Organising a Discursive Essay about Car Use
The two most common types of essays are the argumentative and the discursive.
An argumentative essay opens with a boldly expressed point of view and then the rest of the essay presents arguments (examples, proof or logic) to support that point of view. Normally, it refers to opposing arguments but demonstrates that these are weak or even false. (Look at this essay about zoos for an example.) A discursive essay presents both sides of the issue in a more balanced way. In the end, however, it normally reaches a conclusion; in other words, the writer states what s/he thinks. The following is an example of how a discursive essay on handguns might be structured: Introduction
: The issue of handgun ownership
A. Some people believe individuals should not own handguns
B. Others believe ownership is an important personal right
of handgun ownership
- Both adults and children can have accidents
- People can use guns for crimes
of handgun ownership
+ People can protect themselves from intruders
+ People can use guns for recreational purposes (e.g. target practice at gun clubs) Conclusion
(a summary & evaluation of arguments above)
= Problems of accidents and crime make gun ownership difficult to accept = Gun ownership should not be allowed in the interest of a better society Your task in this assignment is to write a discursive essay about the advantages and disadvantages of car use. You will be given the various arguments both in favour of, and against, car use. Your first task will be to organise these arguments.
Read the following notes.
Identify all the points in favour of car use and mark them with the symbol ü . Identify all the points against car use and mark them with the symbol û . Not restricted by schedules as you are with public transport Comfortable (spacious, cool, radio/CD etc.)
They cause air pollution (e.g. exhaust emissions contribute to global warming) Roads deface the natural landscape and destroy/disturb wildlife habitats Fast, less time-consuming than public transport
Car parks take up valuable space in city centres (could be used for public gardens instead?) Fairly cheap to run?
Car accidents result in many deaths and injuries
Modern fuels are lead-free and getting "cleaner"
Traffic jams lead to stress and "road rage" (angry drivers attacking others) Car use contributes to a faster, less natural pace of life that often results in high blood pressure and heart disease TASK 2
Now that you have sorted your points into two groups, you will be able to divide the body of your essay into two sections: advantages and disadvantages (or possibly the other way round). However, each of these two sections still needs to be divided further – into topics. Each topic will then become a paragraph in the essay.
Take the advantages above and arrange them under the topic headings of "Convenient" and "Efficient". Take the disadvantages and arrange them under the topic headings of "Bad for the environment", "Dangerous" and "Stressful". TASK 3
A well-made paragraph usually starts with a topic sentence. This contains the main idea or argument of the paragraph. It is followed by a few illustrations or examples that support it. In the case of your essay on car use, the topic sentences in the body of the essay will cover the points in TASK 2 (above).
Write topic sentences based on each of the headings in Task 2 (i.e. "Convenient", "Efficient" etc.). Here is an example: Cars are extremely popular because they are so convenient.
Do not be satisfied with the first thing you write. Rewrite it; share it with a classmate or your teacher; aim for a more effective sentence.
The structure of your essay is going to be as follows:
Paragraph 1 (INTRODUCTION)
Paragraph 2 (Convenient …) ü
Paragraph 3 (Efficient ...) ü
Paragraph 4 (Bad for the environment …) û
Paragraph 5 (Dangerous …) û
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