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Argumentative essays

In an argumentative essay you give your own opinion and then try to convince other people you are right with your reasons and examples. You can see examples of the argumentative style of writing when you read editorial columns and letters in the NST.

Before beginning to write an argumentative essay think about your own opinion and ask yourself:

  • Do you have a strong opinion?
  • What have other people said on the subject and do you think they are right?
  • Is there any other evidence you can think of to support your views?

To write an argumentative essay, use the following steps to help you:

1. Begin by introducing the debate topic in your own words.

2. Then write if you agree or disagree with the argument

3. Tell people why you hold that opinion and come up with ideas and examples to back up your arguments. Try to put these ideas in an order with the most important ideas first and links between each idea so that the essay flows well.

4. Think about why people might have a different opinion (objections) and try to show why they are not important or they are not true.

5. Conclude with a brief summary and try to make a strong last sentence that people will remember. For example Oprah Winfrey famously wrote," I believe the choice to be excellent begins with aligning your thoughts and words with the intention to require more from yourself." The rest of the article maybe forgotten, but that strong sentence is remembered.

Example - Hunger in the United States

One of the most disturbing and extraordinary aspects of life in this very wealthy country is the persistence of hunger. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports, based on a national U.S. Census Bureau survey of households representative of the U.S. population, that in 2004 11.9 percent of all U.S. households were "food insecure" because of lack of resources. Of the 13.5 million households that were food insecure, 4.4 million suffered from food insecurity that was so severe that USDA's very conservative measure classified them as "hungry."

Source: http://www.frac.org/html/hunger_in_the_us/hunger_index.html

Resources on this Website


Other Useful Pages



A nice variety of audio resources, which are sure to liven up a class and are excellent for starting discussions and debates.

International Debate Education association with teacher resources, debate subjects and lesson plans.

Mission Critical
Introduction to critical thinking and argumentative writing.

Debate Topics
Lots of topics, although some are very US centric.