Argument Essay: Purpose and Organization

Argument Essay

Purpose and Organization

Definition: An argument essay (sometimes called a persuasion essay) is a paper written about a controversial issue with the purpose of convincing readers to see the issue the way the writer does.  There are usually two main views regarding the issue (for or against).  Writers of this type of paper use reasons to convince readers to accept or at least consider the position they are taking.

Thesis Statement: The thesis of an argument essay includes two main parts:  The controversial issue as well as the stance the writer is taking on that issue. The thesis should indicate the definite position the writer is taking, so words like should, must, should not, or must not should be included.

Example of a Thesis Statement for an Argument Essay: The death penalty in South Carolina should be enforced.

Topic:  Death penalty in South Carolina

Stance: Should be enforced

Another Example of a Thesis Statement for an Argument Essay: On-campus daycare should be provided for the children of Piedmont Technical College students.

NOTE:  The strong, definite stance is indicated by the verb “should be.”

Example of a Three-Point Thesis Statement for an Argument Essay: Graduating high school seniors should consider attending Piedmont Technical College because of its convenient location, cost savings, and caring faculty.

NOTE:  This is called a three-point thesis because the “three points” (three reasons) used as evidence to convince readers to accept or at least consider the stance the writer is taking are previewed in the thesis.  In the actual essay, the first body paragraph would be about the convenient location of the college.  The second body paragraph would discuss the cost savings students enjoy, and the final paragraph would discuss/provide examples of the caring faculty.

Counter Argument: When you write an argument paper, your audience is not composed of people who already believe the way you do.  It is your challenge, as an effective communicator, to convince your readers to accept, or at least consider, the main point you are making.  Thus, think about the people who see the issue differently than you.  If, for example, you are writing a paper where you are trying to convince people of the need to enforce the death penalty, you need to think about the people who believe this is absolutely wrong.  Why do they think this?  What is their strongest reason against the death penalty?  In a non-confrontational, objective way, try to “counter” this argument.

ORGANIZING AN ARGUMENT ESSAY: Five-paragraph Organization

I.                    Introduction

A.      Try to capture your readers’ interest in this paragraph.  You could, for example, open with a startling fact or an interesting quote.

B.      Provide any needed background information.

C.      Include a strong thesis statement that indicates the stance you are taking on a controversial issue.

II.                Body I

A.      Begin this paragraph with a topic sentence.

i.      The topic sentence should directly support the thesis.

ii.      It should offer one “reason” why readers of your paper should accept or at least consider the stance you are taking.

III.              Body II

A.      Begin this paragraph with a topic sentence.

i.      The topic sentence should directly support the thesis.

ii.      It should offer one “reason” why readers of your paper should accept or at least consider the stance you are taking.

IV.              Body III

A.      Begin this paragraph with a topic sentence.

i.      The topic sentence should directly support the thesis.

ii.      It should offer one “reason” why readers of your paper should accept or at least consider the stance you are taking.

V.                Conclusion

A.      Bring your paper to a close.