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Writing an Argumentative Essay

Expert Tips for Writing an Argumentative Essay

An effective introductory paragraph in an argumentative essay can be likened to an effective first statement in a courtroom trail. Much as a lawyer would present their case, anyone writing an argumentative essay needs to present their topic or problem, provide some background information, and set out the main argument they will be making. All this should be done in an intellectual, logical and convincing manner.

Find a Good Hook to Start With

An introductory paragraph should begin with a sentence that grabs the readers’ attention. To make readers interested, it is a good idea to start with a quote, a startling statistic, an intriguing question, or a personal anecdote, If, for instance, you intend to argue that there should be an all-out ban on cigarette smoking in public areas, you could begin by using some statistical information from a reliable source, e.g., “Each year, according to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking causes the death of over 5,000,000 people, which is more than is caused collectively by other diseases such as AIDS/HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis.” A statistic like this should make readers sit up and take notice.

Add Some Background Information

Background information helps the reader to understand the topic or problem better. Information of this nature provides any relevant history about the subject and gives it context, all of which can be critical when arguing or explaining your main point(s). Say, for example, you want to argue that the USA should never have a military draft. Then, you could include some historical information on the USA draft and how it came to be abolished.

Set Out Your Thesis Statement

The very essence of any argumentative paper or essay is its thesis. In one clearly written sentence, this statement summarizes the point the writer wants to convey. It should state the writer’s stance on a given issue, one that the reader could possibly oppose or counter-argue. Consequently, a thesis statement should not be an indisputable fact. If, for instance, a college professor asks their students to write about a broad topic such as war, this would be a suitable thesis statement: “It is essential to redesign the United Nations because, as it is, it is not able to prevent wars.” Then, throughout the remainder of your essay, you should explain this thesis and provide supporting evidence.

What Not to Include

An effective introductory paragraph should not describe or explain the writer’s arguments or provide any analysis. These elements should be left to the body (or main) paragraphs. The introduction should only introduce the topic and establish the main point(s) and not provide supporting evidence. Additionally, while an introduction is a type of roadmap to an entire essay, it should not specifically say what will be argued and how this will be done, e.g., “I intend to prove that …” Statements like this do not add any important information and are usually nothing more than “filler” statements.