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Argumentative Essay vs. Persuasive Essay: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 19, 2024
An argumentative essay presents balanced arguments on a topic, while a persuasive essay aims to convince the reader of a particular viewpoint.

Key Differences

An argumentative essay focuses on presenting different sides of an issue, supported by evidence and logic. A persuasive essay, on the other hand, primarily seeks to persuade the reader to agree with the author's point of view.
Argumentative essays typically involve extensive research and present a balanced view, often acknowledging counterarguments. Persuasive essays may rely more on emotional appeal and less on presenting an opposing view.
In argumentative essays, the writer's opinion may be present but is usually supported by factual evidence and logical reasoning. In contrast, persuasive essays often use rhetorical devices to influence the reader's emotions and beliefs.
The tone of an argumentative essay is usually more formal and academic, focusing on facts and logical arguments. Persuasive essays may adopt a more passionate or personal tone to effectively sway the reader.
Argumentative essays are common in academic settings where critical thinking and research skills are emphasized. Persuasive essays are often found in advertising, political speeches, and blogs, where the goal is to influence opinions.

Comparison Chart


To present balanced arguments
To persuade the reader of a viewpoint

Approach to Counterarguments

Acknowledges and addresses counterarguments
May downplay or omit counterarguments

Reliance on Research

Heavily relies on factual evidence
May use emotional appeals more than facts


Formal and academic
Often passionate or personal

Typical Use

Academic writing
Advertising, speeches, opinion pieces

Argumentative Essay and Persuasive Essay Definitions

Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays use evidence and logic to support arguments.
The essay used statistics to argue for renewable energy sources.

Persuasive Essay

Persuasive essays may use rhetorical devices to influence the reader.
The essay employed compelling language to promote healthy eating.

Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay includes counterarguments.
The essay acknowledged opposing views on school uniforms.

Persuasive Essay

Persuasive essays are common in advertising and political campaigns.
The essay aimed to persuade readers to support a particular candidate.

Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays aim to inform and explain different viewpoints.
The essay provided various perspectives on climate change policies.

Persuasive Essay

Persuasive essays often appeal to emotions and personal beliefs.
The essay used emotional appeals to advocate for animal rights.

Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays often explore controversial issues.
The essay discussed both sides of the gun control debate.

Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay aims to convince the reader of a specific viewpoint.
The essay persuasively argued for the importance of voting.

Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay presents a balanced perspective on a topic.
The essay explored both the benefits and drawbacks of social media.

Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay often takes a clear stance on an issue.
The essay strongly supported the adoption of renewable energy.


Do persuasive essays focus on emotional appeal?

Yes, they often use emotional appeal to persuade.

What is an argumentative essay?

An argumentative essay presents balanced views on a topic, using evidence.

How does an argumentative essay handle counterarguments?

It acknowledges and addresses counterarguments.

Is research important in argumentative essays?

Yes, research and factual evidence are key.

Are persuasive essays less formal?

They can be, often adopting a passionate tone.

What defines a persuasive essay?

A persuasive essay aims to convince the reader of a particular viewpoint.

Where are argumentative essays commonly used?

In academic settings and scholarly writing.

Can argumentative essays have a persuasive element?

Yes, but they mainly focus on balanced argumentation.

What is a key difference in structure between these essays?

Argumentative essays often present multiple viewpoints; persuasive essays focus on one.

Do persuasive essays always present counterarguments?

Not always; they may focus solely on supporting their argument.

Can an argumentative essay change a reader's opinion?

It can, but its main goal is to inform and present multiple sides.

Can both types of essays use statistical data?

Yes, both can use data, but argumentative essays rely on it more.

Are persuasive essays biased?

They can be, as they aim to persuade towards a specific viewpoint.

Do persuasive essays require evidence?

They do use evidence, but may also rely heavily on rhetorical strategies.

Can a persuasive essay be subjective?

Yes, it can be more subjective and personal.

What tone is typical in argumentative essays?

The tone is usually formal and academic.

Is it necessary to pick a side in an argumentative essay?

Not necessarily; the goal is to present a balanced view.

Where would you typically find persuasive essays?

In advertising, opinion pieces, and political speeches.

Are persuasive essays shorter than argumentative essays?

Not necessarily; length depends on the topic and depth of argument.

Can both essays be used in educational settings?

Yes, both are valuable for developing different writing skills.
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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