Argumentative Writing: The Counterargument

Argumentative Writing: The Counterargument

The counterargument is one of the most important parts of an argumentative essay because it can persuade undecided readers. A strong counterargument presents the other side’s point of view, gives an explanation of the reasoning for this view, and then soundly rejects the opposing argument. There are a few key things to keep in mind while drafting a counterargument.

Be Fair to the Other Side

Effective argumentative writing completely refutes any opposing argument, which can only be done when the writer shows an understanding of the opposition’s ideas. If you convince your audience that you understand your opposition’s stance, they will be more likely to listen when you explain why you disagree with the opposing point of view. After all, by fairly covering the opposing side, you show your expertise on the topic and your willingness to reason with the opposition.

Present and Reject the Opposition’s Argument

In addition to presenting the argument of the opposing side, your counterargument should also reject those claims. Simply laying out the other side’s argument and then going back to your own views may not be convincing enough because, although you are giving the opposition a voice in your paper, you are not explaining why they are incorrect. By explaining and rejecting the opposing side’s point of view, you can help convince your reader to see yours.

Example of a Counterargument

If a writer was trying to argue that cookie cake is a valid dessert option for celebrating birthdays, the opposing side might say cookie cake is not a special enough dessert to celebrate birthdays. The opposition would point out that cookies are eaten year-round, so they are not associated with special occasions. To effectively argue that cookie cake is a valid option for birthday celebrations, the writer needs to address and reject the opposition’s argument.

A possible counterargument in which this writer addresses and rejects the opposition might look like:

“Despite the favorable qualities of cookie cake, many would argue that it is not a special enough dessert to celebrate a birthday, since cookies are eaten year-round. Those who do not view cookie cake as a valid birthday dessert option claim that traditional cake is typically eaten only at special events, such as birthdays, which only happen once a year. However, while it is true cookies are eaten year-round, cookie cake is not. Although somewhat similar in taste, cookies and cookie cake are different in texture and presentation. In comparison, these differences are greater than those between cupcakes and cake, which are similar in both taste and texture; just like cookies, cupcakes are eaten outside of special events and can often be found at less formal social gatherings. Despite cupcakes being very similar in taste to cake, the two are considered different in large part due to presentation. If cake can still be considered a special dessert despite cupcakes being commonplace, the same should be true for cookie cake and cookies.”

In lengthier writing, such as an essay, the writer would likely elaborate on the thoughts of the opposition and the rejection of that argument; however, this is a good start to a counterargument. The writer fairly presents the opposing side’s view on why cookie cake should not be used as a birthday dessert, and by taking the time to understand and write out that argument, the writer found a way to refute the claims. This practice allows readers to consider the counterargument and be even more convinced of the writer’s claim that cookie cake should be accepted as a valid option for birthday celebrations.

Page last updated July 12, 2023.