Difference Between Argument and Debate

Quite a few words in English literature mean the same, while some look like they mean the same but are not.


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There is often confusion between which word is to be used when and this is because one does not have a clear concept of the word and the meaning of it.

Argument and debate are often used as interchangeable since one cannot find a clear distinction between them if not looked into.

The dictionary meaning of the two are also quite different, but the distinction between the two is hard to grasp

Key Takeaways

  1. An argument is a disagreement between two or more people or parties, while a debate is a structured discussion that involves presenting arguments and counterarguments on a particular topic.
  2. Arguments tend to be more emotional and less structured, while debates tend to be more logical and structured.
  3. The goal of an argument is to prove a point, while the goal of a debate is to consider different perspectives and come to a conclusion.

Argument vs Debate

The difference between Argument and Debate is that argument is a characterized discussion where reasons are put forth and debate is a formal discussion that is held competitively within an assembly hall.

Argument vs Debate

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The argument, according to the standard dictionary, is defined as ‘ a disagreement or quarrel’. So, the argument is characterized by discussions of disagreements that do not have a specific order and is a non-contested event.

The verb form of this word is ‘argue’ which is often used to show disagreement.

The word, debate, according to the standard dictionary, is defined as ‘ a formal discussion’ when the noun form of the word is being used.

When used as a verb, though the word remains the same, the meaning of the word often changes. They are commonly used in their verb form in sentences.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonArgumentDebate
MeaningThe argument is a non-contested but competitive rise of disputes and characterized discussions for disagreement.It is a contest of formal discussions about a given topic. It is often held in an assembly hall where the two opposing teams are seated across from one another.
NatureInformal but can be formal as well according to the circumstances it is used in.The debate is always held formally as it is held as a contest with participants who are against and with the given topic.
ProcessIt goes through a process of reasoning back and forth with no particular order.They are held in an ordered manner where the opponents’ views of negatives are heard and they try their best to establish their affirmative views.
DecisionThe argument does not lead to decisions but rather leads to heated conversations and disputes about the same disagreement.A conclusion arrives at that is decided by democratic means or voting for the opinions posted from either side and the ones who had good facts supporting them.
UsageIt is usually used to persuade someone and is often referred to as a persuasive course. It is also used for summarizing prose or poetry.It is often seen to be used as a verb and this gives rise to a change in the meaning. But otherwise, it is only referred to the contest of formal discussion on the given topic.

What is the Argument?

The word, argument, is a noun in the English vocabulary that is recognised and defined by every standard English dictionary. They are often seen to have two definitions in these dictionaries.

One is ‘ a disagreement or quarrel’ and the other is ‘ a reason or series of reasons put forward’.

The argument is often used to define a characterized discussion or disagreement. This is when one put forths their reasons and tries to persuade the other into believing their point of view on the topic being discussed.

So they are also referred to as a persuasive course.

The verb form of the word ‘ argument’ is ‘ argue’. The meaning of the verb also remains the same and it is this form that is often used in sentences.

For example: ‘ They were arguing back and forth on which movie to watch.’ It is not necessary to decide while an argument.


What is the Debate?

The word, debate, is also a noun that is recognised and defined by all standard English dictionaries. Although this word has only one meaning, unlike the argument. It is defined as ‘ a formal discussion’.

The debate is not persuasive. But during a debate, the opposite teams are allowed to put forth their negative and affirmative comments on the topic.

The verb form of the word ‘debate’ is ‘debate’ itself. Though the word does not change, the meaning changes with regards to the context being used.

‘ They debated on where to go.’ and ‘ I debated whether I should call or not.’

Though they appear to mean the same, they don’t mean the same as a formal discussion. In the first sentence, the word is used to show two opposite sides of different people.

In the second sentence, it is reasoning with oneself about the situation at hand.


Main Differences Between Argument and Debate

  1. Argument means characterized discussions for disagreements that give rise to disputes. Though debates are also discussions, they are usually about a given topic and in an assembly hall. They are held in the manner of a contest between two opposite teams putting forth their views on the topic.
  2. Debates are always formal. Unless they are used in sentences as a verb, the debates that are held as contests are always formal. But an argument may be formal or informal depending on the situation. It is mostly used during informal situations.
  3. An argument is a process of reasoning back and forth on the topic for discussion that has no particular order to follow since no one is there to judge. On the other hand, debates are held systematically. The opinions of both the sides are heard and the opposite teams are allowed to try their best in establishing their affirmative and negative views on the given topic.
  4. Arguments do not have decisions being made while debates do. Arguments are not conclusive. There is no need to decide arguments but rather they only create disputes and disagreements. The process of debate is to arrive at a decision that is made by the democratic method or voting.
  5. Arguments are rather persuasive and are therefore used for persuading someone with one’s point of view. They can also be used for summarizing prose and poetry works. But the debate is only used for the context and as a verb. Though the meaning of the word ‘debate’ changes when it is being used as a verb.
Difference Between Argument and Debate
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17405904.2015.1074595
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=wERBomDOPqMC&oi=fnd&pg=PA115&dq=argument+vs+debate&ots=cZQyZQTV7J&sig=TIvJGe2u39EZhCS_6R1lz5dQtSw
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