How a persuasive essay differs from a critical writing essay
The best way to discern the difference between a persuasive essay and a critical writing essay is to define them individually and then compare them together. A persuasive essay is an essay whose sole intent is to persuade the reader to one opinion. Although the definition of it doesn't change, the purpose of it changes dependent upon the real life application of it. For academic purposes, a persuasive essay is a short text that is used to show the command of a subject, and the overall understanding of it. Outside of academic practice, it is any material that is used to persuade a reader of the information that is contained within it. Examples of a persuasive essay outside of an academic setting is a presentation that is given in a public arena, or even something as short as a resume or cover letter.
The major differences between a persuasive essay and a critical essay are:
- The voice used in the essay - A persuasive essay can be first or third person, a critical essay is third person
- Informal versus formal style of writing - A persuasive argument can be informal or formal, a critical essay is always formal
- Presentation of both sides versus just one sided arguments - A persuasive essay presents just one side of an argument, a critical essay presents both negative and positive aspects
- Evidentiary proof needed - A persuasive argument need not provide concrete evidence and examples, a critical essay needs to have proof to back up claims made
- Basis of the essay - A critical essay is based upon another work, a persuasive essay can be on any subject at all
A persuasive essay can be a very informal piece, which can be written in any voice, not limited to the formal third person. Although it helps to be substantiated with proof, since it is based around arguments which can be subjective, it is not necessary to back up assertions or claims with evidentiary proof. It is an essay that only provides one side of an argument, not a summary that includes both sides.
A critical essay is an essay that is in critique of another work. It is an essay that's content is used to critique another author's work, and can be either positive or negative. It is not an essay that is used to sway the reader to one point of view or another, it is just a critical analysis of the context. Unlike a persuasive essay, a critical essay is formal and written only in the third person, never the first. Because it is a critique of another work, it can contain both negative and positive aspects of the work.
Ways that persuasive essays and critical essays are the same
- Both are used in real life application and academic arenas
- They are both short essays which are structured in the same way
- The more evidence you have to support them, the greater the strength of the writing of them
- They both are a demonstration of the writing skills of the individual writing them
Both the persuasive essay and the critical essay are structured in the same way. They both have the same major points that need to be included to make the essay relevant. They both consist of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The information that is included within each category varies slightly. Because the intent of the article is different, the information that needs to be as an integral component to them will be different.
What is the structure of a persuasive essay and a critical essay?
Although they both have the same structure, the content of those categories will vary depending on which essay you are doing.
The structure of a persuasive essay is:
- Introduction - The introduction is the component where the audience will want to read more. It should begin with creative and captivating information that will begin to form the argument that will be laid out. Contained within the introduction should be the thesis statement, or the definition of what the argument for the essay is. It is an assertion that sets the tone, and is the reason for, the entire essay
- Body - The body of the essay is where the argument is laid out. The body contains the assertions about the argument, followed by supporting arguments for it. It is the area where you will form the argument and give supporting reasons and when appropriate evidence, to your point of view
- Conclusion - The conclusion is where you summarize the argument and the information that you have to prove your point. Being the most important part of the essay, it is the place where you finalize the argument and beg the reader to your point of view. Contained within it is the reason the reader should see things your way, and why you are right in your opinion, or point of view
The structure of a critical essay is:
- Introduction - The introduction is used to introduce the work that you are critiquing. It is the part of the essay where you state your opinion of the work, and outline the steps that led you to your conclusion about it
- Body - This is the section of the essay where you develop your argument and then use concrete facts to support your point of view, or position. Using both positive and negative aspects of the book, you describe what led you to the conclusion about how you formulated your critique. It is important to substantiate your claims with concrete evidence and examples
- Conclusion - In this section you conclude the main points of your critique and go through the points made about it, summarizing your position and finalizing your opinion
Are you asking yourself why you should read this blog post?
Are you asking, “What’s in it for me?”
What if I promised that by reading this you’ll learn more about how to write an effective persuasive essay?
What if I promised that by reading this you’ll learn 40 persuasive essay topics to help you get started writing your persuasive essay—and that you’ll even learn some tips about how to choose a persuasive essay topic?
If you’re still reading, then I’ve achieved my goal. I’ve written a persuasive opening. And if you’re assigned to write a persuasive essay, you should definitely keep reading.
The Persuasive Essay Defined
The goal of a persuasive essay is to convince readers.
When writing the essay, you’ll first need to state your own opinion, then develop evidence to support that opinion.
These reasons and examples (evidence) should convince readers to believe your argument.
I know this quick definition gives you the basics, but you should know more about persuasive writing before you attempt to write your own essay.
It may seem tempting to skip past the additional information and go directly to the list of persuasive essay topics. But don’t do it.
Take the time now to read more about persuasive writing. (It’s all about persuasion. Are you clicking the links below yet?)
I’ll trust that I’ve persuaded you to read all three of the above articles. And now that you know how to write a persuasive essay, here are 40 persuasive essay topics to help you get started.
40 Persuasive Essay Topics to Help You Get Started
1. Does Facebook (or other forms of social media) create isolation?
Facebook lets people stay connected and meet new friends, yet some argue people spend so much time on social media that they lose contact with real life and may even become addicted.
2. Should guns be permitted on college campuses?
With recent school massacres permeating the news, people feel as though they should be able to protect themselves by carrying guns in all public spaces. Others, however, feel as though allowing guns on campuses will only increase crime and the death toll.
3. Do kids benefit if everyone on the team receives a trophy?
If everyone on the team receives a trophy (even for participation), kids may feel like part of the team and feel as though their efforts matter. Others believe handing out trophies to all kids on the team simply makes them feel entitled.
4. Is society too dependent on technology?
Technology creates great opportunities, yet some feel people can no longer function without a smartphone by their sides at all times.
5. Should all high school students be required to complete parenting classes?
Parents often believe sexuality, family planning, and parenting should be taught at home. But many don’t believe parents sufficiently educate their children about these topics and feel the school should provide teens with training for adulthood and require parenting classes.
6. Does the school day start too early?
While some simply say kids should go to bed earlier in order to be alert during the school day, others argue teens require more sleep and need to sleep later to function properly.
7. Should the minimum wage be increased?
Many business owners argue that raising the minimum wage would only cause hardship and cause them to raise their prices. But many workers argue raising the minimum wage is necessary to help low-income workers dig out of poverty.
8. Should elementary schools teach handwriting?
If no one knows how to write or read cursive handwriting, the form of communication will be lost, some believe. Others, however, believe handwriting is antiquated, and kids would be better served learning keyboarding.
9. Should childhood vaccinations be mandatory?
Though vaccinations can prevent a number of childhood illnesses, some believe mandatory vaccination violates individual rights and can actually do more harm than good.
10. Are security cameras an invasion of privacy?
Security cameras are in place to protect both businesses and the general public. But some argue cameras have gone too far and actually invade privacy because people are constantly under surveillance.
11. Should citizens be allowed to keep exotic pets?
People feel they should be allowed to keep exotic pets as they are capable of caring for the animals. They feel it is their right to keep such pets. However, others feel keeping such pets creates a danger to other people and is harmful to the animals.
12. Should a relaxed dress code be allowed in the workplace?
Some argue that a more relaxed dress code has created more relaxed and less productive workers. Others argue the more relaxed dress code creates a more casual, friendly, and creative workplace.
13. Is it ethical to sentence juveniles as adults?
The old cliche is, “If you do the crime, you should do the time.” But many believe it isn’t ethical to charge a juvenile as an adult as a child’s brain isn’t yet fully developed.
14. Should corporations be allowed to advertise in schools?
Some think schools should embrace corporate advertising as budgets are very limited. But others believe kids shouldn’t be bombarded with corporate persuasion. Instead, they think kids should focus on learning.
15. Should public transportation be free for all residents of a city?
While some say free public transportation would help the environment and reduce traffic, others think free public transportation is too expensive. They argue that the government can’t afford to pay for it.
16. Is professional football too dangerous for players?
Because of recent discoveries about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), many believe football is too dangerous and that rules need to change. Those on the other side of the argument believe football players know the risks and thus should be allowed to play.
17. Should minors be allowed to get tattoos (if they have parental permission)?
Some feel parents should be allowed to give permission for their minor children to get tattoos as they are making the decision for their own children. On the other hand, because tattoos are essentially permanent, some feel only adults should be able to get tattoos.
18. Should fracking be banned?
Some people argue fracking is an effective way to extract natural gas, but others argue it is too dangerous and is harmful to the environment.
19. Should a college education be free for everyone?
Some people believe education is a right and will make society, on the whole, a better place for everyone. But others feel there is no true way to offer a free college education as colleges would still need to be funded (likely through tax dollars).
20. Should the US assist developing countries with immunization efforts?
Immunizations have been critical to eradicating diseases such as polio and measles in the United States, so some argue that it’s important to distribute immunizations to developing countries where people are still dying from these types of diseases. Others may argue that this type of effort would be too costly or ineffective.
21. Does corporal punishment help children?
If you’ve ever been spanked by your parents, I’m sure you weren’t in favor of corporal punishment. But does it actually help discipline children, or does it promote violence?
22. Does the welfare system need to be revised?
There are many people who clearly need the additional assistance welfare services provide. There are others, however, who take advantage of the system. Because of this, many feel the program should be revised to create alternate or stricter requirements.
23. Is learning a skilled trade more valuable than earning a college degree?
Many companies state they have numerous job openings but cannot find skilled employees. Given the current economy, some feel that it may be more advantageous for people to learn a trade.
24. Should cigarettes be illegal?
Given the trend of legalizing marijuana, it seems that it would be impossible to ban cigarettes, but some believe that cigarettes should be illegal because of the health risks they pose.
25. Should organ donors be financially compensated?
While some feel that people should donate their organs on a strictly volunteer basis, others argue that donations would increase if people were financially compensated.
26. Do laws promote racial discrimination?
Justice is supposed to be blind, though many argue that laws are designed to discriminate against minorities.
27. Do dual-parent households benefit children more than single-parent households?
A dual-parent household may have an advantage of a higher household income and the benefit of one parent who may able to spend more time with children. But many argue that a high income alone doesn’t make a happy home and that quality time spent with children is far more important than simply being present.
28. Is it acceptable for parents to lie to their children?
Most people would probably agree that the small lies parents tell their children in order to protect them or motivate them are harmless (and perhaps even helpful). But others feel that, if parents lie, they are only teaching their children to lie.
29. Are teens unfairly stereotyped?
Teens are often stereotyped as lazy and entitled. Specific groups of teens, such as skaters, are often seen as criminals and addicts. Are these classifications true, or are they unfair stereotypes?
30. Is reality television actually real?
Reality TV is supposed to follow the lives of real people. But are the shows scripted or staged to create more drama?
31. Does illegal immigration harm the U.S. economy?
While some feel that even illegal immigrants contribute to the economy through spending their wages in local economies, others feel that they don’t pay their fair share of taxes, which harms the economy.
32. Should high schools distribute birth control?
Though some claim that the distribution of birth control encourages sexual behavior, others claim that it actually protects teens who are already sexually active.
33. Does elective cosmetic surgery harm self-esteem?
Elective cosmetic surgery can make people feel confident and happier with their personal appearances, but for some people, such surgeries do not address underlying psychological issues. Thus, the surgeries leave people unhappy and striving for unattainable perfection.
34. Should people who teach in low-income areas be allowed to have their student loans forgiven?
Teachers who work in low-income areas are often eligible to have their student loans forgiven after a number of years of service. However, some argue that this practice should not continue. They argue that everyone should be eligible for loan forgiveness and that it shouldn’t only be select professions that are eligible.
35. Should classic literature be taught in high school or college?
Many argue that the classics are important to our history and that they are works of art. Others feel the writings are outdated and generally irrelevant to modern society.
36. Should colleges and universities do more to help incoming freshman transition to college life?
Though most colleges offer orientation programs, many students feel that the college itself does not do enough to prepare them for the realities of college life.
37. Has the No Child Left Behind Act helped students?
The No Child Left Behind Act was designed to help all students succeed, but many people believe that it has been an unsuccessful program.
38. Should team names deemed to be offensive be banned?
Some feel that team names such as “Redskins” or “Chiefs” are racially insensitive and are racial slurs. However, others argue that these names are steeped in tradition and should not be banned.
39. Should fast-food restaurants be blamed for obesity among Americans?
Most people already know that many fast-food meals are high in calories and are often not as healthy as other options. Thus, these restaurants are to blame for increased obesity rates. Others argue that it’s the individual’s responsibility to consume these foods in moderation and that society cannot blame fast-food restaurants for obesity rates.
40. Do modern gender roles harm women?
Though women are generally no longer expected to be stay-at-home moms, many argue that gender roles today continue to harm women. Some argue that media continues to sexualize women and thus perpetuates the classic gender roles of males being dominant over females.
Dos and Don’ts of Choosing Persuasive Essay Topics
After reading this list, I’m sure at least a few topics appeal to you. But how do you know which one of these great ideas to choose for your own paper? Here are a few tips.
Do choose a topic that:
- You care about. It’s easier to write about something that interests you.
- Other people care about too. Why would you write about a topic that no one cares about?
- You are willing to examine from multiple viewpoints. Looking at both sides of the issue shows that you’re educated about your topic.
- You can research effectively in the allotted time. If you can’t find enough evidence to support your viewpoint, you might need to switch topics.
Don’t choose a topic that:
- You don’t care about. If you don’t care about the topic, it will be difficult to persuade others.
- You are extremely passionate about. While passion is important, if you’re so passionate about the topic that you aren’t willing to learn new information or see additional viewpoints, it will be difficult to write an effective paper.
- Can’t be researched effectively. In other words, don’t try to research a topic like the meaning of the universe or why people usually wear matching socks.
In this blog post, you’ve learned how to write a persuasive essay, examined a variety of persuasive essay topics, and learned the dos and don’ts of selecting and narrowing a topic.
So what are you waiting for? Start researching, and start writing!
What? None of these topics are working for you? Try this list of 15 topics or these additional 15 topics.
Need a few pointers to get started with research? Check out 5 Best Resources to Help With Writing a Research Paper and How to Write a Research Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide.
Looking for even more help? I recommend reading this study guide about persuasive and argumentative essays.
Want to make sure you’re writing is convincing? Why not have one of our Kibin editors review your paper?
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.