Persuasion essays are another common type of academic writing. This page gives information on what a persuasion essay is and types of support to use for this type of essay. There is also an example persuasion essay on the topic of human activity.
What are persuasion essays?
Persuasion essays are similar to discussion essays in that you will present your arguments on a topic. However, instead of presenting a balanced view considering both sides, a persuasion essay will focus on one side. To persuade means to convince someone that a particular opinion is the correct one, and so your task when writing a persuasion essay is to convince the reader that your view of the situation is correct. This does not mean you will not consider the other side; indeed, doing so, via counter-arguments, is an important step in strengthening your own argument.
Below are examples of persuasion essay titles.
Types of support
Most of the types of support used for a persuasion essay are similar to other essay types, such as using facts, reasons, examples and statistics. If it is a longer (researched) essay, then using evidence from sources, with appropriate citations, will also be essential. There are, however, two types of support which are particularly useful for this type of essay, namely predicting the consequences and counter-arguments. These are considered in more detail below.
Predicting the consequence
Predicting the consequence helps the reader understand what will happen if something does or does not happen. This type of support will therefore usually be introduced with 'If...'. For example, to convince your readers that same-sex schools are disadvantageous, you might say, 'If students do not go to mixed schools, they will lose many opportunities to interact with members of the opposite sex, which may hurt them in their development of important social skills'. Avoid exaggerating the consequences. For instance, telling the reader, 'If students do not go to mixed schools, they will be shy and will not be able to talk to members of the opposite sex' exaggerates the consequences of going to single-sex schools and will make your argument less persuasive.
Counter-arguments consider the opposition's point-of-view, then present arguments against it ('to be counter to' means 'to be against'). Showing that you are aware of other arguments will strengthen your own. This is often the most difficult type of support, as you need to think who the opposition is, consider their view, and think of a good response. Counter-arguments are often presented first in a paragraph. Useful language for this type of support are phrases such as 'Opponents claim that... However...', or transition signals such as 'Although...'. The following are examples of counter-arguments for an essay on same-sex schools. Language for counter-arguments is shown in bold.
Below is an example persuasion essay. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary, as these repeat the arguments contained in the main body.
Title: Consider whether human activity has made the world a better place.
History shows that human beings have come a long way from where they started. They have developed new technologies which means that everybody can enjoy luxuries they never previously imagined. However, the technologies that are temporarily making this world a better place to live could well prove to be an ultimate disaster due to, among other things, the creation of nuclear weapons, increasing pollution, and loss of animal species.
The biggest threat to the earth caused by modern human activity comes from the creation of nuclear weapons. Although it cannot be denied that countries have to defend themselves, the kind of weapons that some of them currently possess are far in excess of what is needed for defence.If these weapons were used, they could lead to the destruction of the entire planet.
Another harm caused by human activity to this earth is pollution. People have become reliant on modern technology, which can have adverse effects on the environment. For example, reliance on cars causes air and noise pollution. Even seemingly innocent devices, such as computers and mobile phones, use electricity, most of which is produced from coal-burning power stations, which further adds to environmental pollution. If we do not curb our direct and indirect use of fossil fuels, the harm to the environment may be catastrophic.
Animals are an important feature of this earth and the past decades have witnessed the extinction of a considerable number of animal species. This is the consequence of human encroachment on wildlife habitats, for example deforestation to expand human cities. Some may argue that such loss of species is natural and has occurred throughout earth's history. However, the current rate of species loss far exceeds normal levels, and is threatening to become a mass extinction event.
In summary, there is no doubt that current human activities such as the creation of nuclear weapons, pollution, and destruction of wildlife, are harmful to the earth. It is important for us to see not only the short-term effects of our actions, but their long-term effects as well. Otherwise, human activities will be just another step towards destruction.
Below is a checklist for the main body of an essay. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.
- Describe and then refute the key points of the opposing view.
- Restate and reinforce the thesis and supporting evidence.
2. Drafting the Persuasive Essay
When writing the initial draft of a persuasive essay, consider the following suggestions:
- The introductory paragraph should have a strong “hook” that grabs the reader’s attention. Open with an unusual fact or statistic, a question or quotation, or an emphatic statement. For example: “Driving while talking on a cell phone, even hands-free, is the equivalent of driving drunk.”
- The thesis statement should leave no doubts about the writer’s position.
- Each body paragraph should cover a separate point, and the sentences of each paragraph should offer strong evidence in the form of facts, statistics, quotes from experts, and real-life examples.
The Secret to Good Paragraph Writing
- Consider various ways to make the argument, including using an analogy, drawing comparisons, or illustrating with hypothetical situation (e.g., what if, suppose that…).
- Don’t assume the audience has in-depth knowledge of the issue. Define terms and give background information.
- The concluding paragraph should summarize the most important evidence and encourage the reader to adopt the position or take action. The closing sentence can be a dramatic plea, a prediction that implies urgent action is needed, a question that provokes readers to think seriously about the issue, or a recommendation that gives readers specific ideas on what they can do.
3. Revising the Persuasive Essay
In the revision phase, students review, modify, and reorganize their work with the goal of making it the best it can be. Keep these considerations in mind:
- Does the essay present a firm position on the issue, supported by relevant facts, statistics, quotes, and examples?
- Does the essay open with an effective “hook” that intrigues readers and keeps them reading?
- Does each paragraph offer compelling evidence focused on a single supporting point?
- Is the opposing point of view presented and convincingly refuted?
- Is the sentence structure varied? Is the word choice precise? Do the transitions between sentences and paragraphs help the reader’s understanding?
- Does the concluding paragraph convey the value of the writer’s position and urge the reader to think and act?
If the essay is still missing the mark, take another look the thesis. Does it present the strongest argument? Test it by writing a thesis statement for the opposing viewpoint. In comparison, does the original thesis need strengthening? Once the thesis presents a well-built argument with a clear adversarial viewpoint, the rest of the essay should fall into place more easily.
4. Editing the Persuasive Essay
Next, proofread and correct errors in grammar and mechanics, and edit to improve style and clarity. Having a friend read the essay helps writers edit with a fresh perspective.
5. Publishing the Persuasive Essay
Sharing a persuasive essay with the rest of the class or with family and friends can be both exciting and intimidating. Learn from the experience and use the feedback to make the next essay even better.
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