The Concessive Sentence
Concessive sentences are useful in part because they enable you to combine sentences and avoid “choppiness” in your writing.
But concessive sentences are particularly useful when you are writing an essay that requires you to compare or contrast two or more things, or an essay that requires you to take a stand on a particular issue, such as an argument or position paper. In these essays, you might want to use concession words when you want to admit or concede that some of your opponents’ ideas are true. The most important function of concessives is that they allow you to show more than one side of a complex issue while emphasizing the one that you think is most important.
To get a sense of how this might work, consider the following sentence that your professor might write at the end of your essay:
Although your essay makes many interesting points, your grammar is often flawed.
Your professor has used although to concede a point. You probably aren’t expecting to get a very good grade on this one; after all, your grammar is flawed. But suppose the sentence was written:
Although your grammar is often flawed, your essay makes many interesting points.
Sounds better, doesn’t it? You might even get a good grade. And yet both sentences make the exact same points. The concessive sentence allows you to emphasize the second point, by using concessive subordinators.
Different subordinators are discussed in more detail in the Writing Center tutorial “Joining Ideas: Using Coordinators and Subordinators.” We recommend this tutorial if you would like more practice using a variety of different words to join ideas and show relationships.
Some Concessive Subordinators
When we concede a point, we acknowledge that such a point has merit. It is often necessary, particularly when we are arguing a particular position, to make what are called “concessions” to the other side or to the idea or position we are trying to persuade our reader to reject. Many subordinators allow us to show concession. These concessive subordinators are particularly effective in both comparison and contrast and argument essays. They allow the writer to concede that an opponent’s point has value while also de-emphasizing the opponent’s point to the reader.
In each case below, the concessive subordinator shows concession and de-emphasizes the point it is attached to; in other words, the point that follows the joining word seems less important.
Although Los Angeles has a high crime rate, many people are attracted to its sunny, warm climate. (“Although” de-emphasizes the crime rate and allows the writer to emphasize the warm climate.)
Although many people are attracted to Los Angeles’ warm climate, it has a high crime rate. (“Although” de-emphasizes the warm climate and allows the writer to emphasize the crime rate.)
Even though Los Angeles is one of the smoggiest cities in America, many famous movie stars and musicians live there. (“Even though” de-emphasizes the smog.)
Even though many famous movie stars and musicians live there, Los Angeles is one of the smoggiest cities in America. (“Even though” de-emphasizes the famous people who live there.)
Though my new Hummer only gets eight miles to the gallon, it makes me feel like a big, powerful person. (“Though” de-emphasizes the low gas mileage)
Though my new Hummer makes me feel like a big, powerful person, it only gets eight miles to the gallon. (“Though” de-emphasizes the writer’s feeling of being big and powerful.)
While UFO conspiracy theorists don’t get much respect, they have a lot of fun.
(“While” de-emphasizes the lack of respect.)
While UFO conspiracy theorists have a lot of fun, they don’t get much respect.
(“While” de-emphasizes the fun that UFO conspiracy theorists have.)
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