Advantages disadvantages type essays are entirely different from opinion essays (i.e. persuasive essays or argumentative essays) in terms of intent, style, tone and structure. In the case of advantages disadvantages type essays, the intention is not to condemn one view and strongly support another like in opinion essays, where the writer seeks to convince the reader of the soundness of his views and the stupidity of the reader’s with any means at his disposal. This being the case, in an opinion essay, strong language, extreme examples, anything goes. The purpose is to leave the reader, whom the writer assumes disagrees with him, without a leg to stand on. The topics of such essays are usually those on which there are two diametrically opposing views, either of which can be defended, like capital punishment or euthanasia. Compared to these essays, advantages disadvantages type essays are very civilized and sedate. The purpose or intent is entirely different. All the writer seeks to do is to set out the advantages and disadvantages quite objectively and calmly and then either say one looks more reasonable under the current circumstances or leave the choice to the reader. As is obvious, such essays are not a matter of life and death so the language and the tone are more moderate. There is no foaming at the mouth, aggressive style or strong language like in opinion essays. It doesn’t really matter to the writer what the reader ultimately decides to do; all the writer is doing is giving the reader the facts and perhaps indicating which way he is leaning himself. The topics of advantages disadvantages type essays are not ones where you can say “Right. That is it; let’s abolish it!” They are facts of life which we all accept and the advantages and disadvantages of which we are all familiar with. One example, the advantages and disadvantages of homework, will now be examined to clarify all that has been said. As you study it, try to imagine the writer sitting across from his friend, the reader, armed with a hot drink, with a roaring fire in the background having a purely intellectual discussion about the merits and demerits of homework. Neither party has kids or intends to. What is more, neither cares whether the little sods do any homework or not. If this were an opinion essay, the writer would be comparable to the counsel for the defense in a murder trial trying to save his client from the hangman’s noose. He would, therefore, be fighting with everything he had. If this difference in tone and style is remembered, writing advantages disadvantages type essays will be a breeze. Note the suggested plan and structure (explained below) and then examine the sample essay. The topics that have been assigned for practice are of the same type as the example.
An advantages disadvantages type essay is a formal piece of writing in which the topic is considered from opposing points of view. A good essay of this type should consist of the following:
AN INTRODUCTION in which the topic is stated in general terms but no opinion is given constitutes the first paragraph. This paragraph also contains the thesis statement which states clearly that the advantages and disadvantages will be discussed in the essay.
THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF THE DEVELOPMENT follows and starts with a topic sentence which states clearly that the paragraph deals with the advantages. Remember that each paragraph in an essay must begin with a topic sentence that summarizes what the paragraph is about. The points made must be supported with justification (reasons and/or examples).
THE SECOND DEVELOPMENTAL PARAGRAPH also begins with a topic sentence. In this case, the topic sentence states clearly that the disadvantages will be discussed. Again the points that are made need to be supported with justification.
THE FINAL PARAGRAPH, THE CONCLUSION, is often a balanced consideration; however, the writer may give his own opinion here as well. That is to say, he could state whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages or vice versa. It should be remembered that the conclusion is a paragraph in its own right and repetition should be avoided.