Supporting Claim Writing Arguments


A supporting claim is any argument that, if accepted, will make it easier to prove the primary claim. Sometimes, this involves making a distinct argument that only helps to prepare an audience. More often, it involves establishing a piece of fact (also see evidence) or advocating for a judgment of value.


Most of the time, the real conflict is not over whether or not a single claim is valid. Instead, the conflict is over related issues. For example, whether or not handguns are effective in self-defense is often debated. What an audience believes about this claim will play a key role in determining whether or not the audience supports laws that allow people to carry concealed handguns. Frequently, under-developed and ‘short’ essays suffer because they simply list supporting claims as if they are universally accepted truths. Instead, a meaningful argument has to establish its supporting claims, as well, in order to establish validity and sway readers.


In academic writing, supporting claims do most of the real work. Once a supporting claim has been proven, it becomes easier to convince a receiver to accept the primary claim. For example, if Student A is writing a paper on why his or her school needs to build a new parking deck, then a reasonable supporting claim might be “there is not enough parking on campus.”

Student writers need to remember that a supporting claim is, itself, an argument. Evidence needs to be presented in support of the argument and rival viewpoints need to be considered. It is equally important to remember the importance of supporting claims when looking at other writing. If an article or a website makes a series of claims and all of those claims are based on a faulty premise, then the validity of the whole chain of arguments is called into question.

What to Avoid:

As noted above, supporting claims require evidence and logic just as much as any other part of a paper. Therefore, when a student simply lists reasons why he or she supports the primary claim, s/he is not making an argument. Avoid this type of ‘listing’ in favor of treating each supporting claim as a chance to explain the reasons why the claim is a valid position.

At the same time, try not to assume that a ‘supporting claim’ is the same thing as a topic sentence for a paragraph. A truly contentious supporting claim might require multiple paragraphs of discussion. Likewise, a truly complex paragraph might include more than one supporting claim.