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How to Support a Claim in an Essay: The Complete Guide
by Antony W
February 16, 2023
Making a claim in an essay isn’t enough to get people to agree with your stance in an argument. You also have to support your statement with objective reasons and evidence to make your essay convincing enough. That’s why in this guide, you’ll learn how to support a claim in an essay without trying so hard.
Remember, someone reading your essay won’t necessarily agree with your position on an issue and will often try to throw in an opposing point of view to challenge your stand.
By making a claim, and using the strongest evidence to handle counterclaims, you can easily prove to your audience that you’ve done in-depth research on the topic and, if possible, make them consider your stance even if they didn’t agree with you initially.
Before we look at how to support a claim in an essay, it’s important to note that a claim isn’t the same as a descriptive statement or an opinion. A claim is debatable, it needs support for evidence, and it gives a concise answer to the “so what” question.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the different ways to support the claim you make in an argumentative essay .
What Makes A Claim in an Essay?
Before we look at the different ways to support a claim in any type of essay that you write, it’s important to learn what makes a claim in an essay.
We define a claim as a statement of truth subject to debate. With this respect, the claim you make in your essay should invite debate while defining your writing’s goals, direction, and scope. Unlike personal opinion packed with emotions and subjective ideas, the claim you make will require inquiry and evidence.
More importantly, a claim can’t be broad. It needs to be specific in kind to assert a focused argument that you can easily explore and defend.
Types of Claims in an Essay
To take this even further, we strongly believe that it’s important to touch on the different types of claims in brief so you write this part of the assignment with clarity and precision.
So here we go:
- Claims of definition or facts: Here, your intention is to argue the definition of an issue or to find out whether the issue is an already established fact.
- Claims about value: The requirement in this case is that you present an argument that show someone, something, or an issue is of a certain value and you should therefore rate it in a given way.
- Claim of cause and effect: The claim you make in this case suggests that you intend to argue how one person, thing, or event is the cause of an issue.
- Claims about policies or solutions: This one is simple. It’s where one gives a declarative statement for or against a certain policy or solution.
How to Write a Claim
Before you learn how to support a claim in an essay, we need to be sure you know exactly how to write the claim in the first place.
So here’s how you should write a claim in your essay:
1. Start with a Question
Pose a question you can comfortably answer based on the positon you take. The question you ask should be clear, concise, and debatable.
Here’s an example:
- Are cellphone bad?
- Should 12-year-old kids have smartphones?
From an academic standpoint, you don’t have to look at the first question to know that it’s plain vague. That’s not the kind of question to ask when you want to write a claim for your essay.
Go with the second question instead. It’s clear, focused, concise, and current. What’s more? It even invites an argument because not everyone can agree with what the question suggests.
2. Convert the Question into a Statement
This is a no brainer.
Really all you have to do is to take the relevant question and convert it into an arguable statement.
You need to do two thing to get this right:
First, answer the question you just asked. Your answer describes the stance you take on the issue. Second, give reasons why you believe your position is valid. Remember, your reason shouldn’t be any specific evidence that can justify your stance. Rather, it should be a generic statement.
Different Ways to Support a Claim in an Essay
You’ve learned quite a lot already in this guide. At least, you now know what a claim is, what makes a good claim, types of claims you can make, and the best way to write a claim for your essay.
The question is:
How exactly do you support a claim in an essay?
1. Use Statistics to Support Your Declarative Statement
Even when used sparingly with written explanations of why the data is significant for your argument, statistics can defend your position in a way mere explanations of your claim never can. Statistics are factual, and they can be incredibly helpful if you can provide the full context of the data.
Including the data isn’t going to make your audience reconsider their stand on issue if you can’t show the source of your data. With this respect, it’s important that you credit the source of the data, and then state the conclusion the reader can draw from your analysis.
2. Use Relevant Examples to Support Claims in Your Essay
There are many examples you can use to support a claim in your essay, but it’s important that you choose something that’s relevant to the topic you’re investigating.
Examples are good for a reason.
They convince your reader that the statement you’ve presented is true by providing details that support your claim. More often than not, examples easily capture readers’ attention and can help to convince them to reconsider their position on the issue and accept your opposing point of view in the argument.
3. Include Expert Opinion in Your Essay
We strongly recommend including expert opinions in your essay because they’re factual evidence that can support your claim.
About the author
Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.
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My Favorite Lesson Plan for Teaching Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning
August 29, 2018 by Jeanne Wolz 2 Comments
Let’s face it. Teaching argumentative writing is hard .
If you’re looking for a full argumentative writing unit plan , I’ve got you covered–>
It’s not that teenagers aren’t good at arguing. Teenagers are very good at arguing. In fact, they may be the people that practice arguing the most.
The challenge lies in learning the different parts of a basic argument–the claim, the evidence, and the reasoning–when each of them are such abstract concepts. By understanding what each of them are, we’re able to critique arguments and make our own better. But without a concrete way to talk about them, it’s like gesturing wildly at a class and hoping they’ll catch your drift (maybe that’s half the reason argumentative units are so exhausting…).
What I knew I needed was some sort of analogy, some visual for students that we could keep revisiting each time we reinforced these ideas. I went through several years of thinking about it before I finally came up with something that seemed to work.
I thought some sort of hook analogy might work–maybe a visual with strings and clips to show how reasoning attaches your evidence to your claim. I followed a fantastic Lucy Calkins lesson once where I wrote evidence on pieces of paper and lined them up on the floor, encouraging students to explain how each piece of evidence got me from claim a to claim b (which magically gave me powers to hop along the evidence). This was an effective one-off lesson, but it was difficult to revisit.
And then, one year it came to me. An analogy to revisit over and over again. That analogy was:
Making an argument is like taking your reader on a roller coaster.
Ok, ok, it may not seem like much, but I found there was a lot of value to be squeezed out of this visual.
I wanted to share with you how I use it so that maybe you can get some ideas on how to make these abstract-logic-intensive units a little more concrete, too.
Here’s what I do to introduce it:
Table of Contents
Claims, Evidence, and Reasoning Introduction Lesson Plan
Mini-lesson: explain the analogy.
I explain: “In order for your reader to stay with you, you need to strap him into that roller coaster argument properly for the entire time. How do you do that?
Stating your claim is like sitting your reader down on your roller coaster. It’s your first step.
Then, you give evidence. Your evidence is like putting on one strap of the seatbelt.
Your reasoning is like putting on the other strap.
Mentioning your claim at the end of this process is like snapping it all together.
And each part is crucial to keep your reader from falling off your thinking.
What do you think happens if you forget one of these steps?
Yup. You gotta have it all in order for your reader to stay with you.”
Sometimes, as I’m explaining this, I even act it out with a back pack and a chair to make it even more visual. I act out sitting in the chair (for stating your claim), putting on one strap (for introducing evidence), and putting on the other strap (for using reasoning to connect it back to the claim). After introducing the comment, I also like to give an example argument for students as I’m acting it out so they can start identifying each part of the argument.
Work-time: Act it Out as Students Make Arguments
After explaining it, we practice. I like to follow it up with verbal arguments with an activity like philosophical chairs so students can have repeated opportunities to both hear examples of arguments and try them themselves.
As students make their arguments, I continue to act it out. Students talk, and I follow along with the motions.
If they miss a step (which they almost always do in the beginning), I milk it. I yell and fall off the chair and make as dramatic a scene out of it as I can). Afterwards, we talk about what they forgot to do that made me fall off their coaster/argument and die.
And then we try again and repeat!
Extension: Have Students Act it Out for Each Other
After you’ve acted it out a couple times, have the rest of the class act out what they hear.
So as students hear the person speaking state a claim, they all sit down. As the person gives some evidence, they put on a strap, etc. And if they forget a step and finish….well, you may want to warn your neighboring classrooms. This can help students tune into the structure of others’ arguments in addition to helping keep each other accountable.
Twist: Invert the Lesson
I’ve actually begun to move the mini-lesson to the middle of this lesson. I’ve found it helps for students to create their own arguments before we talk about argument structure, because it gives context for talking about Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning. Plus, it honors the knowledge that students already have about making arguments–because they have a lot . So we start Philosophical Chairs, stop 1/3 through, chat about roller coasters, and then continue on. It’s a lot for a 45 minute period, but doable.
Click here if you want my full lesson plan, powerpoint, and handout that I use for introducing this analogy with philosophical chairs–complete with dramatic pictures of cartoon people flying off of roller coasters.. (This lesson actually comes from my argumentative unit, which will be released on TPT in September. If you’d be interested in hearing more about that unit and when it’s available, click here!)
Reinforce it Throughout the Unit
For the rest of the unit, I keep coming back to this analogy. We use it to talk about weak evidence (puny straps made of yarn) and strong evidence (steel bars), as well as the need for reasoning to match the strength of the evidence (uneven straps are awkward). When I give feedback to students, I always put it back in the context of the roller coaster. By the end, the idea is that the lack of a claim, evidence, or reasoning would make anyone in class scream (and for once, not just me!)—or at the very least, that everyone is much more aware of it.
And that’s that! It’s become one of my favorite lessons in the argumentative unit, because no matter how crazy my students look at me the first time we talk about it, we’ve been able to come back to it over and over again during the unit. It’s given us a way to make something visual that always seems incredibly, frustratingly abstract.
Pin this to remember!
In the meantime, let me know in the comments below if you’ve got tips for teaching Claims, Evidence, and Reasoning, or if you were able to try this with your students. It seriously makes my day to hear from you, and I love hearing stories and new ideas!!
Some other resources you may be interested in:
This lesson is actually part of a full unit plan you can find here . One of my all-time favorite units I’ve ever taught, this argumentative unit starts with students identifying an issue they care most about, and then identifying who they can write to to change it. The rest of the 25, CCSS-aligned lessons take them through writing letters that they’ll mail at the end of the unit. Teach students how to argue well while learning to use their voice to make real change. Check it out here!
A few of my Pinterest Boards in particular (or all of them ):
Teaching Writing Pinterest Board
ELA Resources Pinterest Board
Lesson Ideas Pinterest Board
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Thank you!!! This is amazing – I really appreciate it!! 🙂
Yay–thanks for your feedback, Tara! I hope your students enjoy!!
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Claim, Support, Question Activity for Persuasive Writing
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Wyoming Standards for English Language Arts
Learning Domain: Writing
Standard: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Degree of Alignment: Not Rated (0 users)
Standard: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Maryland College and Career Ready English Language Arts Standards
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Cluster: Research to Build and Present Knowledge.
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When Assigning the Right to Pursue Relief, Always Remember to Assign Title to, Or Ownership in, The Claim
- Posted on: Oct 4 2016
Whether a party has standing to bring a lawsuit is often considered through the constitutional lens of justiciability – that is, whether there is a “case or controversy” between the plaintiff and the defendant “within the meaning of Art. III.” Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975). To have Article III standing, “the plaintiff [must have] ‘alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy’ as to warrant [its] invocation of federal-court jurisdiction and to justify exercise of the court’s remedial powers on [its] behalf.” Id. at 498–99 (quoting Baker v. Carr , 369 U.S. 186, 204 (1962)).
To show a personal stake in the litigation, the plaintiff must establish three things: First, he/she has sustained an “injury in fact” that is both “concrete and particularized” and “actual or imminent.” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife , 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992) (internal quotation marks omitted). Second, the injury has to be caused in some way by the defendant’s action or omission. Id . Finally, a favorable resolution of the case is “likely” to redress the injury. Id . at 561.
When a person or entity receives an assignment of claims, the question becomes whether he/she can show a personal stake in the outcome of the litigation, i.e. , a case and controversy “of the sort traditionally amenable to, and resolved by, the judicial process.’” Sprint Commc’ns Co., L.P. v. APCC Servs., Inc., 554 U.S. 269, 285 (2008) (quoting Vt. Agency of Natural Res. v. United States ex rel. Stevens, 529 U.S. 765, 777–78 (2000)).
To assign a claim effectively, the claim’s owner “must manifest an intention to make the assignee the owner of the claim.” Advanced Magnetics, Inc. v. Bayfront Partners, Inc. , 106 F.3d 11, 17 (2d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted). A would-be assignor need not use any particular language to validly assign its claim “so long as the language manifests [the assignor’s] intention to transfer at least title or ownership , i.e., to accomplish ‘a completed transfer of the entire interest of the assignor in the particular subject of assignment.’” Id. (emphasis added) (citations omitted). An assignor’s grant of, for example, “‘the power to commence and prosecute to final consummation or compromise any suits, actions or proceedings,’” id. at 18 (quoting agreements that were the subject of that appeal), may validly create a power of attorney, but that language would not validly assign a claim, because it does “not purport to transfer title or ownership” of one. Id.
On September 15, 2016, the New York Appellate Division, First Department, issued a decision addressing the foregoing principles holding that one of the plaintiffs lacked standing to assert claims because the assignment of the right to pursue remedies did not constitute the assignment of claims. Cortlandt St. Recovery Corp. v. Hellas Telecom., S.à.r.l. , 2016 NY Slip Op. 06051.
Cortlandt involved four related actions in which the plaintiffs – Cortlandt Street Recovery Corp. (“Cortlandt”), an assignee for collection, and Wilmington Trust Co. (“WTC”), an indenture trustee – sought payment of the principal and interest on notes issued in public offerings. Each action alleged that Hellas Telecommunications, S.a.r.l. and its affiliated entities, the issuer and guarantor of the notes, transferred the proceeds of the notes by means of fraudulent conveyances to two private equity firms, Apax Partners, LLP/TPG Capital, L.P. – the other defendants named in the actions.
The defendants moved to dismiss the actions on numerous grounds, including that Cortlandt, as the assignee for collection, lacked standing to pursue the actions. To cure the claimed standing defect, Cortlandt and WTC moved to amend the complaints to add SPQR Capital (Cayman) Ltd. (“SPQR”), the assignor of note interests to Cortlandt, as a plaintiff. The plaintiffs alleged that, inter alia , SPQR entered into an addendum to the assignment with Cortlandt pursuant to which Cortlandt received “all right, title, and interest” in the notes.
The Motion Court granted the motions to dismiss, holding that, among other things, Cortlandt lacked standing to maintain the actions and that, although the standing defect was not jurisdictional and could be cured, the plaintiffs failed to cure the defect in the proposed amended complaint. Cortlandt St. Recovery Corp. v. Hellas Telecom., S.à.r.l. , 47 Misc. 3d 544 (Sup. Ct., N.Y. Cnty. 2014).
The Motion Court’s Ruling
As an initial matter, the Motion Court cited to the reasoning of the court in Cortlandt Street Recovery Corp. v. Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch , No. 12 Civ. 9351 (JPO), 2013 WL 3762882, 2013 US Dist. LEXIS 100741 (S.D.N.Y. July 18, 2013) (the “SDNY Action”), a related action that was dismissed on standing grounds. The complaint in the SDNY Action, like the complaints before the Motion Court, alleged that Cortlandt was the assignee of the notes with a “right to collect” the principal and interest due on the notes. As evidence of these rights, Cortlandt produced an assignment, similar to the ones in the New York Supreme Court actions, which provided that as the assignee with the right to collect, Cortlandt could collect the principal and interest due on the notes and pursue all remedies with respect thereto. In dismissing the SDNY Action, Judge Oetken found that the complaint did not allege, and the assignment did not provide, that “title to or ownership of the claims has been assigned to Cortlandt.” 2013 WL 3762882, at *2, 2013 US Dist. LEXIS 100741, at *7. The court also found that the grant of a power of attorney (that is, the power to sue on and collect on a claim) was “not the equivalent of an assignment of ownership” of a claim. 2013 WL 3762882 at *1, 2013 US Dist. LEXIS 100741 at *5. Consequently, because the assignment did not transfer title or ownership of the claim to Cortlandt, there was no case or controversy for the court to decide ( i.e. , Cortlandt could not prove that it had an interest in the outcome of the litigation).
The Motion Court “concur[red] with” Judge Oeken’s decision, holding that “the assignments to Cortlandt … were assignments of a right of collection, not of title to the claims, and are accordingly insufficient as a matter of law to confer standing upon Cortlandt.” In so holding, the Motion Court observed that although New York does not have an analogue to Article III, it is nevertheless analogous in its requirement that a plaintiff have a stake in the outcome of the litigation:
New York does not have an analogue to article III. However, the New York standards for standing are analogous, as New York requires “[t]he existence of an injury in fact—an actual legal stake in the matter being adjudicated.”
Under long-standing New York law, an assignee is the “real party in interest” where the “title to the specific claim” is passed to the assignee, even if the assignee may ultimately be liable to another for the amounts collected.
Based upon the foregoing, the Motion Court found that Cortlandt lacked standing to pursue the actions.
Cortlandt appealed the dismissal. With regard to the Motion Court’s dismissal of Cortlandt on standing grounds, the First Department affirmed the Motion Court’s ruling, holding:
The [IAS] court correctly found that plaintiff Cortlandt Street Recovery Corp. lacks standing to bring the claims in Index Nos. 651693/10 and 653357/11 because, while the assignments to Cortlandt for the PIK notes granted it “full rights to collect amounts of principal and interest due on the Notes, and to pursue all remedies,” they did not transfer “title or ownership” of the claims.
Cortlandt limits the ability of an assignee to pursue a lawsuit when the assignee has no direct interest in the outcome of the litigation. By requiring an assignee to have legal title to, or an ownership interest in, the claim, the Court made clear that only a valid assignment of a claim will suffice to fulfill the injury-in-fact requirement. Cortlandt also makes clear that a power of attorney permitting another to conduct litigation on behalf of others as their attorney-in-fact is not a valid assignment and does not confer a legal title to the claims it brings. Therefore, as the title of this article warns: when assigning the right to pursue relief, always remember to assign title to, or ownership in, the claim.
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