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how to start counter argument in essay

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When you make an argument in an academic essay, you are writing for an audience that may not agree with you. In fact, your argument is worth making in the first place because your thesis will not be obvious—or obviously correct­—to everyone who considers the question you are asking or the topic you’re addressing. Once you figure out what you want to argue—your essay’s thesis—your task in writing the essay will be to share with your readers the evidence you have considered and to explain how that evidence supports your thesis.

But just offering your readers evidence that supports your thesis isn’t enough. You also need to consider potential counterarguments—the arguments that your readers could reasonably raise to challenge either your thesis or any of the other claims that you make in your argument. It can be helpful to think of counterarguments to your thesis as alternative answers to your question. In order to support your thesis effectively, you will need to explain why it is stronger than the alternatives.

A counterargument shouldn’t be something you add to your essay after you’ve finished it just because you know you’re supposed to include one. Instead, as you write your essay, you should always be thinking about points where a thoughtful reader could reasonably disagree with you. In some cases, you will be writing your essay as a counterargument to someone else’s argument because you think that argument is incorrect or misses something important. In other cases, you’ll need to think through—and address—objections that you think readers may have to your argument.

While it may be tempting to ignore counterarguments that challenge your own argument, you should not do this. Your own argument will be stronger if you can explain to your readers why the counterarguments they may pose are not as strong or convincing as your own argument. If you come up with a counterargument that you can’t refute, then you may decide to revise your thesis or some part of your argument. While that could be frustrating in the moment, challenging your own thinking is an important part of the writing process. By considering potential counterarguments, you will figure out if you actually agree with your own argument. In many cases, you will discover that a counterargument complicates your argument, but doesn’t refute it entirely.

Some counterarguments will directly address your thesis, while other counterarguments will challenge an individual point or set of points elsewhere in your argument. For example, a counterargument might identify

  • a problem with a conclusion you’ve drawn from evidence  
  • a problem with an assumption you’ve made  
  • a problem with how you are using a key term  
  • evidence you haven’t considered  
  • a drawback to your proposal  
  • a consequence you haven’t considered  
  • an alternative interpretation of the evidence  

Consider the following thesis for a short paper that analyzes different approaches to stopping climate change:

Climate activism that focuses on personal actions such as recycling obscures the need for systemic change that will be required to slow carbon emissions.

The author of this thesis is promising to make the case that personal actions not only will not solve the climate problem but may actually make the problem more difficult to solve. In order to make a convincing argument, the author will need to consider how thoughtful people might disagree with this claim. In this case, the author might anticipate the following counterarguments:

  • By encouraging personal actions, climate activists may raise awareness of the problem and encourage people to support larger systemic change.  
  • Personal actions on a global level would actually make a difference.  
  • Personal actions may not make a difference, but they will not obscure the need for systemic solutions.  
  • Personal actions cannot be put into one category and must be differentiated.

In order to make a convincing argument, the author of this essay may need to address these potential counterarguments. But you don’t need to address every possible counterargument. Rather, you should engage counterarguments when doing so allows you to strengthen your own argument by explaining how it holds up in relation to other arguments.  

How to address counterarguments  

Once you have considered the potential counterarguments, you will need to figure out how to address them in your essay. In general, to address a counterargument, you’ll need to take the following steps.

  • State the counterargument and explain why a reasonable reader could raise that counterargument.  
  • Counter the counterargument. How you grapple with a counterargument will depend on what you think it means for your argument. You may explain why your argument is still convincing, even in light of this other position. You may point to a flaw in the counterargument. You may concede that the counterargument gets something right but then explain why it does not undermine your argument. You may explain why the counterargument is not relevant. You may refine your own argument in response to the counterargument.  
  • Consider the language you are using to address the counterargument. Words like but or however signal to the reader that you are refuting the counterargument. Words like nevertheless or still signal to the reader that your argument is not diminished by the counterargument.

Here’s an example of a paragraph in which a counterargument is raised and addressed. The two steps are highlighted ( yellow for the counterargument and blue for the “counter” to the counterargument):

But some experts argue that it’s important for individuals to take action to mitigate climate change. In “All That Performative Environmentalism Adds Up,” Annie Lowery argues that personal actions to fight climate change, such as reducing household trash or installing solar panels, matter because change in social behavior can lead to changes in laws. [1] While Lowery may be correct that individual actions can lead to collective action, this focus on individual action can allow corporations to receive positive publicity while continuing to burn fossil fuels at dangerous rates.  

Where to address counterarguments  

There is no one right place for a counterargument—where you raise a particular counterargument will depend on how it fits in with the rest of your argument. The most common spots are the following:

  • Before your conclusion This is a common and effective spot for a counterargument because it’s a chance to address anything that you think a reader might still be concerned about after you’ve made your main argument. Don’t put a counterargument in your conclusion, however. At that point, you won’t have the space to address it, and readers may come away confused—or less convinced by your argument.
  • Before your thesis Often, your thesis will actually be a counterargument to someone else’s argument. In other words, you will be making your argument because someone else has made an argument that you disagree with. In those cases, you may want to offer that counterargument before you state your thesis to show your readers what’s at stake—someone else has made an unconvincing argument, and you are now going to make a better one.
  • After your introduction In some cases, you may want to respond to a counterargument early in your essay, before you get too far into your argument. This is a good option when you think readers may need to understand why the counterargument is not as strong as your argument before you can even launch your own ideas. You might do this in the paragraph right after your thesis.
  • Anywhere that makes sense As you draft an essay, you should always keep your readers in mind and think about where a thoughtful reader might disagree with you or raise an objection to an assertion or interpretation of evidence that you are offering. In those spots, you can introduce that potential objection and explain why it does not change your argument. If you think it does affect your argument, you can acknowledge that and explain why your argument is still strong.

[1] Annie Lowery, “All that Performative Environmentalism Adds Up.” The Atlantic . August 31, 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/08/your-tote-bag-can-make...

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How do you start or begin a counter argument paragraph?

List sentence structures to help me..

how to start counter argument in essay

Some examples of counter-argument sentence starters are...

"On the other hand...", which shows one point of the argument is one hand, and the other point of the argument being the other hand.

"However...", which would show the two different opposing views of the argument.

This would be in terms of discussing an issue or idea in an exam type question or situation.

In terms of a persuasive speech you could start off with:

"Some people often think that..." For example, if writing a persuasive speech to why smoking should be made illegal you could say. "Some people often think that smoking is done for stress relief, and it can make you lose weight and concentrate" and then keep expanding on your point.

"Others may say that...", where you explain the opposing views on the point, idea, question or situation where there is no straight answer and you have to persuade the reader or listener to go ahead to believing your views and points.

"One may argue that...", where again you explain the opposing view on the situation, explaining what people think and argue against your point. For example, "One may argue that gun laws should be made more strict because of the tragic increase in mass shootings in recent years" as my point would be that there should be no change to gun laws as we need the weapons for protection or vice versa.

"Despite the fact that, people often think..." You would use this when there is factual evidence to back up your point, but to show that even though your point is correct some people still think differently.

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Impact of this question

how to start counter argument in essay


A counterargument involves acknowledging standpoints that go against your argument and then re-affirming your argument. This is typically done by stating the opposing side’s argument, and then ultimately presenting your argument as the most logical solution. The counterargument is a standard academic move that is used in argumentative essays because it shows the reader that you are capable of understanding and respecting multiple sides of an argument.

Counterargument in two steps

Respectfully acknowledge evidence or standpoints that differ from your argument.

Refute the stance of opposing arguments, typically utilizing words like “although” or “however.”

In the refutation, you want to show the reader why your position is more correct than the opposing idea.

Where to put a counterargument

Can be placed within the introductory paragraph to create a contrast for the thesis statement.

May consist of a whole paragraph that acknowledges the opposing view and then refutes it.

  • Can be one sentence acknowledgements of other opinions followed by a refutation.

Why use a counterargument?

Some students worry that using a counterargument will take away from their overall argument, but a counterargument may make an essay more persuasive because it shows that the writer has considered multiple sides of the issue. Barnet and Bedau (2005) propose that critical thinking is enhanced through imagining both sides of an argument. Ultimately, an argument is strengthened through a counterargument.

Examples of the counterargument structure

  • Argument against smoking on campus:  Admittedly, many students would like to smoke on campus. Some people may rightly argue that if smoking on campus is not illegal, then it should be permitted; however, second-hand smoke may cause harm to those who have health issues like asthma, possibly putting them at risk.
  • Argument against animal testing:  Some people argue that using animals as test subjects for health products is justifiable. To be fair, animal testing has been used in the past to aid the development of several vaccines, such as small pox and rabies. However, animal testing for beauty products causes unneeded pain to animals. There are alternatives to animal testing. Instead of using animals, it is possible to use human volunteers. Additionally, Carl Westmoreland (2006) suggests that alternative methods to animal research are being developed; for example, researchers are able to use skin constructed from cells to test cosmetics. If alternatives to animal testing exist, then the practice causes unnecessary animal suffering and should not be used.

Harvey, G. (1999). Counterargument. Retrieved from writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/counter- argument

Westmoreland, C. (2006; 2007). “Alternative Tests and the 7th Amendment to the Cosmetics Directive.” Hester, R. E., & Harrison, R. M. (Ed.) Alternatives to animal testing (1st Ed.). Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.

Barnet, S., Bedau, H. (Eds.). (2006). Critical thinking, reading, and writing . Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Contributor: Nathan Lachner

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how to start counter argument in essay

In writing an argumentative essay, your goal is to persuade an audience that your claim is correct. You research, think about your topic deeply, and determine what information will support that Argument . However, strong Argumentation requires you to address opposing views. How will you incorporate them into your essay? How will you prove your argument is the better one? Identifying and addressing counterarguments will make your argumentative essays stronger. 

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In writing an argumentative essay, your goal is to persuade an audience that your claim is correct. You research, think about your topic deeply, and determine what information will support that Argument . However, strong Argumentation requires you to address opposing views. How will you incorporate them into your essay? How will you prove your argument is the better one? Identifying and addressing counterarguments will make your argumentative essays stronger.

Counterargument Meaning

A counterargument is a contrasting or opposing Argument . Counterarguments are common in persuasive writing. In Argumentation , you are trying to convince an audience of your claim. C laims are the writer's main ideas and position. In an argumentative essay, your goal is for the audience to believe your claim. To convince your audience that your claim is correct, you will need reasons –the Evidence that supports your claim.

The counterargument is the opposing argument to the one you are writing about. You include counterarguments in your writing to form a rebuttal . A rebuttal is where you explain why your position is stronger than the counterargument. When incorporating counterarguments in your essay, you will need to know the counterargument's claims and reasons. For example, in an essay about whether teachers should assign homework, you take the position that teachers should not give homework. The counterargument is that teachers should assign homework.

To write about this counterargument, you will need to explain the claims and reasons why teachers should assign homework. You will refute these points and spend the rest of your essay explaining why teachers should not assign homework.

Counter Argument, Illustration of silhouettes of two men sitting and debating, StudySmarter

Counterargument Example

The example above demonstrates how a writer may present the counterargument to the claim that teachers should not assign homework.

While some researchers advocate for teachers' limiting homework, others find teachers should assign homework to reinforce content and skills learned in school. According to an analysis of multiple studies done examining the effects of homework on academic achievement by Cooper et al. (2006), homework for grades 7-12 positively affected students' educational outcomes, such as grades on unit tests and national exams. 1 Cooper et al. (2006) found consistency across studies that 1.5-2.5 hours per day of homework was the optimal amount for students to complete. Students gain practice and exposure to the material through this practice, which increases academic performance. Other research found that homework may not be as effective as Cooper et al. (2006) suggest. Galloway et al. (2013) argue that teachers assigning homework often do not follow these recommendations, negatively impacting students. 2

Based on survey results from Galloway et al. (2013), secondary students reported having an average of 3 hours of homework per night, an estimate higher than Cooper et al.'s (2006) recommendation. This amount of homework negatively impacted students since it increased mental stress and decreased time spent on socialization. This research shows that while assigning homework may benefit students, teachers do not follow best practices and instead harm students. Teachers should err on the side of not giving homework to prevent placing too much stress on students.

This paragraph addresses the counterargument: why teachers should assign homework. The first part of the paragraph addresses why teachers should assign homework and cites research on the optimal way teachers should assign it. The counterargument contains strong Evidence and claims on why teachers should assign homework.

This evidence improves the essay because it strengthens the rebuttal. The writer needs to address the counterargument's convincing claims in the rebuttal, which makes the rebuttal and overall argument more persuasive. The second half of the paragraph is the rebuttal to this argument. It cites research on how teachers do not frequently use these best practices and harm students. The rebuttal also directly addresses the counterargument about these best practices.

Purpose of Counterarguments

There are several reasons why you may include counterarguments in your writing. First, counterarguments and Rebuttals strengthen your overall argument. It seems counterintuitive, but your overall argument becomes stronger when you outline and address opposing views. By incorporating and rebutting opposing claims, you challenge the validity of the counterargument. If you can effectively address and rebuke your opposition, your argument will appear more credible to your audience than the counterargument.

Second, it will help you persuade your audience that your position is correct, especially if they are skeptical of your position. Arguments can be one-sided , which do not include counterarguments or opposing views, or multisided , which incorporate multiple views. One-sided arguments work best for an audience who already accepts your claims and reasoning. Because your audience already believes your idea, you do not have to spend time addressing opposing opinions.

In a multisided argument , you present counterarguments, include rebuttals, and argue why your position is stronger. This method works best for an audience with diverse opinions because you show you understand their beliefs while advocating for your position. Counterarguments help convince your audience that your position is correct. You acknowledge their beliefs while explaining why your position is better.

Counter Argument, Three candidates at a presidential debate, StudySmarter

Counterarguments in an Essay

In academic writing, you can incorporate several strategies for including counterarguments. Often, addressing the counterarguments is kept to one paragraph within the essay. This section outlines a common essay structure for incorporating counterarguments, how to write them, and strategies for creating your counterarguments.

Structuring an Argumentative Essay

Writers, all the way from antiquity, have thought about the best way to incorporate opposing viewpoints into their writing. Writers can choose several ways to structure an argumentative essay to have counterarguments. The most common method is the classical structure, which originated in Ancient Greece. There are four main parts to this structure.

Memorable statement or information to gain readers' attention.

Present background information necessary to your argument.

State your primary claim or Thesis .

Discuss how you will structure your overall argument by outlining your main claims and counterarguments.

Writer's position

The central part of your essay.

State your claim(s) and supporting evidence.

Incorporate hard evidence or other rhetorical appeals as reasons to help you support your claims.


Outline alternative points of view in a non-biased manner.

Refute their claims by discussing negative aspects of the counterargument.

May concede to the positive aspects of the counterargument.

Explain why your view is preferable to others.

Summarize your primary claim or Thesis .

Explain the importance of your argument based on background information.

Encourage the audience to act on this information.

Counter Argument, Painting of Socrates debating others, StudySmarter

Strategies for Addressing Counterarguments

Remember that arguments can be one-sided or multisided. If you are writing a multisided argument, you will need to know how to address counterarguments based on your audience's views. There are several strategies for addressing counterarguments and forming your rebuttals. The two major categories for these strategies include Refutation and concession.

Refutation describes the process of showing how the counterargument contains logical fallacies or is not supported with evidence. Logical fallacies are errors in reasoning. You can point out these logical fallacies to discredit and weaken an argument. Refutation is a good strategy if you are trying to convince an audience who may be more sympathetic toward your viewpoint. There are several ways you can refute a counterargument.

  • Identify logical fallacies. When looking at a counterargument, take the time to break down its claims and reasons. You may discover logical fallacies in the counterargument, such as faulty reasoning or an overgeneralization. You can highlight these fallacies in your rebuttal and discuss why your argument is stronger.
  • Point out unstated assumptions made in The Argument . In general, arguments often contain unstated assumptions. For example, suppose you are exploring the counterargument that teachers should assign homework to help students master academic material. In that case, there is the Unstated Assumption that students will have the time to complete assignments at home. You can address the flaws in these assumptions using evidence and facts. To discredit this assumption in your rebuttal, you would incorporate data on how students do not have the time to complete homework.
  • Find counterexamples or counter-evidence. The counterargument will incorporate data and evidence to support their claims. You will need to find evidence and data to support your rebuttal. You will want to use this evidence and data if it casts doubt on the counterargument's evidence.
  • Question the data used to support the counterargument. A uthors will cite data and statistics w hen making logical claims in an essay. You will want to analyze the author's use of this data to discover if they cited it correctly. If they misrepresented it, or it's outdated, you can point this out in your rebuttal and offer a better interpretation.
  • Show how the counterargument's experts or examples are flawed or not valid. Take the time to find out which sources the author uses. If you find out that a cited expert is not credible on the subject, or if an example is inaccurate, you can cast doubt on the counterargument by discussing the lack of credibility of an authority or an example. Cite stronger, more accurate evidence in your rebuttal.

Concession is the rebuttal strategy of admitting that an opposing argument is correct. However, you will show that your claims are stronger since it has better reasons to support them. For example, you may write an essay about why teachers should not assign homework. You would concede that the research on the homework is correct. However, you would present multiple pieces of evidence and explain how this research shows teachers should not support homework.

There are two reasons why you may want to include Concessions in your writing. First, a concession is a good strategy if your audience is sympathetic to the counterargument. Because you acknowledge the strength of the counterargument, you will not alienate your audience. Second, a concession may strengthen your argument. Because you explain that the counterargument is strong, you can increase the strength of your overall argument by including more convincing evidence on why your position is correct.

Writing a Counterargument Paragraph

Often, counterarguments for papers in school are around a paragraph in length. To begin writing a counterargument, research the opposing views. You will need to do this research to understand the reasons and claims behind the opposing viewpoint. This research selects the opposing viewpoint's most substantial claims and reasons. Begin your counterargument paragraph by summarizing and explaining these claims. Your argument will be more persuasive if you can engage and address the counterargument's most compelling information.

After describing the opposing viewpoints, write the rebuttal in the second half of the paragraph. You will want to select one of the strategies above to address the counterargument. The counterargument you choose will depend on the audience and your goals. Remember, a skeptical audience may find concession more persuasive, while a neutral or supportive audience may support refutation. In the rebuttal, address the specific reasons and claims from the counterargument. You will want to use research to support your rebuttal.

Whether you place the counterargument or your main argument first depends on your goals. A counterargument rebutted using refutation is traditionally near the end of the essay after discussing your main points. After laying out your Claims and Evidence , you can use this information to form the evidence you will use to create your rebuttal against the counterargument. If you primarily want to use Concessions , it will be better near the beginning of the paper after the introduction. Because your main points show how your argument is stronger, you will want to introduce the opposing viewpoint at the beginning.

Counter Argument - Key Takeaways

  • A counterargument is a contrasting or opposing argument. The counterargument is the opposite argument of the one you are writing about.
  • You include counterarguments in your writing to form a rebuttal . A rebuttal is where you explain why your position is stronger than the other.
  • Including counterarguments strengthens your argument by making it more credible and helps to convince your audience of your claims.
  • The classical argumentation structure is a common one to follow for incorporating counterarguments.
  • Two strategies for rebutting your counterargument include refutation and concession. Refutation describes the process of showing how the counterargument contains logical fallacies or is not supported with evidence. Concession is the strategy of admitting that an opposing argument is correct.
  • Harris Cooper, Jorgianne Civey Robinson, and Erika Patall, "Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003," 2006.
  • Mollie Galloway, Jerusha Connor, and Denise Pope, "Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools," 2013.

Frequently Asked Questions about Counter Argument

--> what's a counterargument.

A counterargument is a contrasting or opposing argument. Counterarguments are common in argumentative essays. The counterargument is the opposing argument to the one you are writing about. You include counterarguments in your writing to form a rebuttal . A rebuttal is where you explain why your position is stronger than the counterargument.

--> How to start a counterargument paragraph?

To begin writing a counterargument, research the opposing views. You will need to do this research to understand the reasons and claims behind the opposing viewpoint. From this research, select the opposing viewpoint's strongest claims and reasons. Begin your counterargument paragraph summarizing and explaining these claims.

--> How should a counterargument be presented?

There are several strategies for addressing counterarguments and forming your rebuttals. The two major categories for these strategies include refutation and concession.  Refutation describes the process of showing how the counterargument contains logical fallacies or is not supported with evidence. Concession is the strategy of admitting that an opposing argument is correct.

--> How to write a counterargument paragraph

Begin your counterargument paragraph by summarizing and explaining the claims. After describing the opposing viewpoints, write the rebuttal in the second half of the paragraph. The counterargument you choose will depend on the audience and your goals. A skeptical audience may find concession more persuasive, while a neutral or supportive audience may support refutation.

--> How does a counterargument strengthen your argument?

Your argument becomes stronger because you have to address your opposition's claims. If you can effectively address and rebuke your opposition's arguments, your argument will appear more credible to your audience. It will help you persuade your audience that your argument is correct, especially if they are skeptical of your position.

Final Counter Argument Quiz

Counter argument quiz - teste dein wissen.

A red herring is a(n) _____ used to divert an argument away from its resolution.

Show answer

Irrelevant idea

Show question

Is a red herring an informal or formal fallacy?

Although red herrings are irrelevant ideas, they are not _____. 

Red herrings often share something in common with the _____, which adds to the deception.

Topic at hand

Red herrings frequently contain emphatic language and truisms, both of which are hard to ignore. True or false?

Red herrings rarely end in a question or turn, so as not to draw attention. True or false?

False. Red herrings also frequently end in a question or turn, in order to push the false line of reasoning. 

The red herring works toward what, argumentatively?

Toward a stalemate: toward a return to the status quo. 

A red herring is not a well-meaning but misguided attempt to get to the bottom of something by looking at that 'something' from a different angle. True or false?

The argument that a red herring starts is sometimes a good argument to have, because sometimes it may shed light on a different topic. True or false?

_____ demands answers. Red herrings distract from _____, and thus they are a logical fallacy.

Logic, logic

Should you try to answer a red herring directly?

No. If someone uses a red herring, point out the fallacy and return to the original argument.

To avoid writing a red herring, _____ your essay.

To avoid writing a red herring, don't _____.

Get distracted

Only use a red herring when all else fails. True or false?

False. Never use one.

If you are quoting an article that uses the expression "red herring," what should you do before citing that part of the article?

Understand if the usage is colloquial or if it is an accurate use of the term.

While exaggeration is a powerful tool in satirical contexts, exaggerating an argument is a _____.

Logical fallacy.

_____   occurs when someone counters an exaggeratedly inaccurate version of another’s argument.

A straw man fallacy

Why is the straw man argument a fallacy?

A straw man argument is a logical fallacy because it counters an argument that is not being made. 

A very specific argument will prevent an opponent from creating a straw man argument.

True or false?

Should you counter a straw man argument? Why or why not?

Do not attempt to "counter" a straw man argument. Attempting to counter a fallacy will only get you off track. Instead, identify its illogical use in argumentation altogether. 

Is the straw man the same as a reductio ad absurdum argument?

How might you spot a straw man argument?

Search for exaggeration in a claim. Find a counterpoint that does not address the original argument.

How does knowing your opponent's argument help you to avoid the straw man fallacy?

If you know what your opponent is really trying to say, you will not address an incorrect argument.

To avoid the staw man argument, make as bold, clear, and big claims as possible. This will act as a wakeup call. True or false?

Don't limit yourself to understanding one side of an argument. 

Explain why this concept is important.

If you don’t go out of your box, you are liable to think that your opponent’s arguments are more extreme than they might be; and when this happens, you are not arguing against your opponent any longer… you are arguing against a straw man.

How is a red herring different from a straw man?

A red herring does not counter the argument at all; whereas a straw man counters an exaggerated form of an argument.

Does "straw man" have an alternate spelling?

An irrelevant conclusion is a kind of straw man. True or false?

Which of the following is not a logical fallacy to which Straw Man is related?

Is a straw man argument a fallacy of relevance? Why or why not?

Yes, because it appeals to evidence unrelated to the original conclusion.

What is a counterargument? 

A  counterargument  is a contrasting or opposing argument.

What is a rebuttal? 

A  rebuttal  is where you explain why your position is stronger than the counterargument.

What is a one-sided argument?

An argument that does not contain opposing viewpoints. 

What is a multisided argument? 

A multisided argument contains multiple viewpoints. 

What is refutation? 

Refutation describes the process of showing how the counterargument contains logical fallacies or is not supported with evidence.

What is concession? 

Concession  is the rebuttal strategy of admitting that an opposing argument is correct.

Which of the following is NOT part of the classical structure? 


Select the following two (2) statements that explain the purpose of including counterarguments.  

Counterarguments strengthen your argument since you explain the opposing view and why your viewpoint is stronger. 

Which rebuttal strategy would work best for an audience who shares your beliefs? 

Which rebuttal strategy would work best for an audience who does not share your beliefs? 

What should a writer do first when planning a counterargument paragraph?

Research the opposing views  

What should a writer write first when crafting a counterargument paragraph? 

Summarizing and explaining the claims.  

Your overall argument becomes _ when you outline and address opposing views.  

In a _ argument, you present counterarguments, include rebuttals, and argue why your position is stronger.  

What are the four main parts to the structure of an argumentative essay?


Writer’s position  



What is a logical fallacy?

Errors in reasoning

What are some ways that writers can refute a counterargument?

-Identify logical fallacies  

-Point out unstated assumptions made in the argument  

-Find counterexamples  

-Question the data used to support the counterargument 

-Show how the counterargument’s experts are flawed

What are the two reasons writers might want to include concessions?

1. A concession is a good strategy if your audience is sympathetic to the counterargument.  

2. A concession may strengthen your argument.  

A _ audience may find concession more persuasive, while a _ or _ audience may support refutation.  

A skeptical audience may find concession more persuasive, while a neutral or supportive audience may support refutation.  

Two strategies for rebutting your counterargument include:  

Refutation and concession.  

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Writing Resources


This handout is available for download in DOCX format and PDF format .

When you write an academic essay, you make an argument: you propose a thesis and offer evidence and reasoning to suggest why the thesis is true. When you counter-argue, you consider a possible argument against your thesis or some aspect of your logic. This is a good way to test your ideas early on, while you still have time to revise them. And in the finished essay, it can be a persuasive and disarming tactic. It allows you to anticipate doubts and pre-empt possible objections; it presents you as someone who weighs alternatives before arguing for one, who confronts difficulties instead of ignoring them, who is more interested in discovering the truth than winning a point.  

Not every objection is worth entertaining, of course, and you shouldn't include one just to include one. But some imagining of other views, or of resistance to one's own, occurs in most good essays. And instructors are glad to encounter counterargument in student papers, even if they haven't specifically asked for it.

The Turn Against

Counterargument in an essay has two stages: you turn against your argument to challenge it and then you turn back to re-affirm it. You first imagine a skeptical reader, or cite an actual source, who might resist your argument by pointing out:

  • a problem with your demonstration, e.g., that a different conclusion could be drawn from the same facts, a key assumption is unwarranted, a key term is used unfairly, certain evidence is ignored or played down
  • one or more disadvantages or practical drawbacks to what you propose
  • an alternative explanation or proposal that makes more sense

You introduce this “turn against” with a phrase like One might object here that... or It might seem that... or It's true that... or Admittedly,... or Of course,... or with an anticipated challenging question: But how...? or But why...? or But isn't this just...? or But if this is so, what about...? Then you state the case against yourself as briefly but as clearly and forcefully as you can, pointing to evidence where possible. (An obviously feeble or perfunctory counterargument does more harm than good.)

The Turn Back

Your return to your own argument—which you announce with a but , yet , however , nevertheless or still —must likewise involve careful reasoning, not a flippant or nervous dismissal. In reasoning about the proposed counterargument, you may:

  • refute it, showing why it is mistaken—an apparent but not real problem
  • acknowledge its validity or plausibility, but suggest why on balance it's relatively less important or less likely than what you propose, and thus doesn't overturn it
  • concede its force and complicate your idea accordingly; restate your thesis in a more exact, qualified, or nuanced way that takes account of the objection; or start a new section in which you consider your topic in light of it. (This will work if the counterargument concerns only an aspect of your argument; if it undermines your whole case, you need a new thesis.)

Where to Put a Counterargument

Counterargument can appear anywhere in the essay, but it most commonly appears:

  • as part of your introduction—before you propose your thesis—where the existence of a different view is the motive for your essay, the reason it needs writing
  • as a section or paragraph just after your introduction, in which you lay out the expected reaction or standard position before turning away to develop your own
  • as a quick move within a paragraph, where you imagine a counterargument not to your main idea but to the sub-idea that the paragraph is arguing or is about to argue
  • as a section or paragraph just before the conclusion of your essay, in which you imagine what someone might object to what you have argued

Watch that you don't overdo it! An occasional counterargument will sharpen and energize your essay, but too many will weaken it by obscuring your main idea or hinting that you're ambivalent.

Counterargument in Pre-Writing and Revising

Good thinking constantly questions itself, so having an inner debate during the drafting stage can help you settle on a case worth making. As you consider possible theses and begin to write your draft, ask yourself: how might an intelligent person plausibly disagree with you or see matters differently? When you can imagine an intelligent disagreement, you have an arguable idea.

Others can be of assistance here, too! If you ask people around you what they think of topic X and/or stay alert for uncongenial remarks in class discussions, etc., you'll encounter a useful disagreement somewhere. Awareness of this disagreement, however you use it in your essay, will force you to sharpen your own thinking as you write. If you come to find the counterargument more persuasive than your thesis, consider making it your thesis and turning your original thesis into a counterargument. And finally, if you manage to draft an essay without imagining a counterargument, make yourself imagine one before you revise and see if you can integrate it.

Adapted from Gordon Harvey, The Elements of the Academic Essay, 2009.

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How to Write a Counter Argument (Step-by-Step Guide)

Have you been asked to include a counter argument in an essay you are writing? Unless you are already an experienced essay writer, you may have no idea where to even start. We’re here to help you tackle your counter argument like a pro.

What Is a Counter Argument?

A counter argument is precisely what it sounds like — an argument that offers reasons to disagree with an essay’s thesis statement. As you are writing your essay, you will likely pen multiple supporting arguments that outline precisely why readers should logically agree with the thesis. In a counter argument paragraph, you show that you also understand common reasons to believe differently.

In any given essay, you may write one or more counter arguments — and then, frequently, immediately refute them. Whether you are required to include a counter argument or you simply want to, always include:

  • A simple statement explaining the counter argument. As it will likely follow paragraphs in which you fleshed out your argument, this can start with words like “Some people are concerned that”, or “critics say”, or “On the other hand”.
  • Then include further reasoning, data, or statistics.
  • Following this, you will want to discredit the counter argument immediately.

Why Include a Counter Argument?

Including a counter argument (or multiple, for that matter) in an essay may be required, but even in cases where it is not, mentioning at least one counter argument can make your essay much stronger. You may, at first glance, believe that you are undermining yourself and contradicting your thesis statement. That’s not true at all. By including a counter argument in your essay, you show that:

  • You have done your research and are intimately familiar with each aspect of your thesis, including opposition to it.
  • You have arrived at your conclusion through the power of reason, and without undue bias.
  • You do not only blindly support your thesis, but can also deal with opposition to it.

In doing so, your essay will become much more reasoned and logical, and in practical terms, this likely means that you can count on a higher grade.

How To Write a Counter Argument (Step-by-Step Guide)

You have been laboring over your essay for a while, carefully researching each aspect of your thesis and making strong arguments that aim to persuade the reader that your view is the correct one — or at least that you are a solid writer who understands the subject matter and deserves a good grade for your efforts.

If you are passionate about the topic in question, it can be hard to decide how to incorporate a counter argument. Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:

1. Brainstorm

You have already researched your topic, so you know on what grounds people most frequently oppose your argument. Write them down. Pick one, or a few, that you consider to be important and interesting. Formulate the counter argument as if you were on the opposing side.

2. Making the Transition

Your counter argument paragraph or paragraphs differ from the rest of your essay, so you will want to introduce a counter argument with a transition. Common ways to do this are to introduce your counter argument with phrases like:

  • Admittedly, conversely, however, nevertheless, or although.
  • Opponents would argue that…
  • Common concerns with this position are…
  • Critics say that…

3. Offering Evidence

Flesh the counter argument out by offering evidence — of the fact that people hold that position (where possible, quote a well-known opponent), as well as reasons why. Word your counter argument in such a way that makes it clear that you have carefully considered the position, and are not simply belittling it. This portion of your counter argument will require doing additional research in most cases.

4. Refute the Counter Argument

You are still arguing in favor of your main thesis. You will, therefore, not just want to describe the opposing side and leave it at that — you will also thoughtfully want to show why the opposing argument is not valid, in your opinion, and you will want to include evidence here, as well.

5. Restate Your Argument

After refuting your counter argument, you can go ahead and restate your argument. Why should people believe what you have to say, despite any opposition?

How To Write A Good Counter Argument

As you’re writing a counter argument, you might run into some difficulties if you fervently believe in the truth of your argument. Indeed, in some cases, your argument may appear to you to be so obvious that you don’t understand why anyone could think differently.

To help you write a good counter argument, keep in mind that:

  • You should never caricature the opposing viewpoint. Show that you deeply understand it, instead.
  • To do this, it helps if you validate legitimate concerns you find in an opponent’s point of view.
  • This may require quite a bit of research, including getting into the opposing side’s mindset.
  • Refute your counter argument with compassion, and not smugly.

Examples of Counter Arguments with Refutation

Still not sure? No worries; we have you covered. Take a look at these examples:

  • Many people have argued that a vaccine mandate would strip people of their individual liberties by forcing them to inject foreign substances into their bodies. While this is, in a sense, true, the option of remaining unvaccinated likewise forces other people to be exposed to this virus; thereby potentially stripping them of the most important liberty of all — the liberty to stay alive.
  • The concern has been raised that the death penalty could irreversibly strip innocent people of their lives. The answer to this problem lies in raising the bar for death penalty sentences by limiting them to only those cases in which no question whatsoever exists that the convicted party was truly guilty. Modern forensic science has made this infinitely easier.

In short, you’ll want to acknowledge that other arguments exist, and then refute them. The tone in which you do so depends on your goal.

What is a counter argument in a thesis?

A counter argument is one that supports the opposing side. In an essay, it shows that you understand other viewpoints, have considered them, and ultimately dismissed them.

Where do I place the counter argument in an essay?

Place the counter argument after your main supporting arguments.

How long should the counter argument be?

It may be a single paragraph or multiple, depending on how important you believe the counter argument to be and the length of the essay.

What is the difference between a counter argument and a rebuttal?

A counter argument describes the opposing side in some detail before it is refuted. In a rebuttal, you may simply oppose the opposition.

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Argument: your position/opinion about the topic (usually stated in the thesis and then supported with main points throughout the essay)

Counterargument: a section in your essay that describes the other side of the issue (what would someone say who disagrees with your position?)

Rebuttal (or Refutation): a section where you respond to the counterargument in a way that shows your position is the stronger one (what would you say to defeat their point?)

Why would I want to include a counterargument in my essay?

  • It gives you the opportunity to anticipate your reader’s concerns or objections to your viewpoint and address them head-on.
  • It improves your credibility by showing your reader you are a reasonable, fair, and informed person who has considered all sides of the issue.  
  • Part of being a strong critical thinker and communicator is examining a subject from all sides and angles.

What do I do after I explain the other side's position?

  • Defeat it with a rebuttal.
  • How you do this depends on what you perceive as weaknesses in the opposing argument.  There may be any number of faults you find with the other side's position (it uses outdated information; it relies on perception or opinion rather than facts; it is based on false assumptions).
  • After you identify weaknesses, point those out to your reader, and present your response to them. For example, if you feel that the other side's position is based on outdated information, you’ll have to present more current research to support your point.  
  • In some cases, you might think that the other side makes a good point.  In that instance, you can acknowledge that and establish common ground with the other side, but then describe why even though their reasons have validity, your reasons outweigh theirs on this particular issue.  

Where does the counterargument go in the paper?

Counterarguments are often placed toward the end of the essay after the author has argued all their points supporting their position.  You might decide to tackle both the counterargument and rebuttal in one paragraph, or you may decide to break them up into separate paragraphs, as seen in the example outline below:

  •  Introduction and thesis
  •  Supporting point #1
  •  Supporting point #2 (there can be any number of supporting points)
  •  Counterargument
  •  Rebuttal/Refutation
  •  Conclusion

Example of a counterargument and rebuttal in the same paragraph; common words/phrases used in a counterargument are in bold:

Supporters of spanking as a means to punish children claim that it is the most effective method of discipline.  Parents might feel that it’s the only punishment their children take seriously, and it teaches their children that there are real and immediate consequences to their actions.   They believe that this lesson far outweighs the small and momentary pain of the actual spanking.   Although this may be a popular position and spanking might seem to be an effective method of discipline in the short term, studies have shown that children who are spanked actually act out more than children who are not (Adams 12).   In fact, according to child psychologist Lucille Murray, when alternate forms of discipline are used (time-outs, confiscating toys, etc.), children still learn about consequences but without the pain and humiliation that comes with spanking.

Suggested phrases to help you start the counterargument and rebuttal

How can I start the counterargument?

  • Some people believe/argue/feel/think that…
  • It is true that…
  • Opposing views claim…
  • One common concern about (the issue) is…
  • Supporters of….

How can I start my rebuttal?

  • What this argument overlooks…
  • This view seems convincing/plausible/persuasive at first, but…
  • While this position is popular, it is not supported by the facts…
  • Although part of this claim is valid, it suffers from a flaw…

how to start counter argument in essay

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Turn a tide: Guide on Mastering the Counteragument

02 Feb 2023

Quick Navigation

📕General Info about Counterargument

🔍What is included in a counterargument paragraph?

What is a Counterargument?

Purpose of counterargument.

📝Basics of Counterarguments Usage

  • How to present your counterargument?

Address the Counterarguments

  • How to write and implement a counter-argument in your essay?

✏️ Counterargument Starters

📑Counterargument Templates

📖Examples of Counterarguments Paragraph

When presenting an argument, it's important to anticipate and address potential objections to your position. Including a counter-argument in your writing can demonstrate an understanding of alternative perspectives and strengthen your own argument by refuting those objections.

This article will provide you with tips and techniques for effective writing a counterargument in any type of written piece.

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General Info about Counterargument

A counter-argument is a perspective or point of view that contradicts or refutes the opposing argument presented in a  persuasive essay , usually to win a debate.

For instance, in an argumentative essay , presenting a counterargument can show that the author is aware of different viewpoints and can also help to support their own claim by addressing other opinions.

A counter argument is a contrasting viewpoint that challenges the argument being put forth. It's a tactic employed in talks or persuasive writing to demonstrate a deep understanding of the subject at hand by noting and addressing any counterarguments.

The goal of including a counterargument is not to undermine opponent's argument or prove it wrong, but rather to fortify it by demonstrating an awareness of the opposite point. This technique adds depth and nuance to the argument and highlights the writer or speaker's critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

A counterargument serves as a foil to your own opinion, adding depth and nuance to your perspective. It's like a sparring partner that helps you strengthen your words by pushing back and testing its limits.

The purpose of including a counterargument is not to discredit your own words, but rather to showcase your critical thinking skills. By acknowledging and refuting potential opposing position claims, you're able to fortify your speech, making it stronger, more convincing, and persuading others.

A counterargument allows you to not only present your own opinions, but also engage with opposing views and provide a well-rounded and insightful discussion.

Writing a counterargument essay is a great way to develop skills in persuasion. To make sure you create an effective and logical counterargument essay, it's important to research the topic you're writing about, form the structure, and provide the evidence. To make things faster, you can always buy argumentative essays online to get more insights on how to create a proper argumentative paper.

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Basics of Counterarguments Usage

Think of a counter argument as a challenge to your arguments, an opportunity to add depth and nuance to your perspective. When used effectively, counterarguments can elevate the quality of your conclusion in an argumentative essay and make more sense.

By including an opposing view and refuting it, you show a comprehensive understanding of the topic, demonstrate critical thinking skills . Incorporating contrasting points of view can also help you avoid common argumentation pitfalls and make your debate more persuasive and convincing.

How to present your counterargument

It's critical to address a rebuttal properly and objectively when incorporating it into your case. Anticipate potential objections to your position and choose the strongest arguments to address.

Introduce it impartially, giving it the same consideration as you would your own argument. Deny the counterargument effectively by using evidence, reasoning, and ideas to clearly and convincingly rebut it.

Show its weaknesses by highlighting its flaws and limitations, making your own argument appear stronger by comparison. Use transitional statements to create a cogent and seamless flow as you move from your thesis to the counterpoint and back again. By taking these steps, you can effectively incorporate a counterargument and strengthen your argument.

A strong argument must address counterarguments, which is a crucial step. It shows that you've considered opponent's arguments and you are prepared to respond to them. Acknowledge its validity by showing that you understand and respect the original argument, even if you don't agree with it.

Deny it by using evidence, explaining, reasoning, and examples to challenge the counterargument and prove why your argument is stronger. Highlight its limitations by showing its flaws and weaknesses, which will show strengths in your argument.

How to write and implement a counterargument in your essay?

To write and implement a statement in your monograph, first, identify an opposing position to your argumentative essays. If you need additional help, consider using an essay writing service to ensure that your essay is well-written, well-structured, and persuasive.

Explain the counterargument objectively, giving it the same consideration as your own argument. Then, deny it with solid proof, reasoning, and examples that prove why your argument is stronger.

The transition from your argument to the counterargument is crucial. To ensure a seamless and coherent monograph, use transitional statements to guide the reader from overall argument.

You could take a whole paragraph for it. This will keep the reader engaged until the conclusion, and make your academic paper appear polished, professional and boost its credibility.

What is included in a counterargument paragraph?

A counterargument paragraph typically includes the following elements:

  • Presentation of the opposing argument: Start by presenting the counterargument objectively, giving it the same consideration as your own argument.
  • Refutation: After outlining the counterargument, successfully refute it with example, facts, logic, and illustrations.
  • Transition to your argument: Use transitional statements to guide the reader from the counterargument back to your argument, maintaining coherence and flow.
  • Evidence and reasoning in support of your argument: After addressing the counterargument, support your points with more justification and proof.

It's crucial to remember that a counterargument paragraph shouldn't be used to attack the opposing argument, but rather to respectfully accept and respond to it. This supports your own arguments by revealing a greater comprehension of the subject and a readiness to take into account opposing argument.

Counterargument Starters

Here are some sentences that can be used when introducing a counterargument in your academic paper:

  • "While it may seem that... "
  • "It's true that... "
  • "One might argue that... "
  • "Some might say that... "
  • "An alternative viewpoint is that... "
  • "Critics of my argument might claim that... "
  • "One objection to my argument is that... "

Using these starters helps to introduce the counterargument objectively and fairly while also maintaining the coherence and flow of your academic writing.

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Counterargument Templates

Here are two templates that can be used to structure a counterargument in your academic paper:

✏️ Template 1:

  • Introduce the counterargument: Use a counterargument paragraph to introduce the opposing argument objectively.
  • Refute the counterargument: Use facts, reasoning, and samples to effectively refute the counterargument.
  • Reaffirm your argument: After refuting the counterargument, write your thesis statement with additional evidence and reasoning.

✏️ Template 2:

  • Introduce the counterargument: Start by presenting the opposing argument objectively.
  • Address the stance: Use evidence, explaining, and examples to refute the counterargument effectively.
  • Concede a point: Acknowledge a valid point made by the counterargument, but explain why it does not completely undermine your rebuttal.
  • Reaffirm your argument: After addressing the counterargument, reinforce your argument with additional evidence and reasoning.

Incorporating a counterargument into your academic paper can help to strengthen your writing. However, it is important to practice so you can write a structure that keeps your essay coherent and helps the reader follow your line of reasoning.

Examples of Counterarguments Paragraph

Here are two examples of counterargument paragraphs:

One counterargument to my argument that schools should prioritize physical education claims that it takes away valuable class time from subjects like math and science. While this is a valid opinion, I would suggest that physical education is just as important as those subjects. Research has shown that exercise has a positive impact on children's academic performance, memory, and concentration. Furthermore, without physical education, many children do not get enough physical activity in their day. No doubt, this can lead to health problems down the line.
Social media can also have beneficial consequences, which is a response to my claim that it has a bad influence on our mental health. On one side, social media can unify individuals and link them with people who have similar interests, but it can also cause feelings of isolation and sadness. Furthermore, the continual comparison to others on social media might result in concerns with body image and low self-esteem. The idea, however, is that the advantages of social media exceed their disadvantages, therefore it's crucial to use it sparingly to reduce any unwanted effects.

In both examples, the counterargument is introduced in fair way and then effectively refuted with evidence and reasoning. By considering and addressing counters, the writer shows a deeper understanding of the topic and a willingness to consider alternative perspectives. This makes the argument stronger and more persuasive.

Why is it important to use a counterargument?

Where should i put the counterargument in my essay, how to start a counterargument paragraph, is it mandatory to have a counter argument, was this article helpful, thanks for your feedback.

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