Argumentative vs Persuasive Text: What’s the Difference?

A lot of people confuse the two or use the words interchangeably. The differences between persuasive and argumentative text are subtle but important. And knowing them will significantly impact our teaching of the two genres. So, argumentative vs. persuasive. What’s the difference?

Argumentative vs. Persuasive Text


The big thing that stands out here is that argumentative text supports the author’s claim with more factual evidence in an attempt to prove that the claim is valid, while persuasive text tends to appeal to the reader’s emotions in an attempt to get the reader to agree with the author’s opinion.

This difference is perhaps why the TEKS (the state standards in Texas) for writing include having the students write “opinion” pieces and the Common Core writing standards call for “opinion pieces,” leaving the word argumentative out of it altogether. To have the students write a true argumentative piece, research needs to be conducted first to gather evidence from credible sources. By contrast, our students can write opinion pieces by drawing from their own experiences and prior knowledge.

How important is it that our 3rd and 4th graders know the difference between the argumentative text and persuasive text?

I don’t really see the need to have our kids outline the differences between persuasive and argumentative texts. And I don’t think it’s worthwhile to practice distinguishing between them. They will get more detailed with it in later grades.

I do, however, think it’s important that we don’t confuse them by using the words interchangeably or teaching the two as the same thing. And let’s be sure to keep the differences between argumentative and persuasive texts in mind as we choose mentor texts.

If you’re wanting to highlight a difference for them, an easy way is to connect it to what they learned in second grade about persuasive. Say something like, “Last year you learned about persuasive text. This year, we’re going to learn about another genre that’s similar but gives a little more factual evidence.”

Need an Argumentative Passage?

I know it’s tough to find an argumentative text that’s appropriate for third grade. That’s why I’m excited to share this free high-interest argumentative passage about recess with you. Grab it and the response sheets that come with it below.


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hello, i'm laura heinen from cultivating critical readers

I help third and fourth grade RLA teachers like you create engaging and effective reading lessons without all the stress.

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