Persuasion essaysHow to convince your audience

Persuasion essays are another common type of academic writing. This page gives information on what a persuasion essay is and types of support to use for this type of essay. There is also an example persuasion essay on the topic of human activity.


What are persuasion essays?

Persuasion essays are similar to discussion essays in that you will present your arguments on a topic. However, instead of presenting a balanced view considering both sides, a persuasion essay will focus on one side. To persuade means to convince someone that a particular opinion is the correct one, and so your task when writing a persuasion essay is to convince the reader that your view of the situation is correct. This does not mean you will not consider the other side; indeed, doing so, via counter-arguments, is an important step in strengthening your own argument.


Below are examples of persuasion essay titles.

  • Give your views on same-sex schools.
  • Do you agree that artificial intelligence poses a danger to mankind?
  • Consider whether human activity has made the world a better place.

Types of support

Most of the types of support used for a persuasion essay are similar to other essay types, such as using facts, reasons, examples and statistics. If it is a longer (researched) essay, then using evidence from sources, with appropriate citations, will also be essential. There are, however, two types of support which are particularly useful for this type of essay, namely predicting the consequences and counter-arguments. These are considered in more detail below.


Predicting the consequence

Predicting the consequence helps the reader understand what will happen if something does or does not happen. This type of support will therefore usually be introduced with 'If...'. For example, to convince your readers that same-sex schools are disadvantageous, you might say, 'If students do not go to mixed schools, they will lose many opportunities to interact with members of the opposite sex, which may hurt them in their development of important social skills'. Avoid exaggerating the consequences. For instance, telling the reader, 'If students do not go to mixed schools, they will be shy and will not be able to talk to members of the opposite sex' exaggerates the consequences of going to single-sex schools and will make your argument less persuasive.


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Counter-arguments

Counter-arguments consider the opposition's point-of-view, then present arguments against it ('to be counter to' means 'to be against'). Showing that you are aware of other arguments will strengthen your own. This is often the most difficult type of support, as you need to think who the opposition is, consider their view, and think of a good response. Counter-arguments are often presented first in a paragraph. Useful language for this type of support are phrases such as 'Opponents claim that... However...', or transition signals such as 'Although...'. The following are examples of counter-arguments for an essay on same-sex schools. Language for counter-arguments is shown in bold.

  • Although it has been suggested that same sex schools make children more focused on study, it is generally agreed that children of the same sex are more likely to talk with each other during class time.
  • Opponents of mixed schools claim that it is more difficult for students to concentrate when there are members of the opposite sex studying close to them. However, it is much easier for students to be distracted by members of the same sex.


Example essay

Below is an example persuasion essay. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary, as these repeat the arguments contained in the main body.


Title: Consider whether human activity has made the world a better place.


Arguments
1
2
3
 
Predicting consequence
Counter-
argument

History shows that human beings have come a long way from where they started. They have developed new technologies which means that everybody can enjoy luxuries they never previously imagined. However, the technologies that are temporarily making this world a better place to live could well prove to be an ultimate disaster due to, among other things, the creation of nuclear weapons, increasing pollution, and loss of animal species.

The biggest threat to the earth caused by modern human activity comes from the creation of nuclear weapons. Although it cannot be denied that countries have to defend themselves, the kind of weapons that some of them currently possess are far in excess of what is needed for defence. If these weapons were used, they could lead to the destruction of the entire planet.

Another harm caused by human activity to this earth is pollution. People have become reliant on modern technology, which can have adverse effects on the environment. For example, reliance on cars causes air and noise pollution. Even seemingly innocent devices, such as computers and mobile phones, use electricity, most of which is produced from coal-burning power stations, which further adds to environmental pollution. If we do not curb our direct and indirect use of fossil fuels, the harm to the environment may be catastrophic.

Animals are an important feature of this earth and the past decades have witnessed the extinction of a considerable number of animal species. This is the consequence of human encroachment on wildlife habitats, for example deforestation to expand human cities. Some may argue that such loss of species is natural and has occurred throughout earth's history. However, the current rate of species loss far exceeds normal levels, and is threatening to become a mass extinction event.


In summary, there is no doubt that current human activities such as the creation of nuclear weapons, pollution, and destruction of wildlife, are harmful to the earth. It is important for us to see not only the short-term effects of our actions, but their long-term effects as well. Otherwise, human activities will be just another step towards destruction.

Arguments
1
2
3
 
Predicting consequence
 
Counter-
argument
 

Checklist

Below is a checklist for the main body of an essay. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.


Item OK? Comment
The essay is a persuasion essay
Appropriate support is used, such as predicting the consequence and counter-arguments
The essay has a clear thesis statement
Each paragraph has a clear topic sentence
The conclusion includes a summary of the main points



Next section

Find out how to write compare & contrast essays in the next section.




Previous section

Go back to the previous section about discussion essays.






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