What Is a Persuasive Essay?
A persuasive essay is a type of essay that presents logical arguments with emotional appeal in order to sway readers to a particular point of view. Persuasive essays can be both a form of academic writing and personal writing. They typically begin with a question that the writer spends the essay arguing in favour of or in opposition to. A personal essay writer will make a firm statement that is backed up with a combination of data, research, and anecdotal experience. The writer will often explore opposing positions and counterarguments as a means to discredit them.
3 Elements of a Persuasive Essay
A good persuasive essay should feature three essential components known as modes of persuasion. These elements, coined by philosopher Aristotle himself, work together to make a compelling and effective argument that attempts to persuade others’ points of view.
- Ethos: Ethos is an element of argument and persuasion through which a speaker establishes their credibility and knowledge, as well as their good moral character. Readers are more likely to trust someone with credible knowledge, personal experience, or standing within a community. Including ethos—or ethics—in your persuasive writing can help sell your point of view.
- Pathos: Pathos is an appeal made to an audience’s emotions in order to evoke feelings. Triggering particular emotions in your audience can help them connect with you as a narrator. This provides a layer of interest to your readers as well, making your writing more compelling and stickier.
- Logos: Logos is a rhetorical or persuasive appeal to the audience’s logic and rationality. Good persuasive writing outlines a series of logical reasons that the reader should believe the writer’s argument.
In a persuasive essay, it’s the writer’s job to convince the reader to accept a particular point of view or take a specific action. Persuasive essays require good research, awareness of the reader’s biases, and a solid understanding of both sides of the issue. A good persuasive essay demonstrates not only why the writer’s opinion is correct, but also why the opposing view is incorrect.
Persuasive Essay Topics for Middle School
In the list below, we have included some of the most relevant and interesting persuasive speech topics:
- The Best Vacation Destinations
- Does a Home Environment Influence Pupils’ Academic Performances?
- Should There Be Harsher Punishments for Bullying?
- Is Less Homework Really a Good Idea?
- The Pros and Cons of Summer Schooling
- Field Trips Should Be Organized Every Week
- The Impact of Violent TV Shows on the Population
- The Role of Social Media in the Lives of Younger Generations
- Do Violent Computer Games Hurt Kids?
- Should Students Be Held in Detention?
How to Write a Persuasive Essay
Many writers approach the persuasive essay writing process differently, but there are a few general guidelines to follow when persuading your audience with your words. Here is how to write an effective personal essay.
- Pick a topic you’re passionate about. You’ll do your best persuading when you’re arguing for something you truly believe in. If you have the option to pick a topic, choose one that appeals to your own sensibilities. There will be research to do regardless, but already having a strong opinion about your subject will make its defence a bit easier.
- Know your audience. If you want to convince readers to believe and agree with you, know who you’re talking to first. For example, if you’re writing a persuasive letter about why standardized testing should be removed from school systems, your audience will likely be parents: Keep that in mind when writing to your targeted demographic.
- Research both sides. In order to convince the reader to agree with you, you also have to know what you’re trying to get them to disagree with. Your audience may be completely stuck in their ways, so knowing both sides of your argument—and how to effectively counter the opposition—will assuage any follow-up questions a reader may have that can cast doubt on your position.
- Outline your argument. Outlining your entire essay before you get to writing it can help you organize your thoughts, research, and layout of your essay structure. Detail all your main points and pair them with all of the relevant, supporting evidence from your sources cited.
- Write your introduction. Every good persuasive essay begins with a strong introduction, which is the first paragraph of a paper. Its main purpose is to present the general premise of the paper, provide any necessary background information, appeal to the reader’s sensibilities, and capture their attention. You can do this with a personal anecdote from your own life, or information from your research. Your introductory paragraph should also present the thesis statement for your essay. A good thesis statement functions as a road map for the piece of writing that lies ahead. It articulates a paper’s main point in one or two sentences, and the rest of the paper serves to reinforce that point.
- Include your body paragraphs. This is where the “meat” of your persuasive essay will appear, using data and evidence to back up your thesis and present your counterarguments. A good body paragraph contains three main sections: a topic sentence (or key sentence), relevant supporting sentences, and a closing (or transition) sentence. This structure keeps your paragraph focused on the main idea, providing clear, concise information. The body is where you will also discuss any opposing opinions and why they should be discredited, so make sure any claims you make in your essay can be supported with credible or relevant information.
- Wrap it up with a strong conclusion. A conclusion is a final piece of writing in a research paper, essay, or article that summarizes the entire work. The conclusion paragraph should restate your thesis, summarize the key supporting ideas you discussed throughout the work, and offer your final impression of the central idea. It should also be where you include your call-to-action if you are trying to urgently persuade your readers to quickly take action over a particular issue.
- Proofread. Always proofread your writing a few times before submitting or presenting. A few missed words, grammatical errors, or sentence structure problems can impact your credibility in the reader’s eyes.