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Writing to argue

Writing to argue

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Tutor: Esinam

Summary

Writing to argue

In a nutshell

Writing to argue is presenting a written debate on the points for and against an issue. This summary will explore how to construct a balanced argument by presenting a clear viewpoint supported by facts and evidence.



Structuring an argument

To present your argument in a way the reader can follow, it is important that you think about the points you want to raise and plan them out before you start writing. Start with a list of views both for and against the topic, and pair up each point for with a corresponding point against to create a balanced argument. Your tone should be well-reasoned and rational. 


Start your piece of writing with a clear opening paragraph that explains what the argument is about and where you stand on it. In the first few lines, you should include something to 'hook' the reader, such as a rhetorical question. Using connectives can help you flow smoothly from your argument into presenting an alternative view.


Example

Below is an example of an opening paragraph for a piece of writing to argue that more students should walk or cycle to school.


"It is a widely known fact that millions of parents across the UK drive their kids to school everyday. But what if I told you that by doing this, these parents are doing more harm than good to the world their children live in? Although some may argue that driving is quicker and more convenient, walking or cycling rather than driving to school if you can will help reduce our contribution to air pollution and can also improve both mental and physical health."



Be logical

The body of your argument should be made up of a series of structured paragraphs that argue for or against the topic. Using connectives can help give structure to your argument by linking different viewpoints logically. 


Examples
  • But
  • However
  • Although
  • Despite
  • Likewise
  • Alternatively
  • Otherwise
  • Consequently

Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence which sets out the main statement or point of your paragraph. This is then followed by evidence that supports your claim. After you have provided your evidence, you should explain how and why it demonstrates your point and then use a connective to present an alternative viewpoint. 


The paragraph should end with your counter argument that aims to discredit the alternative viewpoint. For each alternative point you must offer your counter argument. This will demonstrate that you understand the other side of the argument but still strongly believe that your viewpoint is correct. 



Features of writing to argue

The acronym REPEATER is a mnemonic device which you can use to remember the features of writing to argue. 

R

Repetition

E

Evidence

P

Personal pronouns

E

Emotive language

A

Anecdotes

T

The rule of three

E

Exaggeration 

R

Rhetorical questions


Repetition

Repeat a word or phrase at least twice to draw attention to it and emphasise it as important.


Evidence

Including statistics and facts to support your point can act as a tool to convince your reader of your point of view.


Example

If you were asked to write to argue that footballers get paid too much, here is a supportive statistic you could use:

"Most footballers earn more in a year than what 100% of doctors will earn across their entire medical career."


Personal pronouns

Using first and second person pronouns like 'I', 'me', 'you', 'we' and 'our' allows you to address the reader directly. It can also cause the reader to engage very closely with your writing as you are directly addressing them.


Emotive language

Using emotive language can make your reader have strong feelings about the topic you are discussing. Words like 'happiness' and 'good health' will evoke positive emotions and words like 'pollution', 'illness' and 'poverty' will evoke negative emotions. However, you need to be subtle with your use of emotive language to ensure your argument remains balanced.


Anecdotes

Anecdotes are short stories about a real life situation that you can share to make your audience feel they know you and to back up your viewpoint.


Example

If you were asked to write to argue that schools should provide free breakfast to all students, here is an anecdote you could use:

"When I was younger, my mum would always emphasise the importance of eating breakfast as it was the most important meal of the day."

The rule of three

This is usually three phrases or describing words that are used to emphasise a point.


Example

If you were asked to write to argue against animal testing, here is a list of three you could use:

"It is unfair, unethical and barbaric to test cosmetic products on animals.


Exaggeration

Exaggeration is an important tool you can use when writing to argue. By using language that emphasises your viewpoint, it can make your argument sound more convincing and evoke strong emotions in your reader.


Tip: Be mindful when using exaggerative language as you do not want to present a biased argument.


Rhetorical Questions

These questions do not need an answer but make your reader stop and think. It is important to include rhetorical questions to back up your argument as they make your reader ponder on the points you have made. 


Conclusion

Bring your argument to a close with a strong conclusion that briefly summarises the strongest point from each side of the argument, before reiterating your viewpoint as the best one to follow. 


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Exercises

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the rule of three?

Why should you use counter arguments?

How do I write to argue?

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