Argument vs Debate: Difference and Comparison

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

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

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

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


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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

Argument and Debate differ in that argument is a characterized discussion where reasons are put forth, and a debate is a formal discussion held competitively within an assembly hall.

Argument vs Debate

The standard dictionary defines an argument 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,’ often used to show disagreement.

The word debate, according to the standard dictionary, is defined as ‘ a formal discussion’ when the word’s noun form is 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 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 to heated conversations and disputes about the same disagreement.A conclusion is decided by democratic means or voting for the opinions posted from either side and the ones who have good facts supporting them.
UsageIt is 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 as a verb, which gives rise to a change in the meaning. But otherwise, it is only referred to as the contest of formal discussion on the given topic.

What is the Argument?

The word, argument, is a noun in the English vocabulary recognized 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 puts forth their reasons and tries to persuade the other into believing their point of view on the discussed topic.

So they are also referred to as a persuasive courses.

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

For example: ‘ They were arguing about which movie to watch.’ It is not necessary to decide during an argument.


What is the Debate?

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

The debate is not persuasive. But the opposite teams can post negative and affirmative comments on the topic during a debate.

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

‘ They debated 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 shows two opposite sides of different people.

The second sentence 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 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 sides are heard, and the opposite teams are allowed to try their best to establish 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 on arguments. Rather they only create disputes and disagreements. The debate process is to arrive at a decision made by the democratic voting method.
  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 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
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