Most of us have experience arguing a point in our day-to-day lives. We may be arguing why a movie is great, why we should get a raise or why a friend needs to apologize. Apart from the academic audience, argument essays resemble these verbal points that we make in the real world. In both cases, we are expressing a point of a view and supporting that point of view with explanation and examples.
Focus and Organization
Every argument needs to have a main point. The main idea of an argument essay is summed up in a thesis statement that the rest of the essay serves to support and prove. The thesis statement provides a focus around which the body paragraphs and conclusion are organized. For example, a writer can argue that high school students should be forced to wear school uniforms. The reasons that the writer presents for this argument -- each of which becomes a body paragraph of the essay -- can include the financial benefits for the families, the redirection of students' focus to schoolwork and the lessons in professionalism and modesty that uniforms provide.
Analysis and Explanation
One of the most common mistakes in an argument essay is a lack of development. The University of North Carolina states that "in writing assignments, you will almost always need to do more than just summarize information that you have gathered or regurgitate facts that have been discussed in class. You will need to develop a point of view on or interpretation of that material." In providing analysis, students must explore the causes and effects, the populations who are affected and the long-term impact in the essay's analysis in order to present a fully evolved argument.
While the analysis serves as a more theoretical tool for making an argument in an essay, specific examples provide concrete evidence for the student's claims. According to Purdue University, evidence can be "factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal." For example, if you have ever tried to get your parents to lend you their car, you may have provided them with evidence that you are a safe and trustworthy driver; you may have reminded that you borrowed their car before and brought it back safely, or you may have pointed out that you had never received a ticket. Specific examples like these help to support analyses and explanations in an argument essay.
Refuting a Counterargument
The inclusion of a counterargument in an argument essay shows the reader that the writer understands the material about which she is writing. The student should ask herself what someone who disagrees with her argument would say. For example, if the writer's main argument is that driving a car is a better method of transportation than riding a bike, in the counterargument she can present the point that some may argue that a bicycle is better for the environment. Then the student can refute that claim in order to strengthen her overall point. For example, she can say that with the growing popularity of electric cars, cars no longer pose the same environmental threats that they did in the past. The inclusion of a counterargument effectively disarms the other side by robbing it of its ammunition. By acknowledging the opposition, then refuting it, a writer makes the argument essay more honest and mature, and therefore stronger.
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