How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay Introduction
Written by Soheila Battaglia
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A good introduction in an argumentative essay acts like a good opening statement in a trial. Just like a lawyer, a writer must present the issue at hand, give background, and put forth the main argument — all in a logical, intellectual and persuasive way.
Start With a Hook
Start your introduction with a sentence that gets the reader interested in the topic. To pique the reader’s interest, you can begin with a quote, a personal story, a surprising statistic or an interesting question. For example, if you are arguing that smoking should be banned from all public places, you can start your introduction by referencing a statistic from a verified source: «Tobacco use kills more than five million people every year — more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, according to the World Health Organization.» This strategy grabs the reader’s attention while introducing the topic of the essay.
Providing readers with background on the topic allows them to better understand the issue being presented. This information provides context and history that can be crucial to explaining and arguing your point. For example, if you are arguing that there should never be a military draft in the United States, your introduction can include information about the history of the U. S. draft and the events that led to it being abolished.
State Your Thesis
The thesis is the essence of an argumentative essay. In a single, clear sentence, it sums up what point you are trying to make. The thesis statement should assert a position on a particular issue — one that a reader can potentially argue against. Therefore, the thesis cannot be a fact. For example, if a professor assigns the general topic of war, you can formulate the following thesis statement: «The United Nations must be redesigned because it is currently incapable of preventing wars.» The rest of your essay serves to explain and provide evidence in support of your thesis statement.
What to Leave Out
A good introduction should not be describing arguments or providing analysis that belong in the body paragraphs. Your introduction should introduce and set up your point, rather than lay out evidence to support it. Also, while your intro is a road map for the rest of the essay, you shouldn’t explicitly announce what and how you will be arguing: «I am going to prove to you that . » This type of set up does not add any pertinent information and only serves as filler.
How to Write an Essay Introduction
The introduction of your essay serves two important purposes. First, it gets your reader interested in the topic and encourages them to read what you have to say about it. Second, it gives your reader a roadmap of what you’re going to say and the overarching point you’re going to make – your thesis statement. A powerful introduction grabs your reader’s attention and keeps them reading. 
Part One of Four:
Hooking Your Reader Edit
Part Two of Four:
Creating Your Context Edit
Part Three of Four:
Presenting Your Thesis Edit
Part Four of Four:
Bringing It All Together Edit
Sample Essay Hooks & Introductions Edit
- I would first narrow your subject down to one sport so you can be more focused. Note that this will likely be an informative essay. After you do this, an interesting hook statement may be an anecdote describing an intense moment in that chosen sport to get your audience interested. This can be made up or from your own experience with the sport.
- An effective hook statement to start your essay about this topic may be a statistic about HIV, or perhaps an anecdote about someone facing this diagnosis and trying to make positive lifestyle changes for their health.
- With something interesting! This is easier said than done of course, but a good intro starts with a quote, fact, or brief story that interests the reader. If it interested you while reading or researching, it’s a great thing to start with. Just keep it short and it will be great.
- Skip it, write down your main points, and build the body of your essay. Once you know all the areas you want to cover, think about what links them all together, and what the main thing you’re trying to convey is.
- Start off with a mini thesis which states what the body paragraph is talking about.
- Start with the basics — what do you think about the topic? What argument can you make about it? Once you have an argument, start jotting down the evidence for the argument. This evidence will make up your paragraphs later on. If it’s easiest, just skip the introduction now and come back once you’re done — you’ll have all the ideas already drawn out.
- To summarize, you really need to condense what’s there and put everything into your own words — this will include the introduction. It’s fine to use the content of the introduction, but make sure not to copy the writing word-for-word.
- Start with something like «Heart disease is a serious condition that takes the lives of (number) Americans every year.» Then go on to to talk about the causes of heart disease and the symptoms and warning signs, and treatment options. Maybe something about how we can encourage more people to go to the doctor to get a diagnosis before it becomes more serious.
- Generally, one starts an essay with an interesting quote, fact, or story to make the reader want to continue reading. Ex. Did you know that every year. Then you can begin to talk about background information and a thesis. A thesis usually lays out a brief summary of the points you want to make and includes your position on the topic. Ex. Dogs are ideal pets because of their loyalty to humans and their great trainability.
- Talk about the problem first, this way the reader can understand why you are talking about effects and so the reader gets a good background on the subject.
Start your introduction with a relevant story, fact, or quote that will engage readers. Then, add 2-3 sentences of background information to give your essay context, and include important dates, locations, or historical moments where applicable. Finally, include your thesis statement, which is a specific, arguable, and provable statement that answers a question about your essay topic. For example, your thesis might read: «In the modern age, online dating apps like Tinder provide a wider variety of romantic options than young people have ever had before.»
How to Write a Good Introduction
Since the dawn of man, writing has been used to communicate ideas. In academic settings, ideas are typically communicated using formal types of writing such as essays. Most academic essays contain an introductory paragraph, which includes a thesis.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines an introduction as, “ A preliminary explanation prefixed to or included in a book or other writing; the part of a book which leads up to the subject treated, or explains the author’s design or purpose. Also, the corresponding part of a speech, lecture, etc.”
Michigan State University student Sally used to have a lot of difficulty writing introductions. Once she had suffered through writing dozens of painful introductions, she decided to look up some tips on how to introduce your essay, and after that she got a lot better.
Introductions can be tricky. Because the introduction is the first portion of your essay that the reader encounters, the stakes are fairly high for your introduction to be successful. A good introduction presents a broad overview of your topic and your thesis, and should convince the reader that it is worth their time to actually read the rest of your essay. Below are some tips that will make writing an introduction a little less daunting, and help us all to write essays that don’t make our professors want to bang their heads against the wall.
- Start your introduction broad, but not too broad. When I first started writing formal essays, I didn’t really know how broad to go with my intros. A brief paragraph on Hamlet would suddenly include irrelevant details about Shakespeare’s childhood, then grow out to be a history of Western literature, and then a history of the universe itself. Do not write an introduction like this; this kind of intro is confusing and makes the reader wonder where exactly you’re going with your essay. Your introduction should provide the reader with a sense of what they should expect out of your essay, not to expound upon every piece of knowledge ever developed by man. Go ahead and start relatively broad, then narrow to your thesis, but make sure you’re still on topic.
- Provide relevant background, but don’t begin your true argument. It’s fine to give a bit of context to your essay in the introduction, but the real meat of your argument should be located in your body paragraphs. A good test to see if information should go in a body or introductory paragraph is to ask yourself a few questions. Is this providing context or evidence? Does this introduce my argument, or try to prove it? True evidence or proof deserves a body paragraph. Context and background most likely belong in your introduction.
- Provide a thesis. The majority of the time, your thesis, or main argument, should occur somewhere towards the end of your introduction. It is a typical convention to put your thesis as the last sentence of your first paragraph. My personal opinion is that it can sometimes be awkward to shove your thesis in one specific place if it doesn’t necessarily fit, but if your thesis works in that position, that is the best place for it. That being said, if you absolutely can’t include your thesis in that location, go ahead and stick it somewhere else.
- Provide only helpful, relevant information. Anecdotes can be an interesting opener to your essay, but only if the anecdote in question is truly relevant to your topic. Are you writing an essay about Maya Angelou? An anecdote about her childhood might be relevant, and even charming. Are you writing an essay about safety regulations in roller coasters? Go ahead and add an anecdote about a person who was injured while riding a roller coaster. Are you writing an essay about Moby Dick? Perhaps an anecdote about that time your friend read Moby Dick and hated it is not the best way to go. The same is true for statistics, quotes, and other types of information about your topic.
- Try to avoid clichés. Some types of introductions may have once been successful, but have been used so often that they have become tired and clichéd. Starting your essay with a definition is a good example of one of these conventions. At this point, starting with a definition is a bit boring, and will cause your reader to tune out.
- Don’t feel pressured to write your intro first. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out exactly what information is relevant to your introduction until you’ve written the piece itself. Personally, I find that my writer’s block is always strongest when writing the introduction. If you are having trouble with your intro, feel free to write some, or all, of your body paragraphs, and then come back to it. You might find it a bit easier to write your introduction once you’re more comfortable with the essay as a whole.
- Convince the reader that your essay is worth reading. Your reader should finish the introduction thinking that the essay is interesting or has some sort of relevance to their lives. A good introduction is engaging; it gets the audience thinking about the topic at hand and wondering how you will be proving your argument. Good ways to convince your reader that your essay is worthwhile is to provide information that the reader might question or disagree with. Once they are thinking about the topic, and wondering why you hold your position, they are more likely to be engaged in the rest of the essay.
Basically, a good introduction provides the reader with a brief overview of your topic and an explanation of your thesis. A good introduction is fresh, engaging, and interesting. Successful introductions don’t rely on clichés or irrelevant information to demonstrate their point. Be brief, be concise, be engaging. Good luck.