The Function of an Argumentative Essay

Argumentative Essay The function of an argumentative essay is to show that your assertion (opinion, theory, hypothesis) about some phenomenon or phenomena is correct or more truthful than others’. The art of argumentation is not an easy skill to acquire. Many people might think that if one simply has an opinion, one can argue it successfully, and these folks are always surprised when others don’t agree with them because their logic seems so correct.

Argumentative writing is the act of forming reasons, making inductions, drawing conclusions, and applying them to the case in discussion; the operation of inferring propositions, not known or admitted as true, from facts or principles known, admitted, or proved to be true. It clearly explains the process of your reasoning from the known or assumed to the unknown. Without doing this you do not have an argument, you have only an assertion, an essay that is just your unsubstantiated opinion. Notice that you do not have to completely prove your point; you only have to convince reasonable readers that your argument or position has merit; i. . , that it is somehow more accurate and complete than competing arguments. Argumentative essays are often organized in the following manner: 1. They begin with a statement of your assertion, its timeliness, significance, and relevance in relation to some phenomenon. 2. They review critically the literature about that phenomenon. 3. They illustrate how your assertion is “better” (simpler or more explanatory) than others, including improved (i. e. , more reliable or valid) methods that you used to accumulate the data (case) to be explained.

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Finally revise and edit, and be sure to apply the critical process to your argument to be certain you have not committed any errors in reasoning or integrated any fallacies for which you would criticize some other writer. Additionally, you will want to find out how your readers will object to your argument. Will they say that you have used imprecise concepts? Have you erred in collecting data? Your argument is only as strong as the objections to it. If you cannot refute or discount an objection, then you need to rethink and revise your position. 5-paragraph Essay

Introductory paragraph The introductory paragraph should also include the thesis statement, a kind of mini-outline for the essay. This is where the writer grabs the reader’s attention. It tells the reader what the paper is about. The last sentence of this paragraph must also include a transitional “hook” which moves the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the essay. Body – First paragraph The first paragraph of the body should include the strongest argument, most significant example, cleverest illustration, or an obvious beginning point.

The first sentence should contain the “reverse hook” which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the introductory paragraph. The subject for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This subject should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the second paragraph of the body. Body – Second paragraph The second paragraph of the body should include the second strongest argument, second most significant example, second cleverest illustration, or an obvious follow up the first paragraph in the body.

The first sentence of this paragraph should contain the reverse hook, which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the first paragraph of the body. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the third paragraph of the body. Body – Third paragraph The third paragraph of the body should include the weakest argument, weakest example, weakest illustration, or an obvious follow up to the second paragraph in the body.

The first sentence of this paragraph should contain the reverse hook, which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the second paragraph. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional concluding hook that signals the reader that this is the final major point being made in this essay. This hook also leads into the concluding paragraph. Concluding paragraph

The fifth paragraph is the summary paragraph. It is important to restate the thesis and three supporting ideas in an original and powerful way as this is the last chance the writer has to convince the reader of the validity of the information presented. This paragraph should include the following: 1. an allusion to the pattern used in the introductory paragraph, 2. a restatement of the thesis statement, using some of the original language or language that “echoes” the original language. (The restatement, however, must not be a duplicate thesis statement. ) 3. summary of the three main points from the body of the essay. 4. a final statement that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end. (This final statement may be a “call to action” in a persuasive essay. ) Example 1Stephen King, creator of such stories as Carrie and Pet Sematary, stated that the Edgar Allan Poe stories he read as a child gave him the inspiration and instruction he needed to become the writer that he is. 2Poe, as does Stephen King, fills the reader’s imagination with the images that he wishes the reader to see, hear, and feel. His use of vivid, concrete visual imagery to present both static and dynamic settings and to describe people is part of his technique. 4Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a story about a young man who kills an old man who cares for him, dismembers the corpse, then goes mad when he thinks he hears the old man’s heart beating beneath the floor boards under his feet as he sits and discusses the old man’s absence with the police. 5In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a careful reader can observe Poe’s skillful manipulation of the senses.

The introductory paragraph includes a paraphrase of something said by a famous person in order to get the reader’s attention. The second sentence leads up to the thesis statement which is the third sentence. The thesis statement (sentence 3) presents topic of the paper to the reader and provides a mini- outline. The topic is Poe’s use of visual imagery. The mini- outline tells the reader that this paper will present Poe’s use of imagery in three places in his writing: (1) description of static setting; (2) description of dynamic setting; and (3) description of a person.

The last sentence of the paragraph uses the words “manipulation” and “senses” as transitional hooks. 1The sense of sight, the primary sense, is particularly susceptible to manipulation. 2In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Poe uses the following image to describe a static scene: “His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness . . . ” Poe used the words “black,” “pitch,” and “thick darkness” not only to show the reader the condition of the old man’s room, but also to make the reader feel the darkness. 3″Thick” is a word that is not usually associated with color (darkness), yet in using it, Poe stimulates the reader’s sense of feeling as well as his sense of sight. In the first sentence of the second paragraph (first paragraph of the body) the words “sense” and “manipulation” are used to hook into the end of the introductory paragraph. The first part of the second sentence provides the topic for this paragraph–imagery in a static scene. Then a quotation from “The Tell-Tale Heart” is presented and briefly discussed.

The last sentence of this paragraph uses the expressions “sense of feeling” and “sense of sight” as hooks for leading into the third paragraph 1Further on in the story, Poe uses a couple of words that cross not only the sense of sight but also the sense of feeling to describe a dynamic scene. 2The youth in the story has been standing in the open doorway of the old man’s room for a long time, waiting for just the right moment to reveal himself to the old man in order to frighten him. 3Poe writes: “So I opened it [the lantern opening]–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of the pider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye. ” 4By using the metaphor of the thread of the spider (which we all know is a creepy creature) and the word “shot,” Poe almost makes the reader gasp, as surely did the old man whose one blind eye the young man describes as “the vulture eye. ” The first sentence of the third paragraph (second paragraph of the body) uses the words “sense of sight” and “sense of feeling” to hook back into the previous paragraph. Note that in the second paragraph “feeling” came first, and in this paragraph “sight” comes first.

The first sentence also includes the topic for this paragraph–imagery in a dynamic scene. Again, a quotation is taken from the story, and it is briefly discussed. The last sentence uses the words “one blind eye” which was in the quotation. This expression provides the transitional hook for the last paragraph in the body of the paper. 1The reader does not know much about what the old man in this story looks like except that he has one blind eye. 2In the second paragraph of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Poe establishes the young man’s obsession with that blind eye when he writes: “He had the eye of the vulture–a pale blue eye, with a film over it. 3This “vulture eye” is evoked over and over again in the story until the reader becomes as obsessed with it as does the young man. 4His use of the vivid, concrete word “vulture” establishes a specific image in the mind of the reader that is inescapable. In the first sentence of the fourth paragraph (third paragraph in the body), “one blind eye” is used that hooks into the previous paragraph. This first sentence also lets the reader know that this paragraph will deal with descriptions of people: “. . . what the old man looks like . . .. ” Once again Poe is quoted and discussed.

The last sentence uses the word “image” which hooks into the last paragraph. (It is less important that this paragraph has a hook since the last paragraph is going to include a summary of the body of the paper. ) 1″Thick darkness,” “thread of the spider,” and “vulture eye” are three images that Poe used in “The Tell-Tale Heart” to stimulate a reader’s senses. 2Poe wanted the reader to see and feel real life. 3He used concrete imagery rather than vague abstract words to describe settings and people. If Edgar Allan Poe was one of Stephen King’s teachers, then readers of King owe a debt of gratitude o that nineteenth-century creator of horror stories. The first sentence of the concluding paragraph uses the principal words from the quotations from each paragraph of the body of the paper. This summarizes those three paragraphs. The second and third sentences provide observations which can also be considered a summary, not only of the content of the paper, but also offers personal opinion which was logically drawn as the result of this study. The last sentence returns to the Edgar Allan Poe-Stephen King relationship that began this paper. This sentence also provides a “wrap-up” and gives the paper a sense of finality.

Persuasive Essay What is a persuasive/argument essay? Persuasive writing, also known as the argument essay, utilizes logic and reason to show that one idea is more legitimate than another idea. It attempts to persuade a reader to adopt a certain point of view or to take a particular action. The argument must always use sound reasoning and solid evidence by stating facts, giving logical reasons, using examples, and quoting experts. When planning a persuasive essay, follow these steps 1. Choose your position. Which side of the issue or problem are you going to write about, and what solution will you offer?

Know the purpose of your essay. 2. Analyze your audience. Decide if your audience agrees with you, is neutral, or disagrees with your position. 3. Research your topic. A persuasive essay must provide specific and convincing evidence. Often it is necessary to go beyond your own knowledge and experience. You might need to go to the library or interview people who are experts on your topic. 4. Structure your essay. Figure out what evidence you will include and in what order you will present the evidence. Remember to consider your purpose, your audience, and you topic. The following criteria are essential to produce an effective argument Be well informed about your topic. To add to your knowledge of a topic, read thoroughly about it, using legitimate sources. Take notes. • Test your thesis. Your thesis, i. e. , argument, must have two sides. It must be debatable. If you can write down a thesis statement directly opposing your own, you will ensure that your own argument is debatable. • Disprove the opposing argument. Understand the opposite viewpoint of your position and then counter it by providing contrasting evidence or by finding mistakes and inconsistencies in the logic of the opposing argument. Support your position with evidence. Remember that your evidence must appeal to reason. The following are different ways to support your argument: Facts – A powerful means of convincing, facts can come from your reading, observation, or personal experience. Note: Do not confuse facts with truths. A “truth” is an idea believed by many people, but it cannot be proven. Statistics – These can provide excellent support. Be sure your statistics come from responsible sources. Always cite your sources.

Quotes – Direct quotes from leading experts that support your position are invaluable. Examples – Examples enhance your meaning and make your ideas concrete. They are the proof. [pic] Critical Essay The word “critical” has positive as well as negative meanings. You can write a critical essay that agrees entirely with the reading. The word “critical” describes your attitude when you read the article. This attitude is best described as “detached evaluation,” meaning that you weigh the coherence of the reading, the completeness of its data, and so on, before you accept or reject it.

A critical essay or review begins with an analysis or exposition of the reading, article-by-article, book by book. Each analysis should include the following points: 1. A summary of the author’s point of view, including a brief statement of the author’s main idea (i. e. , thesis or theme) an outline of the important “facts” and lines of reasoning the author used to support the main idea a summary of the author’s explicit or implied values a presentation of the author’s conclusion or suggestions for action 2. An evaluation of the author’s work, including n assessment of the “facts” presented on the basis of correctness, relevance, and whether or not pertinent facts were omitted an evaluation or judgment of the logical consistency of the author’s argument an appraisal of the author’s values in terms of how you feel or by an accepted standard Once the analysis is completed, check your work! Ask yourself, “Have I read all the relevant (or assigned) material? ” “Do I have complete citations? ” If not, complete the work! The following steps are how this is done. Now you can start to write the first draft of your expository essay/literature review.

Outline the conflicting arguments, if any; this will be part of the body of your expository essay/literature review. Ask yourself, “Are there other possible positions on this matter? ” If so, briefly outline them. Decide on your own position (it may agree with one of the competing arguments) and state explicitly the reason(s) why you hold that position by outlining the consistent facts and showing the relative insignificance of contrary facts. Coherently state your position by integrating your evaluations of the works you read. This becomes your conclusions section.

Briefly state your position, state why the problem you are working on is important, and indicate the important questions that need to be answered; this is your “Introduction. ” Push quickly through this draft–don’t worry about spelling, don’t search for exactly the right word, don’t hassle yourself with grammar, don’t worry overmuch about sequence–that’s why this is called a “rough draft. ” Deal with these during your revisions. The point of a rough draft is to get your ideas on paper. Once they are there, you can deal with the superficial (though very important) problems.

Consider this while writing: • The critical essay is informative; it emphasizes the literary work being studied rather than the feelings and opinions of the person writing about the literary work; in this kind of writing, all claims made about the work need to be backed up with evidence. • The difference between feelings and facts is simple–it does not matter what you believe about a book or play or poem; what matters is what you can prove about it, drawing upon evidence found in the text itself, in biographies of the author, in critical discussions of the literary work, etc. Criticism does not mean you have to attack the work or the author; it simply means you are thinking critically about it, exploring it and discussing your findings. • In many cases, you are teaching your audience something new about the text. • The literary essay usually employs a serious and objective tone. (Sometimes, depending on your audience, it is all right to use a lighter or even humorous tone, but this is not usually the case). • Use a “claims and evidence” approach.

Be specific about the points you are making about the novel, play, poem, or essay you are discussing and back up those points with evidence that your audience will find credible and appropriate. If you want to say, “The War of the Worlds is a novel about how men and women react in the face of annihilation, and most of them do not behave in a particularly courageous or noble manner,” say it, and then find evidence that supports your claim. • Using evidence from the text itself is often your best option. If you want to argue, “isolation drives Frankenstein’s creature to become evil,” back it up with events and speeches from the novel itself. Another form of evidence you can rely on is criticism, what other writers have claimed about the work of literature you are examining. You may treat these critics as “expert witnesses,” whose ideas provide support for claims you are making about the book. In most cases, you should not simply provide a summary of what critics have said about the literary work. • In fact, one starting point might be to look at what a critic has said about one book or poem or story and then a) ask if the same thing is true of another book or poem or story and 2) ask what it means that it is or is not true. • Do not try to do everything.

Try to do one thing well. And beware of subjects that are too broad; focus your discussion on a particular aspect of a work rather than trying to say everything that could possibly be said about it. • Be sure your discussion is well organized. Each section should support the main idea. Each section should logically follow and lead into the sections that come before it and after it. Within each paragraph, sentences should be logically connected to one another. • Remember that in most cases you want to keep your tone serious and objective. • Be sure your essay is free of mechanical and stylistic errors. If you quote or summarize (and you will probably have to do this) be sure you follow an appropriate format (MLA format is the most common one when examining literature) and be sure you provide a properly formatted list of works cited at the end of your essay. [pic] Expository Essay The purpose of an expository essay is, completely and fairly, other people’s views or to report about an event or a situation. Expository writing, or exposition, presents a subject in detail, apart from criticism, argument, or development; i. e. , the writer elucidates a subject by analyzing it.

Such writing is discourse designed to convey information or explain what is difficult to understand. Exposition usually proceeds by the orderly analysis of parts and the use of familiar illustrations or analogies. Such an analysis requires 1. reading with understanding the ideas developed in an article by clearly stating another’s thesis, outlining the facts used by the author to support that thesis, and the “values” underlying the ideas 2. putting what is read into a larger context by relating another’s article or book to other work in the field 3. clearly and effectively communicating this information to a defined audience.

In other words, you must write clearly and fully enough for your readers to know how you have arrived at your analyses and conclusions. They should never have to guess what you mean; give your readers everything they need to know to follow your reasoning This practice is not “just for students. ” Accurate analysis is a fundamental professional activity in almost all careers. Like any other fundamental skill, it must be constantly practiced in order to maintain and improve it. Other goals, such as learning “time management” and note-taking, are also developed by this activity. Do not be afraid to revise your essay!

In fact, you will probably want to change it at least once; this is called “thinking through a ‘problem'” or “learning. ” The revisions will consist of the following: 1. finding the precise words to express your thoughts 2. correcting typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors 3. making sure that your paragraphs are “tight” and sequenced properly 4. making sure that the transition (“segue”) from one major topic to another makes sense Expository essays also have a distinct format. The thesis statement must be defined and narrow enough to be supported within the essay. Each supporting paragraph must have a distinct controlling topic and all other sentences must factually relate directly to it. The transition words or phrases are important as they help the reader follow along and reinforce the logic. • Finally, the conclusion paragraph should originally restate the thesis and the main supporting ideas. Finish with the statement that reinforces your position in a meaningful and memorable way. • Never introduce new material in the conclusion. [pic] Using Active Verbs Using active verbs is essential if you want to write with a direct authoritative style.

Instead of using the impersonal passive verbs and third person viewpoint, you should write with strong, active verbs. Almost every authority on writing encourages you to use active verbs. Here’s some typical advice to authors publishing research papers for The American Society for Testing Materials. “As most everyone has agreed for some time now, use the third person in a paper not only adds nothing to scientific objectivity, it renders the paper gutless and lifeless … Scientists of the 19th century such as Darwin and Huxley wrote sensibly and clearly in the first person and turned out some very respectable prose.

Let us begin anew … use active verbs. ” Look at these examples: Passive: An improvement in quality has been made leading to the decision being taken to raise the standard test so a higher mark means the same success rate being accepted. (29 words) Active: As quality improved, the standard test rose, leading to a higher standard mark to gain the same acceptable success rate. (20 words) Notice the passive example sounds academic but takes extra nine words to say the same information. It is no more objective than the alternative with active verbs.

Although we naturally speak with active verbs, even when discussing academic subjects, the traditional academic writing style litters writing with unnecessary passive verbs. Any sentence can be either active or passive. It is your choice as the author. Whatever the subject of the essay, you can write with active verbs to make your writing style more direct, clear and forceful. If there’s one piece of advice on writing style you should follow, it’s to use active verbs throughout your essays. Punctuation Use common sense. Punctuation should help reading – to make clear the thought being expressed.

If punctuation does not help clarify the message, it should not be there. When more than one punctuation mark (not including quotation marks, parentheses or brackets) could be used at the same place in a sentence, use only the “stronger” – or more necessary – of the two. Question marks and exclamation points, for example, are stronger than commas and periods: “Have all the ballots finally been counted? ” asked the reporter. (The question mark fills the role of the comma. ) The topic of his speech is “We demand justice now! ” (No period following the exclamation point. ) Hyphen (-) Hyphens are joiners. They link words.

Use a hyphen to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words: She recovered her health. She re-covered the torn seat. He is a small-business man. He is a foreign-car dealer. Unclear: He is a small businessman. He is a foreign car dealer. Also see guidelines at composition titles, compound words, initial-based terms, race. Do not hyphenate most compound nouns – two or more words that work together as a noun: Pilot testing is scheduled to begin in May. But consult this style manual or your dictionary for preferred or commonly excepted terms: president-elect, sister-in-law, good-for-nothing.

To avoid ambiguity, use hyphens to link words in compound adjectives (or compound modifiers) before nouns. If you can insert and between the modifying words before a noun and make sense of the new construction, you do not have a compound adjective: And would make sense in a sunny, warm day; sunny, warm is not a compound modifier. But and would not work in a well-rounded employee; well-rounded is a compound modifier. Another test: If your sentence would make sense if you reversed the order of the modifying words or even eliminated one of them, don’t connect the words with a hyphen.

If two or more consecutive words make sense only when understood together as a single idea modifying a noun that follows, hyphenate that compound adjective: a well-prepared plan, special-interest money, high-frequency sounds, minimum-height requirement, used-record store, 250-square-mile area, 5-ton truck, short-term solution, little-known man, better-qualified woman, long-range plan, know-it-all attitude, pilot-testing schedule. Leave out hyphens in compound modifiers only when no reader confusion would result from their omission – or if the modifying words are commonly considered as a unit: post office box, high school classes.

If necessary, rewrite sentences to avoid stringing together a long, potentially confusing series of modifying adverbs and adjectives before nouns. Hyphens are unnecessary after already, most, least, less and very and after all adverbs that end in ly: already named manager, most used service, less expensive project, least liked alternative, a very good time, an easily remembered rule, randomly selected addresses. See comma, very. Do not hyphenate most compound modifiers if they occur after the noun being modified, even if hyphenating them before the noun: The plan was well prepared.

The man was little known. The woman was better qualified. His boat is 42 feet long, but He has a 42-foot-long boat. Here’s the form for suspensive hyphenation: The students recommended a 15- to 20-minute break between third and fourth periods. Hyphenate co- when forming nouns, adjectives or verbs that show occupation or status: co-pilot, co-chairman, co-worker. See prefixes and suffixes and separate entries for the most often used prefixes and suffixes. A hyphen is not a dash. For example, this organization mail stop, KSC-TR-0824, has hyphens, not dashes.

A hyphen may be used to divide a word at the end of a line, especially to remove large gaps at the end of an adjacent line. Here are some guidelines for hyphenation to aid readability and reduce reader confusion: • Divide words only between syllables, but don’t add a hyphen to a word or phrase that already has a hyphen, such as decision-maker or re-election. Instead, break the word or phrase at the existing hyphen. • Avoid ending more than two consecutive lines with hyphens. • Don’t hyphenate a word at the end of a line unless you can leave a syllable of at least three characters on both the first and second lines.

Avoid dividing words with fewer than six letters. • Don’t divide the last word in a line when the second part of the word would be the only “word” on the second line. • Don’t hyphenate abbreviations, contractions and numbers. Also, don’t hyphenate words in headlines and headings. • Avoid hyphenating proper nouns. • Don’t hyphenate words that jump from one page to another page. • Avoid hyphenating words that jump from one column to another column or that jump over a graphic image or photo. Organizing The Essay Introductory Paragraph

Introductory paragraph consists of general points or attention grabbing details leading to the main idea. For instance, there are several means that effective writers use to “hook” their readers: beginning with an amusing or interesting anecdote, beginning with a question, beginning with a quotation, and beginning with a startling or paradoxical statement. The main idea is often written at the end of this paragraph in a thesis statement, which may also contain three or more reasons (written very succinctly) for supporting this main idea. Each of these reasons should be elaborated on in the body paragraphs that follow.

Note: A thesis statement does not always come at the end of the introductory paragraph–some essays have the very first sentence as the thesis statement. Body Paragraph #1 Body Paragraph #1 often begins with a transition word or words like “First” or “The first of these reasons” and gives examples and/or details relating to the first supporting reason. Body Paragraph #2 Body Paragraph #2 often begins with a transition word or words like “Next” or “Second” or “Another reason” or “The second of these reasons” and gives examples and/or details relating to the second supporting reason.

Body Paragraph #3 This often begins with a transition word or words like “Finally” or “Last” or “The final reason” and gives examples and/or details relating to the third supporting reason (which is often the strongest of the three supporting reasons). Concluding Paragraph This paragraph may begin with “In conclusion” or “To conclude” (although some markers find these somewhat mundane) or “Clearly” and often restates the thesis statement in different words.

It may move from there to a general comment about life, or to a final important point, or to a suggestion about future action that may be needed. Some writers like to end with a relevant quotation, or end with a question, or end with a prediction or warning. Another concluding technique is to end with some idea or detail from the beginning of the essay (thus bringing this idea full circle). Yet another means of concluding is to end with an allusion to a historical or mythological figure or event. Organizing The Paragraph Make sure that each sentence flows logically.

The traditional way to do this when writing an essay is to use connecting words or phrases, often conjunctions (linking words) such as “although”, “because”, “so”, “moreover”, or “therefore”. In this way, you build your logic and arguments. These connections come in simple and complex forms. Simple connections also, although, and, as, because, but, despite, first, however, if, next, now, second, then, therefore, third, until Although we sometimes need words to show the logic and connection between sentences and paragraphs, many connecting words make your style more complex and academic than necessary.

Complex connections accordingly, as you are aware, consequently, for this reason, furthermore, hence, in addition, inasmuch as, likewise, more specifically, moreover, nevertheless, nonetheless Use the connections to make sure your reader can follow the flow of information, ideas and arguments within sentences, from sentence to sentence and between paragraphs. But don’t let too many connections creep into your writing and keep to the simple ones recommended.