Discursive essays: a balanced argument
Here you are several guidelines on how to write a discursive essay of this kind.
Key success factors when writing this type of essays:
Ö Being able to build up an argument
Ö Being able to link points together in a logical sequence
Ö Using appropriate discourse markers to connect, contrast, and balance points.
Introductions and conclusions
In an essay it is important that the introduction engages the reader’s attention. It should introduce the topic, but should not include the specific points that you are going to mention in the body of the text.
A good introductory paragraph describes the present situation and gives supporting evidence. It should refer to the statement or question you have been asked to discuss. This can often be done in the form of a question to the reader which the subsequent paragraphs should answer.
The conclusion should briefly sum up the arguments you have made, and can include your personal opinion.
The opinion you express should follow logically from the arguments you have presented.
Useful words and expressions
Ö Expressing the main points in an argument:
o The greatest benefit …
o First and most importantly, …
o One disadvantage of …
o Another drawback to ….
Ö Adding supporting information to a main argument, or introducing other related arguments:
o In addition, …
o What is more, …
o Not only … that, but …
o Another point in favour of …
Ö Describing cause and effect
o Result in / lead to
o Because of / due to
Ö Weighing up arguments
o On balance,
o On the whole,
o All in all,
Planning what to write
Brainstorm the content
When provided with an essay title, look at it carefully and brainstorm the pros and cons of it. Then decide the main arguments on each side which are relevant to the title.
Write an introduction for the essay, following this pattern:
v Write an introductory sentence about the topic.
v Write a second sentence supporting the first one, or describing the result of it.
v Ask a question that you intend to answer in the essay
TIPS for writing a discursive essay where you put both sides of an argument
v Brainstorm points for and against and decide which two or three you think are the most important.
v Use a neutral or formal style.
v Write a clear introduction, which engages the reader. You could end with a question that you are going to answer.
v Link your ideas together with varied discourse markers and linking phrases, e.g. due to, this can lead to, etc. because an essay should show the development of a logical argument; it is not just a list of random ideas and opinions.
v Make sure your conclusion is a summary of what you have previously said and refers back to what you were asked to write about. It is important that this is not just a repetition of your arguments. It is a summary of what you believe your arguments have proved.
Low cost airlines have revolutionized travel – but at what price?
The growth of online shopping has greatly improved life for the consumer.
Write an essay about one of the proposed topics in about 200 words.
DRAFT your essay in four paragraphs:
- Arguments in favour
- Arguments against
- Conclusion, saying whether you think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, or the other way round.
EDIT the essay, cutting any irrelevant information and making sure it is the right length.
CHECK the essay for mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation and register.
WRITE the essay under the Comments section below this entry.