In your essay, you will defend an opinion about an academic topic.
Remember that after you do enough preliminary research to brainstorm and choose your focus, you should do more detailed research about your topic so that you can make your outline.
When you research for an argumentative essay, look for the opinions of the supporters, but also look for the opinions of the opponents. A strong argument often acknowledges the opposite point of view.
You can use a mind map, a free write, general internet search, or a discussion group if you are having a difficult time thinking of things to write about.
As you brainstorm your argument, you may want to consider the following questions:
1. Claim: What do I think?
2. Reason: Why do I think it?
3. Evidence: How do I know?
4. Counterclaim: What is the other side?
5. Rebuttal: [What is] my response to the other side?
(Sedita, 2017, para. 7)
While it is okay to choose a personally difficult or sensitive topic to write your essay on if given the choice of choosing your own topic, you may find it more difficult as you continue researching, writing, and revising. It is okay in those situations to talk with your teacher and switch your essay topic to a different one. If you feel comfortable writing about the topic, feel free to continue to do so, but if dealing with that topic becomes too much, it is okay to change topics.
Make sure the topic isn't too broad to cover in your essay. If you choose to make a broad argument, you will need a lot of evidence to support the broad claim you made. Furthermore, when you have a broad topic, there are many possible counterclaims that your opponent could make to show why your argument is not good. Therefore, it is easier to defend arguments with a more narrow focus and to do so with the time and word count restraints of a school assignment.
You can use these questions to find the focus of your essay:
As you determine your focus, also determine which of the effective rhetoric appeals would best help you support the narrowed topic you choose. Would ethos, pathos, or logos best convince your reader that your opinion is right? You can use one, two, or all three appeals if you think it will help your argument. For more information on effective rhetoric see the Structure of an Argument section or Purdue OWL's resources on this topic.
Also, begin an outline for your essay. As you research your topic, start organizing your findings. Some people begin an outline by listing topics and quotes. Others write topic sentences and supporting sentences. An argumentative essay follows typical essay organization, but you may find the body paragraphs don't always follow the regular 5-paragraph essay rules. You may need to plan for more or fewer body paragraphs depending on the support you need for your argument.
Make an outline for the example essay "Biofuels: Renewable resource friendly to the environment" at the start of this unit.
Make an outline for an essay with the following prompt.
Prompt: What is one way your school should improve? Support your answer with reasons and details.
Your outline could include any of the following parts in the order that you think would be most effective for convincing people of your argument.
Your introduction should start by describing any background that will be important for the reader to know.
Here are some questions that can help you think about the background information that the reader needs to be able to understand the problem:
At the end of your introduction paragraph, you should give your thesis. The thesis should clearly state the opinion that you will defend in your essay. This is your "overarching argument" (University of Galway, 2022, para. 3) .
Thesis Statement: Everyone should begin taking small steps today to begin reducing the negative effects of air pollution on our environment, our health, and the global climate.
The overarching argument here is that "Everyone should begin taking small steps today to begin reducing the negative effects of air pollution." This is the writer's main opinion that the whole essay is going to try and prove.
Review the characteristics of an effective thesis as needed. For an argumentative essay, it is especially important that you don't simply state a fact; your thesis should be an opinion that someone else could argue against.
An effective thesis statement...
Read the titles of argumentative essays below. Consider the topic of the essay, and then write an effective thesis sentence for each one. Remember to argue for one side of these debatable topics.
1. America's Giant Trucks: A Safety or a Danger?
2. Why Everyone Should Go Hiking
3. Flowers or Books: Should Students Foot the Bill for College Landscaping?
Revise the thesis statements to be more effective for an argumentative essay.
Your body paragraphs should give reasons that support your thesis. The topic sentences of your supporting paragraphs will need to include "contributing arguments" (University of Galway, 2022, para. 3). There are like mini claims or arguments that when proven by the evidence in the paragraph will help your overarching argument from the thesis statement.
If you prove the contributing argument true in its body paragraph, it will help convince your reader that the overarching argument is true. Prove the little arguments true in the body paragraph, to show how your big argument from your thesis statement is true.
Everyone should begin taking small steps today to begin reducing the negative effects of air pollution.
First of all, if people made small daily changes such as turning down the thermostat or carpooling, the effect of air pollution on the environment would be lessened.
Your body paragraphs will need to support your side of the argument and acknowledge your opponent's side of the argument. This can be done in its own paragraph(s) or worked into the supporting paragraphs. A counterargument is usually followed by evidence for the counterargument and then a rebuttal with evidence for the rebuttal. When writing the counterargument, make sure you keep a respectful tone in your writing.
Example Opposition Paragraph:
Some people say that regulations on guns are unwise because....
The evidence they offer in opposition to these regulations includes....
|There is evidence to support this such as...
Whether you do this in a single paragraph right before your conclusion, split it into two paragraphs before the conclusion, or use these as supporting details within your regular body paragraphs, it is important to give evidence and present the information fairly. You want your counterclaim to be strong so your rebuttal can stand out and give really good support to your main claim. If you give a good rebuttal to a strong and fairly presented counterclaim, your argument will be even more convincing to the reader.
Match the rebuttals to the counterclaims. Write the letter of the rebuttal on the line next to the counterclaim it addresses.
1. ___ Governments have a vested interest in ensuring the economy of a nation flows smoothly.
2. ___ However, students are individuals who are responsible for their own actions and their own resulting test scores.
3. ___ Some may argue that governments should support and protect laborers as the laborers are citizens and the companies are not.
4. ___ There is an argument to be made that because students may have a variety of challenges such as learning disabilities, text anxiety, or impacts of socioeconomic status that the teachers can control, that teachers should not be paid based on their students' test performances.
A. Teachers became teachers knowing that their students would have various challenges and are trained to account for those challenges in their teaching.
B. While students do in the end make their own decisions, teachers as role models and guides in their students' lives influence students' actions and thus students' test performance.
C. However, while ensuring the economy in general prospers, the government is hurting the individual laboring citizens who may lose benefits their strike would otherwise have been able to bring about.
D. That being said, companies provide livelihoods for many citizens and services for many others, so in the end, average citizens are still benefited when the government intercedes in labor strikes.
Read the basic outlines for the arguments below. Write the missing claim (C), counterclaim (CC), and/or rebuttal (R) to complete the argument. Write your answer as a complete sentence.
1. C: Hot chocolate should be provided for all students during the winter months.
R: While that is true, hot chocolate is fairly inexpensive when the flavoring is bought in bulk and the school already has water from the water fountains.
2. C: Classes should be held outside at least once a week in the summer.
CC: Although there are some benefits from studying outdoors, the summer weather where the school is located is hot and dry, so outdoor classes could damage students' health.
3. C: Vallentine's candy traditions should be discontinued as they commercialize what would otherwise be a meaningful holiday about genuine love and affection.
Complete the outline for an argumentative essay below that answers the following prompt.
Prompt: Should college freshmen be required to take a home economics class?
TH: First-year college students should be required to take a home economics class in order to learn how to cook, maintain a home, and manage a budget at what is for many the start of independent adult living.
TS: Because many college students are living away from parents and other caregivers for the first time, learning how to cook basic, nutritious food would be beneficial for their health.
TS: Furthermore, students can learn the basics of home maintenance such as how to clean and do easy repairs to care for themselves in their new homes.
TS: Third, freshmen can establish good financial habits at the start of college by learning to budget.
RTH: Therefore, college first years should be required to take a home economics class with instruction on some things required to live independently as an adult.
TH = thesis statement, TS = topic sentence, CC: counter claim, R = rebuttal, RTH = restated thesis statement
The conclusion paragraph of an argumentative essay should "draw a conclusion" based on the information provided in earlier paragraphs. Draw a conclusion means "to decide that a particular fact or principle is true according to the information you have been given" (Pearson, 2022, para. 1). What you say in your conclusion paragraph should be based on the claims, reasoning, evidence, counterclaim(s), and rebuttal(s) that you made earlier in the essay. You should draw a conclusion for the restated thesis statement, but you may also use this in other sentences of the conclusion paragraph depending on how you develop the paragraph.
Logical Conclusions Examples:
Your conclusion paragraph should start by restating your thesis. If your essay is well written, the restated thesis should be a logically drawn conclusion based on the information that comes before it. After your restated thesis, you should discuss your topic more generally and apply your opinion to the general context you established in your introduction. You can end with a closing statement that is a suggestion, prediction, or opinion. The ending sentence could also be a logical conclusion. For argumentative essays, you might also try using a call to action, asking your readers to join you in your cause.
Call to Action Examples:
While planning your conclusion paragraph, consider the information you plan to give to support your argument. What logical conclusion(s) can you draw from that information?
There has been a murder. Dun Dun Dun! Use the clues below to draw a logical conclusion about who the culprit is. Write your conclusion as a concise sentence on the line. Can you solve the mystery?
The crime: On Wednesday, February 15th, a Ms. Millie of Ms. Millie's Marvoulus Muffins on Main Street in downtown May Spring, Maine was found murdered in her shop. The dearly departed is remembered by dozens of doting citizens for her devilishly delightful dark chocolate muffins. Police are presently pursuing the guilty party.
Read the thesis statements from the argumentative introduction paragraphs below. Then, paraphrase to write a matching restated thesis statement you could use in a conclusion paragraph.
1. Schools should provide students with all the books they will use during the semester of classes.
2. Social media use should be restricted during classes because it affects our concentration.
3. With that in mind, parents must understand that they are responsible to teach their children good principles, values, customs, and so forth.
Read the outline for an essay about art paint. Evaluate it. What would make the outline more effective? Work to revise the outline.
Sources: Artincontext. (2022, July 29). Is acrylic paint toxic? - A guide on the key acrylic paint ingredients. artincontext.org. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from https://artincontext.org/is-acrylic-paint-toxic/
Complete the outline below by filling in the 8 blanks. You may need to write phrases or sentences to show your ideas. You may also need to fill in the missing cohesive devices to show the relationship between the ideas.
* TH= thesis statement, TS= topic sentence, CC= counter argument, R= rebuttal, RTH= restated thesis statement
Make an outline for an argumentative essay that answers the following prompt.
Prompt: Your school miraculously gets a grant to provide free ice cream to students, but they can only provide one flavor. What flavor of ice cream should the school provide and why?
Purdue OWL. (2022). Using rhetorical strategies for persuasion. Rhetorical Strategies - Purdue OWL® - Purdue University. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/establishing_arguments/rhetorical_strategies.html
Sedita, J. (2017, March 1). Teaching Basic Argument Writing Components [web log]. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from https://keystoliteracy.com/blog/teaching-basic-argument-writing-components/.
University of Galway. (2022). Evaluating arguments and evidence. Evaluating arguments and evidence - University of Galway. Retrieved December 11, 2022, from https://www.universityofgalway.ie/academic-skills/criticalthinking/evaluatingargumentsandevidence/
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