Concessions in Essays

A good way to project balance can be to dedicate a short paragraph to making a concession. This is not a point where you contradict yourself or your thesis, but it is sort of like a disclaimer of sorts. Consider the statements below:

  • I generally enjoy food from McDonald’s, except the occasional soggy fries.
  • While I generally find this group of boys irritating, it is hard to deny how their antics can be quite adorable at times

The concessions above do not dilute or weaken the opinion, but merely add as admissions that one’s view is not exactly 100%. The concession paragraph usually comes in the front, where you can strategically ‘get it off your chest’ first before you proceed with the main arguments.

Assuming a student adopts a stand that challenges should not always be embraced, a possible concession he/she would make could look like this:

Concession: Firstly, let me acknowledge that facing challenges is good and should be embraced most of the time. Undertaking challenges helps individuals, groups and even entire nations become that more resilient and tenacious as they face various difficulties and become relatively stronger as a result. The athlete pushes himself to the next physical limit, the group of engineers build that next once-unthinkable bridge and the country may well advance herself from third world to first. In fact, in this risk-adverse climate seen especially in developed societies today, many often avoid challenges because of fear and simply stick to dogma and tradition out of the comfort in the familiarity. This is why we see tiresome calls for more innovation among the educated or are waiting eagerly for the next politician or scientist who will dare to break new boundaries; in such cases yes, I would agree that we would do well to embrace challenges more often.

Transition sentence: But while challenges are undeniably good for us, to boldly claim that all challenges should be embraced sounds ironically convenient and almost un-challenging. Sometimes, it is the informed and calculated decision to avoid a challenge that will serve us better.

Additional tips for making a sound concession:

  • Should either be the first or last body paragraph. If in doubt, just insert it in after the introduction
  • Use appropriate concessionary language e.g. It is hard to deny that, undeniably, admittedly, I concede that
  • The point, although not one of your main ones, must be sound and logical; don’t insert it in as a token gesture
  • Doesn’t have to be overly developed or you’ll end up convincing yourself (and the reader) of the antithesis instead
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