how to write an argumentative essay

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

Definition

An argumentative essay is a form of writing that is biased and subjective. This means that it mainly depicts a writer’s standpoint on the subject at hand; thus, it is founded on logic and reasoning. An argumentative essay requires extensive research on the writer’s part in order to provide solid evidence on a topic. As a result, it should be backed by facts, statistics, figures, and other forms of data, where practicable. Though an argumentative essay is biased and subjective, this does not give room for the writer to be oblivious of the opposing viewpoint.

Pertaining to its structure, an argumentative essay consists of three parts; the introduction, the body and the conclusion. The introductory paragraph presents the logical argument. The body paragraphs can be three or as many (in number) depending on their adequacy in presenting the evidence for backing up the writer’s argument. The conclusion is usually a summary of the points discussed within the body paragraphs.

Purposes of writing

The main purpose of writing an argumentative essay is to clarify an opinion. Its intent is to persuade an audience in order to come to terms with the writer’s perspective on a certain topic. An argumentative essay is used to sway people to new behavior or to a particular action. It is also used to discover truths and settle disputes.

Professors assign argumentative essays to students so that they can learn to examine ideas in a methodical way, evaluate conflicting claims, and judge evidence. From the educational standpoint, the aim of making students write argumentative essays is to evaluate their critical thinking skills and evaluate their knowledge of a topic. The relevance of having great argumentative writing skills has become more evident as students attempt to approach the critical issues in life. It has become a necessary and important requirement for students to learn as it enables them to gain critical thinking and research skills.

Critical thinking is a very important skill in life. By being able to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of one’s position in a matter, a writer is able to explore alternative sides of an issue to arrive at a personal position, idea or belief.

Research skills, on the other hand, are also paramount as the solutions to scientific and natural phenomena in the world of academia are best obtained through sufficient research.

Skills needed to write a great argumentative essay

There are various skills that one must possess in order to write an excellent argumentative essay.

These skills include:

Extensive research skill

Writing an argumentative essay requires one to back their claim with evidence. A writer needs to know how to conduct research on the topic they are arguing about. In order to write an argumentative essay, you will need at the very least two reasons why you support your position and a disproval of arguments against your claim, all backed with evidence. The evidence should be authentic, valid, reliable, sufficient and current. For example, instead of a statement like ‘gluten-free diet is healthy,’ you can write ‘people who are on a gluten-free diet are 76% less likely to have gastrointestinal problems.’

It is important to acknowledge the source of your research material through in-text citation and referencing.

Excellent writing skills

It is not enough to have your claims, counterclaims and evidence. A writer needs to know how to express and support his or her point of view. How to determine what arguments are more persuasive and arrange them accordingly is an important skill for any writer. Good grammar and formatting skills are also important for any writer to possess.

Analytical skills

Writing argumentative essays requires the writer to have analytical skills. The ability to dissect and evaluate any given topic is vital for making arguments.

System thinking

System thinking is a very important skill when writing argumentative essays. This is the ability to identify various parts and relating how they come together to be whole.

Ability to accept constructive criticism

This is very important in writing argumentative essays. A writer should be able to withstand criticism. This skill will enable the writer to take criticism positively instead of being intimidated. Failure to acknowledge valid opposing points could make a writer seem narrow-minded or biased. However, it is important to remember not to make the opposing side seem better than the opinion you actually stand for.

Differences Between Argumentative, Persuasive, and Analytical Essays

There are many differences between argumentative, persuasive and analytical essays.

Some of these differences include:

Definition

An analytical essay is a type of essay that requires a writer to give an analysis, examination, and interpretation of different things such as an event, a book or a play. A persuasive essay, on the other hand, is the type of essay that is aimed at influencing the reader to take the side of the author in a particular situation. Argumentative essays are somewhat similar to persuasive essays only that, in this case, the writer is trying to validate his or her opinion rather than trying to persuade the reader.

Starting point

In argumentative essays, one begins with identifying a topic, researching the topic, and finally choosing a side to support. The same applies for an analytical essay only that instead of picking a side, the writer examines and analyzes the entire topic. A persuasive essay follows a different pattern; it begins with identifying a topic and simply supporting a concrete point of view.

Claims

The claim in persuasive writing is usually based on a concrete opinion and is not always substantiated, for example, in advertisements. In argumentative essays, the claim is always substantiated; it is based on proven evidence. In analytical essays, claims are analyzed based on factual evidence.

Technique

Persuasive essays are based on emotions; it combines facts with evidence to convince the reader to side with the writer. Argumentative essays are logic-based; they use evidence, facts, and reason to demonstrate the writer’s valid point. Analytical essays, however, are textual evidence-based; that is, they offer evidence, ideas, and/ or explanations from a given text.          Additionally, persuasive essays are one-sided and pay no attention to counter claims. Analytical essays, on the other hand, analyze counterclaims. Argumentative essays, however, present several sides and acknowledge contradictory claims.

Purpose

The purpose of an argumentative essay is to get a reader to recognize that the writer’s opinion is valid. For an analytical essay, the purpose is to examine and evaluate texts carefully. Persuasive essays serve the purpose of making the reader agree with the writer’s opinion.

Tone

Persuasive essays have a more emotionally charged tone. This is contrary to   argumentative essays which employ a calmer tone of simply convincing a reader to consider taking sides with the writer. Analytical essays, however, employ a neutral tone.

Similarities Between Argumentative, Persuasive, and Analytical Essays

Despite the differences stated in section 2 above, argumentative, persuasive, and analytical essays also share certain similarities, which include:

Meticulous choice of topic

Argumentative, persuasive, and analytical essays require the writer to take time in the selection of a topic. Careful selection ensures that one will not be stuck in the middle because of lack of interest or adequate data on the issue.

Thesis statement

Argumentative, persuasive, and analytical essays demand a writer to construct a good thesis statement to give both the reader and the writer a sense of direction.

Need for research

Argumentative and analytical essays require extensive research as their claims must be backed with evidence. Although persuasive essays are mostly based on an emotional component, some research is required to ensure that a writer does not misinform the reader or spread harmful propaganda.

Structure

Just like other types of essays, persuasive, analytical, and argumentative essays, share the same general structure; that is, they all have an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Use of proper formatting, sentence construction, and correct grammar

The overall objective of all essays is to communicate a certain opinion properly. These essays all share the need for clear communication and have to be written like so.

How to Start Your Argumentative Essay Properly

Before you start writing your essay, ensure that you have selected the right topic. Consider a variety of issues and select a few that have conflicting sides. Do not choose a topic that is not debatable as it is the backbone of an argumentative essay.

The introduction is the beginning of the essay. As such, it must present the issue at hand accurately.

Begin with a compelling statement

The first sentence in your introduction paragraph should pique the interest of the reader. It could be a funny personal story, a famous quote, an interesting question or a surprising fact. For instance, if your argument is that funding for malaria should not be cut, you can begin by asking this question: “Did you know that malaria kills three out of five children in Africa today? According to the anti-malaria campaign….”

Consider the audience

A good introduction is one that is respectful and attention-grabbing. It should not be insulting to any audience.

Provide a background

A good background enables the readers to understand the issue at hand better. In addition, it provides important information such as history that could be significant in arguing your point. For instance, in the case mentioned above, your introduction could include the history of malaria; its origin, evolution, previous developments as well as the background of the people.

Construct a thesis statement

A thesis statement is a summation of the point you are trying to pass across. It should assert your position on the issue. It should not be a fact, as a reader cannot argue against it. It should not be too long; that is, it should be a few sentences long and not an entire paragraph. There are several ways of constructing a thesis. For instance, you could turn your assignment question into an assertion and provide reasons for your stand. If given a question like: Why is the rate of malaria infection rising every day? Is funding enough?

Sample of thesis:

The rate of malaria infection in African countries is at an all-time high. Although funding from the international community is the major source of income for research and prevention measures, and the local governments are trying to contribute to curbing this menace, a lasting solution is still far from being accomplished. There is a need for more money, effort…

What not to do– You should not provide arguments or analysis in your introduction. Given that it is a guide to the rest of your essay, it is advisable not to announce how you plan to go about it as it only serves as filler. Do not write sentences like “I am going to show you how…”

Tips on How to Write the Main Part of Your Essay Properly

The body of an argumentative essay is an imperative part. It is where writers provide their claims and counterclaims backed by evidence. It should be able to convince the reader to adopt your viewpoint and squash possible objections.

Have an outline

Before you begin your main body, it is important to have an outline that shows your claims and objections.

Choose a format

An argumentative essay can be organized in any of these five formats.

Pro-Con pattern

This is recommended mainly for short essays; that is, two paragraphs of pro points plus support followed by a con point paragraph and refutation.

Con format

The body is made up of only Con paragraphs plus refutations.

Claim/Counterclaim format

In this format, there are six paragraphs. The first three are counterclaims plus refutations. The last three paragraphs are claim points plus their support.

Con-Pro format

In this format, the first paragraph of the main body is the Con paragraph. The last two are the Pro paragraphs.

Alternating format

This is for advanced essays. Each claim paragraph is followed by a counterclaim paragraph.

Have strong paragraphs

After you have selected your format, it is time to have strong paragraphs for your main body. The following are tips on how to achieve this:

Have a topic sentence

This should be at the beginning of the paragraph. Not only should it show a link with the thesis statement, but it should also show the contribution to the development of the argument. It should not restate the thesis as this would make the essay repetitive. You should add any explanations to it if necessary. Although vital, not all paragraphs should have a topic sentence.

Bring out your evidence

It could be a statistic, quote or figures. Ensure you integrate it smoothly in the paragraph so that a reader can navigate through without being confused. Additionally, you should always identify the source and finally explain your evidence; does it help your argument? This is usually 1-3 sentences.

Add a concluding sentence

Ensure that you end each of your paragraphs with a sentence that reasserts the importance of the paragraph to the whole argument.

Ensure you are original

For example, if you have the following topic or claim, “For-profit medical care is at the center of the abuse and neglect that senior citizens face in many of the corporate nursing homes today. It has plagued the health care system with a greedy tradition that puts profit before healthcare.”

A sample of a body paragraph (showing originality) in the argumentative essay can be:

“While there is no doubt that the blame of the abuse and neglect of senior citizen lies with all of us, a huge portion of the blame lies with for-profit medical care (1)… In 2010, for-profit nursing homes took home 78% of the $105 billion revenue in their industry sector (2)… This contributes largely to elder abuse that plagues most of the nursing homes in the US. (3)”

Have refuting arguments paragraph

This is the part of the essay where you identify your opponents’ view followed by a rebuttal.

For instance, in an insect diet argument:

“opponents of an insect diet say that it still does not have the potential to be the new chicken or beef. They claim that compared to other sources of proteins, insects do not have a lot of protein.”

Rebuttal:

“According to a UN report, many insects contain the same amount of minerals and proteins as more healthy fats and meat doctors recommend a balanced diet.”

Tips on How to Finish Your Argumentative Essay Properly

Conclusions are most overlooked by students. After spending a lot of time and effort on the introduction and the main body, they simply want to end the essay as quickly as possible. However, this is the last part of your essay, and it will most likely get the most attention; therefore, it is important to leave a good final impression. How do you achieve this?

Restate the thesis statement- Remember restating is not rewriting. You are trying to provide closure and emphasis on your main points for the last time. The key is to paraphrase. Review your main supporting ideas; summarize your arguments, how have you proved the thesis? This should be a maximum of three sentences.

Connect to the compelling opening hook- Ensure it relates to the concluding statement.

Include food for thought- You could include food for thought just ensure it concludes the argument but does not start a new one.

Avoid phrases like “to sum up” or “in summary”- While useful in oral presentation, stating the obvious could be irritating.

After you are done writing your essay, it is important to revise and edit it. This is to ensure that you have not made any errors in your reasoning or integrated any fallacies, which you would criticize if you were another author.

Will paper money be substituted by electronic money? (Argumentative essay example)

Ninety percent of the total monetary transactions in the USA are done electronically. The origin of electronic money can be traced to 1860 when the Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) was introduced by Western Union. In this digital era, where electronic devices rule, the majority of transaction mainly- shopping and banking, occur online. Consumers are increasingly seeking convenient and instant means of payment, and electronic money seems to have provided the solution thus gradually replacing paper money.

Electronic money has opened a new window of opportunities and possibilities. A 2017 study conducted by American Express Digital Payment survey showed that 73% of consumers in the study made three or more purchases online and 47% recorded an increased frequency later that year. As it can be used anywhere and anytime, consumers are increasingly shifting to e-money. Merchants are also taking part in the revolution; turning to electronic money. 71% of merchants reported an increase in their annual sales through online channels in a 2017 survey.

Demonetization is taking place worldwide. Population trend shows that millennials will outnumber baby boomers to become a powerful economic force by 2019. Furthermore, according to the “future of money” report by the Thompson intelligence innovation group, over two-thirds of Chinese and American millennials admit to hardly using cash anymore. They are also open to adopting new trends like the digital-firsts bank, cryptocurrencies, and peer-to-peer payments. They are leading the march away from paper money that they consider traditional.

Cash is not about to become extinct. Approximately 85% of global consumer payments are made using paper money. In Germany and Austria, it accounts for about 80% of the transaction in the retail sector. They argue that its advantages far outweigh those of electronic money. It is the only legal tender; it does not require a payment infrastructure. Furthermore, it is tangible and free from online fraud and hacking that plagues the online platform thereby more safe.

Additionally, history has shown us that new payments cannot replace old ones completely because old systems still possess unique and valuable features. The issues of data security, unifying modes of payment, user privacy, and cutting costs of e-banking still have to be resolved to get people to accept electronic money. Additionally, not all parts of the world have a standard system for e-banking. This presents a big hurdle to the takeover.

Paper money is slowly losing its use in the world today. Many merchants and service providers are increasingly demanding electronic money and consumers are using less cash. With technological progress, more focus is shifting to electronic money. The question of whether coins and banknotes role in society today is slowly being answered with more and more people rallying behind electronic money.