Parts of an Argumentative Essay
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The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.
What is an argumentative essay?
The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.
Please note : Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay. These two genres are similar, but the argumentative essay differs from the expository essay in the amount of pre-writing (invention) and research involved. The argumentative essay is commonly assigned as a capstone or final project in first year writing or advanced composition courses and involves lengthy, detailed research. Expository essays involve less research and are shorter in length. Expository essays are often used for in-class writing exercises or tests, such as the GED or GRE.
Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material. Argumentative assignments may also require empirical research where the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that she/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.
The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following.
- A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.
In the first paragraph of an argument essay, students should set the context by reviewing the topic in a general way. Next the author should explain why the topic is important ( exigence ) or why readers should care about the issue. Lastly, students should present the thesis statement. It is essential that this thesis statement be appropriately narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment. If the student does not master this portion of the essay, it will be quite difficult to compose an effective or persuasive essay.
- Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.
Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. Transitions should wrap up the idea from the previous section and introduce the idea that is to follow in the next section.
- Body paragraphs that include evidential support.
Each paragraph should be limited to the discussion of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. In addition, such conciseness creates an ease of readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph. Some paragraphs will directly support the thesis statement with evidence collected during research. It is also important to explain how and why the evidence supports the thesis ( warrant ).
However, argumentative essays should also consider and explain differing points of view regarding the topic. Depending on the length of the assignment, students should dedicate one or two paragraphs of an argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic. Rather than explaining how these differing opinions are wrong outright, students should note how opinions that do not align with their thesis might not be well informed or how they might be out of date.
- Evidential support (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).
The argumentative essay requires well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis. However, students must consider multiple points of view when collecting evidence. As noted in the paragraph above, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not aligning with the thesis. It is unethical to exclude evidence that may not support the thesis. It is not the student’s job to point out how other positions are wrong outright, but rather to explain how other positions may not be well informed or up to date on the topic.
- A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.
It is at this point of the essay that students may begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis. You may also want to include a short discussion of more research that should be completed in light of your work.
A complete argument
Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of World War II and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the argument in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the conflict. Therefore, the argumentative essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument.
The five-paragraph essay
A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of (a) an introductory paragraph (b) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may include discussion of opposing views and (c) a conclusion.
Longer argumentative essays
Complex issues and detailed research call for complex and detailed essays. Argumentative essays discussing a number of research sources or empirical research will most certainly be longer than five paragraphs. Authors may have to discuss the context surrounding the topic, sources of information and their credibility, as well as a number of different opinions on the issue before concluding the essay. Many of these factors will be determined by the assignment.
Home » Literacy Lines » Teaching Basic Argument Writing Components
Teaching Basic Argument Writing Components
Over the past two years since Keys to Literacy published my Keys to Argument Writing professional development module and the associated training book Keys to Content Writing I am often asked by teachers advice for how to teach argument writing (and opinion for elementary grades). The place to start is to introduce students to the structure of argument/opinion writing.
The first standard of the Common Core Writing Standards is devoted to argument writing. Here is the anchor standard from which Standard #1 for grades K through 12 are based:
WS #1: Write opinions/arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Sometimes argument writing seems very similar to informational writing (Common Core Writing Standard #2). They both incorporate information, and they have similar basic text structures: They must begin with an introduction that states the topic and end with a conclusion. However, their aims are different and the body of an argument organizes information in a different way.
The purpose of informational writing is to examine and explain previously learned information or new information, and this information is typically organized into paragraphs of main ideas that are “chunked” into topics and sub-topics. That is, the information is presented in categories/sections. The purpose of argument writing is to convince a reader that a point of view is valid or to persuade the reader to take a specific action. Information is used, but it is organized based on these major components of an argument: claim, reason, evidence, counter-claim, and rebuttal.
Here are simple descriptions of these components to share with your students:
- Claim: the position taken by the writer; what the writer is trying to prove or argue
- Reason: provided to support a claim; reasons are supported by evidence
- Evidence: use to support or prove a reason; statistics, facts, quotations, surveys, etc.
- Counterclaim: opposing position, counterargument
- Rebuttal: refutes or disproves the counterclaim; addresses the criticism of the claim
And here’s an even simpler set of questions students can ask themselves to help remember each component:
- Claim: What do I think?
- Reason: Why do I think it?
- Evidence: How do I know (proof)?
- Counterclaim: What is the other side?
- Rebuttal: My response to the other side?
The claim is typically stated in the introduction, and restated again in the conclusion. The information in the body paragraphs is organized as a series of reasons supported by evidence. For arguments that include a counter-claim and rebuttal (a requirement for students in grade seven and beyond), there will be additional paragraphs that represent the counter-claim and rebuttal.
Keys to Literacy has posted a nine-minute video recorded during a teacher training in which I explain the major components of an argument and offer suggestions for teaching them to students. The video, along with several other training video clips is available to the public for free at the Free Resources section of the Keys to Literacy website.
At the same resource site you will find a teacher’s checklist and rubric for giving feedback to students about their argument writing that include items related to the text structure of an argument writing piece.
- Joan Sedita
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I have found your lectures and instructions very helpful. Do you have any guidelines on Exposition?
Visit our free videos and webinars where you will find several items related to writing.
What components are there into the claim and evidence rubric?
Some of the things to look for in student argument writing are: Is the claim (position taken) supported with logical reasons and relevant evidence? Are the reasons and evidence presented in an organized way? Is the evidence from sources integrated effectively? Is the rebuttal supported with logical reasons and evidence? Are transitions used to link and to create cohesion among claim, reasons and evidence? Is there a formal style and an objective tone established and maintained throughout the piece?
That was a super helpful resource! I used it to write a paragraph essay on “Elements of Argument”.
Thank you for explaining an argumentive essay. and supportive of me getting started on this essay.
Thanks for the tips..really helpful in writing my assignment in Academic English.
May you send me an example of an argumentative essay and other essay and their example please.
This site has examples of argument essays: https://www.collegeessay.org/blog/argumentative-essay-examples
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Elements of Argumentative Essay: The Complete Guide
by Antony W
October 24, 2022
It’s important to learn and understand the different elements of an argumentative essay to navigate the writing process for the project.
Understanding these elements will enable you to structure your essay well, so you can write the most significant details from start to finish.
A comprehensive argumentative essay must feature the following elements:
- Thesis statement: A thesis statement gives a summary of the main claim of the subject. Instead of being a fact or random opinion, the statement should be arguable in nature with a matter of probability.
- Audience: The audience is the people to whom you present your argument.
- Exigence: Exigence allows you to create an environment in which you make a claim and offer strong evidence to support your position.
- Support: Your premise should include reasons to support your claim.
- Reasoning: You have to use reasons to give answers to hypothetical challenges, which should act as a way to convince your audience that your claims are valid.
- Counterclaims and Rebuttals: You anticipate objections to your argument and must therefore recognize counterclaims and refute them with rebuttals.
If you’re struggling with incorporating these elements in your argument or you can’t get yourself to write the essay fast, hire an argumentative essay writer from Help for Assessment for writing assistance.
6 Elements of an Argumentative Essay Explained
Below is a detailed explanation of all the six elements of an argumentative essay:
1. Thesis Statement
A thesis in an argument highlights the main claim of a subject. It should be a sentence long, although some essays can have a maximum of two sentences.
In argumentative writing, a statement of declaration cannot be a fact or random opinion. Instead, it must be arguable in nature with a matter of probability. Moreover, the statement should bring out point clearly, even if the subject is on a complex or controversial issue.
The thesis statement should be clear, concise, and specific. Or your audience is likely to miss the primary objective of the essay.
Your argument’s thesis must touch on a major warrant before you begin working on the body paragraphs .
By touching on the main premise, you grab the attention of the opposing reader and demonstrate the reasonability of your argument.
The audience is your reader or a group of people you need to convince that your position on an issue is more viable.
You must use a tentative approach with a strong conviction to get your human readers or listeners to agree with you. In some cases, though, you may have to present your argument in a passionate way.
Whichever approach you use, ensure you detail your arguments so that you audience can pay attention to the message you wish to communicate.
Your audience is a mix of readers from different backgrounds and varying opinions. A part of your audience will agree with your position on an issue, some will debate your argument. Therefore, you must use significant evidence in a manner that moves the audience to agree with you.
Exigence is a rising circumstance that pushes for the need for a real argument. By creating a forum in time, exigence enables you to make claims to which you can provide sufficient evidence for support.
Although exigence is mostly only possible in real-time debates that happen in classrooms, your teacher may ask you to present it in the written form. In such a case, you may create your own exigence and use it throughout the writing.
Support is one of the elements of an argumentative essay that requires you to consider a few important questions.
- What is your premise?
- Is your evidence good enough to convince your readers or listeners of the reasonability of your side of the argument?
Your premise must have a “because” statement to support your claim. If you intend to make longer arguments, ensure you introduce sufficient supporting statement.
To support your claim and get your audience to agree with your position on an underlying issue:
- Provide as much data or evidence as possible provided they’re relevant to the subject.
- If possible, don’t hesitate to include some or rhetorical appeals, statistics, anecdotal support, and historical data.
Regardless of the information you provide, the premise should give your audience enough reasons to consider your argument’s thesis statement. In other words, the evidence you provide must be valid and logical enough to prove the validity of your claim.
Consider including a concession in your argumentative essay even as you provide credible evidence and reliable data to support your stance on an issue.
If you think about it, your opponent’s argument will have some truth in it, so it makes sense to concede with these. However, exercise caution so that you don’t agree with points that serve to weaken your argument.
Reasoning responds to the “but why?” question in an argument. Written to serve as a response to a hypothetical challenge, reasoning proves to your target reader that your claim is valid.
To be clear, reason tries to support a claim whether it’s part of the introduction or the body of the essay.
In the terms of structure , your argumentative essay must have a single thesis statement. However, the essay may have sub-claims proved by different reasons as long as they tie back to the thesis statement.
6. Counterclaims and Rebuttals
In argumentative essay writing, you must anticipate probable objections and other arguments that challenge the position you hold. These objections are what we refer to as counterclaims .
With this respect, some readers might find the whole or parts of your argument illogical. Interestingly, these objections can help you to analyze your ideas, making it possible for you to review the strength and credibility of the evidence you provide.
We hope this guide has helped you to understand the different elements of an argumentative essay as well as the reasons why they’re important in writing.
Ideally, these elements will enable you to structure your essay well, so you can present your arguments in a way that easily convinces your audience of the validity of your claims and position.
About the author
Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.
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