TOEFL Writing – How to Use a Counterargument

THE COUNTERARGUMENT 

In TOEFL writing, it’s a great idea to use a counterargument. A counterargument is when you a) acknowledge the other side of an argument and b) refute it.

Let’s say I’m taking a position on an issue – public transportation vs car ownership.

One of my claims is that public transportation is better for the environment than driving. That’s my topic sentence. I’ll support my topic with an explanation and an example. Here’s what that would look like in a writing task:

Taking a bus or subway is much friendlier to the earth than driving a gas guzzling car. Busses and subways consume energy much more efficiently than cars. Obviously, the per person energy consumption of these public transportation options is much lower.

Now, I can use a counterargument to introduce another opinion, counter to mine:

Some people might say that waiting for a bus or subway is inconvenient.

Notice the construction of the counterargument:

Some people might say + counterargument.

In order to strengthen my own position, I must a) acknowledge that this other opinion exists, and then b) defeat it. This is called a refutation:

What they fail to realize is that the slight time saving they enjoy from driving their inefficient cars comes at an enormous cost to our precious planet.

So, all together, the paragraph looks like this:

Topic. Explanation. Example. Counterargument. Refutation.

Taking a bus or subway is much friendlier to the earth than driving a gas guzzling car. Busses and subways consume energy much more efficiently than cars. Obviously, the per person energy consumption of these public transportation options is much lower. Some people might say that waiting for a bus or subway is inconvenient. What they fail to realize is that the slight time saving they enjoy from driving their inefficient cars comes at an enormous cost to our precious planet.

Where do I use it?

Put the counterargument in your third body paragraph (your fourth paragraph) in a 5 paragraph essay.

That’s a high-scoring paragraph.

If you are serious about your TOEFL training, I show you exactly how to write a killer 5-paragraph essay in TOEFL Clear Strategies & Tactics. Check out a lecture now.

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