Types of essays

Essay Writing 1, 2, 3

Essay Types – The Persuasive Essay

By Peter J. Francis , HGPublishing Editor

The Structure of Persuasive Essays

The basic structure of every essay is: Introduction (including thesis statement), body, then conclusion.

More on essay structure

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.

Persuasive Essay Thesis

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 .

Body of the Persuasive Essay

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.

Persuasive Essay Conclusion

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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Example Essay Structures


The following structures are demonstrated and discussed:

Example Structure | Compare and Contrast | Narrative or Chronological Structure | Descriptive Structure | Cause-and-Effect

Example Structure

The Example Structure follows the rules of a traditional academic essay: begin with a main argument or thesis statement, follow this with three pieces of evidence that support the argument, and wrap up by stating what the essay has shown. This is a good structure to use when making a single, strong point. Its power lies in its simplicity. Because it allows you to present several points neatly in support of a single claim, it is especially useful for making a persuasive argument. This format will be most helpful when writing short essays, but for longer personal statements, it might appear formulaic and dull. One of the more creative structures described below might draw attention more successfully to your writing.

  • Sample Essay: Example

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Compare and Contrast

For some questions, this structure is a natural choice, as in the personal growth and development question, which asks you to compare yourself now to the way you once were. You can structure a cause-and-effect essay point for point, by comparing one aspect of the object or situation at a time. Or you can choose to employ the block method by thoroughly covering all the points of the first object or situation in the first half of the essay and then comparing it with all the points of the other in the last half.

  • Sample Essays: Compare and Contrast

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Narrative or Chronological Structure

If you have decided to focus on a single event in your life, you will want to use this structure. It can be filled with action, dialogue, and subtle details. Although, you should not confuse effective drama with overwrought, Hollywood-style melodrama. The briefest and simplest of events can take on meaning when told convincingly. Using a chronological or narrative structure over a long period of time (anything more than a day or two) can often read like a ship’s log. You don’t want to sound like you’re rattling off a schedule of events. Rather, take on the role of storyteller and provide great detail about a very specific set of events. The sequence of events will help reinforce flow from one stage of the essay to the next and will make the difficult task of transitioning between paragraphs very natural. While the narrative is one of the most effective forms of writing for an essay, it can also be difficult. Use the following tips as your write your narrative:

– Make the reader aware of chronology and keep the story generally moving forward.

– Don’t feel obligated to tell more of the story than you need to convey your point. Extra details distract from the main drive of the story.

– Try not to use reflective conclusions or introductions describing what you learned; start and end with the action and have everything take place within the context of the story.

– Describe events, people, and places in very specific, colorful terms.

Narrative can be combined with other structures for an approach that is less risky but still interesting. Beginning an essay with a brief story is the most common and effective of such methods. Another twist on the narrative essay is one that describes a single place, person, or action in great detail. It appeals to the senses of the audience without necessarily drawing on the action of a story. There is no standard structure found in this type of essay — each is differently organized — but all rely on crisp imagery and sensory detail, leaving the reader with a single, vivid image. Single images are easier to remember than a list of points, qualities, traits, or qualifications, no matter how impressive any one or all of them may be. Still, this is a risky approach and is best employed when you have to provide multiple essays for one school so that you have a chance to structure your other essays more traditionally.

  • Sample Essays: Narrative

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Descriptive Structure

This is similar to the chronological structure except that instead of walking step by step through increments of time, it follows step by step through a description of a place, person, or thing. The first paragraph gives an introduction describing the general feel of the place, person, or thing. The body paragraphs offer in-depth descriptions of two or three particular aspects of the place, person, or thing. In the last paragraph, the writer steps out of the descriptive mode and offers a brief conclusion of what the place, person, or thing says about him or her.

  • Sample Essay: Descriptive

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Cause and Effect Structure

Often times you will be asked for a life-changing experience or about someone or something that has had a great influence on you. This structure shows that you understand and appreciate the effect that other entities have had on your development and maturity. For these essays, you will want to use the body paragraphs to first describe the influence and then move on to how that has had an effect on you. You can either divide the essay into a “cause section” and an “effect section” or you can mesh the two together by taking each small description one by one and explaining the effect it has had on you. If you decide to use this structure, be sure that you don’t write yourself out of the equation; make the point that you were the catalyst between the cause and the effect. That way, you demonstrate that you know how to take action and create change.

  • Sample Essay: Cause and Effect

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  • What to Look for When Revising