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Essay #4: Definitional Argument

Task Sheet


This essay culminates the course; it should demonstrate your ability in all areas of argumentative writing that the course has covered.  Emphasize advanced sentence structure, vocabulary usage, criteria/match sections that include scholarly research to support you claim, and rebuttal with refute skills. Emphasize unity and coherence in your writing; use a variety of transitional words to help your essay flow well.  Correct MLA format (in-text citations, Works Cited, etc) is a ‘must.’

Minimum:  3 pages of text (does not include the Works Cited page or the Heading on page 1.)


Your essay must include the following: 

Organization Plan:

1.  Introduce the issue and state your claim:  You will make up a hypothetical case/story/anecdote (“attention grabber” to engage your reader’s attention in the introduction), definition of the ‘key’ or disputed term, and state your claim in the thesis statement

Example for Thesis:   Race car drivers are not true athletes because…****go right into the definition of an “athlete” that will lead into the two criteria. You may either use a reputable dictionary or make up your own definition for the disputed or ‘key’ term.

In a formal definition essay, the thesis is usually the formal definition. The significance, importance, relevance, or value of discussing this term is usually provided in the introduction.

2.  Criteria and Match Arguments Section (at least 2 criteria for this essay)  State your two criteria for this case and argue that your case either does or does not meet the criteria.  Use your research to support your claim. RESEARCH……facts, evidence, reasons.

3.  Respond to possible objections:  look at the other side of the issue: Rebuttal and Refute.  Anticipate the objections and address the opposite side of the issue….using MORE of your research to support your claim.

4.  Conclusion.  Wrap up, tie up the essay.  Return  to your ‘hypothetical’ 

   case/story (in your introduction) to end this essay.  End with something memorable.

Select one of the Following Topics for your Definitional Essay:

a.   highly skilled video game players (or race car drivers, golfers) are/are not true athletes

b.   cheerleaders are/are not true athletes

c.  fishing is/is not a sport

d.   a gourmet chef is/is not a true artist

e.  a Mazda Miata is/is not a true sports car

f.  for purposes of a college graduation requirement, American Sign language is/is not a “foreign language”

g.  NASCAR is/is not  a sport

****This is a true argumentative essay. ****

 You will need:

1.   Introduction: 

A.)begin with a hypothetical case or anecdote that will introduce the  argument  (See the Sample passed out and discussed in class).

B.)   state a claim (the definition of the key or “disputed” term) in the introduction with the thesis statement….should be in a “because” statement

2.  Criteria:  what has to be met for the definition

3.  Match: support your claim with reputable research and evidence

4.   Look at the opposing sides (rebuttals); address those rebuttals

5.   Refute those rebuttals with more evidence

6.   Conclusion: summarize, wrap up, tie up the essay.  Refer back to the anecdotal case in your introduction

Required: minimum of two reputable, scholarly sources.  More would be advisable.  Use the sources throughout the paper…not just incidentally here and there. These will appear throughout the paper as in-text citations and will correspond on the Works Cited page.  Remember that if you don’t credit the original source, you have committed plagiarism.

***In general, a research paper should have approx. 3 in-text citations per page of text.

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