Topic v Descriptive Claim v Arguable Claim

Your argument paper requires that you articulate an arguable claim and then support it with evidence. An arguable claim is more specific and focused than a topic and more debatable than a descriptive claim.


  • Prairie dogs
  • Prairie dog language

Descriptive Claims:

  • Prairie dogs use alarm calls to communicate.
  • Prairie dogs are social animals.

Note that these descriptive claims restate information that potentially could be found in an encyclopedia entry on prairie dogs. The evidence for these claims can’t really be debated or challenged.

Arguable claims:

  • Prairie dogs must be highly intelligent animals because the sophisticated grammatical structure of their alarm calls requires flexible thought and a nuanced capacity to determine and articulate subtle distinctions.
  • It’s clear that prairie dog alarm calls are thoughtful expressions of a grammatically sophisticated language and not simply instinctive reactions tied to a hardwired code because they require a high level of differentiation and because different prairie dog colonies use different alarm calls for the same predator.

Note that each of these arguable claims can be substantiated with research, evidence, testimony, and rhetorical reasoning. An arguable claim is focused and specific, and it indicates that an argument will be made for a specific interpretation or understanding of your subject. The evidence that will be unpacked to support this claim is stated.