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How to Write a Argumentative Essay

By bubbles42313 Dec 15, 2012 1331 Words
Lesson 6: Writing an Argument
Today is the day! You will spend today writing your argument.

Gather your notes, your outline, and any other prewriting materials you have and get ready.

Lesson Objectives
Write an argument with an introduction that includes a strong thesis statement. Write an argument with a body that includes examples, evidence, and quotations as needed to support the thesis. Write an argument with a body that includes recognition of opposing views and concedes a point. Write an argument with a conclusion that restates the thesis or makes a call to action. Use an appropriate pattern of organization and transitions.

Keywords and Pronunciation
anecdote : a usually brief story

call to action : a passage urging readers to take a specific action in support of the views of the author

coherence : the sensible presentation of smoothly connected ideas in a paragraph or essay

conceding a point : acknowledging that an opposing point is reasonable

conclusion ( sound file ) : the final paragraph of an essay

connotation : a shade of meaning in a word or phrase that makes it different from other words or phrases with similar meanings

emotional appeal : an argument that tries to persuade by affecting people’s feelings

evidence : a specific detail, such as a fact or expert opinion, that supports a reason

example : a specific instance of something, used to illustrate an idea

extended quotation : use of quotations or partial quotations that are blended in with the writer's own words in a paragraph

fact ( sound file ) : a statement that can be proven true

introduction : the first paragraph of an essay, identifying the topic and stating the main idea

logical fallacy : false logic caused by an error in reasoning

paragraph outline : a list of paragraph topics in an essay

pattern of organization : the order in which details are arranged

quotation : a report of the exact words uttered or written by a person; usually placed within quotation marks

style : the words the writer chooses and the way the writer arranges the words into sentences

thesis statement : the sentence that states the main idea of an essay

tone : the writer´s attitude toward the topic or subject

transition : a word or phrase that connects ideas

unity : a trait of writing achieved when all sentences in a paragraph or all paragraphs in an essay support the main idea

voice : the way a piece of writing sounds

Activity 1. Write Your Argument (Offline)
As you begin writing a draft of your argument, keep your paragraph outline and your thesis statement at hand. Refer to them periodically as you write to make sure you stay on track, following your chosen pattern of organization. Many writers like to check off points on their outline as they finish writing about those points in their drafts.

Make sure to include detailed evidence to prove your point. Specific examples, facts, statistics, anecdotes, and quotations from experts are among the types of evidence that you may have recorded in your notes. Your draft does not have to include every piece of evidence you found in your research, however. Use your evidence selectively. Include evidence that is truly relevant and interesting. Ask yourself, "Is this an important piece of evidence?" and "Will this piece of evidence help persuade my readers?" If the answer is "No" to both questions, then leave out that particular piece of evidence.

Quotations from experts can make a memorable impression. The feeling that a knowledgeable, sincere person is speaking helps persuade readers. Make a special effort to include at least one extended quotation in your essay, as Joshua did. In the excerpt below, notice the underlined quotations in his argument. Joshua wove the words of Tomlinson into some of his own sentences so that the entire paragraph flows smoothly.

According to Tomlinson, "The late afternoon is the time that people will notice the reduction in staff." That part of the day, Tomlinson explained, is "our assistance time," the time when students, their parents, and people just getting off from work come to the library. They are looking, Tomlinson added, for a librarian's help "to find a book, to answer questions about reference materials, to do advanced searches on the Internet, or just to check out books for them." Tomlinson sighed, "I hope people will be patient with us as we try to handle each person's request."

In writing your introduction, try to begin in a way that grabs the reader's attention. A surprising statement, a question, a quotation, or a vivid anecdote can be effective ways of hooking the audience. Make sure, also, that your introduction clearly defines the issue your argument is about, and that it clearly states your position on the issue. In most cases, you will want to insert your thesis statement directly into your introductory paragraph.

Similarly, when writing your conclusion, try to wrap up your argument in a compelling way—in a way that makes readers think, "Yes, that's right!" One way to do this is to restate your thesis in different words than those you used in your introduction. Think about vivid, colorful ways to express your main point. In addition, consider issuing a call to action, urging your readers to do specific things—such as contacting local officials—that could help your side win. A call to action may or may not be appropriate for your specific topic.

Remember that in writing an argument, it is important to acknowledge your opposition's arguments rather than ignoring them. Your readers will probably be just as aware of the opposition's views as they are of your views. They will be thinking, "This writer makes some good points, but other people think the opposite." Part of your job in writing an argument is to convince those readers that you have a more realistic view of the topic than your opponents have.

Therefore, in your draft, find one or more places to anticipate how the opposition might reply to you. As you do so, immediately rebut the opposition's argument—say why the opposition's view is wrong. At times you may want to concede a point to the opposition out of fairness. (After all, your opposition is probably not wrong about every single little point.) When you concede a point, use that technique as a way of showing that you have the stronger argument on the important points, even though your opposition may have made a correct statement about a minor subtopic.

Remember to use valid logical appeals (not logical fallacies) and emotional appeals. In order to stir readers' emotions, choose words whose connotations help your side. For example, if you are arguing against the excessive use of chlorine in a local swimming pool, describe the chlorine in a way that makes it unpleasant and worrisome to readers, such as, "harsh fumes of the poisonous chemical chlorine invading our nostrils, seizing us with allergy-induced sneezing fits." On the other hand, if you are arguing that an unchlorinated pool should be chlorinated, you might say, "A mild infusion of this widely used natural element can set us free from worry about water-borne bacteria entering our systems." Notice how in both of the previous examples, vivid, specific adjectives, nouns, and verbs color the scene the way the writer wants it to be colored.

Use of connotations is a matter of literary style. As you write your draft, try also to maintain a consistent tone that conveys your position on your topic. And make it your goal to write in a voice that sounds appropriate for your argument. (An argumentative tone and voice may not be the most appropriate. Calm words are often more effective in arguments.)

Here is a final reminder: Use transitions as necessary to help your sentences and ideas flow logically and readably from one to the next. Transitions enhance coherence. If your argument possesses coherence and unity, follows a well-conceived outline, includes detailed evidence, and uses words chosen to support your views, your work on this argument will be very effective.

Begin writing!

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