How to Write an Argumentative Essay
There are many topics that warrant argumentation. We live in a political world where every claim suggested invites argumentation. Here are examples of topics that one would typically use for an argumentative essay.
- - Gentrification
- - Gender equality
- - Gun laws
- - Vaccine mandates
- - Abortion
These are topics which the author can either defend or debate against. For example, you could argue that:
- Abortion should be made legal in the United States.
- Guns should be banned because they increase crime rates.
Knowing the topic to discuss or defend in an argumentative essay is usually half the problem. The elephant in the room is what to write and how to write it. When writing argumentative essays, there are various time tasted approaches that we use like the Toulmin model. These models will guide you on how to lay out and organize your argument.
The Toulmin Model of Argumentation
Toulmin devised a good method that helps writers and other academics organize their arguments coherently. It is the model to use if you want your essay to flow smoothly and logically. The steps of the Toulmin model are:
1. State your claim.
A claim is the proposition that the arguer will be defending. An example of a claim is that, “Marijuana is not a getaway drug to more serious drugs.” In your essay, you will be arguing to support the claim or the proposition you have stated.
2. Present the grounds.
In an argumentative essay, the grounds are the evidence, illustrations, and analysis that support the claim. An example of a ground is that; “most marijuana users never use any other drug other than marijuana in the lifetime.”
3. Make a Warrant
The warrant as used in argumentative essays is the connection that the author makes between the claim and the grounds. Readers need to know how the evidence which has been presented supports the claim. This step serves to ensure consistency of argumentation and logical flow. For example, the author would say that;
“The idea that marijuana should be criminalized because it is a gateway to the use of more serious drugs is false because many marijuana users never move towards more serious drugs, and many of them quit marijuana without trying out other drugs.”
4. Refute rebuttals
Each argument always has a rebuttal because all arguments have two sides. Therefore, you have to spend a portion of your argumentative essay debunking or disproving counterarguments. An example of a rebuttal is:
“Most cocaine and heroin users also smoked marijuana showing that marijuana is indeed a gateway to more serious drugs.”
From your research, use evidence and illustrations to refute all rebuttals to your arguments. For example, you could say that:
“Most cocaine and heroin users did not start using hard drugs after smoking marijuana. Most of them started using marijuana and cocaine concurrently, or started with cocaine then went ahead to smoke marijuana.”
Argumentative Essay Format
Begin your argumentative essay with the introduction. It is in the introduction where you provide a brief background of the argument you will be making. Make sure you start the introduction in a way that captures the attention of your audience. Here are a few ways to start your introduction:
- - Begin with an illustration.
- - Begin with a shocking statistic.
- - Use a quote
After you open with power, explore the background of the problem, being careful to define words that might challenge your readers. Lastly, write your thesis statement in the last portion of your introductory paragraph.
What is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is a short statement or sentence that summarizes the stance that you will take throughout the essay. It represents the argument you plan to make. Make sure that the thesis statement is clear and unambiguous. Also, make sure that your thesis statement is concise.
Example of a thesis statement:
In this essay, I will show that implementing tougher gun laws in the United States will reduce homicide rates.
The Body of Argumentative Essays
After writing your introduction and thesis statement, the body of your essay will hold all the evidence and analysis that you have researched to help in making your case. Typically, there are three paragraphs that go into the body. In each of these paragraphs, you will present your evidence and defend your argument.
Always make sure that you begin each paragraph with a topic sentence. The topic sentence is the first line of each paragraph where you make your claim. Also make sure you use connectives and signposts in your essay to make sure it flows smoothly without being clunky.
The conclusion of your argumentative essay should be as powerful as your introduction. You began with power and now it is time to end with power. Summarize the arguments you have made throughout the body of your essay. Connect them together in a final sweep and make sure the argument does not have any holes.
Conclude with a call to action. For example, you can end by asking the federal government to outlaw guns or make abortion legal.