What Makes a Good Argument Essay?

An argument paragraph or essay deals with a controversial topic about an issue that can be supported or opposed based on facts or statistics. The argument must be controversial. You cannot argue about the boiling point of water. In addition, the purpose of a good argument is not to convince people who agree with you, but rather to convince people who disagree agree with you. In a good argument essay, your opinion carries no weight. If you simply write, "I believe X," and the other person writes, "I believe Y," you have a disagreement, but not an argument.

Because of that, like a research essay, an argument requires one to use "reporting verbs" to introduce the arguments or facts you will be using. The types of appeals you can use in an essay are ethos, logos and pathos. "Ethos" relies on the expertise of a person you are quoting. "Logos" relies on statistics and facts. "Pathos" relies on emotional appeals related to your argument. Argument essays also can rely on skillful use of modals such as "could," "would" or "should" to strengthen or weaken points of view. In general, you want to use modals such as "could" or "would" when quoting the argument of an opponent, but use concrete verbs when reporting on arguments you support.

Argument essays come in two forms, the block and point-by-point methods.

In the block method, you report the opponent's opinion and then explain why your opponent is wrong, presenting your arguments in three body paragraphs, building to your strongest.

In the point-by-point method, in which you present three arguments by the opponent at the beginning of each body paragraph and refute each one in the same paragraph, again ending with your most convincing argument.

In all cases, your strongest argument must directly refute your opponents strongest argument.