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Once you’ve found the conclusion, most often everything else in the argument will be either premises or “noise.” The premises provide evidence for the conclusion; they form the foundation or infrastructure upon which the conclusion depends. To determine whether a statement is a premise, ask yourself whether it supports the conclusion. If so, it’s a premise. Earlier we saw that writers use certain words to flag conclusions; likewise writers use certain words to flag premises. Following is a partial list of the most common premise indicators:

Premise Indicators




is evidence that


in that


owing to


inasmuch as


may be derived from


Premise indicators are very helpful. As with conclusion indicators, though, you must use them cautiously because they have other functions.
For example, since can indicate a premise, or it can merely indicate time.

Since the incumbent’s views are out of step with public opinion, he probably will not be reelected.

Here “since” is used to flag the premise that the incumbent’s positions are unpopular. Contrast this use of “since” with the following example.


Since the incumbent was elected to office, he has spent less and less time with his family.

In this case, “since” merely expresses a passage of time. The statement as a whole expresses an observation, rather than an argument.

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