Opinion Essays

In our daily lives, we express opinions about everything from politics to the cost of
gasoline. When we express an opinion, we usually give reasons for our point of view
in an informal way. For example, we say, "I liked XYZ's latest movie because . . ."
or "I voted against XYZ because . . . ."
In college classes, students are often asked to express their opinions more formally.
The U.S. system of education places a high value on students' ability to think for
themselves. Professors want students to express their own opinions and even disagree
with them as long as students can support their own views. In this chapter, you will
learn how to express an opinion and support it convincingly.
In an opinion essay, you
• state your opinion in the thesis statement.
• support your opinion with reasons.
• support your reasons with specific details.
As you read the model essay, notice its three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.

The Right to Die
A difficult problem that is facing society is the legalization of euthanasia.
Euthanasia is the act of causing death painlessly in order to end suffering. People
who are in a coma1 because of injury to their brains and elderly people who are
terminally2 ill are being kept alive by artificial means. They do not have a chance to
recover, but laws in most states of the United States do not allow doctors to end
their lives. Although many people feel that doctors must do everything possible to
keep their patients alive, I believe that euthanasia should be legal for three reasons.
The first and most important reason to support euthanasia is that some
patients who have no chance to recover do not wish to be kept alive on machines.
These patients are kept alive by life-support machines such as respirators to help
them breathe and feeding tubes to provide them with nutrition. A well-known
example in the United States is the case of Terri Schiavo, a young woman who
went into a coma in 1 990. Mrs. Schiavo was able to breathe on her own, but her
brain was dead. For fifteen years, she was kept alive by a feeding tube. After eight
years of seeking treatment for her condition, Michael Schiavo, her husband, asked
the courts for permission to remove her feeding tube. He said that his wife had

told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially when there was no hope
of recovery. Mrs. Schiavo's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, disagreed with
Mr. Schiavo and fought to keep their daughter alive. After seven years of bitter
court battles, Mr. Schiavo finally won. Doctors removed Mrs. Schiavo's feeding
tube, and she soon died, fifteen years after first falling into a coma. Clearly, when
there is absolutely no hope of recovery, society should allow a person in Terri
Schiavo's condition to die if that is his or her wish.
A second reason to support euthanasia is that medical costs in the United
States are very high. Keeping a person alive for years and years requires roundthe-
clock care in a hospital or nursing home.1 According to an administrator at
a local hospital, daily hospital room charges average $5,000 there. Nursing home
care is also expensive. A nursing home in our area charges $4,500 per month.
These high costs can cause serious financial problems for a family.

The final reason to support legalizing euthanasia is that the family suffers.
Hospital or nursing home staff give terminally ill patients only minimal care.
Thus, the family must spend time caring for the special needs of their loved one.
For instance, a cousin of mine who had been in a motorcycle accident was kept
on life-support machines for eight years. He needed someone to stay with him
twenty-four hours a day. During those years, his parents took turns taking care
of him. His father stayed with him during the day while his mother worked, and
then his mother stayed with him at night while his father worked. Other family
members tried to help out when they could, but his parents did most of the
physical work and suffered most of the emotional stress. After he finally died,
my aunt said, "Of course, I am sad, but since we all knew he would eventually
die, it might have been better if it had happened right when he had the accident.
These past eight years have been hard."
To summarize, patients who are either terminally ill or who are in an
irreversible2 coma often wish to die. Their care is a financial, physical, and
emotional burden for their families. Therefore, families should have the right to
ask doctors to turn off life-support machines or to remove feeding tubes.


Remember that an introductory paragraph has two parts: ( I ) several general
statements and (2) one thesis statement. The first part of the introductory paragraph
of an opinion essay often begins by explaining an issue.
In some cities in the United States, teenage gangs create problems. The
problems range from noisy but harmless drag races3 to fatal drive-by
shootings.4 Some cities are trying to stop these activities by keeping young
people indoors and off the streets at night. These cities have passed curfew
laws that require people under the age of eighteen to be indoors between the
hours of 1 0:00 or 1 1 :00 P.M. and 6:00A.M.
The thesis statement then states the writer's opinion on the issue. It often mentions
the opposing view first.
Police departments say that curfew laws to control teenage gangs are
necessary, but I feel that such laws are unfair, unconstitutional, and
counterproductive. 5
Notice that the opposing view is connected to the writer's opinion with a contrast
signal such as however, but, and although .

Body Paragraphs

In the body paragraphs, support your opinion with reasons. Each reason is a
paragraph in the finished essay.
Although many people feel that doctors must do everything possible to keep
their patients alive, I believe that euthanasia should be legalized for three
These patients have no chance of recovery.
Medical costs are very high.
The family suffers.

The Concluding Paragraph

In the concluding paragraph, you may ( 1 ) restate your thesis in different words or
(2) summarize your reasons. in your final comment, you may call for action, as in the
following example. Your final comment should be powerfu l - one that your readers
will remember.
To summarize, cloning humans is clearly dangerous and unethical. It is one
thing to clone a mouse, sheep, or pig but quite another thing to duplicate a
human being. Even though scientists claim that their only purpose is to help

Developing Supporting Details
Previously , you learned how to use examples to support your ideas. In this chapter,
you will learn how to use three other kinds of supporting details: quotations, statistics,
and summaries.
College instructors often assign research papers in their classes, for which you
use information from outside sources (books, magazines, newspaper articles, or the
Internent). There are special procedures and rules for using information from outside
sources. For example, in a formal research paper, you must document the source of each
piece of information that you use. This means that you must tell exactly where you
got the information- who originally wrote it or said it and when and where it was
written or spoken. You will learn how to do this later on in your college program .
However, be aware that documenting outside sources is important and necessary for
college assignments.
For purposes of this class, you may get information informally-by taking a class
survey to get statistics or by interviewing classmates to get quotations, for example.
 Quotations are often used in academic writing as supporting sentences. Notice how quotations support the topic sentence in the following paragraphs.
Telecommuting' is a popular new choice for many office workers. They
feel it offers advantages to both employees and employers. My older sister,
who has telecommuted for the past year, told me, "I am much more
productive when I work at home because there are no interruptions. I also
don't have to spend two or three hours traveling to and from the office every
day. I save myself time, and I save my company money by working at home."
On the other hand, sometimes telecommuters feel isolated. "I feel out of
touch with 2 what is really happening in my company, and I miss the daily
contact with my co-workers," my sister added.

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