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English Comp II: Best Practices

Argumentative Essays


When planning the argumentative essay, please be aware that the essay should contain the following characteristics:

  1. The essay should introduce and explain the issue or case. The reader needs to understand what the issue is going to be argued.
  2. The essay should offer reasons and support. In other words, the essay should prove its point.
  3. The essay should refute or prove wrong the opposing arguments.

When organizing the argumentative essay, be aware that the essay should consist of:

  1. Introduction - First introduce the problem and give background information necessary for the argument and thesis.
  2. Reasons - It is a good idea to spend one paragraph on each reason. Two to three reasons are typical.
  3. Refutation - Proving the opposing argument wrong can be completed in one to two paragraphs.
  4. Conclusion.


To write well developed paragraphs:

  • Avoid strong feelings (don’t say: it is impossible to disagree with me, nobody believes)
  • Use generalizations (e.g. people believe/consider)
  • Do not use generalization (e.g. everyone believes that…..)
  • Do not use strong personal expressions (e.g. I think)
  • Use linking words (e.g. therefore, although, however etc.)
  • Make reference to other sources (e.g. The university claims that…)
  • Give examples – not personal thoughts (e.g. products such as sprayer can destroy the environment)

Common Mistakes

  • Sentence fragments - Incomplete sentence that you have punctuated as a complete sentence. Make sure each group of words contains a complete and independent thought that can stand alone. 
  • ‚ÄčComma splice - Occurs when you use a comma to separate two independent clauses instead of using the proper punctuation such as a semicolon.
  • Run-on sentences - A fused sentence where you have put two complete thoughts or clauses together without the proper punctuation.
  • Wrong word - Use your thesaurus and spell checker with care. If you select a word from the thesaurus without knowing its exact meaning or allow spell checker to correct spelling automatically, you may end up with wrong word errors.
  • Incomplete or missing citations - It's a good idea to ALWAYS cite your sources: omitting citations can result in plagiarism.
  • Vague pronoun reference - A pronoun should clearly refer to the noun it is replacing. 
  • Unnecessary/missing capitalization - Capitalize proper nouns and adjectives, first word of sentences, and important words in titles.


Preparing an Effective Presentation

  • Organize your thoughts
  • Have a strong opening and a purpose
  • Define terms early
  • Clearly explain the applicability of your research, tell a story, create meaning
  • Know your content and be passionate
  • Finish with a strong conclusion that summarizes how the world would be better off as a result of what you have done
  • Create effective notes such as an outline or brief reminder

Key pointers to help presenters

  • Make eye contact early and often.
  • Face the audience and connect with them.
  • If you are in a large group and are taking questions, rephrase the question just asked because most others in the audience will likely not have heard the question.
  • Demonstrate your own level of passion, interest in your venture through your physical engagement and tone of voice.
  • Speak with confidence, know and believe in your content.
  • Pause to add audible structure to your presentation.
  • Speak slowly enough that you can breathe deeply and be relaxed.