When you think of an argumentative essay, it can be easy to assume that you simply rant and rave on a given topic for long enough to convince your readers of your point. However, argumentative essays are highly structured pieces that should proceed as follows in order to most effectively make any argument you care to make.
Argumentative essays typically take the form of the five-paragraph essay. You may remember this from elementary school, but it’s an effective technique throughout your life. In the first paragraph, you must set up the situation. A clear, direct thesis statement must be in the first paragraph to give your readers an idea of the point you are trying to make. Think of the first paragraph of an argumentative essay as “telling your audience what you are about to tell them.”
The following three paragraphs are filled with evidence. Each separate paragraph should focus on a single piece of evidence that helps support your initial argument. Be sure to find ways to relate this evidence back to the thesis statement from the first paragraph, and try to synthesize the multiple pieces of evidence you have. It’s worth noting that evidence can come in four forms: factual, logical, statistical, and anecdotal. You can always add more body paragraphs if you have more evidence to support your thesis, but be sure not to ramble. These body paragraphs can be thought of as the process of “telling your audience.”
The final paragraph or the conclusion paragraph wraps up all of your previous points and ties them back together with the initial thesis. Here, you can synthesize further to restate your thesis as having been supported by the preceding evidence. This is where you “tell you audience what you just told them.”
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