The body paragraphs form the core foundation of your argumentative essay. Each paragraph develops one key point supporting your thesis through explanations, evidence, and analysis. Follow these steps when structuring compelling body paragraphs.
Effective body paragraphs are essential for substantiating your perspective with credible facts, statistics, studies, anecdotes, and expert opinions. They expand upon the central claims previewed in your argumentative essay introduction. Without convincing elaboration in the essay’s body, your argument will lack authoritative backing. Thoughtfully constructed paragraphs lend credibility.
How to Write the Body Paragraphs of an Argumentative Essay
When writing an argumentative essay, each body paragraph should have a logical flow while building upon the previous section. Follow this argumentative essay outline:
1. Start with a Strong Topic Sentence
Every body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that asserts the central point, sub-argument, or focused claim you will be expanding on in that paragraph.
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This topic sentence functions like a mini-thesis statement giving the paragraph coherence, direction, and purpose. It should:
- Succinctly encapsulate the paragraph’s main idea or purpose in one concise sentence
- Connect logically to the central argumentative thesis and argument of your overall essay
- Use transitional words and phrases to link back seamlessly to the previous paragraph’s themes
- Preview the evidence and analysis to follow in a compelling way
For example, for an argumentative essay asserting the need for stricter nurse staffing legislation, an effective topic sentence could be:
"Mandating appropriate nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals through legislation is essential for improving patient outcomes, as systematic understaffing has statistically been linked with heightened risks of medical errors, infections, and preventable deaths."
This assertion establishes the key point of inadequate nurse staffing levels demonstrably jeopardizing patient health which will be backed up with explanations and evidence in this paragraph.
2. Explain Your Topic Sentence If Necessary
Sometimes, your topic sentence may benefit from 1-2 additional sentences providing further setup, clarification, context, or transitional explanations to flow logically from the preceding paragraph.
For example, for a topic sentence asserting the public health dangers of hospital nurse understaffing, a couple of sentences of elaboration could be:
"Hospitals chronically understaffing nurses to cut costs directly jeopardizes patient health. As multiple large-scale studies have shown, inadequate nurse staffing levels lead to statistically significant increases in patient infections, medical errors, mortality rates, and other adverse outcomes."
Here, the additional explanation helps substantiate the topic sentence by summarizing key evidence regarding nurse understaffing’s measurable public health impacts. This provides a smooth, coherent transition into the detailed evidence still to follow.
3. Introduce Your Argument’s Evidence
Before delving into the specific evidence and examples that back up your body paragraph’s topic sentence, take a sentence or two to introduce and provide context around the types of facts, statistics, authoritative opinions, or supporting details, you will present.
This helps transition smoothly into the evidence while orienting readers on what’s to come.
For example, for a paragraph on the public health dangers of hospital nurse understaffing, an effective evidence introduction could be:
“Several large-scale public health studies published in major medical journals empirically demonstrate how inadequate nurse staffing increases risks of infections, medication errors, patient falls, mortality, and other adverse outcomes through measurable data.”
This shows that you will be presenting comprehensive statistically-driven studies to quantify the health impacts at stake. The studies will then be unpacked in detail as concrete evidence.
4. Insert and Unpack Your Evidence
Now integrate 2-3 relevant and compelling pieces of evidence substantiating the claim in your body paragraph’s topic sentence. Evidence can include:
- Statistics, facts, and figures demonstrating scale and severity
- Quotes or cited opinions from experts and authoritative sources
- References to relevant clinical studies, academic research, and surveys establishing a correlation
- Anecdotes illustrating real-world examples and putting a human face on the issue
- Personal observations if writing from direct experience
Do not just state evidence without elaboration. Unpack each piece of evidence by taking 2-4 sentences to explain precisely how and why it provides substantive validation for your focused claim. Expand on the evidence’s significance in your own words.
For example, for a paragraph about public health risks of understaffing:
“The latest National Healthcare Safety Network study found infection rates in understaffed hospital units averaged 27% higher. Similarly, wards with fewer than the recommended nurse-to-patient ratios had 41% higher medication error incidence according to research in Journal of Nursing Regulation. This hard data substantiates the danger.”
Unpacking evidence this way shows readers explicitly how the facts, figures, and findings support the paragraph topic claim rather than leaving connections unclear or implied.
5. Explain Your Evidence
After integrating and unpacking the significance of 2-3 compelling evidence sources, take 1-2 sentences to explain how the evidence just presented clearly reinforces the specific claim made in your paragraph’s topic sentence and links back to your essay’s overall central thesis.
This further drives home the relevance of the evidence to proving your focused argument.
For example, after presenting statistics about higher infection rates and medication errors in understaffed hospital units:
“This hard data from large-scale public health studies substantiates that inadequate nurse staffing levels demonstrably jeopardize patient health outcomes, as evidenced by the significantly increased risks of preventable medical errors and patient infections.”
Directly tying the evidence back to the paragraph’s central claim in this way cements their relationship for readers. It makes the relevance explicit rather than implied or requiring mental leaps by the audience.
6. Write a Closing Link Sentence
Finish each body paragraph with a closing 1-sentence link that accomplishes two things simultaneously:
- Briefly summarize the key point, evidence, and analysis covered in this paragraph
- Provides a transitional phrase opening up the logical next related point to be covered in the following paragraph
This closing sentence gives the paragraph resolution while seamlessly setting up the coming section’s shifted focus through terminology like “additionally,” “furthermore,” “turning to,” etc.
For example, after a paragraph on nurse understaffing’s public health threats:
"In light of the clear data linking understaffing to increased patient health risks, furthermore, unrealistically burdensome nurse workloads also exacerbate occupational hazards like severe psychological burnout, negatively impacting care quality."
This closing line summarizes the key point about evidence of jeopardized patient health, while the transitional phrase “furthermore” links it to the next paragraph’s focus on occupational burnout risks.
Additional Tips for Writing Effective Body Paragraphs
Keep these supplemental tips in mind as you draft compelling body paragraphs for an argumentative essay:
- Briefly acknowledge legitimate counterarguments that demand consideration. This shows you have grappled with alternatives rather than ignoring them.
- Strategically concede narrow points of validity before using transitional phrases like “however,” “nonetheless,” and “at the same time” to launch your rebuttal, reaffirming your stance as more convincing overall.
Vary Evidence Sources
- Use a mix of statistical data, expert opinions, scientific studies, illustrative anecdotes, etc. This engages readers with different forms of authoritative evidence rather than solely relying on stats.
- Use proper in-text citation format when integrating facts, quotes, and paraphrasing research findings. This attributes evidence to original sources.
Maintain an Authoritative Tone
- Use formal, academic language for serious persuasive analysis while avoiding sounding overly clinical. Be authoritative yet readable.
Final Thoughts on Argumentative Essay Body Paragraphs
Devoting sufficient time to outlining strong topic sentences, introducing relevant evidence, thoroughly explaining it, and closing with transitional links results in body paragraphs that lend credibility and persuasive weight to your argument. Look at each paragraph as building logically to your conclusion. With compelling elaboration, you equip readers to see the reason, and validity in your position on this complex issue.
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