Argumentative essay

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Special Note:

The argumentative essay is a very useful test of a student’s ability to think logically.

Argue: v. 1. to persuade someone to do or not do something.

2. to give the reasons for your opinion, idea, belief, etc.

Argumentative: adj. someone who is argumentative often argues or like arguing.

Argument: n. a set of reasons that show that something is true or untrue, right or wrong etc.
When you have an opinion and try to convince your listener or reader to accept your opinion, you are agreeing with or disagreeing with something. For example: In an everyday situation, you may try to convince a friend to go somewhere or in a composition or speech class, the instructor may make an assignment in which you must support or oppose the use of nuclear energy to produce electricity. If you agree or disagree on an issue, you will want your reader or listener to accept your point of view.

There are a few types of argumentative compositions such as:

  1. Advantages and disadvantages

  2. Expressing opinions/providing solutions to problems

  3. Expressing arguments for and against a topic

  4. Compare and contrast something or somebody


* An argument follows when two groups disagree about something.

* People can have different opinions and can offer reasons in support of their arguments. However, sometimes it might be difficult to convince the other group because the argument could be based on a matter of preference, or religious faith.

* Therefore, arguments of preference, belief or faith are NOT the type of arguments. The kind of argument that can be argued logically is one based on an opinion that can be supported by evidence such as facts.

* An argumentative essay is also one that attempts/tries to change the reader’s mind, to convince the reader to agree with the point of view of the writer.

* For that reason, the argumentative essay attempts to be highly persuasive and logical. For example, a thesis such as “My first experiences with Americans were shocking” has a central idea ‘shocking’ but it is not really strongly persuasive, and it is certainly not argumentative.

* When you write an argumentative essay, assume that the reader disagrees with you. But please remember that your reader is no less intelligent than you.

* So, write objectively, logically and respectfully. Try to understand your opponent’s point of view. If you do not, you are not likely to convince the reader.


  • An important point to recall is that when writing to an argumentative essay, your reader may not agree with you.

  • Writing to persuade is, therefore, more challenging and more imposing than many other types of writing.

  • Your goal may be to change your readers' minds or move them to action.

  • Your goal may be to sell a program, defend an idea, or disprove an opponent.

  • In all these instances, you should consider writing to persuade as an important method for shaping your environment toward your vision of reality. 

Thesis Statement in Argumentative Essays

  • The argumentative thesis takes a side of an issue; frequently it proposes an approach of action which is often expressed with the modal should).

  • In the argument concerning the nuclear power plant, the thesis for a paper on this topic might be:

“Governments should ban further construction of nuclear power plants.”

  • Someone else might argue:

The U.S should continue building nuclear power plants.”

PRACTICE 1: Thesis Statement

Study the following thesis statements. Put “A” in the blank if the statement is argumentative. Be careful! A statement having “should” as part of the verb is not automatically argumentative.

  1. __The earthquake in Gölcük, Turkey, was one of the most destructive in history.

  2. __ Prospective* parents should be required to get licenses in order to have children. (Prospective: future, expected

  3. __ The building codes in Las Vegas, Nevada, are inadequate*. (Inadequate: not enough)

  4. __ Some of the Americans I have met are quite hospitable.

  5. __ Students should have a say in the hiring and firing of teachers.

  6. __ Pornographic books ought to be banned from the library.

  7. __ State University should not have a football team.

  8. __The citizens of this state should be allowed to carry guns.

  9. __ The United States ought to allow more immigrants into this country.

PRACTICE 2: Choose one opinion (a or b) from each of the following pairs of thesis statements.

  1. a. It is a good idea for students to work part time while they are going to school.

b. Students should not work while they are going o school.

  1. a. Young people should continue to live with their parents after they finish their education.

b. Young people should not move away from home after they finish their education.

  1. a. Wars are always wrong.

b. Wars are not always wrong.

  1. a. Exams are not useful.

b. Exams do not check students’ knowledge.


When you are planning the argumentative essay, be aware that the essay should contain the following characteristics:

  1. The argumentative essay should introduce and explain the issue or case. The reader needs to understand what the issue is going to being argue.

  2. The essay should offer reasons and support for those reasons. In other words, the essay should prove its point.

  3. The essay should refute opposing arguments. (refute: to prove wrong by argument or to show that something is invalid/untrue/illogical)


  1. Introduction. You can first introduce the problem and give background information necessary for the argument and the thesis

  2. Reasons. It is usually a good idea to spend one paragraph for each reason. Two or three reasons are typical.

  3. Refutation. Depending on the points the writer wants to make, one or two paragraphs are typical.

  4. Conclusion.



Introduction: Background about the topic

Thesis statement: …..


  1. Pro(for/in support of) argument: (weakest argument that supports your opinion)

  2. Pro(for/in support of) argument: (stronger argument that supports your opinion)

  3. Pro(for/in support of) argument: (strongest argument that supports your opinion)

  4. Con (against/negative): (Counter/oppose arguments and your refutation)


Summary, solution, prediction, or recommendation


To write well developed paragraphs:

  • Avoid strong feelings (don’t say: nobody does this, or it is impossible to disagree with me)

  • Use generalizations (e.g. people say/believe/consider)

  • Do not use generalization (e.g. everybody believes that…..)

  • Do not use strong personal expressions (e.g. I think)

  • Use linking words (e.g. therefore, although, however etc.)

  • Use sequencing (e.g. firstly, secondly, lastly)

  • Make reference to other sources (e.g. The government claims that…)

  • Give examples – not personal thoughts (e.g. products such as sprayer can destroy the environment)

  • Give up banal introductions. Write something more original (Don’t write: This topic has been important since ancient times. When? Too vague = unclear)

MODEL ESSAY: Read the following essay and pay attention to thesis statement, transitions and topic sentences.

Why Wom

en Should Not Have an Abortion

Entire; whole;

Abort: to end a pregnancy Abortion n.

Rape: physically force another person to have sex

Privilege: freedom; right

Humanitarian; compassionate; caring

Egoistic; self-centered; selfish

Many women in the entire world have abortions. Women believe there are many reasons to abort such as fear of having or raising a child, rape, or not having enough money. But whatever the situation, there is never an acceptable reason to get an abortion. Some important reasons why women should not abort have to do with human values, religious values, and values of conscience.

The first reason why women should not have an abortion is related to basic human values. Women need to think about their unborn babies who are not responsible for this situation. These unborn babies should have the privilege to live and grow into a normal person. Women need to be more humanitarian and less egoistic with these babies. On the other hand, the baby doesn’t know how or why he is here. It is not necessary to kill a life; there are many other solutions to resolve this problem short of abortion.

The second reason why women should not abort has to do with religious values. In almost all religions, a woman is not permitted to have an abortion. If they do, their religions will punish them. In some religions, for example, a woman cannot take communion after having an abortion, and before taking communion again, she must do many things as a form of penitence. In whatever religion, abortion is punished and for this reason, women should not abort.

Conscience; sense of right and wrong; principles; ethics

Calamitous: dreadful. tragic.

Finally, the third and most important reason why women should not

abort is the related to her conscience. When a woman has an abortion, she will always think about the baby she might have had. She will always believe about the future that could have happened with her baby which will always remind her that she killed it. Because she has had an abortion, she will never have a good life, and her conscience will remind her of what she had done. Because a woman who has an abortion can’t forget about what she has done, these thoughts will always be with her, and the results can be calamitous.

There are many reasons why women should not have an abortion. The truth is that women need to think about the consequences that can occur before having sexual relations. I think that the effects of an abortion can be very sad for everyone involved, both for the woman who has the abortion and for the family who lives with her.

PRACTICE 1: Read the following essay and:

a) Underline the thesis statement

b) Transitions

c) Modals


edical Marijuana should be Legal

Medical scientists and doctors in some countries have recently discovered that marijuana, an illegal drug. It is an effective medicine for severely ill patients who cannot get relief from their usual prescription drugs. In my opinion, marijuana should be legal for medical uses because it can improve the quality of life for some people with serious illnesses.

First of all marijuana can help cancer patients who must use chemotherapy or take anticancer drugs that cause serious side effects. It can also help AIDS patients to regain their appetite* and therefore to gain weight. Moreover, it might effectively stop the spread of glaucoma*, which can cause blindness, and it can relieve* joint* pain and relax muscles in certain other illnesses. Unfortunately, because marijuana is an illegal drug, it cannot be purchased even with a doctor’s prescription at a pharmacy.
In brief, smoking marijuana is effective enough to help seriously ill people who enjoy a meal or live without constant* pain. Therefore, marijuana for medical purposes should be legal. (172 words) *

Appetite: iştah

Glaucoma: gözlerde karasu hastalığı Joint: eklem yeri

Relieve: free (from pain etc.), get better, lessen Constant: continues, steady

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