The Differences Between an Argumentative Essay and a Persuasive Essay

October 31, 2019 Choosing to Study the Humanities

Essays come in many forms, from narrative essays to definition and literary essays. Two styles of essays that often get confused are the argumentative essay and the persuasive essay.


Both types of essays share the same foundation and goal – they focus on a divisive or appealing assertion or thesis that has more than one viewpoint. Like all essays each opens with a thesis statement that shows the writer’s viewpoint and both are intended to influence the reader and sway them to consider the author’s point of view. However, this is where the goals diverge.


The persuasive essay is written to pull the reader to the author’s position. In a persuasive essay, the writer only offers one point of view, the one that they are defending, without discussing the other side. The essay is designed to passively inform and persuade, without conflict. There is no mention of the possible negatives of the opposing view. The goal is to persuade and convince the reader through explanation and by commending the merits of the writer’s hypothesis.

On the other hand, the argumentative essay focuses on an objective hypothesis. The author presents their positive standpoint, as with the persuasive essay, but then continues on to present the other side of the issue. Using a strong tone and featuring more points to be made both for the author’s standpoint and against the conflicting point of view, argumentative essays are intended to sway the reader in a much more resolute way. Every claim needs to be supported with quantifiable facts in order to respond to or rebut the reader’s objections.


While the goal of both essays is to educate and sway the reader, in an argumentative essay, the aim is also to educate the them, and to have, if not persuaded them, then at least had them consider both sides.