Argument is fundamental aspect of human life. We argue with our friends, our family members, and our bosses at work. An argument does not need to be a hostile or threatening situation. In fact, writing an argumentative essay will help you to develop stronger communications skills. Learning how to write an argumentative essay can become one of the most important skills you learn.

Some argumentative essays are impassioned, filled with emotion because you strongly believe in what you are writing about. Other argumentative essays rely more strictly on research or evidence. All argumentative essays are designed to help you state your case in a clear and convincing way.

This article will help you write an argumentative essay. First, we will discuss why argumentative essays are popular assignments at all levels of school. Then, we will show you how to write an argumentative essay using standard formats and outlines. Finally, we will offer you suggestions for some good argumentative essay topics.

What is an Argumentative Essay?

In essence, an argumentative essay is about stating a position on an issue and supporting it with evidence, while considering and refuting opposing viewpoints. The goal is to convince the reader through logical reasoning and empirical evidence that the writer’s position is valid or more valid than other positions.  Argumentative essays typically consist of:

  1. Logical Structure: The arguments should be presented in a logical, coherent, and consistent manner, so that each point builds upon the previous one.  Establish a premise and show how the argument flows from it.
  2. Evidence-Based Arguments: Unlike persuasive essays, which can rely more on emotional appeals and personal opinions, argumentative essays are more about using logical reasoning and factual evidence to support the argument.
  3. Formal Style: The writing style is typically formal.  One should avoid the use of slang and conversational language, and focus instead on presenting a clear, concise, objective presentation of the arguments.
  4. Research and Citations: Argumentative essays often require research to gather relevant data from academic sources that will support the argument.  Proper citations should be used to give credit to these sources.
  5. Critical Thinking: The writer should show critical thinking skills by analyzing different perspectives, giving rebuttals, synthesizing information, and drawing well-reasoned conclusions.

Why An Argumentative Essay Is Important

The reason argumentative essays are frequently assigned in high school and university is that they prepare you to better hone your communications skills. Writing an argumentative essay helps you to frame your arguments intelligently, using facts instead of only relying only your emotions. Argumentative essays are important because they help you improve your skills in research, critical thinking, and writing.

In fact, argumentative essays are frequently assigned as early as junior high school because they are considered the most important priority in mastering communication. If you have struggled writing argumentative essays, you are not alone. Many students struggle with argumentative essays because they have yet to learn some tricks, tips, and techniques that can help them. If you need to, ask for help from a writing tutor or your instructor so that you can write the best possible argumentative essay in every class.

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay

Step 1.  First, there is no one “right” way to write an argumentative essay. Each argumentative essay should be unique, because no two arguments are the same. Even when you have a standardized essay format to work with, you will have some flexibility in how you present your case.

Step 2.  Second, the best way to write an argumentative essay is to start with what you know. If you have been asked to pick your own topic, choose something that you believe in strongly.

Step 3.  Alternatively, some students find writing an argumentative essay more enjoyable when they are encouraged to learn something new. Instead of writing about the subjects you already know about, challenge yourself to think critically about a new topic. You may be surprised how much fun it can be to present an argumentative essay about a topic you previously knew nothing about. Sometimes the best argumentative essays are about things that you just learned about through your research, because you have fewer biases or assumptions about the subject. Although you do want to be passionate about the argumentative essay subject you choose, biases and assumptions weaken your argument.

Step 4.  Finally, the best argumentative essays are based on research and evidence. When you start writing an argumentative essay, do some research online or at the library first. When you research the topic, you will strengthen your argument with logic and reason.

Argumentative Essay Format

Argumentative essays can be formatted in a number of different ways. For example, you could start with a powerful story or example that grabs your reader’s attention with a potent emotional appeal. Alternatively, you could start your argumentative essay by stating why you are personally qualified to write about the subject. You could also format your argumentative essay by leading in with facts and figures and then later showing the reader why those facts are important.

Argumentative essays are always strongest when they rely on the three primary principles of rhetoric: pathos, ethos, and logos. Pathos refers to emotions. Ethos refers to ethics and credibility. Logos refers to logic. Together, these three are the most important aspects of an argumentative essay. In your argumentative essay, it is best to use all three of these methods of rhetorical persuasion.

The overall format of the argumentative essay will vary depend on your instructor’s preferences and the subject area. Although most argumentative essays will be formatted similarly to an essay or a term paper in that they have an introduction, body, and conclusion, the most important thing is to stay focused on your topic, and use pathos, ethos, and logos together throughout the argumentative essay.

Pathos / Ethos / Logos

Importance of Pathos (Emotion) in an Argumentative Essay

Pathos refers to emotions. Most good argumentative essays contain some appeal to emotions. Human beings are driven by their emotions, which is why even the most logical appeal should ultimately be grounded in some kind of real feeling. Using emotional appeals strengthens your argumentative essay, but be careful: do not overuse pathos in your argumentative essays.

Too much pathos makes for a weaker argumentative essay than one that also includes the other two principles of rhetorical reasoning: logos and ethos. Each argumentative essay will have a different balance between pathos, ethos, and logos. When Dr. Martin Luther King wrote his Letter from Birmingham Jail, he used strong emotional appeals to argue against segregation and other racist policies. However, King also used facts (logos) and ethical appeals to substantiate his own credibility as a leader (ethos).

Importance of Ethos (Ethical Credibility) in an Argumentative Essay

The concept of ethos is one that some students have trouble grasping. It is important to develop a stronger understanding of what ethos is and how to use it in an argumentative essay. Your instructors expect you to use ethos throughout your argumentative essay because without it, your position could seem weak.

Ethos is not just about ethics, even though the words share the same root. When we refer to ethos in an argumentative essay, we are talking more about the credibility of the writer’s position. If you are a student, you will lack substantial credibility on many academic topics. There may be some subject areas you are qualified to discuss, particularly when you have personal experience. Therefore, if you are permitted or encouraged to share a personal anecdote or story to bolster your argumentative essay, do so.

Most academic argumentative essays are written in the third person, which means you are not supposed to use the first person point of view. If you do not write about your own personal experience, how will you include ethos into your argumentative essay? Simple. Just do what the pros do and conduct research.

To include ethos in your argumentative essay, find credible sources such as articles published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. The articles you find online may lack the kind of ethical or professional credibility that your professors expect from your argumentative essay. However, there are many online resources that do have credibility, such as government websites or the websites of professional organizations.

It is also important to distinguish ethos from logos. An ethical argument is inherently logical, but its internal logic still needs to be based on external, concrete facts and evidence. That evidence is logos.

Importance of Logos (Logic and Fact) in an Argumentative Essay

No argumentative essay can be credible without some appeal to logic or evidence. Evidence may include statistics, scientific research, or references to primary source material. In an argumentative essay, you want to use facts, evidence, and logic to back up your essential claim. Avoid getting bogged down by facts and logic, which could turn a good argumentative essay into just a research paper or term paper. An argumentative essay needs to be persuasive, convincing, and impassioned as well as logical and reasonable.

When you conduct the research for your argumentative essay, you will naturally be gathering the facts that back up your claims. You will also make sure that your facts come from credible sources, which is why ethos and logos do go hand in hand. For example, if you cite statistics that you found on someone’s blog, those statistics make logical sense and seem like facts, but they lack credibility. If you find statistics on the website of the United States Department of Labor, on the other hand, then you have both logos (fact) plus ethos (credibility).

argumentative essay topics

56 Argumentative Essay Topics

Now that you understand the basic concept of an argumentative essay, you can begin by coming up with an interesting topic. If you have been asked to pick your own topic for an argumentative essay and do not know where to begin, here are a few examples to get you started. You can also work with a writing tutor or your professor to narrow down your topic.

Based on what you now know about pathos, ethos, and logos, you want your argumentative essay topic to be about something that has some emotional appeal, and which also has sufficient credible evidence to back up your claims.

For example, let’s say you want to write an argumentative essay about tree frogs in the Amazonian rainforest. Although tree frogs in the Amazonian rainforest are interesting creatures, and you can find sufficient scientific data about them, you will find it difficult transform the topic into a viable argument unless you inject some pathos, or emotion, into the argumentative essay.

Therefore, you would want to argue that cutting down the Amazonian rainforest is a bad idea because it kills tree frogs. You can argue your case using pathos, ethos, and logos by appealing to your reader’s sense of sympathy or anger related to the causes and effects of rainforest destruction.

Here are several more argumentative essay topics you can work with, including a sample thesis statement for each one:

Good Topics

  1. What is the Ideal Health Care System for America:  The single-payer model works well in most other industrialized nations, and there is no reason why the United States should not also adopt the single-payer model for ethical, financial, and political reasons.
  2. Should Cannabis be Legal at the Federal Level:  Cannabis should be legal at the federal level because it has been proven safer than alcohol, because it would liberate valuable criminal justice resources, and because it would weaken organized crime syndicates.
  3. Should Affirmative Action be Banned:  Bias and prejudice are often unconscious processes or phenomena, which is why affirmative action is still needed to ensure a more equitable and just society.
  4. Should the Death Penalty be Abolished:  The death penalty should be abolished because there is too much likelihood that innocent people might be sentenced to death.
  5. Should the United States Continue to Promote Democratic Forms of Government in Foreign Countries:  As tempting as it might be to assume democracy is the ideal form of government everywhere, it is profoundly arrogant as well as unfeasible and dangerous to impose any form of government on any society.
  6. Should There be a Constitutional Amendment Guaranteeing Equal Pay Regardless of Gender:  Because gender pay inequity continues to exist, the only way to remedy the situation is through top-down legislation and enforcement of a Constitutional Amendment for equal rights for women.
  7. Should Women be Allowed in all Combat Positions:  There is no concrete evidence to suggest that women would in any way hamper the effectiveness of the armed forces, which is why anyone who is capable and competent should be allowed to serve in combat roles.
  8. The Role of Renewable Energy in Combating Climate Change: Transitioning to renewable energy sources is essential for combating climate change, and governments worldwide should invest more in renewable energy technologies to ensure a sustainable future and mitigate the adverse effects of global warming.

Unique Topics

  1. The Influence of Virtual Reality on Human Perception: Virtual Reality technology significantly alters human perception and interaction, potentially reshaping our understanding of reality.
  2. The Cultural Significance of Memes in Modern Society: Memes are not just humorous images; they also shape and reflect how we think about society.
  3. The Future of Space Colonization: Space colonization represents the next step in human progress for some, but the reality of space exploration is a pipe dream.
  4. The Philosophical Implications of Quantum Physics: Quantum physics challenges traditional notions of reality and existence and could have serious philosophical implications.
  5. What were the Primary Causes of the Reformation:  The primary causes of the Reformation included increased rates of literacy throughout Europe, combined with weakening authority of the Church.
  6. Is Oedipus a Tragic Hero:  Oedipus is a classical tragic hero who exhibits the quality of hubris, being blind to his own folly.
  7. Is Psychology a Science or Pseudoscience:  Although the scientific method does underpin a lot of psychological research, ultimately, the study of psychology is not a real science because it is impossible to accurately measure the subjective dimensions of the human experience.
  8. Who Had a Greater Influence on European Art in General: Caravaggio or Picasso:  Although both Caravaggio and Picasso were tremendously influential in their own times, Picasso’s radical deconstruction of form was far more important than Caravaggio’s use of chiaroscuro.

Easy Topics

  1. The Benefits of School Uniforms: School uniforms promote discipline and reduce distractions; they help to establish a more focused educational environment.
  2. The Importance of Recycling: Recycling is a simple yet effective way to contribute to environmental sustainability and should be practiced by everyone.
  3. The Impact of Daily Exercise on Mental Health: Regular physical activity improves mental health by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  4. The Role of Pets in Reducing Stress: Keeping pets can help alleviate stress and improve one’s overall emotional well-being.
  5. Do You Agree that the Drinking Age Should be Lowered to 18:  The drinking age should not be lowered to 18 because it would lead to increased rates of drunk driving incidents, and might also cause more young people to drop out of school or college.
  6. Should Puppy Mills be Banned:  Puppy mills are unethical and should be banned because there are already too many dogs that are being euthanized in shelters, and buying a purebred dog is completely unnecessary.
  7. Should Cell Phones be Allowed in Schools:  Although using a cell phone while in class should not be allowed, it is unfeasible and unreasonable to ban their use in schools.
  8. Does Social Media Cause Bullying:  Social media is a tool that bullies use, but social media itself does not cause bullying.

High School Topics

  1. The Influence of Social Media on Teen Self-Esteem: Social media platforms can negatively impact the self-esteem of teenagers by promoting unrealistic standards of beauty and success.
  2. The Necessity of Learning a Second Language: Learning a second language in high school can improve one’s chances of getting a good job in a globalized society.
  3. The Impact of Video Games on Cognitive Skills: Video games can positively affect cognitive skills, including problem-solving and spatial awareness—but they can also be tremendous time wasters.
  4. The Importance of Historical Education: Understanding history is important because of the lessons it gives on human nature.
  5. What is the Best Leadership Style and Why:  The best leadership style is transformative leadership because it empowers people to be the best version of themselves.
  6. All Companies Should Be Required to Offer One Year of Paid Paternity and Maternity Leave for All Full-Time Employees:  Paid paternity and maternity leave would ultimately benefit individual companies and the economy, by creating a more satisfied workforce and stable labor market.
  7. Should Bullies be Forced to Receive Therapy:  Bullying is problematic and violent behavior that should be taken seriously as a major risk factor, which is why bullies should be forced to attend therapy sessions or support groups.
  8. What were the Main Causes of the Civil War:  The Civil War was caused primarily by the fact that the United States had condoned the practice of slavery for too long, enabling slavery to become entrenched in the identity and economy of the Southern states.

College Topics

  1. The Role of Cryptocurrency in the Global Economy: Cryptocurrencies have the potential to revolutionize the global financial system, offering greater efficiency and decentralization.
  2. The Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles: Autonomous vehicles, while promising to reduce accidents, raise complex ethical dilemmas in decision-making algorithms.
  3. The Impact of Social Movements on Legislative Changes: Social movements play a critical role in driving legislative changes and advancing civil rights.
  4. The Future of Renewable Energy Technologies: The development and implementation of renewable energy technologies are essential for sustainable global development.
  5. The Impact of Universal Basic Income on Economic Stability: Some say Universal Basic Income could be a viable solution to reduce poverty and economic inequality, but it is actually a slippery slope to national and economic ruin.
  6. The Ethics of Genetic Engineering in Humans: Genetic engineering raises serious ethical concerns regarding eugenics and the alteration of human nature.
  7. The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Modern Warfare: The integration of AI in military operations poses grave security risks that must be addressed.
  8. Climate Change and Global Policy: Climate change is something Al Gore really cares a lot about—which means something else entirely is going on with global policy as it pertains to the issue.

Middle School Topics

  1. The Importance of Mentoring for Youth Development: Mentors are great helps for teens as they develop into young adults.
  2. The Benefits of Reading for Pleasure: Regular reading for pleasure can improve vocabulary, comprehension skills, and creativity among middle school students.
  3. The Role of Technology in Education: Technology can improve the learning experience and engagement of middle school students.
  4. The Best Pet to Own:  Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend, but the best pet to own is actually a goldfish.
  5. School Sports Should be Mandatory in Middle School:  Sports build character and are a good way for students to stay in shape.
  6. The Importance of Learning About Environmental Conservation: Understanding environmental conservation can raise awareness and responsibility about what it takes to care for our planet.
  7. The Impact of Homework on Student Learning:  Too much homework can negatively impact the learning and well-being of middle school students.
  8. The Role of Technology in Personal Development for Young Students:  Too much technology can hinder personal development and the development social skills in middle school students.

Controversial Topics

  1. The Debate Over Gun Control Laws in the United States: Stricter gun control laws will not reduce gun violence or increase public safety in the United States.
  2. The Legitimacy of Capital Punishment: Capital punishment is an inhumane and ineffective form of justice and should be abolished worldwide.
  3. The Ethics of Animal Testing in Medical Research: Animal testing may be beneficial for medical research, but it raises serious ethical concerns about animal rights and welfare.
  4. The Impact of Globalization on Local Cultures: Globalization causes the erosion of local cultures, customs, and identities.
  5. Should More Presidents be Impeached:  Although there have been bad presidents, impeaching them would be a bad idea because it could lead to widespread economic, social, and political instability.
  6. The Ethics of Zoos and Animal Captivity:  Zoos should do more to address ethical concerns regarding animal rights and the morality of keeping wild animals in captivity.
  7. Mandatory Vaccinations for Public Health:  Mandatory vaccinations are a violation of one’s bodily rights:  i.e., my body, my choice.
  8. The Influence of Media on Public Opinion and Democracy: The media’s influence on public opinion poses a threat to the integrity of democracy, as biased or false reporting can manipulate public perception and undermine informed decision-making.

Argumentative Essay Outline

After you narrow down your topic, it is time to outline your argumentative essay. An outline helps you to organize your thoughts, which helps you make a better argumentative essay. You can use the following simple template of an argumentative essay outline.

I.  Introduction

A.  Hook

B.  Leading statements

C.  Thesis/Main Argument

II. Body Section 1

A.  Topic sentence

B.  Developing ideas with pathos, ethos, logos.

III. Body Section II

A.  Topic sentence

B.  Developing ideas with pathos, ethos, logos.

IV. Body Section III

A.  Topic sentence related to a counter-argument

B.  Refuting the counterargument using pathos, ethos, and logos

V.  Conclusion

A.  Restate your core argument.

B.  Make suggestions for taking action.

Or, here is another, more detailed template to follow when creating your argumentative essay outline.

1. Thesis Statement: This is a clear, strong, and assertive statement that expresses your position on the topic. It serves as the backbone of the essay, guiding the arguments and evidence presented.

2.  Introduction: This section introduces the topic and provides background information. It ends with the thesis statement.

3.  Body Paragraphs: Each paragraph discusses a specific point or piece of evidence that supports the thesis. These paragraphs include:

  • Topic Sentence: Introduces the main idea of the paragraph.
  • Evidence: Facts, statistics, quotes, or real-life examples that support the point being made.
  • Analysis: Explains how the evidence supports the thesis and the argument being made.

4.  Counterarguments: A strong argumentative section should be included following your main body paragraphs.  It should focus on acknowledging opposing views and give counterarguments to refute them. This demonstrates your understanding of the complexity of the issue and enhances the credibility of their argument.

5.  Conclusion: This section restates the thesis and summarizes the main points of the essay. It may also include a call to action or a broader statement about the implications of the argument.

Argumentative Essay Outline Example

I.  Climate change is a serious threat to global politics, economics, and human societies worldwide. The time has come to stop pandering to those who either disbelieve that global warming exists, or to those who spend all their time focused only on the causes of climate change. We need to start thinking of solutions.

a.  Thesis: To mitigate the effects of climate change, the United States should ban the internal combustion engine by 2040, just as China has also promised to do.

II.  American scientists are already working on new transportation technologies to replace the internal combustion engine, including but not limited to electric cars.

III.  It is feasible to invest more heavily in public transportation infrastructure, which would boost the economy.

IV.  Although many people say that the economy would collapse without the internal combustion engine, examples from history as well as modeling of future economics data shows that innovation in alternative fuels will be more profitable than the current trajectory of continuing reliance on cars.

V.  The United States can and should ban the internal combustion engine by 2040, and become the global leader in revolutionary new transportation technologies and infrastructures.

argumentative essay examples

Argumentative Essay Examples

Example #1

The Necessity of Renewable Energy

The urgent need to address climate change has never been more apparent, and a significant part of the solution lies in the adoption of renewable energy sources. Fossil fuels have been traditional backbone of energy production—but they are one of the primary contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, we all need to transition to renewable energy as fast as we can.

Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydro power offer sustainable alternatives that drastically reduce carbon emissions. Unlike fossil fuels, they provide a virtually inexhaustible supply of energy because they harness natural processes. Solar panels and wind turbines convert the sun’s energy and wind into electricity without releasing harmful pollutants. This transition not only combats climate change but also reduces air pollution, improving public health outcomes.

Critics often argue that renewable energy is not sufficiently reliable or affordable. However, technological advancements have increased the efficiency and reduced the cost of renewable energy systems. The price of solar panels has gone down in the past decade.  This means solar energy is increasingly competitive with traditional energy sources. Plus, innovations in energy storage and grid management are addressing the issue of intermittency.

In conclusion, the shift towards renewable energy is a much-needed step in combating climate change. It offers a sustainable, economically viable, and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels. Governments, businesses, and individuals all need to collaborate to support the development and integration of renewable energy, ensuring a healthier planet for future generations.

Example #2

The Impact of Social Media on Youth Mental Health

Social media has changed the way we communicate and interact, but its impact on youth mental health is a big source of concern.  Social media gives us a platform for social connection and information sharing, but the fact is that excessive use of social media has been linked to negative mental health outcomes among young people, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and isolation.

The curated nature of social media content often presents an unrealistic standard of living and beauty, which can cause feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth among teens. Constant exposure to the highlight reels of others’ lives can give them in a distorted perception of reality, where one’s own life seems boring, inferior or inadequate in comparison. Anxiety and depression follow.

What’s more is the fact that the addictive design of social media platforms, with their endless feeds and notifications, encourages prolonged use and can lead to social media dependency. This addiction displaces time that could be spent on more meaningful offline activities and it can disrupt one’s life balance.

Critics argue that social media can be a positive tool for self-expression and community building among youth. This may be true if it is used responsibly by adults, but the potential risks for immature teens cannot be overlooked. It is essential that parents, educators, and policymakers devise strategies to address these risks. This could involve promoting digital literacy, encouraging healthy online habits, monitoring social media screen time, and providing resources for mental health support.

In conclusion, social media has its benefits, but its impact on the mental health of young users requires from us a cautious and balanced approach to its usage. It is important to create an environment where social media is used responsibly and does not negatively impact the mental well-being of our youth.

Citing Sources in an Argumentative Essay

Before you turn in your argumentative essay, be sure you avoid plagiarism by citing all your sources. In fact, your argumentative essay will look a lot more sophisticated and impressive if you use in-text citations or footnotes and have a strong bibliography than if you fail to refer to any credible sources at all. Remember pathos, ethos, and logos: citing your sources ensures you include ethos as well as pathos.

Conclusion

Writing a good argumentative essay is one of the most important communications tasks you can learn. If you are struggling with writing an argumentative essay, do not be afraid to ask for help now. It is better to seek help with an argumentative essay than to succumb to stress and anxiety, or worse, to procrastinate until you fail to meet your deadline.

Remember that writing an argumentative essay is much different from writing a research paper or a term paper. You do need to be passionate and emotional, but back up what you are saying with real facts from credible sources and not “fake news.” Use pathos, ethos, and logos. Appeal to emotion, but do not get so wrapped up in your feelings that you forget to rely on facts. At the same time, do not make the mistake of regurgitating what other people say about the topic without putting your own opinion into it.

Finally, an argumentative essay can be about anything from art and literature to politics or science. You will have argumentative essay assignments in almost any class you take. If you have been assigned a specific topic that you know nothing about, start slowly and learn all you can before you write an argumentative essay. You will enjoy the process much more if you relax, keep it simple, and follow simple steps for creating the best argumentative essay possible.