > Expanding the formal curriculum (extra practical lessons are possible)

Minor ideas can be increased to four or five according to the word limit of the essay.

3rd Paragraph (2nd Developing Paragraph) Organization

The main idea of the 3rd paragraph (second developing paragraph) is health. The writer tries to support the idea that homeschooling is better than school in terms of health.

Sample 3rd paragraph (second developing paragraph) organization.

Main idea > health
Minor idea one > healthy food at home (the food in the cafeteria is not as healthy as food at home)
Minor idea two > cleaner rooms at home (the classes are not as healthy as rooms at home)
Minor idea three > more comfortable tables/chairs/armchairs (the classes at school are generally wooden and not comfortable)

4th Paragraph (3rd Developing Paragraph) Organization

The main idea of the 4th paragraph (3rd developing paragraph) is individual education. The writer tries to refute formal schools in terms of non-individual education.

Sample 4th paragraph (3rd developing paragraph) organization.

Main idea > individual education
Minor idea one > The classes are mostly crowded at school
Minor idea two > Counsellor teachers have to deal with hundreds of students
Minor idea three >  The curriculum is a general curriculum (Each student has different character and needs)

5th Paragraph (Conclusion Paragraph) Organization

The conclusion paragraph should mention the thesis statement in a different way. Also, the conclusion paragraph might mention the main ideas.

Sample conclusion paragraph organization

Main idea 1 > effectiveness
Main idea 2 > health
Main idea 3 > individual education
Re-statement of the thesis statement
Conclusion

It is always a good idea to create an overall plan of your essay, your major ideas and minor details before starting to write your essay. So if you create a list before you start writing, it will be easier to write an essay. Check the sample list below:

Sample Topic: Is technology beneficial or harmful for the society?
The writer's argument: Technology is beneficial for the society.

The introduction (1st paragraph)

Main idea 1 > Saving time (support technology's advantages)
Main idea 2 > Communication (support technology's advantages)
Main idea 3 > Health (refute technology's disadvantages)
Thesis statement

2nd paragraph organization (first developing paragraph)

Main idea > Saving time
Minor supporting idea one > Instant access to a lot of files (Rather than searching stocks)
Minor supporting idea two > Easily using office programs (Rather than using handwriting)
Minor supporting idea three > Completing tasks automatically in seconds (Rather than doing them by hand)

Sample 3rd paragraph (second developing paragraph) organization

Main idea > Communication
Minor idea one > Smart phones
Minor idea two > Internet
Minor idea three > Television

Sample 4th paragraph (3rd developing paragraph) organization.

Main idea > Health
Minor idea one > Some electronic devices have radiation (But electronic devices are also used in medicine)
Minor idea two > Most technological devices harm eyes (But they are also used in eye operations)
Minor idea three >  Technology has created some diseases (But it has also helped prevent a lot of diseases)

Sample conclusion paragraph organization (5th paragraph)

Main idea 1 > Saving time
Main idea 2 > Communication
Main idea 3 > Health
Re-statement of the thesis statement
Conclusion

Other possible argumentative essay organization styles.

Sample argumentative essay organization 2 (this is also quite common):

1st paragraph: Introduction
2nd paragraph: Cons (Refuting the other idea)
3rd paragraph: Pros (Supporting your idea)
4th paragraph: Pros (Supporting your idea)
5th paragraph: Conclusion

Sample argumentative essay organization 3 (not too common):

1st paragraph: Introduction
2nd paragraph: Pros (Supporting your idea)
3rd paragraph: Pros (Supporting your idea)
4th paragraph: Pros (Supporting your idea)
5th paragraph: Conclusion

Sample argumentative essay organization 4 (not too common):

1st paragraph: Introduction
2nd paragraph: Cons (Refuting the other idea)
3rd paragraph: Cons (Refuting the other idea)
4th paragraph: Cons (Refuting the other idea)
5th paragraph: Conclusion


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