Examples Of Argument Essays

Types of Papers: Argument/Argumentative

While some teachers consider persuasive papers and argument papers to be basically the same thing, it’s usually safe to assume that an argument paper presents a stronger claim—possibly to a more resistant audience.

For example:  while a persuasive paper might claim that cities need to adopt recycling programs, an argument paper on the same topic might be addressed to a particular town.  The argument paper would go further, suggesting specific ways that a recycling program should be adopted and utilized in that particular area.

To write an argument essay, you’ll need to gather evidence and present a well-reasoned argument on a debatable issue.

How can I tell if my topic is debatable? Check your thesis!  You cannot argue a statement of fact, you must base your paper on a strong position. Ask yourself…

  • How many people could argue against my position?  What would they say?
  • Can it be addressed with a yes or no? (aim for a topic that requires more info.)
  • Can I base my argument on scholarly evidence, or am I relying on religion, cultural standards, or morality? (you MUST be able to do quality research!)
  • Have I made my argument specific enough?

Worried about taking a firm stance on an issue?

Though there are plenty of times in your life when it’s best to adopt a balanced perspective and try to understand both sides of a debate, this isn’t one of them.

You MUST choose one side or the other when you write an argument paper!

Don’t be afraid to tell others exactly how you think things should go because that’s what we expect from an argument paper.  You’re in charge now, what do YOU think?

Do…

Don’t…

…use passionate language

…use weak qualifiers like “I believe,” “I feel,” or “I think”—just tell us!

…cite experts who agree with you

…claim to be an expert if you’re not one

…provide facts, evidence, and statistics to support your position

…use strictly moral or religious claims as support for your argument

…provide reasons to support your claim

…assume the audience will agree with you about any aspect of your argument

…address the opposing side’s argument and refute their claims

…attempt to make others look bad (i.e. Mr. Smith is ignorant—don’t listen to him!)

Why do I need to address the opposing side’s argument?

There is an old kung-fu saying which states, "The hand that strikes also blocks", meaning that when you argue it is to your advantage to anticipate your opposition and strike down their arguments within the body of your own paper. This sentiment is echoed in the popular saying, "The best defense is a good offense".

By addressing the opposition you achieve the following goals:

  • illustrate a well-rounded understanding of the topic
  • demonstrate a lack of bias
  • enhance the level of trust that the reader has for both you and your opinion
  • give yourself the opportunity to refute any arguments the opposition may have
  • strengthen your argument by diminishing your opposition's argument

Think about yourself as a child, asking your parents for permission to do something that they would normally say no to. You were far more likely to get them to say yes if you anticipated and addressed all of their concerns before they expressed them. You did not want to belittle those concerns, or make them feel dumb, because this only put them on the defensive, and lead to a conclusion that went against your wishes.
The same is true in your writing.

How do I accomplish this?

To address the other side of the argument you plan to make, you'll need to "put yourself in their shoes."  In other words, you need to try to understand where they're coming from.  If you're having trouble accomplishing this task, try following these steps:  

  1. Jot down several good reasons why you support that particular side of the argument. 
  2. Look at the reasons you provided and try to argue with yourself.  Ask: Why would someone disagree with each of these points?  What would his/her response be?  (Sometimes it's helpful to imagine that you're having a verbal argument with someone who disagrees with you.) 
  3. Think carefully about your audience; try to understand their background, their strongest influences, and the way that their minds work.  Ask:  What parts of this issue will concern my opposing audience the most? 
  4. Find the necessary facts, evidence, quotes from experts, etc. to refute the points that your opposition might make.
  5. Carefully organize your paper so that it moves smoothly from defending your own points to sections where you argue against the opposition.

Sample Papers

Remember when you were a kid and each time you went to the store with your mom you asked her for a new toy? When she answered “no,” I’m sure you asked, “why not?”

Her reply:  “Because I said so.”

This may have worked for your mom, but this obviously isn’t a good strategy for your upcoming argumentative essay.

So what makes a good argument? And what makes an argumentative essay good?

Keep reading for a breakdown of two argumentative essay examples to find out!

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay attempts to convince readers. It’s that simple.

In order to write a good argumentative essay, you need four basic parts:

  • An arguable topic. If you can’t take sides on a topic, it won’t work for an argumentative essay. You cannot argue whether you need a driver’s license in order to legally drive a car. It’s a fact. It’s not open to debate. You can, however, argue whether hands-free devices are distracting to drivers.
  • A strong assertion or stance on a topic. Choose a topic you feel strongly about. If your friend is writing her argumentative essay about the dangers of acrylic nails and you don’t have an opinion one way or another about fake nails, it isn’t a good topic for you.
  • Solid evidence to support your argument. An argumentative essay is not an opinion essay. You need solid evidence from credible sources to support your argument. Locate facts, statistics, and quotes that will support your claims and strengthen your argument.
  • A counterargument.You need to acknowledge and refute the opposing viewpoint. This strategy shows readers that you’ve done your homework and that you realize there is another opinion. Presenting the other side of the argument actually makes your argument stronger and your writing more credible.

Two Argumentative Essay Examples With a Fighting Chance

Generation Bass (flickr.com)

It’s easy to say that all argumentative essays need a few key things. But it’s not always as easy to put them in your own paper or to identify them in an actual essay.

I’ve evaluated two essays below to help you identify the four key components.

Essay #1 An Argument Against the Proposition of a Later Start Time for High School

This essay is a good example of a basic argumentative essay.

It provides an arguable topic and a focused thesis statement, includes evidence to support claims, and shows a clear counterargument.

In the annotated argumentative essay example below, I’ve noted each of these sections to make it easy to spot effective writing. (You can click each page to enlarge.)

Topic, thesis statement, and counterargument:

Evidence:

More evidence:

Conclusion restates thesis statement:

Take note, though, that this argumentative essay example is missing a Works Cited. Because the essay cites sources and is cited in MLA format, it must include both in-text citations and a Works Cited.

Photographer, D. Sharon Pruitt (flickr.com)

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Essay #2 Organ Donors Should Be Financially Compensated

The second of the two argumentative essay examples, Organ Donors Should Be Financially Compensated is another example of a basic argumentative essay. It contains the key components of an argumentative essay: an arguable topic, a focused argument, evidence to support claims, and a counterargument.

I’ve added some comments to this essay too, to help you identify key sections of the paper and to highlight areas of importance.

Hook and thesis statement:

Evidence and more evidence:

Counterargument and refutation:

Works cited/references:

Final Words of Wisdom

en.wikipedia.org

With a better understanding of what makes an effective argument, you have more than a fighting chance of writing your own stellar argumentative essay.

What’s next? A topic—you cannot very well write an essay without a topic.

Here are 50 Argumentative Essay Topics That Will Put Up a Good Fight.

Most argumentative essays require research. If you need a little help finding sources or just getting started, take a look at How to Write a Research Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide.

A Few (More) Final Words of Wisdom

The purpose of an argumentative essay is to convince the reader. Once you’ve finished your argumentative essay, read it over once or twice (and maybe even read it out loud).

Do you believe yourself? Do you find your arguments convincing?

If you think your arguments sound pretty good, but you’re just not sure that readers will be convinced, let a Kibin editor help!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

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