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Persuasive Essay

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A type of writing that has variously been called ‘argumentative’, ‘pros and cons’ and ‘fors and againsts’.

There are arguments stating that, ‘argumentative’ and ‘persuasive’ are different in varying degrees. However, as a private English tutor giving one to one tuition in GCSE English (for both adults up to 16 year olds), that differentiation does not apply.

You must attempt to use logic and reason to convince the reader your reasoning is more legitimate than, perhaps, what they were already thinking.

How you approach it can often depend on the audience. Should it be one that you know then you can mould your writing for them.

Examples of such essay include: blood sports, space exploration, capital punishment, etc.

There are two types of Persuasive writing:

i.                 Where the writer will give the pros and cons of a subject

ii.               Where the writer will concentrate on one side of the subject

The foundations for writing either of the above are always the same and can be broken down as follows:

i.                 Whichever type is decided upon there has to be sufficient facts and ideas to build an argument. This is probably where your arguments will stand or fall. Tight, well-argued essays will require a lot of research. This, of course, means putting time aside to search the internet, go the library and even interview people. Your material should include: facts, statistics, quotes and examples.

ii.               Once the research has been made and enough information collated a plan can be written. Too much material is often as daunting as too little. Think about your audience, think about your viewpoint and think about your topic. Choose your material wisely. Perhaps divide your planning page into two columns ‘For and Against’ and list the arguments on each side. Sometimes this can help to clarify the masses of notes you may have.

iii.              Your  viewpoint may be divided at this stage and will, therefore, present both sides of the argument and allow the reader to make up his/her mind. Be very careful that, eventually, you do know ‘which side of the fence’ you are on. A mind that is divided is likely to produce an essay that is muddled to read.

iv.              Should the writer decide to present one side only then that viewpoint must be consistent throughout the essay. This is not say, though, that in the piece you do recognise that there is another point of view.


The following points should be kept in sight when writing a Persuasive essay:

      A.     The Line of the Argument Must be Clear

The framework of the essay should be reducible to simple sentences.

      B.     Clarity

Arguments must be stated simply and clearly. Do not be afraid to state the obvious which may be an essential step in the argument.

Short sentences are often useful, particularly at the beginning of a paragraph to establish a point which can then be elaborated on in greater detail.

      C.     Try to be Persuasive

The whole point of the argumentative essay is to win the reader over to your point of view.

Inevitably there will be arguments against the writer’s point of view – these must NOT be ignored. They should be treated objectively and balanced against the writer’s points. Remember – There are two halves to every argument!

     D.     Examples

One way of being persuasive is to give plenty of examples to support your point of view. Details and examples of the area you are writing about will help to convince the reader that you know what you are talking about.

Do not be too general in your references. It is specific examples and references that give vitality to a persuasive essay.

      E.     Quotations and References

Well chosen ones give life to a piece of writing. What other people have said and think gives ‘weight’ to an argument.

      F.      Beginnings and Endings

As with all essays the openings are very important and must arrest the attention of the reader immediately and want him/her to read on. A quote that is apt is a good way to start.

In the ending it is very boring to conclude with ‘In conclusion I would like to say. . . ‘ or  ‘To sum up, my point of view is. . . ‘

The conclusion must not repeat material previously outlined. Look for new but still relevant things to say. Leave the reader with a new idea or maybe even a quote.

Dean Nixon is a private English tutor in Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire, England. Working with him is

Norma Shaw who offers private Sociology tuition.

Please feel free to be a guest blogger at our Experienced Tutors blog.

(C) 2012 Experienced Tutors

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