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Argumentative Essays

Argumentative essays are written to convince the reader about something. For example, to discuss the following questions: Should the Internet be regulated by the government? or Is the death penalty an effective deterrent to murder? In order to convincingly present your point of view about such questions in writing, you would write an argumentative essay.

The argumentative essay requires research. You need to investigate the topic and collect and evaluate evidence. You must learn about and understand different points of view, choose a position and support it with evidence. Finally, you must establish a clear thesis statement.

It is also important that you are able to convince your reader. To be able to do this, you need to know how to build a convincing argumentation and understand rhetorical devices such as ethos, logos and pathos.

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable. In other words, the thesis must be something that we can have differing opinions about. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as a fact, there is no reason to try to argue or persuade people. Also your thesis statement should be narrow. Generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, i.e. what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis statement.

Claims and Arguments

Both Sides of the Issue

Present both sides of the issue. Having presented your own arguments, point out who might see the issue differently and why. Choose one of the strongest counter arguments or most common arguments against your position. Give your opposition a fair trial by explaining their point of view. Use words such as "while," "although," and "however" to introduce competing points of view.

Cause and Effect

Cause and effect is when one thing happens and then a second thing happens as a direct result of the first. These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur.

Compare and Contrast

When you compare and contrast you find what is similar and what is different.

Essay Structure

Introduction: Set the context and state your thesis statement. Identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and define your position.

Main Body: Each paragraph must include evidence to support your thesis statement. Use facts and statistics (logos) to support your arguments. You should also include different opinions on the topic to show that you are familiar with other points of view, but explain why your arguments are better.

Conclusion: Readdress your thesis statement in the light of the evidence you have provided.

Tasks and Activities

Write an Argumentative Essay on the Civil Rights Movement

Write an Argumentative Text

Past Exam Questions Where Argumentative Writing Can Be Used

Exam Fall 2013

In recent years there have been many serious shooting incidents in the USA and the issue of gun control has been hotly debated. The disagreement over gun control is not a new one; in fact, this complex issue dates back to the founding of the country and the American Constitution. In April 2013, the Obama administration proposed stricter gun control legislation in Congress, but the proposal was defeated.

Write a text in which you discuss why it seems to be difficult to implement stricter gun control laws in the USA. In your text, refer to the information provided in the box below.

Guns in the USA

310 million firearms in civilian circulation (current population in the US approx. 316 million)
55 million gun-owning voters in 2008
49% of US households have a gun
4.5 million Americans are members of the National Rifle Association

From Time Magazine, January 28, 2013

Useful Sources

How to Write a Five Paragraph Essay is often used as a method for writing argumentative essays.

Defining Argumentation

Argumentative Essays

Argumentative Writing