A discursive essay
A discursive essay is a piece of formal writing which discusses a particular issue, situation or problem.
There are three main types of discursive essays.
There are two basic kinds of discursive essays. Firstly there are persuasive essays in which you can argue strongly either in favour of or against a given discussion.
Alternatively, there are argumentative essays.
An essay is a piece of writing, usually from an writer's personal point of view on a particular topic.
I For and against essays present both sides of an issue, discussing points in favour of a particular topic as well as those against, or the advantages and disadvantages of a particular question. Each point should be supported by justifications, examples, and/or reasons. The writer's own opinion should be presented only in the final paragraph.
II Opinion essays present the writers personal opinion concerning the topic, clearly stated and supported by reasons and/or examples. The opposing viewpoint and reason should be included in a separate paragraph before the dosing one, together with an argument that shows it is an unconvincing viewpoint. The writer's opinion should be included in the introduction, and summarized/restated in the conclusion.
III Essays suggesting solutions to problems, in which the problem(s) associated with a particular issue or situation are analysed and possible solutions are put for-ward, together with any expected results/consequences. The writer's opinion may be mentioned, directly or indirectly, in the introduction and/or conclusion.
A good discursive essay should consist of:
a) an introductory paragraph in which you clearly state the topic to be discussed;
b) a main body, in which points are clearly stated in separate paragraphs and exemplified or justified: and
c) a closing paragraph summarising the main points of the essay, in which you stale/restate your opinion, and/or give a balanced consideration of the topic. You will able to get good essay ideas at Essay Typer sentences generator.
Points to consider
• Present each point in a separate paragraph. A well-developed paragraph contains a clear topic sentence, which summaries the contents of the paragraph, as well as a clear justification, explanation or example in support of the point presented.
• Well-known quotations (e.g. As writer Somerset Maugham once said, 'It is bad enough to know the past; it would be intolerable to know the future."). rhetorical questions (e.g. It people today are not concerned enough about tomorrow, will the future still be there for man?) or thought-provoking statements (e.g. The fact is mat one's future is what one makes it. There Is no such thing as chance.) are useful devices to make your composition more interesting.
• Before you begin writing, you should always make a list of the points you will present.
• Do not use informal style (e.g. contracted forms, colloquial language, etc) or very strong language (e.g. I know. I am sure…)
Use appropriate linking words/phrases to show the links between paragraph, as well as to link sentences within paragraphs.
Many people, however, prefer living in flats because they feel safer.
With increasing crime rates, people are afraid to live in a house, as they feel more vulnerable to burglars and other criminals. Therefore, they prefer the feeing of security that the proximity of neighbouring flats offers them.
Go to Practical exercises on the topic Discursive essay
• Discursive essays are written in formal style. This means you should use:
-passive voice, impersonal constructions
(e.g. It Is argued that It Is a common belief that…)
- a range of advanced vocabulary (verbs, adjectives, abstract nouns, etc)
(e.g. heated debate concerning the controversial issue…)
-formal linking words/phrases (e.g. furthermore, however, nonetheless)
- complex sentences with a variety of links, dependent clauses, etc (e.g. Although it is widely accepted that compulsory military service, which provides an army with abundant manpower, is beneficial to a country's ability to defend itself, closer analysis of military efficiency suggests that it is advanced weaponry which plays a crucial role in…)
- inversion, especially in conditionals
(e.g. Were this true, we would…; Never has this been more obvious…)
You should not use.
-short forms (e.g. I'm, It’s) except when these are part of a quotation
-colloquial expressions, phrasal verbs, idioms
(e.g. lots of, put up with, be over the moon about…)
- simplistic vocabulary (e.g. Experts say they think this is bad….)
- a series of short sentences (e.g. Many people think so. They are wrong.)
- simple linking words (e.g. and, but, so) except for variety
Go to Practical exercises on the topic Formal style
Go to Beginning and ending discursive essays
In the first paragraph, you should state the topic and/or your opinion, and you may include one or more of the following techniques.
• Make reference to an unusual or striking idea/scene/situation e.g. Imagine millions of people coming home from school or work every day to sit staring at a wall for four hours.
• Address the reader directly e.g. You may think this is an exaggeration. and/or ask a rhetorical question. e.g. Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without cars?
• Start with a quotation or thought-provoking statement, e.g. "Television is an invention that
permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home." David Frost once said.
In the last paragraph, you should state your opinion and/or give a balanced consideration of the topic, and you may include one or more of the following techniques.
• Finish with a quotation
• Ask a rhetorical question
• Give the reader something to consider e.g. Perhaps then people will re-discover what It is like to actually communicate with each other.
You should paragraph your essay according its content. Try to meet the writing guidelines and basic requirements. Keep your report fairly. Rather than this type essay, you may have to write admission essay or application essays.
Useful Tips for Discursive Essays
• When writing a discursive essay, you should:
- use formal, impersonal style (see Formal Style)
- use topic sentences to introduce the subject of each paragraph
- write well-developed paragraphs, giving reasons/examples
- use generalisations (e.g.ln most developed countries, education…)
- use sequencing (e.g. First/ly, Second/ly, etc) and linking words/phrases (e.g. however, although, etc)
- make references to other sources (e.g. Experts have proved that…)
- use quotations, either word-for-word or in paraphrase, being careful to identify the source (e.g. As Winston Churchill said,”…)
• You should not:
-use short forms, informal/colloquial language, etc (see Formal Style)
- use very emotional language (e.g. I absolutely detest people who…)
- express personal opinions too strongly (e.g. I know…); instead, use milder expressions (e.g. It seems to me that…)
- use over-generalisation (e.g. All politicians are…)
- refer blindly to statistics without accurate reference to their source (e.g. "A recent study showed…" - which study?)
- use cliches (e.g. Rome was not built in a day.)
- use personal examples (e.g. In my school…)
Taken from "Successful Writing Proficiency" by Virginia Evans
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At high school and also at tertiary institutions you need to be able to write about different points of view. Here are some tips on how to write a discursive essay.
Discursive essays are like a debate, where you give different arguments about the same topic.
Topics can be something like:
• Should cellphones be allowed at school?
• Uniforms at school: the pros and cons.
Example of a discursive essay
Technology – good or bad?
Some people believe that technology is bad, other people believe that technology is fantastic. However everyone must agree that now it is hard to imagine the world without technology. In this essay I look at the good and bad side of technology. I believe that we cannot blame technology for what goes wrong. We should rather blame the people who use it badly.
My parents and grandparents often talk about a time when there were no cellphones. My grandmother even remembers when there was no TV anywhere. And when my great-grandparents were around, there were no cars or buses. People took the train, or rode horses or wagons. Imagine!
Cellphones are great in many ways. We can keep in touch with people easily. I can let my mother know when I am going to come home, and I can find my friends when we are in town and in different places. I can get Maths help on Mxit and also can listen to music when I want to relax.
But cellphones can also be bad. My friend’s father gets cross when we are always texting and using our phones. “In our days we talked to each other, and got out in the world,” he always says. “You are all stuck to your phones.” And it is true that it can be addictive to play games or talk on Mxit or BBM. People sometimes use this to hurt others. Last year someone put very rude comments on Mxit about all the girls in my class. The comment about me was that I’d never find a boyfriend because I was so ugly. This was very hurtful.
But the problem really is the people, not technology. People can do bad things with technology, but people can also do very good things too. Perhaps the problem is more with people. Reckless drivers can kill, but that doesn’t mean cars aren’t very useful.
Tips for writing good discursive essays
Plan and structure your essay very carefully:
• Introduction: introduces the topic and summarises the essay
• First paragraph: gives one argument supporting the topic
• Second paragraph: gives another argument that supports the topic
• Third paragraph: gives an argument against the topic
• Fourth paragraph: gives an argument against the topic
• Conclusion: summarises your point of view.
• Use examples from your own life and experience to show what you mean (for school essays)
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