How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay Introduction
The introduction of an argumentative essay sets the stage for your entire piece. You must grab your reader from the first moments, and this is especially important in an argumentative essay. Your introduction should be concise, informative and engaging. Pay attention to the key elements and choose your words with precision.
In the structure of your essay, start from the general and work to the specific. Start with a hook that grabs the reader’s attention. Depending on your topic, you may need to include background information related to your argument. Preview your main points so the reader has a map to your essay; this also serves to transition the reader to your specific point. The final sentence of your introduction is the thesis statement.
The first text your reader encounters is the hook or attention grabber. You therefore want a strong hook. One option is to pose a puzzle that you resolve in the body of the essay. Other options include a quotation that relates to your argument, a provocative rhetorical question or a startling statement. The hook may be the hardest part to write, but don’t get hung up on it. Start work first on the body of your essay; a hook may present itself as you’re writing.
Your entire essay centers around your thesis statement. For an argumentative essay, your thesis statement will be one of three types of claims. In a claim of definition, you challenge the accepted truth of a fact. A cause-and-effect claim proposes that one action or event caused another. Another option is to propose a solution to a problem. The thesis statement is one sentence that must be debatable, but narrow enough in scope to prove within the constraints of the essay. Your thesis statement may evolve as you're writing, so check during the revision process to ensure it still relates to your arguments.
Since you’re writing an argument essay, start using persuasive techniques in the introduction. Start by proving your credibility. Mention your research from the beginning, which shows your knowledge on the topic. Alternatively, include your readers in a community to which they want to belong, such as “sensible people” or “compassionate people”; consider what type of audience would be most likely to agree with you. Another strong start might be to appeal to readers’ emotions with a related anecdote, pointed quote or even an appropriate joke. Starting your essay with credibility and setting the stage with the appropriate emotion will increase the likelihood that readers will be receptive to your arguments.
Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.