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Introduction to Argumentative Writing. ESL 500. An argumentative essay is built around a thesis statement (or main premise) that is debatable within the field in which you are studying. In other words….

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An argumentative essay is built around a thesis statement (or main premise) that is debatable within the field in which you are studying.

In other words…


… at the center of an argumentative essay is a statement with which your readers may disagree. Your essay will need to support that statement in a manner that convinces your readers of its truth.


Debatable or not?

  • The best way to improve your speaking skill is to have many debates in class.
  • Oral presentation class was designed to improve speaking skills.
controversial vs debatable
Controversial vs. Debatable

Don’t assume that an argument is not debatable just because it isn’t controversial.

A controversial debate took place in Illinois in recent years about whether people should be able to smoke in public places, such as restaurants and bars. There were strong opinions on both sides of the argument. In the end, smoking was banned in public places in the state of Illinois.

Both of these statements are debatable, but only one is controversial. Which one?

1. Voters are more responsible than non-voters.

2. Voters are generally more informed than non-voters.


Open the argumentative worksheet and

write both a debatable and non-debatable thesis statement about carpooling (#1).


When you write an argumentative essay, your aim is to make your readers agree with your statements or premises. You need to convince your readers of the value or truth of your premises.

In other words…


… you need to provide supporting statements for your thesis statement.

In multi-paragraph essays, each supporting statement is developed into the topic sentence of each paragraph.


Premise: Marijuana should be legalized.

Supporting statement 1: It is less harmful to people’s health than alcohol.

Supporting statement 2: A very large percentage of the population uses it.


Supporting statement 1 = Topic sentence 1

Supporting statement 2 = Topic sentence 2


In the argumentative worksheet, write three supporting statements (topic sentences) for the premise “Carpooling is beneficial for college students” (#2).

types of supporting details
Types of Supporting Details
  • Fact
  • Statistic
  • Citation of Authority
  • Analogy
  • Anecdote
  • Personal Experience
  • Hypothetical Situation

Complete #3 in the argumentative worksheet.