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The Persuasive Essay. What is a Persuasive Essay?. In an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Marie writes a persuasive letter to the FBI interviewer whom is interviewing Robert (her son)….

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The Persuasive Essay

What is a Persuasive Essay?

In an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Marie writes a persuasive letter to the FBI interviewer whom is interviewing Robert (her son)…

What is the issue that Marie is arguing to the FBI boss?

What reasons/examples does she use in her letter to persuade the boss?

How to Begin:


  • How will this situation/controversy affect me?

  • How will it affect my family?

  • How will it affect my school/peers?

  • How will it affect my community?

  • How will it affect our society?

  • How will it affect us physically, emotionally, financially, and socially?

Persuasive Essay:

Ways to Brainstorm


  • Pick your position: which side of the problem/issue are you on?



  • Phillies

  • Blackberry

  • Giants

  • Yankees

  • iPhone

  • Jets



  • After Brainstorming it is important we clearly identify and understand who our audience is for this particular topic.

What am I doing?

Identify in the “WRITING TASK” If you’re writing a letter and to whom.

  • “Write a letter to the newspaper” = Dear Editor,

  • “Write a letter to board members” = Dear Board of Education Members,

  • “Write a letter to your principal” = Dear Principal,

  • “Write a letter to the mayor” = Dear Mayor,

  • “Write an essay” = You do not need an opening salutation

REMEMBER: You must connect your HOOK to the writing situation. They can’t remain separate. There must be a sentence linking the two thoughts together.



Startling Statistic/Fact

Interesting Quote

Strong/Interesting statement

Example (explain in detail) or “Imagine If….”

Relate to everyday life

A thought provoking or rhetorical question

Anecdote (very brief, sometimes funny story relating to your topic.)

State the Situation

What is the problem/situation? (You can pull from the prompt)

State your opinion with your 3 reasons

“I firmly believe….” = THESIS STATEMENT

Common Transition words or phrases:

  • Therefore

  • Furthermore

  • Also

  • In addition

  • On the other hand (to show the opposite side)

  • For example

  • Moreover

  • As a result

  • Finally

  • Similarly

  • Likewise




Concluding Transitions

  • Clearly

  • Hence

  • Evidently

  • Ergo(a continuing thought)

  • Thus

  • Therefore

  • As one can see




  • “You” is sometimes acceptable in the introduction paragraph for your HOOK only, but nowhere else. It is considered informal. We should NOT write how we speak, put your tuxedo and best dress on when you write!

  • Use “we, us, our, ours” or “one” or “students”

First Body Paragraph


State one reason why you agree or disagree

can appeal to the audience’s logic, emotions, or morals

Explain 3 supporting details to support/prove your reason:

Supporting detail

Supporting detail

Supporting detail

Include specific examples and allusions. BONUS POINTS!

Types of Arguments

  • Logos (logic) means an argument based on reason.

  • Pathos (passion or emotions) is the use of emotional arguments to get the audience to accept one’s viewpoint. It is intended that the message inspire followers.

  • Ethos (ethics or morals)is a moral or ethical argument that appeals to the reader’s morals or values; what the reader believes is morally or ethically right. Aristotle called it the “moral rightness” of an argument.

Rhetoric = The Art of Persuasion

The history of rhetoric and the concepts of

ethos, pathos and logos began in Greece.

Who was Aristotle?

Aristotle was a famous Greeek philosopher who studied the art of persuasion.

Plato, another famous Greek philosopher, was his teacher.

In approximately 300 B.C.E. Aristotle, who was a famous Greek philosopher, wrote a book entitled, “The Art of Rhetoric.” In his book, Aristotle identified the three methods of persuasion. He called them ethos, pathos and logos.

Ethos, Logos and Pathos

Ethos = a MORAL argument

  • The word "ethos" came from the Greek word “ethikos” meaning moral or showing moral character. 

  • An “ethos” argument demonstrates a moral or ethical argument that appeals to the reader’s morals or values; what the reader believes is morally or ethically right.

For example: If your friend did something to offend you (hurt you) your mother or father may argue that forgiveness is the right or moral path to choose and that holding a grudge or showing resentment will get you nowhere.

Pathos = an EMOTIONAL argument

  • An effective use of “pathos” will alter the mindsets of the audience through the use of emotional appeal.

  • Appeals to pathos touch a nerve and compel people to not only listen, but to also take the next step and act in the world.

  • Those who wish to persuade you will play with your emotions. They may persuade you with fear, love, patriotism, guilt, hate or joy.

LogosLogos means logic

  • Logos refers to any attempt to appeal to the intellect OR, our brains.

  • Logos appeals to the left side of the audience's brain.  The audience relies on reasoning and facts to make its decision. 

    • Numbers, polls and statistics are also examples of the persuasive use of logic. 

REVIEWEthos, Pathos and Logos

1.ETHOS= an ethical or moral argument

2.PATHOS= an emotional argument

3. LOGOS= a logical argument

Logos(logic) means an argument based on reason.

  • Examples:

    • “OnStar service inside your car is better than carrying a cell phone because a cell phone can’t call for you when you’re injured.”

    • “There was no discernible difference in the ACT scores of graduating seniors who wore school uniforms and those who didn’t.”

    • “Stand firm, parents. If you say ‘no’ at first and then give in later, you are only teaching your children to beg, whine and pester you.”

Pathos (passion or emotions)is the use of emotional arguments to get the audience to accept one’s viewpoint. It is intended that the message inspire followers.

  • Examples:

    • A politician says that we have to fight the war “over” there so that we don’t have to fight it here at home.

    • A newspaper editorial for private-school vouchers states that our public schools are “dens of thieves and thugs”.

Ethos (ethics or morals) is a moral or ethical argument that appeals to the reader’s morals or values; what the reader believes is morally or ethically right.

  • Examples:

    • “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” — John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    • “The way ahead is not easy. We shall need all the wisdom, imagination, and courage we can muster. We must and shall guarantee the civil rights of all our citizens.” – Harry Truman addressing the NAACP

Ethos, Pathos, or Logos?Identify what type of argument matches each statement. Write your answer beneath the quote.

  • “We are the only company who will roll over and save your unused phone minutes each month.”

    • LOGOS!!

  • “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

    • ETHOS!!

  • A high school runs an article about drinking and driving with detailed descriptions and graphic pictures of automobile crashes.

    • PATHOS!!

How to Build Strong Body Paragraphs

Real-Life Examples & Allusions in Body Paragraphs

  • It is also important that we try to include “real-life” examples in our body paragraphs. Including real-life examples will enhance your writing.


    • Topic: Athlete's are overpaid.

    • Real life example in body paragraph:

      • I remember my thirteenth birthday party like it was yesterday. It was a wonderful day until my father informed me that he could not afford to purchase the tickets to the Giant’s game I wanted so badly to attend. At first I became angry, but then I realized that the tickets were over $200 each for average seats. I then realized I could enjoy the game more with my family at home and big bowl of popcorn.

Real-Life Examples & Allusions in Body Paragraphs

  • Allusion – Reference to something outside the text.

  • Including allusions in our writing can also enhance our essays.

    • Historical figures

    • A time period in history

    • Current event in the media

    • Literary character

    • Movie

    • Book

    • Poem

    • Song

    • Quote by another author

Second Body Paragraph


State one reason why you agree or disagree

can appeal to the audience’s logic, emotions, or morals

Explain 3 supporting details to support/prove your reason:

Supporting detail

Supporting detail

Supporting detail

Include specific examples and allusions. BONUS POINTS!

Third Body Paragraph


State one reason why you agree or disagree

can appeal to the audience’s logic, emotions, or morals

Explain 3 supporting details to support/prove your reason:

Supporting detail

Supporting detail

Supporting detail

This is where you can acknowledge the opposition. Prove the other side is wrong. Choose one argument from the other side and prove it is wrong.

Include specific, real-life examples and allusions. BONUS POINTS!

Get to Know Your Enemy!

Explain and refute the opposite view within your essay…

These newscasters argue that cell phones SHOULDN’T be allowed in schools. One newscaster tries to refute or negate their argument, but she doesn’t do a great job. What other argument could you use to “negate the opposition” (prove the other side wrong).

How would you refute or negate the two newscasters’ opinion that cell phones shouldn’t be permitted in schools?


Transition Phrase: “As one can see…..”

1. Restate your opinion and three reasons.

  • State a possible alternative {another option}. (Not in every essay)

    2. Include a sentence or a question to bring closure.

  • Thought-provoking statement or question

  • Final Thoughts…

    Wrap up your final thoughts, and restate your opinions in the last paragraph on the essay.

    Reasons to Know How to Write a Persuasive Essay…

    • Every good speech, discussion or essay needs strong closure to force the reader or listener to think carefully about what you have just said or written.

    • Emphasizes critical thinking and analysis skills

    • Relativity: Writing to a newspaper on a local/national issue that concerns you

      • Or to sway a institution/company’s decision

  • Provides practice for college admissions/cover letter writing

  • Required to demonstrate this skill on the Standardized Testing

  • Persuasive Techniques are Everywhere!


    Bringing Life to Persuasive Writing

    Who CARES?


    SO TRUE!

    Having a Strong VOICE in your Writing

    • You feel a strong connection to the writer’s…

      • Emotion

      • Energy

      • Conviction

      • Integrity

      • …you feel SOMETHING!

    Voice is…

    • Person behind the words

    • Reader Writer

    • Involvement

    • Awareness of audience

    • Individualistic

    • Expressive

    Who’s Voice is This?

    8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!

    9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!

    9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!

    10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!

    12:00 pm – Lunch! My favorite thing!

    1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!

    3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

    5:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!

    7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!

    8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My

    favorite thing!

    11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

    Who’s Voice is This?

    Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre

    little dangling objects.

    They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are

    fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for

    the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to

    keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream

    of escape. In an attempt to disgust them I once again vomit on the


    Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their

    feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly

    demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made

    condescending comments about what a ‘good little hunter’ I am. There

    was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight.

    Who’s Voice is This?

    I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of ‘allergies.’ I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage…

    Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of

    my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try

    this again tomorrow – but at the top of the stairs. I am convinced that

    the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives

    special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more

    than willing to return. He is obviously an idiot. The bird has got to be

    an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I

    am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged

    protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now…


    • Be certain to:

      • Read each paragraph carefully more than once to see what makes this sample essay a good one.

      • Review actual graded NJ ASK persuasive essays on the class website.

        • Note the scores and understand WHY they received them.

        • Note the strengths AND the weaknesses!!

    Summer: 15 Days or 2 1/2 Months?Student Example – INTRODUCTION paragraph

    The final bell rings. It’s the last day of school, and summer has finally come! Students don’t have to think about school for at least another 2 1/2 months. That is the way it should always be. Schools should continue using the traditional calendar and not a year-round schedule(position). There are numerous downsides to year-round schooling. It has no positive effects on education (1), it adds to costs (2), and it disrupts the long-awaited summer vacation (3).

    Student’s Opinion

    Student’s 3 reasons


    Paragraph 2 – Reason 1 =Student Example

    Reason 1

    Contrary to the well-accepted belief, year-round schooling has no constructive impact on education. (1) Most year-round schedules use the 45-15 method: 45 days of school followed by 15 days off. Because of this, there are many first and last days of school. All those transitions disrupt the learning process. Also, (2) there is no evidence of higher test scores. Due to that, many schools that change to year-round schedules end up switching back. For example, (3) since 1980, 95 percent of schools that tried the year-round schedule changed back to a traditional calendar. It is obvious that changing to year-round schooling does not help students; therefore, why is the change necessary?

    Supporting Detail 1

    Supporting Detail 2

    Supporting Detail 3

    Get the reader thinking with a thought-provoking question.

    Paragraph 3 – Reason 2 - Student Example

    Reason 2

    Like any other facility, keeping a school open requires a great deal of money. When a school changes to a year-round schedule, the costs skyrocket. (1) Keeping school open in the middle of summer requires air conditioning, and that adds significantly to the school’s expenses. The usual utility bills grow because of the additional open-school time. Finally, (2) teachers must be paid for all the weeks they are working. With all these factors, the cost of keeping schools open becomes immensely high. For example,(3) a high school in Arizona had a cost increase of $157,000 when they switched to year-round schooling. Some schools may not be able to handle such increases, and other schools that can handle these expenses could be doing better things with the money. Is year-round school really where the money should go?

    Supporting Detail 1

    Supporting Detail 2

    Supporting Detail 3

    Paragraph 4 – Reason 3 - Student Example

    Reason 3

    An important part of a child’s life is summertime. With year-round schedules, students would hardly have any time to relax. (1) During the 15-day breaks, they would be thinking about their quick return to school. (2) It would also be difficult to coordinate family vacations with parents’ work schedules. (3) Similarly, children would not be able to go to most summer camps. (4) One expert, Dr. Peter Scales, says, “The biggest plus of camp is that camps help young people discover and explore their talents, interests, and values. Most schools don’t satisfy all these needs. Kids who have these kinds of [camp] experiences end up being healthier and have fewer problems.” Obviously, the summer is crucial to a child’s learning and development. Why should this invaluable part of a young person’s life be taken away?

    Supporting Detail 1 & 2

    Supporting Detail 3 & 4

    Get the reader thinking with a thought-provoking question.

    Paragraph 4 Reason 3 (also includes negating the opposition)

    • Despite my personal opinion, I understand that some may not fully agree with the idea of continuing the traditional ten month school year. Nevertheless, for those who believe adjusting the school calendar is beneficial for all students and can contribute to a consistent learning process, I have two words for you: overwhelming anxiety. Students are in need of an elongated summer break to ensure they can set the anxiety and stress associated with school and enjoy time with their families. Even my mother and father take the time to vacation in the summer in order to get away. By stepping away from the traditional school calendar we will create more havoc in the lives of our families and in all students’ lives creating overwhelming anxiety for all involved.

    Paragraph 5 – Conclusion - Student Example

    Concluding transition phrase

    As one can see, it is evident that year-round schooling is not the best option for the school calendar. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional school year. Why change something that works so well? The final bell rings. Let’s make sure this bell means that the “real” summer vacation has come.

    An example for the other side….

    Counterargument –(opposite side)Student Example

    Reason 1

    But does this really make sense to everyone? (1) Teachers and other education professionals spend a lot of time at the beginning of the school year reviewing material from the previous year.These days and weeks of “review” could be used more effectively if the lessons continued to move forward , not backward. Also, By having their children in school with short breaks in between sessions, parents would not have to pay for additional, expensive childcare. Even if (2) there are no classes taking place during summer hours, the building is still being used, therefore utility costs remain consistent throughout the year. (3)And finally, there has been a significant increase in families staying home during the summer months due to the downturn in the economy. Because of this, travel and vacations have become practically nonexistent for families with school age children. According to AAA, last year alone, there was a 53% decrease in air travel.

    Reason 2

    Reason 3

    Planning Your Persuasive Essay

    1. Clearly state your position. What do you believe about the issue? What are your reasons for believing that way?

    2. Consider your audience. What do your readers know about the issue? What are their opinions on it?

    3. Gather support for your arguments. Where will you find the information you need? What facts, statistics, examples, anecdotes, and quotations support your position? Which evidence is strongest? What support might people who object to your position present? How can you answer those objections?

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