Argument Essay with Documentation (Fall Semester)

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Argument Essay with Documentation (Fall Semester)
English IV--at least 3 ½ pp.

English IV H--at least 4 pp.

AP English--at least 4 ½ pp.
Argument persuades readers that a debatable (controversial) position has merit. To argue effectively to convince readers, support your position with evidence and use sound logic in doing so.
**See the “Quotation Integration” handout on TeacherWeb**

  • Choosing the right subject is an important first step. Pick a subject that allows for the possibility of persuading your reader. Avoid subjects that you cannot address logically.

  • Make a list of the main points you will use in your argument. Analyze each piece of evidence--how can it support your thesis? Avoid any distorted, inaccurate, or inflammatory statements. Argue solid, reasonable, fair, and relevant evidence.

  • Consider the audience’s knowledge as you argue--what are they familiar with, etc.?

  • Be aware of your audience’s probable objections to your argument. Consider counter-arguments, and devise methods to respond--concede that they do not exist, or undermine their strength.


  • In the introduction, establish that a problem exists, and state what you can do about it. Assert what you believe to be true, or demand subtly what someone can do. The thesis statement of an argument essay should be an assertion that the rest of the essay supports with facts and examples (evidence).

  • Each body paragraph presents a different form of evidence to prove the thesis. The topic sentences introduce the claim that you discuss in that specific paragraph.

  • Provide your claim by using specific, vivid, strong language; however, be careful not to be offensive. Arguments may be (1) rational, which includes facts, examples, or reasons (“Smoking causes cancer.”); (2) emotional, which includes morals, social values, or opinions (“Adults who smoke are bad role models for children.”); or (3) a combination of emotion and rationale. Include enough evidence to convince even the most jaded, stubborn person!

  • In the conclusion, summarize the benefits from taking your position, or explain some other effects. Your audience is most likely to remember the conclusion, so drive home the importance of the argument.

  • In addition, the end of the essay should briefly address opposing views. Logic tells anyone that for any argument, someone disagrees. Have these views mapped out before you begin the essay so that your body paragraphs lead to these points.

Essay Specifications

  • Type in Times New Roman using one-inch margins, double-spaced.

  • Follow MLA format.

  • Include a thesis statement in the first paragraph.

  • Use adequate transition  between differing thoughts within the paragraph.

  • Use the third person (he/she/it, etc.). Vary sentence structure with subordinating clauses and phrases.

  • Check for accurate sentence construction. Combine short, choppy sentences into more coherent, well-written sentences. Do not include too many “and” and “but” phrases.

  • Upload your assignment to See the syllabus for details.

Criteria for Written Assignments

When grading, the instructor considers (1) adequate paragraph length and development, sentence structure, and thesis statement; (2) attention to all major editing errors; (3) format; (4) grammar errors in general; (5) support, elaboration, and organization of the essay prompt; and (6) willingness to follow instruction and directions.

Composition Major Errors

Assignments containing these errors receive point deductions: (1) second person (you/your); (2) contractions; (3) RO/CS/Frag; (4) empty expletives (there is/are/were/was; it is; this is/those are/these are); (5) passive voice (am/is/are/was/were/be/being/been + past tense); (6) pronoun-antecedent problems (each/either/neither/-one/-body/-thing = singular); (7) verb tense shifts (Write in the present; however, if something historical occurred in the past, then narrate it in the past).; (8) spelling errors; (9) format errors; (10) person shift; (11) subject-verb agreement; (12) misuse of the subjunctive mood; (13) split infinitives; (14) non-parallelism; (15) progressive verbs (am/is/are/was/were/be/being/been + -ing form); (16) pronoun “one”; (17) clichés

Topics (See me for more possible topics)

  • Abstinence programs: Do they work?

  • Advertising: Should certain kinds of ads be banned in the interest of health/morality/annoyance–-alcohol, cigarettes, prescription meds, etc…?

  • Airplane accidents: Who is responsible? Should families of victims be entitled to compensation?

  • Airport security: Should the government use invasive pat-downs and body scans to ensure passenger safety or are there better methods?

  • Al Qaida: Has U.S. policy actually spread terrorism rather than contain it? Will it get better or worse? Why and how?

  • Animal rights: Should it be illegal to use animals for sports and entertainment?

  • Arming pilots: Good idea?

  • Beauty contests: Do they serve any purpose in society?

  • Bridges, roads, waterways: Why the government gets a bad report card on America’s infrastructure.

  • Bullying: Should the state or federal government put laws into place to prevent bullying?

  • Censorship: Should parents censor textbooks and other literature for children in schools?

  • Cheap labor: U.S. companies that move factories to undeveloped nations barely pay employees enough to live on. Is it unethical to pay cheap wages or are companies doing those workers a favor?

  • Church arson: Hate crime?

  • Civil disobedience: Is breaking the law for a cause justifiable?

  • Climate change: Is global warming a hoax? Is it being exaggerated?

  • Coal: Should the use of coal be subjected to stricter environmental regulations than other fuels?

  • Cybercrime: What are the latest ways to steal identity and money?

  • Exams: Exams often do little more than measure a person’s ability to take exams. Should exams be outlawed in favor of another form of assessment?

  • Fast food: Are we taking it too far by blaming fast food restaurants for obesity? When is it individual responsibility and when is it appropriate to place blame?

  • Felons and voting: Should convicted felons have the right to vote?

  • Fitness programs: Should companies allow employees to exercise on work time?

  • Flag: Should children be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance in schools?

  • Food: Steroids. Antibiotics. Sprays. Are food manufacturers killing us?

  • Gap year: Should teens in the U.S. adopt the British custom of taking a “gap year” between high school and college?

  • Grades: In some European schools, fewer than 10% of students get As. Is there grade inflation in the U.S.? Why so many As for Americans?

  • Holocaust: Should denial of the Holocaust be illegal?

  • Homeland Security: Are we safer since the creation of this department?

  • Infidelity: In some states, it is illegal to cheat on a spouse. Should we prosecute cheaters? Is a law that is not enforced really a law?

  • Immigration: Should illegal immigrants be made legal citizens?

  • Internet and children: Are children smarter (or more socialized) because of the Internet?

  • Internet regulation: Should the federal government be allowed to regulate information on the internet?

  • Iraq War Vets: Are they being cheated on medical benefits?

  • Journalism: Should newspaper reporters be required to reveal their sources?

  • Juvenile offenders: Should juvenile offenders be tried and punished as adults?

  • Lead poisoning: Should the U.S. stop importing Chinese-manufactured toys?

  • Malpractice: How can we balance the need to lower the cost of malpractice insurance with the fact that physician malpractice is one of the leading causes of death?

  • Media: Does the media, both print and broadcast, report fairly? Does it ever cross the line between reporting the news and creating the news?

  • Middle East: Why so many conflicts? Are there solutions?

  • Military: Should the U.S. have mandatory military conscription? For whom?

  • Mining: What safety measures made the recent Canadian mining accident a non-casualty event, while recent U.S. mining accidents have been fatal?

  • Models: Should there be a minimum weight limit?

  • Moms: Should stay-at-home moms get a salary from the government?

  • Muslim Americans: What is life for them like in the U.S. after September 11, 2001?

  • No Child Left Behind Act: Is it working?

  • Noise pollution: How much is too much noise? What, if anything, should we do to curb it?

  • Nonverbal communication: How do men and women communicate differently using body language, and why does it matter (in dating, the workplace, social circles)?

  • Obesity and weight loss: Should thin people have to pay Medicare and other health costs for the health problems of obese people? Should obese people have higher premiums?

  • Oil companies: Do oil companies make big bucks while the rest of us pay over $3 a gallon?

  • Organ sale: Should we legalize the sale of human organs?

  • Overpopulation: What would happen globally if the demand for natural resources were greater than the supply?

  • Paparazzi: What, if any, limitations should be applied to the paparazzi?

  • Parents: Should parents be held responsible when their children break laws?

  • Pornography: Parental filters on the Internet. Does censorship actually increase curiosity and use of pornography?

  • Prescription medicines: Should there be a national database to track controlled substances (i.e., oxycodone), or should it be a state issue?

  • Privacy: Should the government be allowed to wiretap without permission?

  • Privacy: What medical information should be confidential? Who, if anybody, should have access to medical records?

  • Public figures: Does the public have a right to know about a public figure’s private life?

  • Racial bias in media: Does news coverage favor whites?

  • Road rage: Why do normally patient people become impatient behind the wheel?

  • Sex offenders: Once they leave prison, are laws about where they may live and be employed unfair?

  • Single sex schools: Do children learn better in boys-only and girls-only schools?

  • Smoking bans: Should the federal government pass a nationwide indoor smoking ban?

  • Social anxiety: How is it different from shyness? And, are we a society of anxiety?

  • Social media: Can excessive use of social media contribute to addictive behaviors (drugs, tobacco, alcohol) or mental health issues?

  • Spanking: Should it be outlawed?

  • Sports parents: What are the effects on children whose parents push them in sports?

  • Statutory rape: Recently, a 17-year-old boy was sentenced to 10 years in prison for violating a 15-year-old girl. Are statutory rape laws patronizing to girls and discriminatory to boys?

  • Steroids: Should they be legalized?

  • Suicide bombers: What kind of person becomes a suicide bomber?

  • Terrorism: Can terrorism ever be justified?

  • Title IX: Has it helped women’s sports? Has it harmed men’s sports?

  • Tough love: Does parental “tough love” really work?

  • Toys: Do certain children’s toys create social or emotional problems?

  • Vaccines: Should parents avoid vaccinating their children?

  • Wage gap: Women still earn only 75 cents for every $1 a man earns. Explain why.

  • Wages: There is a minimum wage, but should there also be a maximum wage/salary a person can earn?

  • Wind energy: Is wind energy that cheap? Is it effective? Is it practical?

  • Workaholics: Do Americans work too hard? Does working more actually reduce productivity? Is a 40-hour work week too much? Should there be a mandatory cap on the number of hours a person can work? Should there be changes in employment laws to give Americans more relaxation time?

  • Working mothers: What differences, if any, are there in children who are raised by stay-at-home moms and working moms? Does society today still discriminate against working mothers who wish to have flexible work schedules?

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