An argument is frequently imagined as two or more
people in a fist fight or shouting match.
Boxing matches are
clear-cut: there are two
opponents and one
always has to win.
The winner takes the
trophy and fame while
the loser squirms in a
corner with a nosebleed.
Picture: Muhammed Ali punching his opponent in a 1960s boxing match.
But in the writing world, arguments have
more to do with a person’s head than with
his or her fists.
When you write an argument, you have to think clearly.
You cannot get mad at the reader and you cannot think the
reader is mad at you.
Your reader is neither your enemy nor your friend.
He or she is a stranger that you do not know.
However, you should do the following when
writing an argument:
1. Apologize for your views: “why Example: “I may not be an expert,
would you punch yourself in the but I think that spanking children is
face?” sort of bad.”
2. Say your view is right and the Example: “There’s no question that
reader’s view is wrong: it’s not a spanking is a horrible way to abuse
winning and losing game children. Anyone who thinks
otherwise is out of their mind.”
3. Insult your reader: “no fighting Example: “Parents who spank
below the belt” please! their kids are a bunch of violent
What you need to consider when
Writing an Argument
Why are you writing this Who are you writing to
argument? and why do you think
they should care?
One of the most annoying If you knew you were right in an
situations is having argument, who would you yell at?
someone pick a fight with
you for no reason. a. Your spouse
b. Your boss
c. A judge
d. A police officer
Strategies for Arguments
1. Use tactful, 2. Point out
courteous language Common Ground
3. Acknowledge 4. Grant merits of
differing viewpoints differing views
5. Rebut differing
USE COURTEOUS, TACTFUL LANGUAGE
1. Stay away from sweeping “People with any intelligence agree that…”
“Everybody knows that…”
Be nice Not a witch!
2. Don’t label people who “My opponents say that orphanages
think differently than you cost less than foster care.”
POINT OUT COMMON GROUND
Find points on which people
on all sides of the argument
can agree on.
What opinions do you think you
and your readers, regardless of
their views, share?
What does the reader believe?
Acknowledge Differing Views:
Strengthens your position in three ways
It helps you spot flaws in the opposing
It gives the impression that you are a
reasonable person, willing to look at
the issue from all sides.
Readers will be ready to hear
what you have to say
Acknowledge opposing views either in the thesis statement, as 2-3
sentences in the intro, or in a paragraph in the body of the essay.
Grant Merits of Differing Views
What do you do when an Admit that it is a valid point, but
opposing view clearly that your view is still stronger and
makes sense? PROVE it!
Differing View: Johnson’s statement that students
Example: should be able to protest is true. No
one should take that right away from young
Your View: However, using school grounds for
protests pulls students away from receiving their
education. Protests should be done before and
Rebut Differing Views
Rebut: to show where the opposing argument
breaks down; show other side’s
A Rebuttal can Take Two Forms:
1. Mention all the points of the other side, and then mention
your counterargument to each of those points
2. Present the first point raised by the opposition and
rebut that point, them move on to the second
opposing point and rebut that, and so on.