The following are decent examples of Persuasive / Argumentative Essays, designed to help you think about the form more deeply. They aren’t “slam dunk” essays that guarantee an “A”. In fact, we’ve given you some perspective on how writing instructors would view these examples. Notice how the grammar doesn’t really play into the analysis of the examples; the writing is competent. It’s the ideas and choices that need work.

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  • Is Technology Making Us Smarter or Dumber?
    • First up, this essay reads like a professional writer’s work – and it is.
    • By posing a question the essay delivers on an original argument (“it isn’t smarter or dumber – it’s impact…”) but it’s an answer to a question that is too broad for a short paper. Indeed, the author is working on a book-length work to address the issues he raises.
    • As an expert this author can perhaps get away with making sweeping statements about the origins of cooking, but an undergraduate writer cannot. There would need to be many more citations if this were an academic paper.
    • The essay includes a counterargument. Check! Notice the, “I think you can argue…” paragraph. Also a nice example of using “you” in writing – which many students are told never to do. It works here.
    • 11trees Grade: B+/F depending on fixing citations.
  • The Saintly Drunks: Analyzing the diverse inhabitants of Cannery Row
    • Great title! Right out of the gate this author is showing personality and a unique approach. Minor ding for Not Capitalizing Each Word in the Title Excepting Articles.
    • However, an active reader (a professor) is going to be wondering what the writer makes of the term “saintly.” Anyone who reads Cannery Row sees the drunks and layabouts that people its pages as the equivalent of “hookers with hearts of gold.” In fact, there are hookers with hearts of gold. The first paragraph does not raise our hopes…the author is telling us (so far) what we already know.
    • The author describes “Mack and the boys” as outcasts, but she doesn’t establish this with evidence from the text. Many readers will see them as readily accepted members of the little community – not outcasts.
    • No counterargument.
    • 11trees Grade: C (notice the webpage itself is more generous in its evaluation).
  • Global Warming is Real 
    • Titles can help teachers quite a bit. This one walks into a buzz saw. Who would argue that diet and exercise AREN’T important? So from the title, and certainly the first paragraph, we know we have a summary paper masquerading as an argument. You might as well argue that the Earth is round.
    • There is a counterargument (“Despite all these factors…there are critics…”), but the author does not name the naysayers and conventional wisdom is that these people are whackos. So it’s a fake counterargument.
    • 11trees Grade: C/C- (generous!).