-Annie Dillard, Living Like Weasels

Writing is like air: no matter who or what someone is, they need it, but it’s not usually the best quality. I would like to regain my confidence and write more fluently in all forms of writing. If I can apply those simple steps to overcoming writer’s block to my papers, I think my report writing will be dramatically improved. Although I am still more comfortable free-writing, I believe I will be able to write my papers more fluently and effective.

-Abigail Witherspoon, This Pen for Hire

Contributors: Jack Baker, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth AngeliLast Edited: 2013-03-10 11:46:44

-Christopher Livaccari, qtd in Frames of Mind, 398

The argumentative essay requires well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis. However, students must consider multiple points of view when collecting evidence. As noted in the paragraph above, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not aligning with the thesis. It is unethical to exclude evidence that may not support the thesis. It is not the student’s job to point out how other positions are wrong outright, but rather to explain how other positions may not be well informed or up to date on the topic.

-Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal

Our teaching guides are designed for writing teachers and for teachers of other subjects who want to use writing and speaking activities in their classrooms. To view our guides, click on the links below.

“Since the beginning of history, poverty and inequality have been a problem for mankind.”

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Professors often find themselves reading a stack of papers that all begin with a restatement of the question they themselves wrote. If you choose to begin your paper with the question, try to do so in an interesting way that goes beyond mere restatement.

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“Does Beowulf make the correct decision when he elects to fight the dragon? Yes, he does. The reason why is that he does indeed know, like all mortals, that he must die, and so he meets his fate heroically.”

The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following.

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However, argumentative essays should also consider and explain differing points of view regarding the topic. Depending on the length of the assignment, students should dedicate one or two paragraphs of an argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic. Rather than explaining how these differing opinions are wrong outright, students should note how opinions that do not align with their thesis might not be well informed or how they might be out of date.

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A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of (a) an introductory paragraph (b) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may include discussion of opposing views and (c) a conclusion.

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“‘Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant,' Georgia O'Keefe told us in the book of paintings and words published in her ninetieth year on earth. She seemed to be advising us to forget the beautiful face in the Stieglitz photographs. She appeared to be dismissing the rather condescending romance that had attached to her by then, the romance of extreme good looks and advanced age and deliberate isolation….”