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Difference between Argument and Debate

Difference between Argument and Debate

In the English language, there are two very similar words that are often confused: argument and debate. Though they have similarities, they have very different meanings. An argument is a disagreement or a fight while a debate is an exchange of ideas. In an argument, people try to win by proving their opponent wrong.

In a debate, people try to learn from each other and come to a consensus. One way to think about it is that in an argument, people are trying to sink each other while in a debate, they are trying to lift each other up. Though the two words may seem interchangeable, it’s important to understand the difference between them so that you can have more productive conversations and disagreements.

What is an Argument?

An argument is defined as a reason or set of reasons given with the intention of persuading others that something is true or right. Argumentation is the process of creating and presenting arguments. Argumentation can be used to enhance understanding, resolve disputes, and encourage action.

  • Argumentation theory is the study of how people use arguments to persuade others. Argumentation scholar Stephen Toulmin proposed that every argument has six parts: claim, grounds, warrant, backing, rebuttal, and qualifier.
  • Argumentation is also used in law, as lawyers use arguments to persuade judges and juries. In rhetoric, the argument is one of the three main modes of persuasion, along with ethos and pathos.
  • Aristotle defined rhetoric as the ability to see or identify both sides of an issue and present an argument for each side. Argumentation is also used in everyday life.

For example, people use arguments to convince others to vote for a particular candidate or support a particular cause. Argumentation is an important skill to learn, as it can help people make better decisions and achieve their goals.

What is Debate?

Debate is a formal, structured discussion on a particular topic in which opposing arguments are put forward. The aim of the debate is to convince the audience of the validity of your argument and to change the opinion of those who hold the opposite view. Debate is an important tool for exploring different points of view and for sharpening critical thinking skills. It also allows people to share their knowledge and expertise on a particular subject. The debate can be used in many different settings, such as in academic institutions, in the workplace, in politics, or in the media. Debate is a powerful way to exchange ideas and reach a conclusion on complex issues.

Difference between Argument and Debate

Argument and debate are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different concepts.

  • An argument is a formal attempt to convince someone of something. It is based on presenting evidence and using logic to show that a claim is true.
  • A debate, on the other hand, is a competitive discussion between two people or teams. Debaters present their arguments and try to refute the opposing side’s claims.
  • Although both arguments and debates can be spirited, debates are usually more adversarial in nature. Argumentation is a more academic pursuit, while debates tend to be more informal.

Whether you’re trying to persuade a friend or win a trophy, understanding the difference between these two terms is essential.


Argument and debate are two important aspects of critical thinking. They are also two different things. In an argument, you state your position and try to persuade the other person(s) that it is correct. In a debate, both sides present their arguments and then a judge or panel decides who presented the better argument. Understanding the difference between these two concepts is important for anyone looking to improve their critical thinking skills.

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