Persuasive Essay Definition


What is a persuasive essay?


A persuasive essay is a piece of writing that focuses on a particular issue and aims to prove that the writer’s stance is correct, by using arguments and evidence to convince the reader. Essentially, the writer acts as a lawyer, building a case with strong evidence, and the reader as the jury making a decision to believe it or not. A combination of credibility, logic, and emotion will likely win over your audience.




A persuasive essay is an opinion piece, but there must be evidence to back up claims. While you’re trying to sway the reader to one side, it’s a good idea to discuss the opposing viewpoint, if only to discredit it and cover any potential counterarguments. This creates a solid essay that is more difficult to refute. It’s also useful to anticipate the viewpoint the audience is already likely to lean towards, and counteract it.


Topic and tone


Persuasive essays can range from serious and controversial topics, such as taking a stance on a social or political issue like abortion or gay marriage, to light-hearted and everyday discussions like whether Coke or Pepsi is better. Regardless of the topic, it is best not to adopt a conversational tone or use first person statements like “I believe,” because these weaken your argument. Stating your opinions as facts, and backing them up with evidence is the strongest approach. It’s okay to use some real life examples and humor, as long as it’s engaging and influential, and if the particular topic calls for it, it’s beneficial to appeal to the reader’s emotions.


Persuasive versus informative


Remember that a persuasive essay is different to an informative or descriptive essay. Your job isn’t to educate the reader on the subject; your job above all else is to prove your point. You are supposed to be biased and argumentative, but don’t be insulting or dismissive at the same time. Use facts, statistics, quotes, questions, anecdotes, hypothetical examples, and anything else that supports your opinion. 


Uses of persuasive writing


Depending on the particular issue or opinion, the essay might also end with a call to action or a prediction for the future. Aside from being used to argue an opinion, persuasive writing is also used for advertising purposes to sell specific products or services to consumers. It also has applications in activism, fundraising, lobbying, law, and journalism, among other fields.

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