Which pet is better: cats or dogs?

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What are some reasons people might give about preferring cats? They could say cats:

  • are more independent

  • can stay home alone longer

  • don't need regular walks

What about the best movie you've ever seen? Why is it the best movie?

Two people talking. One says,

These questions are asking about your opinions. By answering these questions and giving reasons, you explained where your opinions come from. And here's a secret for you: how to write an opinion essay isn't much different!

What is an opinion essay?

The purpose of an opinion essay is to explain and support YOUR opinion on a topic. An opinion topic could be:

Jurassic Park, the best movie ever made.

With this topic, the writer is expressing their opinion that Jurassic Park is the best movie.

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Opinion essays follow the same structure as many other essays, but writing an opinion essay has two big differences:

  1. They need evidence to support why you have this opinion.

  2. You need to consider counterarguments, which are arguments against your opinion, often addressed in the final body paragraph.

The strategies below will show you how to write an opinion essay with the above points in mind.

1. Choose an interesting topic

Many people find writing difficult, often due to writer's block.

A man sitting at a type writer experiencing writer's block

To get unstuck, when you choose a topic, it's helpful to:

  • Pick a topic you enjoy.

  • Make sure the topic is something you can have strong opinions about.

There is a difference between writing about "the best movie ever made" versus "qualities of a good movie". The first gets you to express your opinion, and the second gets you to describe something.

A man saying ,

2. Write a clear thesis statement

You'll often hear that the thesis statement is the road map of the essay, and for good reason. Writing a good thesis statement will help you:

  • know what each body paragraph will be about 🤔

  • research appropriate facts and expert opinions 🧐

  • stay on topic as you write 📝

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The thesis statement for an opinion essay has 3 parts:

  1. your topic

  2. your opinion

  3. your reasons (i.e., body paragraph topics)

Here's an example:

The best movie ever made was Jurassic Park because of its special effects and box office success.

"The best movie ever made" is the topic, "Jurassic Park" is the opinion, and "special effects and box office success"are the reasons. Reading this thesis statement, we know what the essay is going to be about and the topic of each paragraph.

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Test your knowledge! 🌟

José loves professional sports. He chose the topic: "Do professional athletes get paid too much?" for his essay. José wrote 4 possible thesis statements. Which ones could he use?

A. Yes, I agree professional athletes are paid too much.

B. There are many reasons why professional athletes are paid too much.

C. Because their current pay creates economic inequality and promotes overconsumption, professional athletes should be paid a fair market wage.

D. Although people argue that athletes deserve their pay due to the amount of revenue they bring in, this is unfair.


Which thesis statements are the best for José's opinion essay? Select all that apply:

3. Outline your essay

An outline is a plan for your essay. For an opinion essay, it includes the main reasons for support and how you'll organize them.

One does not simply start an essay without a plan!

An outline helps you:

  • manage all your ideas and get clear on what needs research 🧐

  • rearrange or remove ideas to stay on topic 📝

  • break down the writing process into smaller chunks 🍰

How to write an opinion essay outline

There's no best way to write an outline, but there are key elements to include:

  1. your thesis statement

  2. the topic sentences of each body paragraph and supporting ideas

  3. at least one counterargument you want to address

  4. a summary of your main ideas for the conclusion

Take some time to explore outline examples to get an idea of what to include for yourself. For inspiration, check out this Byte on how to write an outline for a narrative essay.

Outline template with a thesis statement section, body paragraphs sections, and conclusion section.

4. Do your research

Remember, to support your opinion, you need evidence.

Investigating Basketball Wives GIF by VH1

If you're looking for evidence for the Jurassic Park thesis statement, you should research each reason.

The best movie ever made was Jurassic Park because of its special effects and box office success.

The evidence you find might look like:

Special effects 🦖 🧨

  • expert opinions on quality

  • comparisons to earlier films

Box office Success 📽️💰

  • money made in theatres

  • comparisons to other movies

Don't forget about the counterarguments!

Find out what arguments people made against your opinion, and what evidence you can use to disprove it.

Test your knowledge! 🌟

José is starting to research for his essay: "Are professional athletes paid too much?" He is looking for research to support his reason "promotes overconsumption". What type of evidence should José look for?

A. How much money professional athletes make

B. How professional athletes spend their money

C. Examples of fans buying things just because their favorite athlete(s) own or endorse it

D. How professional athletes spend their free time


Which examples of evidence would provide the best support for José's reason "promotes overconsumption". Select all that apply:

5. Draft, edit, proofread

You might not believe it, but the hardest part of how to write an opinion essay is done — getting started. With your outline and research in hand, all you have to do now is put it all together.

A cartoon cat typing on a laptop.

When you draft, keep these tips in mind:

  • refer to your outline often to stay on topic 📋

  • make sure you know youraudience to identify the right tone and language to use 🧑‍💻

  • acknowledge counterarguments respectfully, and refute with evidence 🤔

  • cite evidence using a citation method like APA or MLA 📌

Be sure to give yourself a break. Have someone read your essay and see if how you write your opinion and support it is clear. Then get back to it and start your revisions and final proofreading.

To learn more about revising and proofreading check out the Byte Improve your editing skills for professional writing in 6 easy steps.

Take Action

Now you can see that how to write an opinion essay isn't very different from saying it out loud.

A man saying,


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