Answered By: James Whitmer
Last Updated: Jun 19, 2020     Views: 3

Please Note: These are only common assumptions and suggestions about writing an argument essay. The requirements of such assignments often vary, so please follow your instructor's guidelines. 

An opponent, naysayer, or counterargument is often included in an argumentative essay to strengthen its central claim. This is to acknowledge other viewpoints and show how you interact with them as well as respond to their ideas. Generally speaking, to include a naysayer in an essay, it is best to follow these guidelines:

  • Put the opponent first on any main point. It's a good idea to give your argument the advantage of responding and therefore being heard last by the audience. This is because whatever the audience hears last always remains in their memory the strongest.
  • Be respectful to the opponent. You can do this by avoiding sarcasm, insults, or describing them or their ideas with language loaded with negative connotations. This is important because it is one of many techniques to show you are a person of character who deserves to be listened to.
  • Give the naysayer a fair amount of time to speak. Don't just include what they believe, but also the reasons and evidence for why they believe it. A good rule of thumb is to give them at least 1/4-1/3 of the the body of the essay to ensure you are not being lopsided in your argument. This can demonstrate that you have done your research and respect your opponents enough to learn what they have to say.
  • Include all of the major counterarguments. It's damaging to your character if you leave out counterarguments that you can't answer or that people can think of immediately, leaving them to wonder why they aren't present. This is why doing thorough research is very important.
  • Ensure that you respond to every naysayer claim that you include. If you do not, it will leave weak points that can help unravel your entire argument.
  • Be willing to concede that an opposing argument may be right. Be careful not to polarize your argument so much that you don't allow yourself to admit when a naysayer has a valid point. Though it may seem counterintuitive, concessions can strengthen your argument by showing you are open-minded.
  • Use transitions to demonstrate when you switch from one point of view to another. Examples of such transitions are "on the contrary," "however," "in contrast," "on the other hand," etc. These are integral to helping your audience avoid confusion as they read the essay.