Argumentative vs Persuasive. What`s the Difference?

In making a speech one must study three points: first, the means of producing persuasion; second, the language; third the proper arrangement of the various parts of the speech.


OK, you`ve got the essay to write, and it is mentioned in the instructions that it has to be argumentative. But what does it actually means? And how it should be different from a persuasive essay that you have written before or will write in the future? It is easy to confuse between these two types because they have a very similar goal: to persuade the reader to accept the needed point of view. But argumentative essay makes it through reasoning and discrediting of refuting arguments. While a persuasive essay makes it with the help of passionate argumentation. So, basically, they have a similar goal, but they are different in the manner of writing, structure, and language style.

The manner of writing

Argumentative paper is definitely more formal and more consistent. It pushes a writer to sharpen his analytical skills. In argumentative paper a person chooses the most persuasive arguments and backs them with statistics and examples. Still the author seems to remain impartial. He also determines all the possible counterarguments to prove their inconsistency. In argumentative essay a writer appeals to the logical reasoning of the reader. Aristotle would say that in argumentative essay the stake is made on Logos (Logic/Reason/Proof).

Persuasive essay that can be considered an opinion essay has some peculiar element. The writer aims at promoting some particular idea, belief or point of view. In an extreme variant, persuasive essays promote some goods: they make the reader yield to a certain action (even changing one`s mind can be this action) with the help of persuasion. Thus, the essay may be more informal, may contain personal opinions and observations, and be more passionate. In persuasive essay, a person must use Pathos as the main tool (Emotions/Values). And Ancient Greeks knew how to persuade the audience.


In argumentative essay, the structure is very coherent and logical. It must begin with an introduction, in which the thesis is explained, have the main body, and end with a conclusion. It is a debate on paper. The body consists of arguments divided into paragraphs. Additionally, each paragraph with a strong argument can include opposing argument and the explanation why it is not correct. In argumentative essay, more wholesome and balanced perspective is offered to a reader.

Persuasive essay does not have as many limits as argumentative essay. Its main goal is to prove something regardless of the counterarguments. It reminds propaganda on paper more than debate. It also has basic essay elements: an introduction, the main body and a conclusion. However, it pushes readers to adopt some point of view aggressively acting like a tsunami wave, grabbing the reader`s attention and then dragging him to the shore (where he is brainwashed so he can accept the represented point of view). So, it is logical to accumulate more persuasive arguments and add more pathos gradually to make a really strong conclusion (by restating the thesis, of course).


Argumentative language appeals to logic and evidence. The usage of accurate, emotionless, and formal language is a must. A writer should avoid repetitions and be moderate in his expressions. Such signal words can be helpful to create some logical order: firstly, secondly, subsequently, additionally, alternatively, moreover.
Persuasive essay aims to make the reader believe that the author knows everything about the topic and that is why he claims what he claims. Rhetoric questions, exaggerations, metaphors, quotes, and anecdotes can all help create a friendly and informal atmosphere that is needed for persuasion.


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