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Argument vs. Debate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 25, 2023
Argument is a reason or set of reasons given to persuade others that an action or idea is right or wrong. Debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic where opposing arguments are put forward.

Key Differences

An argument is typically a series of reasons or evidence presented to support a viewpoint, often used to persuade or convince others. While, a debate is a structured discussion where two or more parties present opposing viewpoints on a specific topic.
Arguments can be part of everyday conversations, and they may sometimes become emotional or personal. However, debates are usually more formal and organized, focusing on logical reasoning and evidence rather than emotions.
In an argument, the goal is often to prove a point or persuade someone of a particular perspective. In a debate, the objective is to present and contrast different viewpoints, often in a more detached and objective manner.
Arguments can occur spontaneously in various settings and may involve only two people. Whereas, debates are typically planned, with specific rules and formats, and often occur in academic, competitive, or public policy settings.
While an argument can sometimes lead to a resolution or agreement, it can also end without a clear conclusion. A debate often aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of different sides of an issue, sometimes culminating in a vote or decision.

Comparison Chart


To persuade or prove a point
To discuss opposing views formally


Can be informal or formal
Usually formal and structured


Personal viewpoint or perspective
Contrasting viewpoints on a specific topic


Persuasion or unresolved disagreement
Understanding of different perspectives

Emotional Content

Can be emotional or personal
Typically focuses on logic and evidence

Argument and Debate Definitions


A discussion involving differing points of view.
They had an argument about the best approach to education reform.


A formal discussion on a particular topic with opposing viewpoints.
The debate on climate change policy was enlightening.


A set of reasons given to support a conclusion.
Her argument for renewable energy was compelling.


A contest of opposing arguments or viewpoints.
She participated in a debate competition at school.


A line of reasoning or series of reasons presented.
She presented a well-structured argument in her essay.


To discuss a subject in a formal manner.
Experts debated the merits of the new technology.


A reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others.
His argument against the proposal was based on economic factors.


A regulated argument with rules for equal representation of views.
The presidential debate followed a strict format.


A heated or emotional disagreement.
Their argument about politics got quite intense.


A public discussion or argument about a specific issue.
There was a lively debate in the town hall.


A discussion in which the parties involved express disagreement with one another; a debate
Philosophical arguments over the nature of existence.


To consider something; deliberate.


An angry discussion involving disagreement among the participants; a quarrel
The roommates had an argument about whose turn it was to wash the dishes.


To engage in argument by discussing opposing points.


To engage in a formal discussion or argument.


Can arguments be part of a debate?

Yes, debates often consist of structured arguments.

Do arguments require evidence?

Ideally, good arguments are supported by evidence.

What defines a debate?

A debate is a formal discussion with opposing viewpoints on a topic.

Are debates always public?

Debates can be public or private, but they are often structured and formal.

Do debates follow specific rules?

Yes, formal debates usually have specific rules and formats.

What is the main purpose of an argument?

To persuade others or prove a point.

Can an argument be a simple disagreement?

Yes, arguments can be disagreements over different viewpoints.

How do arguments start?

Arguments often start from a disagreement or differing perspectives.

Are emotions helpful in arguments?

While common, emotions can sometimes hinder rational discussion.

Are arguments always confrontational?

Not always; arguments can be calm and rational.

Can debates change public opinion?

Yes, debates can influence public opinion by presenting different perspectives.

Is it necessary to have a winner in a debate?

Not always; the aim can be to explore different viewpoints.

Do debates require preparation?

Yes, effective debate often requires thorough preparation.

Can anyone participate in a debate?

Yes, with the right preparation, anyone can participate in a debate.

Is it possible to argue without being aggressive?

Yes, arguments can be civil and based on logic and reason.

Do debates always involve two sides?

Typically, but some formats can include multiple viewpoints.

Can debates be informal?

While less common, debates can occur informally.

Can an argument lead to a solution?

Sometimes, if the parties involved reach a consensus.

Is the goal of a debate to reach an agreement?

Not necessarily; it's often to explore and present different views.

Are arguments more common than debates?

Arguments are more common in everyday life due to their informal nature.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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