By Peter J. Francis, HGPublishing Editor
The basic structure of every essay is: Introduction (including thesis statement), body, then conclusion.
In particular, in the structure of a persuasive essay, the body of the persuasive essay should contain statements supporting your thesis, as well as statements opposing your thesis. Frequently you structure your persuasive essay by introducing an argument supporting your thesis, then look at an argument against your thesis and explain why that argument is not strong. You often alternate your arguments with the opposing point of view, showing at each step why your arguments are superior. Your job is to persuade the reader to believe you over the opposition's point of view. In order to do this, you need to carefully examine the opposing arguments. You need to use logic to show why your arguments are better.
Have you ever had an argument? Then you already know how to format a persuasive essay! In these types of essays, you say what you want and you say why it's the right thing. The persuasive essay is supposed to persuade the reader to adopt your point of view on an issue. It could be why your curfew is too early. It could be why playing endless hours of video games is good for your hand-eye coordination. It could be why Romeo and Juliet is an play completely concerned with the effect of fate on peoples' lives. It could be about explaining the theme of loneliness in "Of Mice and Men." It doesn't matter what you need to prove, the structure is the same. The most important part of the structure of is the thesis. More on the persuasive essay thesis. The thesis statement comes early in the structure of a persuasive essay, and it states exactly what you want to prove.
Essentially all essays are persuasive essays. Sometimes you are assigned a controversial topic such as Gun Control for your persuasive essay, but an essay on the meaning of a poem is also a persuasive essay. The only difference is that in a literary essay you will marshal your argument from the text and from critics instead of from statistical evidence or the words of experts.
There's a special type of persuasive essay called a Rogerian persuasive essay which takes a slightly different tack. There's a separate page for that kind of essay. However, the structure is the same.
In all essays, your thesis is a brief statement of your point of view. Don't jump right in and put it at the front of the essay. Introduce some facts first and gradually build up support for your thesis which comes at the end of a paragraph somewhere near the beginning of the essay. Don't put all your arguments in the opening paragraph, make general statements, or statements that you can elaborate later. It's useful if you have an outline with point form summaries of the points you intend to make. You can mention some of these points in the opening paragraph without details.
For an example of the introduction of a thesis statement in an English Essay, see Essay Structure.
Immediately following your thesis, in a persuasive essay you present more detailed evidence supporting your case. Each paragraph should examine one or more arguments for or against your argument. Present supporting evidence and contradictory evidence, side by side, if possible, and use the supporting evidence to refute the contradictory evidence. What is wrong with the contradictory evidence? Did the presenters of this argument fail to take into account some aspect of the situation? Did they base their arguments on some fact or evidence which has since been shown to be false? It's best to give reasons as to why your logic is superior to theirs; don't simply state that they are wrong.
Structure the body of your persuasive essay in the following way: Arguments for; arguments against; an evaluation of the two types of arguments; and an analysis as to why the "for" arguments are better. The longer the essay, the more you need to interweave the two sides of the arguments. Sometimes you need to divide the essay up into sections with each section taking one aspect of the argument and analyzing the pros and cons within that aspect.
Having presented overwhelming evidence supporting your argument, your conclusion does not simply restate your thesis. It sums up the most compelling evidence or makes reference to them as you sum up your arguments. You can also end with a quote from a supporting authority. Click here for the best 5 ways to write a conclusion.
What are markers looking for in a Persuasive Essay?
Again, organization is key.
1. Check to make sure you have a clear thesis statement. In my essay editing work, I often have to clarify the thesis statement for my clients.
2. In a persuasive essay logic is important. Make sure your arguments flow logically. Start with the strongest. Make sure you have seriously considered all opposing arguments.
3. Your conclusion should always state clearly that your thesis has been proven.
4. Don't forget, if this is for a writing class, or an English class, then what the teacher really wants to see is that you can write well. Check, check and double check your grammar. Always make sure your grammar is perfect.
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