There are several ways by which you can develop your argument in an essay. One of these ways is to use a counterargument, which is an idea that opposes your views. It’s a high-level skill that can boost your writing quality if you implement it the right way. Let’s look at an example to understand how it works:
Imagine you’re writing about whether people should get vaccinated. There are people who think it’s a good thing to do, and there are some that don’t. Now, imagine that you want to convince someone that receiving a vaccine will protect them against diseases. First, you need to look at the issue from their perspective and then build your argument against it. Finally, you should come to a conclusion that supports your view. In short, you acknowledge their argument and then refute it. Here’s how it goes:
Present your view:
Getting vaccinated is essential for the prevention of diseases.
Acknowledge the counterargument:
Some might argue that vaccines are unsafe because of their side effects.
Concede a point:
It is true that people who are vaccinated may experience symptoms such as a headache or fever.
Refute the counterargument with facts and reasoning:
However, those adverse effects have been proven by medical scientists to occur rarely. Moreover, the production of antibodies triggered by vaccines gives the human body a fighting chance against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
Reach a conclusion that supports your point of view:
Therefore, I believe that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the disadvantages and that people should immunize themselves against illnesses as soon as possible.
Note 1: Pay attention to the tense that I have used to present my view (the one in brown). Using simple present without any modal verbs like can, may, and might makes your position clear and strong.
Note 2: Pay attention to the words and phrases in green and red. Why did I use them? What kind of impression do you get from them?
The ones in red are used to weaken the position of the counterargument and strengthen my point. The ones in green are used to make my position even stronger and clearer.
Note 3: Remember that your position should be clear throughout your essay. Even small words and phrases can help you with that. If you sound like you agree with the counterargument, you’re not doing it correctly.
Note 4: Always remember to refute the counterargument. Otherwise, the reader might think that you agree with it.
Question: Where can we use counterarguments in an essay?
1. In your introduction paragraph just before your thesis statement. You can use a counterargument to make your thesis statement sound stronger right from the beginning.
2. In a body paragraph of its own. You can acknowledge an opposing view in a paragraph and then refute it.
3. As a part of your paragraph. You can present and refute a counterargument within a paragraph that is about your main point.
Using a counterargument in a paragraph is a delicate job. If you don’t do it properly, it will backfire and make your essay confusing.
Don’t overdo it! There are several ways by which you can develop your argument. Using a counterargument is one of them, so make sure you use a variety of ways to develop different points in your essay.
Here’s the summary of the steps you need to take to write a counterargument:
1- Present your view clearly.
2- Acknowledge the counterargument.
3- Concede a point reluctantly.
4- Respectfully refute the counterargument with facts and reasoning.
5- Reach a conclusion that supports your view.