Roddy Doyle uses “admittedly” to un-concede a point

Another entry in our continuing series of posts on conceding a point:

When I was a kid, if you didn’t speak Irish, you really wanted to. And you played Gaelic games and you didn’t pay any attention to what was happening in the outside world, because really, Ireland was the center of the universe. And I don’t think that’s the case anymore. Although, admittedly, it is the center of the universe.

Roddy Doyle Bio and Themes by Deepika Bahri

Concession words in Ben Bernanke’s speech

As of July, the unemployment rate had fallen to 8.3 percent from … 10 percent and payrolls had risen by 4 million jobs from their low point. And despite periodic concerns about deflation risks, on the one hand, and repeated warnings that [the Federal Reserve] would ignite inflation, on the other hand, inflation … has remained near the Committee’s 2 percent objective and inflation expectations have remained stable. Key sectors such as manufacturing, housing, and international trade have strengthened, firms’ investment in equipment and software has rebounded, and conditions in financial and credit markets have improved.

Notwithstanding these positive signs, the economic situation is obviously far from satisfactory.

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke
At the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Symposium, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
August 31, 2012
Monetary Policy since the Onset of the Crisis

The reader over your shoulder
Concession words

Using “on the other hand” to concede a point

Advice for lawyers writing legal briefs:

[In legal writing,] weak arguments are risky: “[A] weak argument does more than merely dilute your brief. It speaks poorly of your judgment and thus reduces confidence in your other points.”… On the other hand, the law is what a majority of judges say it is — so an argument you consider weak may provide a basis for forming a majority.

Persuasive Legal Writing by Daniel U. Smith

In this passage, Daniel Smith makes two somewhat contradictory claims:

  1. Strong arguments are better than weak arguments.
  2. A weak argument may win the case if the judge happens to agree with it.

Smith uses the phrase  “on the other hand” to concede, or admit, that his first argument isn’t always true. First he makes a strong claim; then he qualifies his strong claim by conceding, or admitting, that there are exceptions to the rule.

This is a standard feature of academic writing, one that is important to master.

The reader over your shoulder
Concession words

Conceding a point, part 2

Excerpt from a New Yorker post on the possibility that President Obama is “too cool” for ordinary Americans:

“Obama is cool,” Ron Lloyd, a commenter from Walla Walla, Washington, wrote at Politico. “The Sinatra of politics.”


Notwithstanding [Mr. Lloyd's positive review], it remains to be seen how Obama’s latest media appearances will go down in places like [Walla Walla]. For all his smarts, he needs to be a bit careful. Americans like having a funny, articulate, and modern President. But they don’t want somebody who is too cool for school.

April 30, 2012
Posted by John Cassidy

Writer’s argument: “Middle Americans” are likely to be put off by President Obama’s “cool.”
Point conceded: Some Americans from out-of-the-way places like President Obama’s cool.

Writer John Cassidy uses the word notwithstanding to concede, or acknowledge, the fact that his argument is not true of all Americans.

Concession words
What is a concession relation?

The reader over your shoulder

Conceding a point

The first 2 paragraphs of Why Trial Lawyers Say It Better by Adam Freedman:

“Does it sing?”

At my old law firm, that was code for “Is your brief finished?” Admittedly, if you’re not a lawyer, the prospect of a singing legal brief will probably leave you cold. But there’s truth to the musical metaphor. An elegant legal brief (a written argument submitted to a court) has all the harmony of great prose.

Here, Adam Freedman is conceding a point — or, more accurately, acknowledging an objection.

He is saying that he knows full well many of his readers are not going to think legal writing ever “sings” – he “admits” it!

Then he goes on to assert that in fact elegant legal writing does sing: elegant legal writing has the “harmony of great prose.”

Summing up:
Writer’s argument: Elegantly written legal briefs have the harmony of great prose.
Point conceded: A lot of people would disagree.

The reader over your shoulder
Concession words

Concession words

Words we use to concede a point while making our case (I’ll link to examples as I come across them – complete list of concession-word posts here):

after all
although it is true that
at the same time
at any rate
but still
I concede that
in any case
in any event
in contrast
in spite of
it is true, but
no doubt
of course [it is true that]
on the one hand…on the other hand
that said
to be sure
true, … but

“The reader over your shoulder” | 4/29/212
Conceding a point | 4/29/2012
Conceding a point using notwithstanding | 5/1/2012
Conceding a point using on the other hand | 8/25/2012
MO’s paragraph expressing concession | 4/29/2012
Concession words in Ben Bernanke’s speech | 8/31/2012
Roddy Doyle uses “admittedly” to un-concede a point | 9/8/2012
Helen Keller uses “although” to concede a point | 9/8/2012
SI uses nevertheless to concede a point | 10/1/2012

MO’s paragraph using a transition that expressions ‘concession’

The Grimms made their tales more violent in the second edition. For example, they increased the punishing of evildoers: the step-sisters have to cut off their heels or toes to make the shoe fit. They also increased cartoon violence, with the step-sisters having their eyes taken out by birds. Although they increased cartoon violence and unrealistic violence, they reduced realistic violence, taking out the story of the starving children whose mother wants to eat them to survive.

The reader over your shoulder
Concession words

“The reader over your shoulder”

On making concessions, a skill novice writers typically have yet to develop:

Although as writers it is important to construct a strong argumentative thesis and develop it over the course of an essay, it is equally important to avoid tunnel vision and to take into account positions on the issue in question that do not necessarily agree with our own. In a book called The Reader over Your Shoulder (1943) by Robert Graves and Alan Hodges, the authors urge that writers should always compose their argument as if they had a crowd of people reading over their shoulders and asking questions. In other words, writers should try to be cognizant of possible weaknesses or omissions in their logic and should anticipate what a “devil’s advocate” might point out about their argument. This approach to writing will encourage you to shore up your weaknesses and foresee any possible objections to your line of thinking.

Opposing Opinions and Making Concessions (password protected)

Concession words & examples