Legal English- Supporting your Arguments

Level: Advanced

Topic: Law

Grammar Topic: Functions & Text

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Type: Lesson Plans

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Legal English- Supporting your Arguments
Part One: Questions to make people support their arguments

Listen to your partner give their ideas (e.g. those they prepared for homework) and ask for
more support for their arguments using questions like that below. You can then give your
opinion on what they said. 

Advantages
Why would… be a good thing?
What would be the advantage(s) of…?
I can’t see any merit in...

Certainty/Strong opinions
Are you sure about…?
You don’t sound very certain about...
How confident are you that…?

Changes/ Predictions/ Trends
Do you expect… to continue?
How might… change?
What are your predictions for the next…?

Clarifying/ Paraphrasing/ Restating 
Can you explain what you mean (by…)?
Is there another way to say…?
What does… mean?
(I understand what you are saying, but) I don’t get your point
So, overall, are you saying…?

Comparing/ Contrasting
Isn’t that basically the same as…?
How is that different to…?
I can’t understand the difference between… and…
How similar is… to…?

Conceding points/ Considering possible arguments against/ Looking at both sides
But isn’t it also true that…?
But don’t you accept that…?
But if you look at it another way,…
But don’t some people also believe that…?

Consequences/ Effects/ Results
What could be the effects of…?
Does… matter (much)?
How do you think… would affect…?

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Data/ Figures/ Generalising/ Statistics
How big a… is that?
Can you give me a rough idea of…?/ Roughly,…?
Can you put any figures on…?
How common is…?

Examples
Can you give me an example (of…)?
For instance?

Expert opinion/ Other people’s experience/ Quoting/ Things read or heard/ Sources
What do the experts think about…?
Does anyone else think the same way?
Where did you get the idea that… from?
Do most academics agree on…?
What is your source for…?

Personal experiences
What is your own experience of…?
Have you experienced… yourself?
Do you generally find that…?
Have you personally found that…?

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Try to remember or think of questions for each of those functions. Note that not all of them 
are grammatical questions, i.e. some end with a full stop. 

Advantages

Certainty/Strong opinions

Changes/ Predictions/ Trends

Clarifying/ Paraphrasing/ Restating 

Comparing/ Contrasting

Conceding points/ Considering possible arguments against/ Looking at both sides

Consequences/ Effects/ Results

Data/ Figures/ Generalising/ Statistics

Examples

Expert opinion/ Other people’s experience/ Quoting/ Things read or heard/ Sources

Personal experiences

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Key words
Use these words to help you with the task above. 
Advantages
good
advantage(s)
merit

Certainty/Strong opinions
sure
sound
how

Changes/ Predictions/ Trends
expect
change
predictions

Clarifying/ Paraphrasing/ Restating 
explain
way
mean
point
overall

Comparing/ Contrasting
same
different
difference
similar

Conceding points/ Considering possible arguments against/ Looking at both sides
true
accept
look
some

Consequences/ Effects/ Results
effects
matter
affect

Data/ Figures/ Generalising/ Statistics
big
rough
figures
common

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Examples
give
instance

Expert opinion/ Other people’s experience/ Quoting/ Things read or heard/ Sources
experts
else
idea
academics
source

Personal experiences
own
experienced
find
found

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Legal English supporting your arguments
Part two: Brainstorm phrases for supporting your arguments

What phrases can you use to support your arguments in these ways? Brainstorm at least
three phrases for each. It might help to look at the questions and key words above to give
you

 

ideas.

 

Advantages

Certainty/ Emphasising/ Importance/ Strong opinions

Changes/ Predictions/ Trends

Clarifying/ Paraphrasing/ Restating 

Comparing/ Contrasting

Conceding points/ Considering possible arguments against/ Looking at both sides

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Consequences/ Effects/ Results

Data/ Figures/ Generalising/ Statistics

Examples

Expert opinion/ Other people’s experience/ Quoting/ Things read or heard/ Sources

Personal experiences

Use the key words on the next page to help check and expand your ideas. 

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Key words
Use these words to help you with the task above. 

Advantages
positive
main
great

Certainty/ Emphasising/ Importance/ Strong opinions
doubt 
denied 
obvious 
clear 

Changes/ Predictions/ Trends
up
de-
pl-
out
re-
-ly

Clarifying/ Paraphrasing/ Restating 
another 
other 
brief

Comparing/ Contrasting
completely 
almost 
very 
fairly 
a little 
rather 
totally 
a lot
much 
far 

Conceding points/ Destroying possible arguments against/ Looking at both sides
also 
can
accept 
both 

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Consequences/ Effects/ Results
leads 
result
because 
consequence 

Data/ Figures/ Generalising/ Statistics
adds
total
precise

Examples
best 
good 
illustrate
give
instance

Expert opinion/ Quoting/ Things read or heard/ Sources/ Other people’s experiences
according 
said 

Personal experiences
limited 
generally 
personal 

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Suggested answers
Advantages
positive aspect of this is…
The main selling point of this is…
great benefit of this is…

Certainty/ Emphasising/ Importance/ Strong opinions
There is no doubt that…
It cannot be denied that…
It should be obvious that…
It seems clear to me that…

Changes/ Predictions/ Trends
go up/ shoot up/ grow/ increase/ climb/ rise
shoot up/ boom/ accelerate/ rocket/ explode
decline/ decrease/ shrink/ drop/ fall
plummet/ plunge/ crash/ dive
flatten out/ bottom out/ plateau/ level off
rebound/ recover/ bounce back/ pick up
will definitely/ will almost certainly/ will probably/ could possibly
rapidly/ dramatically/ slowly/ considerably/ slightly

Clarifying/ Paraphrasing/ Restating 
To put that another way,…
In other words,…/ That is to say,…
In brief,…

Comparing/ Contrasting
completely
 identical/ almost identical
almost the same
very similar/ fairly similar
a little different/ rather different/ very different/ almost totally different/ completely 
different
quite a lot/ a little … er than…
much more… than…
far less… than…

Conceding points/ Destroying possible arguments against/ Looking at both sides
It is also true that… Nevertheless,…
Although you can argue that…
accept that…, but…
While there are both pros and cons,…

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Consequences/ Effects/ Results
leads to…
As a result of,…
Because of…,…
consequence of… is…

Data/ Figures/ Generalising/ Statistics
which adds up to…
In total,…
To

 

be

 precise,…

Examples
The best example of this is…
good illustration of this is…
I can illustrate this with an example.
To give an example of what I’m talking about…
For instance,…

Expert opinion/ Quoting/ Things read or heard/ Sources/ Other people’s experiences
According
 to most experts…
… (once) said that…/ As… said,…./ I read something which said that…

Personal experiences
In my limited experience,…
I have generally found that…
I have personal experience of this.

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Legal English supporting your arguments
Part three: Legal English different ways of supporting your arguments
Choose one of the topics below and share your ideas, using as many different kinds of 
support for them as you can. Your partner will ask you to support your opinions and give 
their own views. 
Suggested kinds of support
Advantages
Certainty/ Emphasising/ Importance/ Strong opinions
Changes/ Predictions/ Trends
Clarifying/ Paraphrasing/ Restating 
Comparing/ Contrasting
Conceding points/ Destroying possible arguments against/ Looking at both sides
Consequences/ Effects/ Results
Data/ Figures/ Generalising/ Statistics
Examples
Expert opinion/ Other people’s experience/ Quoting/ Things read or heard/ Sources
Personal experiences

A more up-to-date copyright law

A sensible government policy on soft drugs like marihuana

Alternatives to prison sentences

Conditions in prisons

Cutting down on online piracy

Dealing with (genuine and fake) asylum seekers

Dealing with bullying/ cyber-bullying

Dealing with labour disputes such as wrongful dismissal cases

Dealing with offshore shell companies

Dealing with people who have served their time in prison (= released prisoners)

Dealing with street crime (bag snatching, mugging, pickpocketing, etc)

Ensuring proper data protection

Getting rid of tax evasion

How much of a problem human trafficking is

How to control prostitution

How to deal with persistent reoffenders

How to deal with whistle-blowers

Physical punishments (= corporal punishments) at home and school

Punishing fraudsters/ scammers/ conmen

Rehabilitation of criminals

Solving the problem of bribery by domestic companies abroad

Solving the problem of politicians and public officials accepting bribes

Tackling discrimination

Tackling monopolistic practises/ Effective competition rules (stopping price fixing etc)

The correct use of capital punishment

The self-defence defence

What to do about false forced confessions

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

Do the same, but this time as a game where you tick off each kind of support above when 
you use it. Your partner must argue against you. You can both only use the kinds of 
support which are left on the list. 

Do the same, but with two people in your group taking the two sides of the arguments 
below:
Suggested kinds of support
Advantages
Certainty/ Emphasising/ Importance/ Strong opinions
Changes/ Predictions/ Trends
Clarifying/ Paraphrasing/ Restating 
Comparing/ Contrasting
Conceding points/ Destroying possible arguments against/ Looking at both sides
Consequences/ Effects/ Results
Data/ Figures/ Generalising/ Statistics
Examples
Expert opinion/ Other people’s experience/ Quoting/ Things read or heard/ Sources
Personal experiences

Advantages of a jury system/ Disadvantages of a jury system

Arguments for a statute of limitations/ Arguments against a statute of limitations

Arguments for longer jail sentences/ Arguments for shorter jail sentences

Arguments for making it easier to sue people for libel and slander/ Arguments for mak-

ing it more difficult to sue people for libel and slander

Decriminalising prostitution/ Harsher punishments for prostitution

Emphasising people’s right to privacy/ Emphasising people’s right to free speech and

freedom of information 

Encouraging official graffiti/ Discouraging all graffiti

Legal immunity for serving politicians/ No legal immunity

Making bankruptcy easier and less serious/ Making bankruptcy less difficult and more

serious

Making it easier to set up a law firm/ More controls on law firms

Making mutually agreed divorce easier/ Making all divorce more difficult

Making starting litigation easier/ Making starting litigation more difficult

More controls on gambling/ The legalisation of other forms of gambling such as casi-

nos

More controls on the rental sector/ Letting market forces control landlords

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014

More emphasis on punishing criminals/ More emphasis on rehabilitating prisoners

More international law/ More freedom for countries to decide their own laws

Positive discrimination (= affirmative action)/ Treating all people completely equally 
(however disadvantaged they are)

Prosecuting teachers for bullying by students in their classes/ Prosecuting parents for 
bullying by their children

Punishing prostitutes/ Punishing people who pay for sexual services

Raising basic taxes for the rich/ Only closing tax loopholes

Taking legal precedent more into account/ Taking legal precedent less into account (or 
even completely ignoring it)

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2014