You are on page 1of 4

Writing the Counter-Argument and Rebuttal

What is a Counter-Argument?
A counter-argument is an argument opposed to your essay, or part of your
It expresses the view of a person who disagrees with your position.

Why do you need to write a counter-argument in your essay?

A good counter-argument makes the argument stronger.
Gives you the chance to respond to your readers objections.
Shows that you are a reasonable person who has considered both sides of
the debate.
Both of these make an essay more persuasive.

Some Guidelines for Writing (self-reading)

A counter-argument should be expressed thoroughly, fairly and objectively.
The point is to show your reader that you have considered all sides of
the question, and to make it easier to answer the counter-argument.

Ask yourself if the person who actually holds this position would accept
your way of stating it. Put yourself in their shoes and give them the benefit
of the doubt. Dont use biased language when presenting their position.

One of the most common purposes of counter-argument is to address

positions that many people hold but that you think are mistaken.
Therefore you want to be respectful and give them the benefit of the doubt
even if you think their views are incorrect.
Theyll be much more likely to be persuaded then. (The other approach, to
use sarcasm and satire to expose mistaken ideas, is very powerful, but should
be used with care, especially before youve mastered the art of rhetoric.)

Format of a Counter-Argument

Begin with a topic sentence: Introduce the opposing sides arguments. You
are acknowledging the other point of view. Use phrases such as the following:
Some critics argue/assert/contend/claim/state . . .
Many believe that . . .
It has been argued/asserted/contended/claimed/stated . . .
Opponents argue/assert/contend/claim/state . . .

Expository Essay Revision Material Page 1

Next, introduce the Expert Source that supports the counterargument:
This sentence supports your counter-argument with a quotation or paraphrase
of evidence from an expert.

When writing for a research paper, it includes the name of the author/source,
the title of the article or web site, and, if necessary, the expertise of the source
to show the validity of the evidence.

Followed by, an Explanation sentence: This sentence begins with a

transition (therefore, thus, to explain, as a result, to elaborate, in other words,
etc.) and explains the evidence and/or provides an example of what it is

And the Concession sentence: Concede (acknowledge) the other sides

validity in a respectful way. You might begin with phrases such as the
For this reason, opponents believe/argue/claim/contend/stress etc.
As a result of _______________, many believe/argue etc.
It is understandable why the opposition believes/argues etc.
Critics have a valid point about . . .

How can a Counter-Argument be rebutted?

One of the most effective ways to rebut a counter-argument is to show that it
is based on faulty assumptions.
Either the facts are wrong, the analysis is incorrect, or the values it is based
on are not acceptable.

When you refute or challenge the oppositions viewpoint, you should
remind readers of your stance. You will begin by using a phrase such as
the following:
Nevertheless/nonetheless/however + your argument
Though it is a valid point/argument + your argument
Even though (one part of the argument) is true, it still does not . . .
Though he/she/they make a good point, + your argument

Some advice on Rebuttal (self-read)

Make sure that you complete the rebuttal by refuting the actual
counterargument that you are using in this paragraph.
Do not argue against a different counterargument, as there are usually
Stick to the one counterargument throughout the entire paragraph. If you want
to address more than one counter-argument, then you will need to do so in
separate paragraphs.
It helps to pick counterarguments that you can refute easily.

Expository Essay Revision Material Page 2

A Summary of the Counter-Argument and Rebuttal paragraph Format

(1) Write the counter-argument by starting with a topic Sentence bring in the
assumption of the opposing party.
(2) Introduce an expert source (or evidence) to support.
(3) Explain your evidence.
(4) Concede validity of the opposing side (however, be careful not to support
in your choice of words)
(5) Refute with your argument based on the counter-argument brought up.
(6) Support with evidence and explain.

Analysis of Samples for Practice

Examine the following samples and identify the different components of

counter-argument and rebuttal for each paragraph.

Sample 1
Some may argue that students lack the responsibility to have drinks in
class. This, however, is not true. Students drink soda in the cafeteria all the
time, and rarely is there a spill. Also, there could be a compromise where
students only bring in clear liquids. This would eliminate any stains if there
was a spill.

Sample 2
The Book has no place in modern society. Discuss
Some argue that technological means of accessing information is more
convenient than books. We often say, At the click of a button, or Google,
and we can get the information we want. However, books can be more
convenient than technology. Smaller, lighter books can be brought around
everywhere, with much greater ease than bulky laptops. Technological
gadgets are troublesome in needing an electrical supply and internet
access. In this way, books may be more convenient than technology.

Expository Essay Revision Material Page 3

Sample 3
Money is the religion of the 21st Century Do you agree?
Some may also say that increasing acts of terrorism strike fear in the hearts
of men. The sight of buildings and infrastructure going up in smoke after a
bomb attack causes Man to feel humbled, insecure and desirous of the
anchors of the soul which can only be found in a genuine religion that
offers a coherent answer to life. However, the true solution to all these
problems is actually to step up security, in terms of machinery and also
human labour. All these can ultimately be achieved only with money.

Sample 4
Is there a case for keeping animals in zoos?
Some may argue that there have been zoo conservation efforts to aid the
conservation of species facing extinction. This might seem like a noble goal
as zoos claim to provide a safe environment and conduct breeding
programmes to multiply the endangered animal populations and eventually
release them into the wild. However, even though these efforts seem noble
and altruistic, they rarely translate into effective results. Fundamentally,
zoos are profit-driven businesses and their efforts will never be completely
altruistic. For instance, zoos tend to pay more attention to breeding animals
such as the Great Panda, animals that are deemed cute or large by the
public, in order to appeal to more visitors and ultimately boost their

Expository Essay Revision Material Page 4