Showing the other side of the argument in an opinion essay.
Updated: March 2023
In an opinion essay you should give 2 reasons for your opinion in the thesis statement then back them up with with an explanation in the main body paragraphs. I usually advise my students to choose one side, either agree or disagree, and stick with that.
You do not actually get a higher band score for a balanced approach, so it is safer to choose one side and stick with that view throughout the essay. Remember that your opinion must be in the introduction, main body paragraphs and the conclusion.
However, something that will showcase your language ability is to show the other side of the argument or give a concession to help balance the essay. This gives the essay good coherence cohesion and a wider range of grammar. This should be done carefully though, because you still have to maintain your own opinion and not contradict yourself.
When giving an opinion you can use these phrases:
I think that…
This essay argues that…
I hold the view that…
In my opinion…
In my view…
I believe that…
I firmly agree/disagree…
I completely agree/disagree…
Phrases that can be used to balance an opinion
Actually before the word ‘however’ in the middle of the sentence we must use a semi colon.
These are sentences I have taken from various IELTS essays.
1. I believe that obesity is caused by the over-consumption of fast food, although the issue of hereditary factors should also be taken into account.
2. In my opinion, serious crimes ought to be punished with long prison sentences. However, considering the other side of the argument, this might not be effective in bringing down the crime rate so other measures need to be taken.
3. I think that children need homework to test their abilities so they can attain high grades. On the other hand, there needs to be a balance of free time so that they can play and explore with friends.
4. In my view, working from home is better than working in an office. However, others might say it is easy to lose motivation when working from home. This is because it is easy to become distracted by watching TV or using Facebook.
Conjunctions such as ‘Although’ and ‘However’ are useful when you want to show contrast.
- When you present the other side of the argument it is important to make your own opinion very clear in the body paragraphs and conclusion.
- If the question asks for your opinion you must give it directly. A discussion essay has a different structure but discussion essays ask for an opinion. Read the instruction words carefully first.
- Practice using these phrases in your writing and adapt them to your own style. Do not just memorise them and plant them in the essay because the examiner will see that and you can lose marks.
Example task question
‘Some people think that violent sports such as martial arts or boxing should be banned from international competitions. To what extent do you agree or disagree?.’
Let’s look at the 2 types of introduction that can be used here. One is a straightforward opinion, the other balances the opinion with the other side of the argument.
1. Some people would argue that violent sports such as boxing or combat sports ought to be prohibited from global sporting competitions. I disagree with this view because these sports can teach competitors discipline and strength of character.
2. Some would argue that violent sports such as boxing or combat sports ought to be prohibited from global sporting competitions. I disagree with this view because these sports can teach competitors discipline and strength of character; however, we must take into account the psychological effects on children if they watch these sports on TV.
- The blue sentence is my thesis statement that contains my opinion and a reason. The purple sentence is the other side of the argument
- In example number 2 I added the contrast device ‘however.’ and then I wrote ‘…we must take into account…‘, in this case, I am showing the other view, but I will still have to reinforce my opinion again in the body and conclusion.
- It is important to keep the introduction concise. In example 2 above the introduction is 52 words which is long enough.
- You can also use this technique in the body paragraphs instead of the introduction if you feel that the introduction becomes too long. Remember though that you must restate your opinion and be careful not to contradict yourself.
This is how I would reinforce my opinion in the conclusion.
To conclude, although it is partly true that aggressive sports have a negative psychological impact on youngsters watching them on TV, I firmly believe that these sports should not be banned from international sporting events, because boxers and fighters learn strict discipline and inner strength.
I used the conjunction ‘although’ and then the phrase ‘it is partly true …’ then in the blue sentence I state my opinion using ‘I firmly believe that..’ This method shows balance and I am clearly asserting my opinion again with some detail.
Note: The conclusion is 44 words here, make sure your conclusion is shorter than the introduction. There is no need for too much detail in this stage.
Below are some sentences taken from IELTS essays. Fill in the gaps with the best phrase from the box below.
1. I think that the government should not control what we see on the internet. Although __________, such as dangerous websites with harmful content, there ought to be regulations put in place.
2. In my opinion, there are many benefits to running your own business, __________, there are risks involved and working in a company tends to be more stable employment.
3. I believe that capital punishment is not an effective way to deal with serious high profile crimes and other more humane punishment must be used, whereas ________________ capital punishment does indeed act as a major deterrent. For instance, in countries which have the death penalty, there is evidence of a much lower crime rate for very serious offences.
4. I think that the government needs to invest more in public transport, but _______________, some feel that investing in healthcare is more important as our health is a much greater priority.
5. In some cases, criminal activity should be dealt with by longer prison terms. However, ___________, this is not the best solution and other alternatives need to be explored, such as community service for petty crimes.
6. I agree that getting a University degree can help secure a good job; however, practical real-life work experience should also be ______________.
Click on the orange button below to see my answers, note that some answers may vary. If you have questions put a comment in the comments section at the end of this post.
You have to develop your own style so that these phrases can be used naturally, just do not memorise them and put them in your essay randomly.
Leave a comment below if you have any questions..