Writing Composition: Argumentative Essays

Contributed by:
Argumentative essays defend your point of view regarding a particular topic and are designed to get readers to also agree with the same view.
1. Name_______________________________________________ Class____________
Argumentative Essay Writing
In an argumentative essay, your job is make the reader agree with your opinion about a controversial topic.
You have to (1) state your opinion, (2) give reasons to support your opinion, and (3) argue against the opposite
opinion. Overall, you must convince the audience that your side of the
argument is correct. To convince the audience, your essay must be
balanced—it must include your viewpoint and the opposing viewpoint,
or counterargument.
Even though you are arguing only one side of an issue, you must
think about what the other side would say about your opinion. After
you give the counterargument, you must refute it by showing that it is
wrong. If your essay is balanced, a reader is more likely to agree with
The most common type of argumentative essay has six paragraphs. Like all essays, it begins with an
introduction and ends with a conclusion. In between are the body paragraphs where you must do three
things: support your opinion, present the opposing point of view, and tell why that viewpoint is wrong.
INTRODUCTION Paragraph 1 Connecting/Background Information
Main idea Statement/Thesis Statement
Support 1 (first reason)
Paragraph 2  Explanation, detail, example
 Explanation, detail, example
Support 2 (second reason)
Paragraph 3  Explanation, detail, example
 Explanation, detail, example
Support 3 (third reason)
Paragraph 4  Explanation, detail, example
 Explanation, detail, example
Opposite Side
 Counterargument 1
 Refutation (ATTACK)
 Counterargument 2
 Refutation (ATTACK)
Repeat your thesis statement in different words
CONCLUSION Paragraph 6
Suggestion/Opinion/Prediction for the future
Studying an Argumentative Essay
The following essay argues for the use of school uniforms. Discuss the Preview Questions with the class. Then
read the example essay and answer the questions that follow.
Preview Questions
1. Did you wear a uniform when you went to school?
2. Some people believe that children are too materialistic these days. For example, they may be too
interested in wearing expensive brand name clothes. What is your opinion?
Matthew Barbee, 2015 1
2. Matthew Barbee, 2015 2
3. Matthew Barbee, 2015 3
What is a great topic for an argumentative essay? Obviously, it should be an issue that you feel strongly
about, know something about, and would like to share your opinion about. What is your opinion, why do you
feel this way? Can you think of some reasons why people might disagree with you?
When you choose a topic, consider these two questions:
 Does the topic have two sides?
 How much do you know about the topic?
Look at the list of argumentative topics below. What is your opinion about each topic? Are they two sides of
each topic?
Topics for Argument
Banning cigarettes Banning violent video games
Requiring school uniforms Using animals for medical research
Mandating military service Requiring a test for people who want children
Lowering the drinking age to 18 Banning cell phones in schools
Getting rid of zoos Requiring a year of study abroad
ACTIVITY Identifying Topics for Argumentative Essays
Read these eight topics. Put a check mark () next to the ones that could be good topics for argument essays.
_________1. The first time I flew in a plane.
_________2. University education should be free.
_________3. How and why birds fly south for the winter.
_________4. High school teachers need a higher salary.
_________5. Steps needed to get a driver’s license.
_________6. Legalizing gay marriage.
_________7. Increasing tax on imported food.
_________8. How to become a karate master.
Can you think of three additional topics that would be excellent for an argumentative essay?
1. __________________________________________________________________________________
2. __________________________________________________________________________________
3. __________________________________________________________________________________
After you choose a topic, think about what you know about it. What do you know about your side of the
argument and what do you know about the opposite side of the argument? A good way to organize your
ideas is to use a Pro & Con T-chart. [Pro = in favor of thesis statement, Con = against thesis statement]
If you cannot think of several ideas for one or both sides, you should do more research about that topic
or choose a different topic.
Matthew Barbee, 2015 4
5. Here is a Pro & Con T-Chart for an essay about cell-phones being allowed in classrooms.
Thesis statement: Cell phones should not be allowed in university classrooms.
1. Cell phones distract students from 1. Cell phones can easily be turned off
learning if they send messages or play and kept out of sight.
games in class. 2. University students are not children and
2. Cell phones might ring in class and cellphones are important in an emergency.
disturb the teacher. 3. Cell phones can be useful tools for education
3. Students could use cell phones to cheat such a being used as a dictionary or to make
on tests. memos.
ACTIVITY Brainstorming Supporting Ideas
Read the thesis statements and complete the Pro & Con T-charts. Write three ideas to support each
statement. Then write three ideas against each statement. Finally, choose an original topic and write a thesis
statement of your own. Then fill in the pros and cons for your new topic.
1. Thesis statement: Adults should be required to pass a test before they can become parents.
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
2. Thesis statement: The drinking age in Japan should be lowered to 18 years old.
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
3. ORIGINAL Thesis statement: _____________________________________________________________
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
Matthew Barbee, 2015 5
6. Name_______________________________________________ Class____________
Original Student Writing: Argument Essay
Brainstorming will help you get started with your argumentative essay. In this section, you will choose a topic for
your essay, write your thesis statement, think about several supporting ideas for your opinion, and think about the
ACTIVITY Planning your Essay
Follow the steps below to develop ideas for an argument essay.
1. First, choose any other topic and thesis statement that you want to write about. Remember that the topic
must have more than one point of view to qualify as an argument.
Essay topic: _____________________________________________________________________________
Thesis statement: ________________________________________________________________________
2. Now brainstorm ideas about your topic. Fill out the Pro & Con T-Chart with as many ideas as you can.
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
4. 4.
5. 5.
3. Look at your Pro & Con T-chart again. Choose three reasons from your PRO list that support your thesis
most effectively and circle them. You now know what your major supporting information will be.
4. Now give attention to opposing points of view. In the box below, choose two counterarguments from your
CON list and write a refutation for each.
Counterargument (from CON list) Refutation (ATTACK - Why is it wrong?)
Matthew Barbee, 2015 6
7. ACTIVITY Planning with an Outline
Try to complete the following outline before you begin writing your essay. You may use more support
sentences if you need. And try to use complete sentences when it is possible.
1. Introduction (Paragraph 1)
A. Hook: ____________________________________________________________________________
B. Connecting Information:______________________________________________________________
C. Thesis Statement: __________________________________________________________________
2. Body
A. First Reason (Paragraph 2) topic sentence: _______________________________________________
1. _____________________________________________________________________________
2. _____________________________________________________________________________
3. _____________________________________________________________________________
B. Second Reason (Paragraph 3) topic sentence: ____________________________________________
1. _____________________________________________________________________________
2. _____________________________________________________________________________
3. _____________________________________________________________________________
C. Third Reason (Paragraph 4) topic sentence: ______________________________________________
1. _____________________________________________________________________________
2. _____________________________________________________________________________
3. _____________________________________________________________________________
D. Counterargument (Paragraph 5)
1. Counterargument #1: ___________________________________________________________
Refutation (attack): _____________________________________________________________
2. Counterargument #2: ___________________________________________________________
Refutation (attack): _____________________________________________________________
3. Conclusion (Paragraph 6)
A. Restated Thesis: ____________________________________________________________________
B. Opinion/Suggestion/Prediction: _______________________________________________________
Matthew Barbee, 2015 7