Persuasive Essay Structure

So, you’ve got an assignment to write such an essay. Don’t rush into creating a text document – you’ll probably end up staring at the blank page. Instead, invest your time and effort into the preparation stage. Do your research, brainstorm, and outline your text.

Knowing how to do the latter is impossible without understanding what the typical structure for persuasive essay looks like. Luckily, this structure works for all essays of this type, regardless of the topic. 

So, what is it, exactly? And how do you use it to map out the text?

What Is Persuasive Essay?

If it’s your first time having this kind of task at hand, you might be confused about what a persuasive essay means in practice. Don’t worry: if you had to take a guess, you’d probably guess right. 

Such essays are written with one goal in mind – to convince the reader to agree with your standpoint. To do that, you’ll need to use arguments and counterarguments organized in a specific persuasive structure.

All persuasive text structures can include arguments and counterarguments of three types, as coined by Aristotle.

  1. Ethos. It’s about the credibility of the sources you use in the text. For example, you can use a quote by an expert in the field as evidence for your argument.
  2. Logos. These are the arguments that appeal to the logic. They include facts, figures, and studies.
  3. Pathos. It appeals to the person’s emotions. Depending on the topic, you may be discouraged from using pathos at all or make it the cornerstone of your argumentation.

How to Structure a Persuasive Essay

As you already probably know, any text consists of three parts:

  1. introduction;
  2. body;
  3. conclusion.

But what is the most common structure of a persuasive essay in particular? While it does follow the model above, there’s also a more detailed persuasive writing structure you can (and should) use. 

The introduction consists of four key parts (in most cases). 

  1. Hook. It’s an attention-grabbing first sentence, often in the form of a rhetorical question or a surprising fact or figure. Its point is to make the person want to read further.
  2. Background information. This is a summary of the context for the reader. In a nutshell, it’s meant to describe the existing problem or state of affairs. It’s also the right place to explain why the reader should care about the question at hand.
  3. Definitions. They’re not always required, but this is how you ensure you and the reader are on the same page. Definitions are especially useful when talking about abstract or complex concepts, like freedom or state.
  4. Thesis. It’s a statement that reveals your standpoint that you’re going to support in the text. The previous two parts might be omitted, but any structure of persuasive essay writing requires a thesis.

When it comes to the body, the general rule is “one argument per paragraph.” 

Remember to include both arguments and counterarguments. The latter ones require you to imagine what your opponent in an imaginary debate would say and how you would respond to their claim.

How many arguments should you include? It depends on the assignment itself – specifically, on the minimum (and maximum) text length. Typically, though, three to five paragraphs are considered enough.

Every single one of persuasive essay body paragraphs should follow this structure.

  1. Topic sentence. This is your argument that you’re going to use in this paragraph.
  2. Evidence. This is how you prove your argument is right – with facts, figures, quotes. Some assignments may allow using personal experience as evidence.
  3. Analysis. Don’t just drop the evidence and move on. Explain how it backs up your point at the beginning of the paragraph.

The conclusion is where you neatly sum up all of your arguments and counterarguments and paraphrase your thesis. You can also describe why this conclusion is significant. Some persuasive text structures advise you to answer the “So what?” question for that purpose.

How to Structure a Persuasive Essay

Persuasive Essay Structure Examples

Before you jump right to the examples, keep in mind: topics and requirements vary. So, read the task carefully and focus on what’s in there when approaching the structure of a persuasive essay.

Here are five topics you can use to practice how you structure persuasive essay.

  • Should you become a vegetarian?
  • Do aliens exist?
  • Is it important to learn cursive writing at school?
  • Should humankind colonize Mars?
  • Does money equal happiness?

And in case you’re looking for something more advanced, here are five more topics for applying persuasive text structures in practice.

  • Should capital punishment be abolished in the US?
  • Can personal freedom and personal responsibility coexist?
  • Should we put a minimum age limit for using social media?
  • Should access to broadband Internet become a human right?
  • Can personal behavior changes have a substantial impact on society?

Let’s take the “Should capital punishment be abolished in the US?” topic. Here’s how the structure of persuasive essay writing can be used to argue in support of it. 

  1. Hook. How could we revert the death sentence if the person is found innocent after the execution?
  2. Background information. Capital punishment is legal in 27 US states, as well as in 54 other countries around the world. In 2020, 483 people were executed around the world (Amnesty International).
  3. Thesis. Considering the issues with the justice system, its inefficiency, and high financial costs, capital abolishment should be abolished in the United States.
  4. Argument #1. The price of an error is too high. An estimated 4.1% of those sentenced to death in the US are, in fact, innocent. The problem is, if the executed person gets exonerated later, it’s impossible to bring them back to life.
  5. Argument #2. It’s not a deterrent for crime. States with higher murder rates are also the states where 80% of executions take place. The US National Research Council advised policymakers to disregard studies that “prove” the deterrent effect. So, it’s not an efficient means of reducing the crime rate.
  6. Argument #3. It’s more expensive than a life sentence. Cases themselves are costlier (three times more expensive in Maryland, four times – in Kansas, 3.2 times – in Oklahoma). This is the taxpayer money that could finance schools, hospitals, etc.
  7. Conclusion. The United States should abolish the death penalty, whether on the state-by-state or federal level. Until it’s abolished, there’ll be innocent lives lost, funds used inefficiently, and the crime rate unaffected by the death penalty’s existence.

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