What Is a Concession in a Thesis Statement?

A concession can help your thesis statement pack greater persuasive punch.
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In academic essays, the thesis statement is the heart of your argument: It tells readers exactly what your paper will discuss and what position you’ll take on the topic. Some thesis statements include concessions, which are statements that acknowledge a different, valid perspective on the topic or that admit that your argument doesn’t address certain concerns related to the topic.

1 Crafting Concessions

Concessions, also called “concessive clauses,” usually begin with a concession word or phrase such as “although,” “even though,” “regardless of,” “while” or “despite,” according to Edward C. Martin, law professor at Samford University. For example, a thesis statement that follows a concession might read, “Although coal mining creates thousands of jobs in the United States, the environmental costs of coal mining outweigh its economic benefits.” Another way to present a concession is to state the concession as a fact, then to use a contrasting conjunction when you state your own thesis: “Coal mining does create thousands of jobs in the United States; yet, the environmental costs of coal mining outweigh its economic benefits.”

2 Concession Placement

As these examples suggest, the concession usually precedes the thesis statement itself. This order is mainly to ensure that readers remember your idea most vividly; in general, people most clearly retain the last idea that they read in a series of ideas. This order also prepares the reader to launch into your first paragraph, which will likely begin with a topic sentence that supports your thesis. Note that the concession can be a separate sentence from the thesis statement. If you’re writing a concession to go with your thesis statement, experiment with different word arrangements to see which one sounds most persuasive.

3 Addressing Competing Voices

The most common use of concessions is to acknowledge that other perspectives exist on your topic. By demonstrating that you’ve understood an alternative or competing argument, a concession can bolster your argument’s authority. This kind of thesis statement can show that you’re not a binary thinker: “Although the North and the South both worried that former slaves would compete with white workers for jobs, the North dealt with former slaves far differently during the Civil War than the South did.” The concession adds complexity to a discussion of differences by acknowledging that similarities also exist.

4 Limiting Your Scope

Concessions can also clarify that you’ve considered other aspects of your topic but decided not to discuss them in this paper. This kind of concession is crucial if you’re dealing with a broad topic, since you’ll have to limit your thesis. Such a concession and thesis statement might read, “Abortion rights remain hotly contested at both the federal and state levels for complex social, economic, legal and religious reasons. However, by focusing specifically on religious organizations’ arguments against abortion in Wisconsin, I show that ….” When using this kind of concession, make sure to clarify why the narrower perspective you’ve chosen is important for readers to consider.

Elissa Hansen has more than nine years of editorial experience, and she specializes in academic editing across disciplines. She teaches university English and professional writing courses, holding a Bachelor of Arts in English and a certificate in technical communication from Cal Poly, a Master of Arts in English from the University of Wyoming, and a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota.