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The body of your paper is comprised of well-developed paragraphs that focus on explaining a single idea. When writing argumentative papers, it's vital that your paragraphs present your points in a clear and consistent pattern.

To help construct these paragraphs, use the following rhetorical pattern:

After reviewing the information below, take a look at this example. Note how AEES works to create an outline of sorts to give form to your paragraphs.



ASSERTION: The assertion states the specific point that you will be making in the paragraph. Think of it as a topic sentence that makes a debatable claim.

  • Generally, assertions should go at or near the beginnings of paragraphs (for example, after a transitional phrase).
  • Think of your assertion as the point you’re trying to get across in that paragraph. A good assertion should serve as a summary of the paragraph that follows.
  • A good way to test the effectiveness of your assertions is to read just your thesis and the assertions in order: this is the backbone of your essay.
  • Assertions should not be statements of fact since these give you nothing to argue.






EXAMPLE: Examples are the evidence that supports your assertions, such as concrete details or anecdotes. This is the evidence you're presenting to prove your case, to convince the reader that s/he should believe as you do.

  • When analyzing a text, an example must be a direct quote from the text.
  • Quotes should be introduced and briefly contextualized, so the reader knows where it's from.


EXPLANATION: Explanations clarify how and why the evidence relates to your assertion and subsequently to your thesis. Why did you choose the example you did? How does it prove your point?

  • In textual analysis, an explanation of a quote pulls out particular words, images, references, etc. from the example and shows how these support the assertion.
  • Explanations should be straight forward and easy to understand. You're trying to convince the reader, so clarity is vital!


SIGNIFICANCE: Statements of significance answer “So what?” about your point by explaining why the point made in the paragraph is important in light of your thesis.

  • Providing significance is crucial to making an argument that says something, has a purpose, or is interesting.
  • Your statement of significance can also be a transitional statement that closes out the previous paragraph and moves to the next
  • The connection between a paragraph's first and final sentences should be clear. Read them together without the words in between. Is it clear they are related? If not, you've probably gone off topic!



This example is a paragraph discussing Linda Barry's "Common Scents" and how it proves a definition of what is normal.

The AEES components are in black and are labeled (A) for Assertion, (E1) for Example, (E2) for Explanation and (S) for Significance. The other text is used to prepare the reader for the quotes and offer transitions between ideas.

Also note that there are two Examples and Explanations. You can expand AEES to AEEEES and even AEEEEEES as long as you stay on topic and provide transitions.

(A) Barry’s inability to detect her own household’s unique scent proves that for her, normal is defined by what she is accustomed to in her environment. In the comic, Barry makes note of the different smells that exist in the other houses in her neighborhood. She describes, for example, the house that smells like bleach, and is in fact, surprised when she discovers the girl that lives there is ignorant of the powerful smell. (E1) When she asks Janina, “How come your house smells like that,” the girl replies, “Smells like what?” (8). (E2) Regardless of the fact that Janina’s house reeks of bleach, she doesn’t notice which is even more bizarre because she carries that scent with her everywhere she goes. Janina’s ignorance proves Barry’s point because she is accustomed to the smell, so she doesn’t notice it any more. It’s no longer unique to her, just as Barry’s own household scent is no longer unique to Barry. (E1) She explains that the smell of her own home is a “mystery” because “I couldn’t smell it at all. I didn’t think it had a smell, which was strange considering all that went on there” (10). (E2) Here, she notes how strange this mystery is since her house is pungent with several competing odors, so it seems to her like there should be some smell she can detect, but she doesn’t notice anything at all until one of the Bleach People comments on it (11). Like Janina, Barry simply doesn’t detect a particular smell because she is constantly surrounded by it. (S) It comprises a particular aspect of her home, and as such, it’s undetectable to her, an invisible part of her normal environment.



The Assertion focuses on presenting a "cause and effect" argument: because Barry is used to the smell of her house, she can't smell it. One thing leads to (causes) another.

The Examples both use direct quotes from the text that the writer chose because they stood out to her/him. When writing this, s/he asked, "Why do I think what I do about this story?" S/he found the answer in these quotes.

The Explanations are straight forward and simply express why the writer believes these quotes prove the point made in the Assertion.

Finally, note how the Significance relates back to the Assertion, repeating "normal" and "environment" to help make a direct connection for the reader and signal that s/he is done with this particular idea.