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counter argument in english 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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counter argument in english essay

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  • Counterargument

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.

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18 Argument, Counterargument, & Refutation

In academic writing, we often use an Argument essay structure. Argument essays have these familiar components, just like other types of essays:

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraphs

But Argument essays also contain these particular elements:

  • Debatable thesis statement in the Introduction
  • Argument – paragraphs which show support for the author’s thesis (for example: reasons, evidence, data, statistics)
  • Counterargument – at least one paragraph which explains the opposite point of view
  • Concession – a sentence or two acknowledging that there could be some truth to the Counterargument
  • Refutation (also called Rebuttal) – sentences which explain why the Counterargument is not as strong as the original Argument

Consult  Introductions & Titles for more on writing debatable thesis statements and  Paragraphs ~ Developing Support for more about developing your Argument.

Imagine that you are writing about vaping. After reading several articles and talking with friends about vaping, you decide that you are strongly opposed to it.

Which working thesis statement would be better?

  • Vaping should be illegal because it can lead to serious health problems.

Many students do not like vaping.

Because the first option provides a debatable position, it is a better starting point for an Argument essay.

Next, you would need to draft several paragraphs to explain your position. These paragraphs could include facts that you learned in your research, such as statistics about vapers’ health problems, the cost of vaping, its effects on youth, its harmful effects on people nearby, and so on, as an appeal to logos . If you have a personal story about the effects of vaping, you might include that as well, either in a Body Paragraph or in your Introduction, as an appeal to pathos .

A strong Argument essay would not be complete with only your reasons in support of your position. You should also include a Counterargument, which will show your readers that you have carefully researched and considered both sides of your topic. This shows that you are taking a measured, scholarly approach to the topic – not an overly-emotional approach, or an approach which considers only one side. This helps to establish your ethos as the author. It shows your readers that you are thinking clearly and deeply about the topic, and your Concession (“this may be true”) acknowledges that you understand other opinions are possible.

Here are some ways to introduce a Counterargument:

  • Some people believe that vaping is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes.
  • Critics argue that vaping is safer than conventional cigarettes.
  • On the other hand, one study has shown that vaping can help people quit smoking cigarettes.

Your paragraph would then go on to explain more about this position; you would give evidence here from your research about the point of view that opposes your own opinion.

Here are some ways to begin a Concession and Refutation:

  • While this may be true for some adults, the risks of vaping for adolescents outweigh its benefits.
  • Although these critics may have been correct before, new evidence shows that vaping is, in some cases, even more harmful than smoking.
  • This may have been accurate for adults wishing to quit smoking; however, there are other methods available to help people stop using cigarettes.

Your paragraph would then continue your Refutation by explaining more reasons why the Counterargument is weak. This also serves to explain why your original Argument is strong. This is a good opportunity to prove to your readers that your original Argument is the most worthy, and to persuade them to agree with you.

Activity ~ Practice with Counterarguments, Concessions, and Refutations

A. Examine the following thesis statements with a partner. Is each one debatable?

B. Write  your own Counterargument, Concession, and Refutation for each thesis statement.

Thesis Statements:

  • Online classes are a better option than face-to-face classes for college students who have full-time jobs.
  • Students who engage in cyberbullying should be expelled from school.
  • Unvaccinated children pose risks to those around them.
  • Governments should be allowed to regulate internet access within their countries.

Is this chapter:

…too easy, or you would like more detail? Read “ Further Your Understanding: Refutation and Rebuttal ” from Lumen’s Writing Skills Lab.

Note: links open in new tabs.

reasoning, logic

emotion, feeling, beliefs

moral character, credibility, trust, authority

goes against; believes the opposite of something

ENGLISH 087: Academic Advanced Writing Copyright © 2020 by Nancy Hutchison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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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 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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Argumentative Essays: The Counter-Argument & Refutation

An argumentative essay presents an argument for or against a topic. For example, if your topic is working from home , then your essay would either argue in favor of working from home (this is the for  side) or against working from home.

Like most essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction that ends with the writer's position (or stance) in the thesis statement .

Introduction Paragraph

(Background information....)

  • Thesis statement : Employers should give their workers the option to work from home in order to improve employee well-being and reduce office costs.

This thesis statement shows that the two points I plan to explain in my body paragraphs are 1) working from home improves well-being, and 2) it allows companies to reduce costs. Each topic will have its own paragraph. Here's an example of a very basic essay outline with these ideas:

  • Background information

Body Paragraph 1

  • Topic Sentence : Workers who work from home have improved well-being .
  • Evidence from academic sources

Body Paragraph 2

  • Topic Sentence : Furthermore, companies can reduce their expenses by allowing employees to work at home .
  • Summary of key points
  • Restatement of thesis statement

Does this look like a strong essay? Not really . There are no academic sources (research) used, and also...

You Need to Also Respond to the Counter-Arguments!

The above essay outline is very basic. The argument it presents can be made much stronger if you consider the counter-argument , and then try to respond (refute) its points.

The counter-argument presents the main points on the other side of the debate. Because we are arguing FOR working from home, this means the counter-argument is AGAINST working from home. The best way to find the counter-argument is by reading research on the topic to learn about the other side of the debate. The counter-argument for this topic might include these points:

  • Distractions at home > could make it hard to concentrate
  • Dishonest/lazy people > might work less because no one is watching

Next, we have to try to respond to the counter-argument in the refutation (or rebuttal/response) paragraph .

The Refutation/Response Paragraph

The purpose of this paragraph is to address the points of the counter-argument and to explain why they are false, somewhat false, or unimportant. So how can we respond to the above counter-argument? With research !

A study by Bloom (2013) followed workers at a call center in China who tried working from home for nine months. Its key results were as follows:

  • The performance of people who worked from home increased by 13%
  • These workers took fewer breaks and sick-days
  • They also worked more minutes per shift

In other words, this study shows that the counter-argument might be false. (Note: To have an even stronger essay, present data from more than one study.) Now we have a refutation.

Where Do We Put the Counter-Argument and Refutation?

Commonly, these sections can go at the beginning of the essay (after the introduction), or at the end of the essay (before the conclusion). Let's put it at the beginning. Now our essay looks like this:

Counter-argument Paragraph

  • Dishonest/lazy people might work less because no one is watching

Refutation/Response Paragraph

  • Study: Productivity  increased by 14%
  • (+ other details)

Body Paragraph 3

  • Topic Sentence : In addition, people who work from home have improved well-being .

Body Paragraph 4

The outline is stronger now because it includes the counter-argument and refutation. Note that the essay still needs more details and research to become more convincing.

Working from home

Working from home may increase productivity.

Extra Advice on Argumentative Essays

It's not a compare and contrast essay.

An argumentative essay focuses on one topic (e.g. cats) and argues for or against it. An argumentative essay should not have two topics (e.g. cats vs dogs). When you compare two ideas, you are writing a compare and contrast essay. An argumentative essay has one topic (cats). If you are FOR cats as pets, a simplistic outline for an argumentative essay could look something like this:

  • Thesis: Cats are the best pet.
  • are unloving
  • cause allergy issues
  • This is a benefit >  Many working people do not have time for a needy pet
  • If you have an allergy, do not buy a cat.
  • But for most people (without allergies), cats are great
  • Supporting Details

Use Language in Counter-Argument That Shows Its Not Your Position

The counter-argument is not your position. To make this clear, use language such as this in your counter-argument:

  • Opponents might argue that cats are unloving.
  • People who dislike cats would argue that cats are unloving.
  • Critics of cats could argue that cats are unloving.
  • It could be argued that cats are unloving.

These  underlined phrases make it clear that you are presenting  someone else's argument , not your own.

Choose the Side with the Strongest Support

Do not choose your side based on your own personal opinion. Instead, do some research and learn the truth about the topic. After you have read the arguments for and against, choose the side with the strongest support as your position.

Do Not Include Too Many Counter-arguments

Include the main (two or three) points in the counter-argument. If you include too many points, refuting these points becomes quite difficult.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below.

- Matthew Barton / Creator of

Additional Resources :

  • Writing a Counter-Argument & Refutation (Richland College)
  • Language for Counter-Argument and Refutation Paragraphs (Brown's Student Learning Tools)

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15 comments on “ Argumentative Essays: The Counter-Argument & Refutation ”

Thank you professor. It is really helpful.

Can you also put the counter argument in the third paragraph

It depends on what your instructor wants. Generally, a good argumentative essay needs to have a counter-argument and refutation somewhere. Most teachers will probably let you put them anywhere (e.g. in the start, middle, or end) and be happy as long as they are present. But ask your teacher to be sure.

Thank you for the information Professor

how could I address a counter argument for “plastic bags and its consumption should be banned”?

For what reasons do they say they should be banned? You need to address the reasons themselves and show that these reasons are invalid/weak.

Thank you for this useful article. I understand very well.

Thank you for the useful article, this helps me a lot!

Thank you for this useful article which helps me in my study.

Thank you, professor Mylene 102-04

it was very useful for writing essay

Very useful reference body support to began writing a good essay. Thank you!

Really very helpful. Thanks Regards Mayank

Thank you, professor, it is very helpful to write an essay.

It is really helpful thank you

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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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