Like other essays, argumentative ones include an introduction, body, and conclusion; but what goes into the body makes all the difference
. Distinct from a persuasive or critical essay
, the argumentative essay
not only provides claims with the evidence to support them, but also takes the opposition head on by thoroughly presenting and refuting counter arguments.This proven tactic of eradicating doubts, not only gives strength and credibility to the main argument, but if done correctly, can convince even the most headstrong of critics.
Below is a breakdown of the contents of each section of the argumentative essay. as well as an in-depth analysis of the most crucial part the essay-the body.
Its good to think of your introduction as an icebreaker; a means of getting your audience comfortable with the subject you intend to discuss. Whether you are writing for seasoned professionals or high school students, each group needs a transition to your topic (from their world to yours).
Likewise your introduction should also be engaging and provide the reader with the information they need to better understand your essay. For that reason its one of the best places to lay down the foundation of your paper as well as clearly state what you intend to cover (your thesis).
When formulating the introduction, there are a two main things that you want to be clear about; your audience and your thesis. Essentially your audience is your reader (who you're writing for) and your thesis is what you'll be defending or arguing throughout your essay. Both of these are needed to properly satisfy all the key components of the introduction.
The basic components of the introduction
- a catch phrase or introductory statement to gain the audience's attention
- basic background information on the topic
- a thesis statement or conclusion
Other things to be mentioned in the introduction
- a brief definition of the terms used in your thesis statement (some terms are easily debatable-what do these terms mean for your paper?)
- if your argument is a rather complex one, provide a little more information on how it will be structured and developed throughout the paper (hence a roadmap)
The body of your essay is obviously one of the most important parts; its where you will likely spend most of your time writing. When constructing an argumentative essay there are different ways to develop and support your argument. Regardless of which approach you select, the body of the argumentative essay should deliver the following;
What makes up the body
- smaller arguments or premises that make up your main argument
- clear evidence to support all claims (from reputable sources)
- the counter arguments that oppose each premise you provide
- your defense against the opposition
- summary statements and transitions to guide the reader along
*This last point is relevant if you're worried that your reader will get 'lost in the sauce' when going through your essay. Basically once you're done with one premise briefly summarize and recap the argument thus far before moving on to the next. Also let them know what's coming up with a suitable transition.
When writing your conclusion you should attempt to synthesize the information you presented (that is, bringing everything together). Remind the reader of all your different premises and how each was developed throughout the essay
. In addition to these concerns, the conclusion is also utilized to provide additional useful information that was not provided in the essay; along with any relevant commentary from the author (for ex. information related to research methodology, other counter arguments).
Lastly, the most important thing to include in your conclusion is a restatement of your thesis or your altered and adjusted thesis (altered based off of the information presented in the counter arguments and/or what was learned throughout the debate).
Overall, the main things you will want to include in your conclusion are...
- a restatement of the thesis, or a revised thesis
- a summary of each premise
- author commentary or useful mentions
Body crafting: how to build your argument brick by brick
The term 'build' is often used when referring to argument construction because as you develop each premise you're actually laying down one level of material that will serve as the foundation for other layers. This process of layering continues until you've proven your argument or 'completed the building.'
Though your essay will probably not include as many premises as there are layers in a building, its still true that each premise affects the other; and all are interconnected. This is good to keep in mind as you work towards your final goal-to justify and establish your thesis.
And since each layer makes way for the next, you'll want to take some time out to consider exactly how you will order your premises. If you are looking to provide a 'dramatic ending' to your final conclusion, for instance, you'll need to know how best to lead the reader to that point.
3 ways to set up the body of your paper
- block structure
- premise by premise
- based on the need of the premise (may be grouped with other claims or may be fully examined alone)
With the block structure you will fully present your argument in one block, then the counter arguments in another, and then all of the responses to the opposition in the last block. Note that in some cases it may make more sense for you to fully examine each smaller argument or premise before moving on to the next one (or simply to group some premises with others).
*For instance, you may provide the first premise, its counter argument, and a response to it, and then decide to combine the second and third premise together; argue them in one section, and then combine their counter arguments as well as their responses.
However you decide to construct your paper, your ultimate goal should be for it to;
- work consciously towards establishing the main thesis
- have a logical presentation; with a clear train of thought
- be organized in a manner that makes sense to your reader