WRITING ANARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY Advanced English (Taken from Brent Davis, 2009)
What is it for?It is an essay in which the writer tries toconvice the reader(s) that his/her opinion ina controversial issue is the correct one.
How you do itThe writer presents one side of the issueand presents his/her opinions witharguments backed up by statistics,examples, facts, and expert opinions. Inshort essays (500 words),five paragraphs isthe standard format.
To write an essay• Introductory paragraphBegin with a topic sentence that isinteresting enough to catch the reader’sattention.
For example1) Quotations: The Pope said: “Gay marriages will never be accepted by the catholic church”2) Denifinitions: “Euthanasia”: The act of killing someone to relieve pain and suffering3) Facts: “John F. Keneddy was killed on November 22, 1963 in Dallas”
Introductory paragraphThe introduction ends with a thesisstatement, an affirmative sentence thatexpresses the writer’s opinion about thetopic of the essay.Gay marriage should not be banned.
Body paragraphsThe second, third, and fourth paragraphsmake up the body of the essay.IMPORTANT:Each of the paragraphs must begin with atransition term (First, second, to continue, inconclusion, etc) followed by an argumentthat supports the thesis statement. Thetopic sentence must be supported withevidence.
There are 3 types of evidence1) StatisticsFacts: “John F. Keneddy was killed onNovember 22, 1963 in Dallas”Figures: However, polls conducted from1966 to 2004 found that as many as 80percent of Americans have suspected thatthere was a plot or cover-up
There are 3 types of evidence2) Expert opinion:Quote: Abraham Lincoln said: “Thegovernment of the people, by the people, forthe people, shall not perish from earth”Paraphrase: Abraham Lincoln said thegovernment where the people participatewould never dissapear
There are 3 types of evidence3) Example:The assasination of John F. Kennedydemonstrates that the United States securitysystem has fail before the 9-11 attacks
Ideally, at least two types ofevidence are used in the bodyessay
ConclusionThis is the fifth paragraph, it begins with atransition term (to summarize, to conclude,in summary, in conclusion, etc) and asummary in which the thesis and threearguments are re statedThe essay ends with a “clincher” – atechnique used to encourage the reader tothink about the essay.
3 Types of clincher techniques1) Connecting with the introductionAn example would be (see slide 6)People have the freedom to chose what todo with their lives and the governmentshould respect that.
3 Types of clincher techniques2) Asking a rethorical questionShould gay marriage be banned?Absolutely not!
3 Types of clincher techniques3) Offering a suggestionWho we marry should not be a decision thatis made by the state, the choices thatchange our lives should only be made by us.
Persuasive strategiesThere 4 basic strategies to use when writinga argumentative essay. They are:
1Do not use any first or second personpronouns (I, you, we, my, our,etc)By only using the third person singular orplural (he, she, it, they, etc), the essayappears impersonal and there for rational
2Do not use any contractions (he’s, she’s,don’t, musn’t, can’t, etc). Remember thatwhen we write an academic paper or otherformal paper we cannot use contractionsexcept to indicate possession (the pope’sopinion)Being formal will give credibility to youressay
3Place the weakest argument in the secondparagraph of the body (paragraph 3).By placing the weakest argument in themiddle of the two paragraphs, the strengthof the two arguments hides the weakness ofthe second one. In other words, you beginand end strong.
4In the introduction, present the opposingviewpoint first, and then refute it in yourthesis statements.By presenting the opposing position andthen refuting it, you appear open-minded;you indicate that you have considered bothsides of the issue, opting for the better of thetwo.
Language structures and transition termsSome useful language structures to presentand then refute an opinion are:• While proponents claim that…,it would appear the opposite is true• Some have asserted that…; nevertheless, …• It could be argued that…; however, ….
Notice the words nevertheless and however.They are transition words and, like the termsfirst, second, and third, they help the readerfollow your train of thought.