As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 70,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed. Free 5-day trial Myrtle is a teenager whose parents have set a curfew for her, but she wants to stay out longer. She thinks that she might be able to convince her parents to extend her curfew if she makes a sound argument. To make her case, she's decided to write them a letter. An argumentative essay is a writing piece meant to persuade someone to think the way you do. Though it's usually organized as an essay, Myrtle's letter to her parents is also a type of argumentative writing. To help Myrtle write her essay, let's take a closer look at the elements and format of an argumentative essay. Myrtle wants to convince her parents to give her a later curfew, and she's going to write an argumentative essay to do that. What information does she need to include in her essay? There are some specific elements that are needed in an argumentative essay. The first and most important element in a persuasive essay is the position, or what side the author is on. For example, Myrtle's position is that her curfew should be later. The position is not all that Myrtle needs to include in her essay. In fact, if all she does is state her position, it won't be very convincing. All her letter would say is, 'I think you should let me stay out later.' Her parents would just shrug and say, 'We disagree.' In order to convince her parents, then, Myrtle also needs to include reasons, or why the author believes the way he or she does. For example, Myrtle could support her position by offering reasons like the fact that she's responsible, she's older than she used to be, and that a later curfew will allow her to study at the library for longer. By offering these reasons, Myrtle has made her letter more convincing. She can take this even further, however, by supporting her reasons with evidence, or facts and data that support reasons. For example, remember that one of Myrtle's reasons is that a later curfew will allow her to study at the library for longer. Maybe she has scientific articles that show that studying at the library is more effective than studying at home. Or perhaps she has data showing that kids with later curfews spend more time in the library. Both of those pieces of evidence could support her reason. Of course, to be truly effective, Myrtle will want to include the source of her evidence. After all, if she just made it up, it's not really evidence. Further, the source of some evidence can be questionable. Imagine that she has an article about how kids with later curfews spend more time at the library, but it was written by someone who, like Myrtle, is trying to convince his parents to let him stay out later. In this case, the article might not be completely accurate and true. If all Myrtle includes in her essay is her position, reasons, and evidence, she could make a pretty convincing case. But the best essays also include counterarguments, sometimes shortened to counters, which are reasons why the other side's arguments are not correct. For example, let's say that one thing that Myrtle's parents say to her consistently is that teenagers need sleep. She knows this is one reason why her parents don't want to extend her curfew. In her essay, she can address this and provide a counter. For example, she could write something like, 'You believe that extending my curfew will mean I get less sleep. But I stay up late already, and just because I'm home early doesn't mean that I'll go to bed early.' Myrtle's reasons and evidence support her side. By providing counters, too, Myrtle is defeating arguments from the other side, which makes her essay even more convincing. Argumentative essays can be organized in many different ways, but one common format for persuasive writing is the five paragraph essay, which includes an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Okay, Myrtle understands the things that she needs to include in her letter to her parents. In the introduction, which is the first paragraph of the essay, Myrtle will want to explain the issue and state her position. For example, she'll mention that staying out late is an issue that is important to many people. She'll state that she believes that her curfew should be later. In some essays, the introduction should also include background information. For example, in an essay about taxing sugary soda drinks, background information might include information on the growing number of people purchasing sodas, and the growing obesity epidemic. Essentially anything that needs to be understood before reading the rest of the essay is background information, and should be included in the introduction. After the introduction, Myrtle will want to write three paragraphs that, collectively, will make up the body of the essay. In each paragraph, she'll want to focus on one reason or counter, and include evidence to support it. For example, she might want to write one paragraph on the idea that she could study at the library for longer, another paragraph on how she's older and more responsible than she used to be, and therefore deserves a later curfew, and another paragraph on the counter that an earlier curfew does not mean that she'll get more sleep. Finally, Myrtle will end her essay with a conclusion, which will include a restatement of her position and a brief summary of her reasons and counters. An argumentative essay is a persuasive writing piece. It includes several elements: the position, or what side the author is on; reasons, or why the author believes the way he does; evidence, or facts and data that support reasons; and counterarguments, sometimes shortened to counters, which are reasons why the other side's arguments are not correct. Argumentative essays are organized in many different ways, but one popular format is the five paragraph essay, which includes an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction includes an explanation of the issue, background information, and the author's position. Each body paragraph focuses on one reason or counter and provides evidence to support it. Finally, the conclusion includes a restatement of the position and a brief summary of the reasons and counters. We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. 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