How-to guide opinion essay
Carla S. Dechant
Created on February 13, 2020
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QUICK HOW-TO GUIDE
Designed for B2 and C1 ESL/ELT students
RECOMMENDATIONS: The big 3
Don't be wishy-washy: Take a clear stand on the issue and maintain it throughout the entire text.
Follow the structure for opinion essays. Introductions & conclusions are a must.
Use relevant examples, statistics, factual evidence, expert opinions, & personal anecdotes
Carla S. Dechant Munsch
Follow these tips
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For an introduction to be effective, you should...
- provide a general introduction on the topic.
- restate the statement you are asked to agree/disagree with in your own words*
- clearly state to what extent you (dis)agree with a statement if asked "to what extent do you agree?". There are many ways to express total or partial (dis)agreement. Click here and here for some examples.
- briefly explain and justify your opinion. The body of the text should provide solid reasons supporting your opinion.
*If you are given an open-ended topic and not a specific statement to (dis)agree with, make sure you first introduce and clarify what aspect of the topic you are addressing before stating your opinion on it.
- Start the first body paragraph with a topic sentence stating a strong reason that supports your opinion.
- Back up (justify) your reason with a variety of convincing arguments for why your position is "right". You can do this in many ways by including...
Remember that any arguments you use should directly reinforce your point of view expressed in the introduction
- Begin the second body paragraph with a topic sentence stating another strong reason that supports your opinion. Although this reason may be related to the first reason, it has to be a DIFFERENT one that can be justified with DIFFERENT arguments.
- Again, back up (justify) your second reason with convincing arguments as in the first body paragraph.
Whether or not a a third reason is needed depends mainly on three aspects:
- How convincingly the first two reasons are justified and argued.
- How strong the third reason is.
- Word limit restrictions.
Avoid including additional reasons as FILLER :
If you give a third reason, make sure it is equally as strong as the first two and is not used just for just to fill up space or reach word limit minimums.
Sometimes writers choose to present a commonly held counter argument to their opinion which they then refute with more examples. This can be very effective if done correctly.
For a conclusion to be effective, you
- should restate your opinion again but using different words.
- should summarize your 2-3 supporting reasons.
- may make a prediction about the future of this issue.
- should never introduce any new information.
Use modal verbs (might, may or could) & adverbs (definitely, surely, probably, most likely) to express (un)certainty
Maintain coherence: Organize and link ideas with a variety of words/expressions.
Opinion vs. argumentative texts
Opinion = One-sided texts
- The writer gives UNEQUAL or biased attention to an issue by only focusing on one aspect of it.
- The writer's feelings about an issue are clearly expressed in the introduction, maintained throughout the entire text, and restated again in the conclusion.
- The writer uses a variety of phrases for expressing his/her opinion: I think, I believe, In my opinion, it seems to me, the way I see it...
- The reader has only one side of the issue and not enough information to form an unbiased opinion on the issue.
Argumentative = Balanced texts
- The writer gives EQUAL or unbiased attention to an issue by focusing on two or more sides of it.
- The writer does not use phrases to express his/her own opinion throughout the text but rather presents them objectively.
- The writer only expresses his/her opinion in the conclusion.
- The reader has enough unbiased information to form his/her own opinion on the issue.
Body paragraph 1: First reason why you (dis)agree
Body paragraph 2: Second reason why you (dis)agree
Body paragraph 3: Third reason why you (dis)agree
Mind your punctuation: Be especially aware of commas and run-on sentences!
Proofread your text for spelling & grammar: Use a free online proofreader to help. Grammarly is my favorite.
Use proper paragraphing conventions: unity, coherence, adequate development
Know your audience and when to use formal, semi-formal, & informal language
Get informed and read model opinion texts to learn from them. Here are some places to get start:ed