25 Using Experience


fountain penChances are, if you have chosen an issue to write about for your argumentative essay, you have chosen a topic that means something to you. With this in mind, you may have had personal experience related to the issue that you would like to share with your audience.

This isn’t always going to be allowed in an argumentative essay, as some professors will want you to focus more on outside sources. However, many times, you’ll be allowed to present personal experience. Just be sure to check with your professor.

If you do have personal experiences to share, you have to make sure you use those experiences carefully. After all, you want your evidence to build your ethos, not take away from it. If you have witnessed examples that are relevant, you can share those as long as you make sure you don’t make claims that are too big based on those experiences.

Here’s an example of an ineffective use of personal experience as evidence:

A student is writing an argumentative paper on welfare reform, arguing that there are too many abuses of the system. The student gives an example of a cousin who abuses the system and makes a claim that this is evidence that abuse of the system is widespread.

Here’s an example of how the student might use personal experience as evidence more effectively:

A student is writing an argumentative paper on welfare reform and has statistical evidence to support claims that the system is not working well. Instead of using the personal experience about a cousin who abuses the system as key evidence, the student shares data and then presents the personal experience as an example that some people may witness.



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College Composition by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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