Argumentative Essay for Standard (non-WISE) English 106


My dear English 106 Students,

I wanted to reflect upon what I said today in class, give you some websites to help you with the argumentative essay, and remind you that I will be in my office from 8:30 a.m.  until 1:30 p.m. for private conferences with my students.  Please stop by if you want some extra help!

The argumentative essay is difficult because you have to anticipate the arguments against you as you write your paper.  Make sure you do the following:

Have a SPECIFIC argument (thesis) in mind.

Make sure your argument is very specific.  You can’t solve the world’s problems in a 3-5 page essay, and the more specific you are, the easier it will be to fill up pages.  Don’t go for huge arguments (i.e. we should reinstitute the draft).  FOCUS down to one specific aspect of the argument (i.e. we should reinstitute the draft in order to deal with the high youth unemployment rate).  Limiting your topic will help you more carefully control the argument.  (Remember my “big dogs -vs-small dogs” argument!)

Have a SPECIFIC audience in mind.

Try to write your argument to a specific person or a specific group of people.  You can even make your argumentative essay into a letter, if you wish.

No matter how big or small your argument is, the more specific your audience, the better chance you have of making an effective argument.  (If you audience is VERY specific, please add a cover page to your paper, explaining who you are writing to so that Dr. K can follow).

You will do better anticipating arguments against your argument if you have a clear audience in mind!

Clearly DEFINE your terms.

Don’t leave anything to chance!  Look for broad general words like “big,” “small,” “old,” “angry,” etc.  Make sure that you DEFINE what these are!  The better you control the definitions, the better you control the argument.


No fact means ANYTHING without context.  Make sure you

  • introduce where you got the fact,
  • give the fact,
  • then EXPLAIN the significance of the fact and how it supports your argument.

Never leave a fact to speak for itself because it can work against you!

Watch out for Logical errors!

There is a whole branch of philosophy dedicated to this area, so I can’t cover it completely, but here is a video about what you SHOULD NOT DO when writing Dr. K’s paper (although it might work really well with your roommates).


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