Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.

Question-to-Assertion

If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

which two thesis statements are restricted

Writing Process and Structure

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

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II. Getting Started

2.5 Writing Thesis Statements

Kathryn Crowther; Lauren Curtright; Nancy Gilbert; Barbara Hall; Tracienne Ravita; and Kirk Swenson

To be effective, all support in an essay must work together to convey a central point; otherwise, an essay can fall into the trap of being out of order and confusing. Just as a topic sentence focuses and unifies a single paragraph, the thesis statement focuses and unifies an entire essay. This statement is like a signpost that signals the essay’s destination; it tells the reader the point you want to make in your essay, while the essay itself supports that point.

Because writing is not a linear process, you may find that the best thesis statement develops near the end of your first draft. However, creating a draft or working thesis early in the writing project helps give the drafting process clear direction. You should form your thesis before you begin to organize an essay, but you may find that it needs revision as the essay develops.

A thesis is not just a topic, but rather the writer’s comment or interpretation of the question or subject. For whatever topic you select (for example, school uniforms, social networking), you must ask yourself, “What do I want to say about it?” Asking and then answering this question is vital to forming a thesis that is precise, forceful, and confident.

In the majority of essays, a thesis is one sentence long and appears toward the end of the introductory paragraph. It is specific and focuses on one to three points of a single idea—points that are able to be demonstrated in the body paragraphs. It forecasts the content of the essay and suggests how you will organize your information. Remember that a thesis statement does not summarize an issue but rather dissects it.

Working Thesis Statements

A strong thesis statement must have the following qualities:

  • It must be arguable.  A thesis statement must state a point of view or judgment about a topic. An established fact is not considered arguable.
  • It must be supportable.  The thesis statement must contain a point of view that can be supported with evidence (reasons, facts, examples).
  • It must be specific. A thesis statement must be precise enough to allow for a coherent argument and remain focused on the topic.

Examples of Appropriate Thesis Statements

  • Closing all American borders for a period of five years is one solution that will tackle illegal immigration.
  • Compared to an absolute divorce, no-fault divorce is less expensive, promotes fairer settlements, and reflects a more realistic view of the causes for marital breakdown.
  • Exposing children from an early age to the dangers of drug abuse is a sure method of preventing future drug addicts.
  • In today’s crumbling job market, a high school diploma is not significant enough education to land a stable, lucrative job.
  • The societal and personal struggles of Troy Maxson in the play Fences symbolize the challenges of black males who lived through segregation and integration in the United States.

Pitfalls to Avoid

A thesis is weak when it is simply a declaration of your subject or a description of what you will discuss in your essay.

Weak Thesis Statement Example

My paper will explain why imagination is more important than knowledge.

A thesis is weak when it makes an unreasonable or outrageous claim or insults the opposing side.

Religious radicals across America are trying to legislate their Puritanical beliefs by banning required high school books.

A thesis is weak when it contains an obvious fact or something that no one can disagree with or provides a dead end.

Advertising companies use sex to sell their products.

A thesis is weak when the statement is too broad.

The life of Abraham Lincoln was long and challenging.

Ways to Revise Your Thesis

Your thesis statement begins as a working thesis statement, an indefinite statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process for the purpose of planning and guiding your writing. Working thesis statements often become stronger as you gather information and develop new ideas and reasons for those ideas. Revision helps you strengthen your thesis so that it matches what you have expressed in the body of the paper.

You can cut down on irrelevant aspects and revise your thesis by taking the following steps:

  • Pinpoint and replace all non specific words, such as people, everything, society, or life, with more precise words in order to reduce any vagueness.

Pinpoint and Replace Example

Working thesis:  Young people have to work hard to succeed in life.

Revised thesis:  Recent college graduates must have discipline and persistence in order to find and maintain a stable job in which they can use, and be appreciated for, their talents.

Explanation:  The original includes too broad a range of people and does not define exactly what success entails. By replacing those general words like people and work hard , the writer can better focus their research and gain more direction in their writing. The revised thesis makes a more specific statement about success and what it means to work hard.

  • Clarify ideas that need explanation by asking yourself questions that narrow your thesis.

Clarify Example

Working thesis:  The welfare system is a joke.

Revised thesis:  The welfare system keeps a socioeconomic class from gaining employment by alluring members of that class with unearned income, instead of programs to improve their education and skill sets.

Explanation:  A joke means many things to many people. Readers bring all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives to the reading process and would need clarification for a word so vague. This expression may also be too informal for the selected audience. By asking questions, the writer can devise a more precise and appropriate explanation for joke and more accurately defines their stance, which will better guide the writing of the essay.

  • Replace any linking verbs with action verbs. Linking verbs are forms of the verb to be , a verb that simply states that a situation exists.

Replace with Action Verbs Example

Working thesis:  Kansas City school teachers are not paid enough.

Revised thesis:  The Kansas City legislature cannot afford to pay its educators, resulting in job cuts and resignations in a district that sorely needs highly qualified and dedicated teachers.

Explanation:  The linking verb in this working thesis statement is the word are . Linking verbs often make thesis statements weak because they do not express action. Rather, they connect words and phrases to the second half of the sentence. Readers might wonder, “Why are they not paid enough?” But this statement does not compel them to ask many more questions.

  • Who is not paying the teachers enough?
  • How much is considered “enough”?
  • What is the problem?
  • What are the results?
  • Omit any general claims that are hard to support.

Omit General Claims Example

Working thesis:  Today’s teenage girls are too sexualized.

Revised thesis: Teenage girls who are captivated by the sexual images on the internet and social media are conditioned to believe that a woman’s worth depends on her sensuality, a feeling that harms their self-esteem and behavior.

Explanation:  It is true that some young women in today’s society are more sexualized than in the past, but that is not true for all girls. Many girls have strict parents, dress appropriately, and do not engage in sexual activity while in middle school and high school. The writer of this thesis should ask the following questions:

  • Which teenage girls?
  • What constitutes “too” sexualized?
  • Why are they behaving that way?
  • Where does this behavior show up?
  • What are the repercussions?

This section contains material from:

Crowther, Kathryn, Lauren Curtright, Nancy Gilbert, Barbara Hall, Tracienne Ravita, and Kirk Swenson. Successful College Composition . 2nd ed. Book 8. Georgia: English Open Textbooks, 2016. http://oer.galileo.usg.edu/english-textbooks/8 . Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License .

Relating to lines; a way of explaining information logically and/or sequentially; can refer to the chronological relaying of information.

A brief and concise statement or series of statements that outlines the main point(s) of a longer work. To summarize is to create a brief and concise statement or series of statements that outlines the main point(s) of a longer work.

To analyze closely or minutely; to scrutinize every aspect. Unlike the fields of biology, anatomy, or medicine, in rhetoric and writing, dissect does not refer to the cutting apart of a physical body but to the taking apart the body of an argument or idea piece by piece to understand it better.

A logical, rational, lucid, or understandable expression of an idea, concept, or notion; consistent and harmonious explanation.

Assertion or announcement of belief, understanding, or knowledge; a formal statement or proclamation.

Without a defined number or limit; unlimited, infinite, or undetermined.

An altered version of  a written work. Revising means to rewrite in order to improve and make corrections. Unlike editing, which involves minor changes, revisions include major and noticeable changes to a written work.

Not relevant; unimportant; beside the point; not relating to the matter at hand.

Attractive, tempting, or seductive; to have an appealing and charismatic quality.

To influence or convince; to produce a certain or specific result through the use of force.

2.5 Writing Thesis Statements Copyright © 2022 by Kathryn Crowther; Lauren Curtright; Nancy Gilbert; Barbara Hall; Tracienne Ravita; and Kirk Swenson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

which two thesis statements are restricted

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Writing a Paper: Thesis Statements

Basics of thesis statements.

The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper. Specific means the thesis deals with a narrow and focused topic, appropriate to the paper's length. Arguable means that a scholar in your field could disagree (or perhaps already has!).

Strong thesis statements address specific intellectual questions, have clear positions, and use a structure that reflects the overall structure of the paper. Read on to learn more about constructing a strong thesis statement.

Being Specific

This thesis statement has no specific argument:

Needs Improvement: In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

This statement is concise, but it is neither specific nor arguable—a reader might wonder, "Which scholarly articles? What is the topic of this paper? What field is the author writing in?" Additionally, the purpose of the paper—to "examine…to find similarities and differences" is not of a scholarly level. Identifying similarities and differences is a good first step, but strong academic argument goes further, analyzing what those similarities and differences might mean or imply.

Better: In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognition, can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

The new revision here is still concise, as well as specific and arguable.  We can see that it is specific because the writer is mentioning (a) concrete ideas and (b) exact authors.  We can also gather the field (business) and the topic (management and employee turnover). The statement is arguable because the student goes beyond merely comparing; he or she draws conclusions from that comparison ("can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover").

Making a Unique Argument

This thesis draft repeats the language of the writing prompt without making a unique argument:

Needs Improvement: The purpose of this essay is to monitor, assess, and evaluate an educational program for its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will provide suggestions for improvement.

You can see here that the student has simply stated the paper's assignment, without articulating specifically how he or she will address it. The student can correct this error simply by phrasing the thesis statement as a specific answer to the assignment prompt.

Better: Through a series of student interviews, I found that Kennedy High School's antibullying program was ineffective. In order to address issues of conflict between students, I argue that Kennedy High School should embrace policies outlined by the California Department of Education (2010).

Words like "ineffective" and "argue" show here that the student has clearly thought through the assignment and analyzed the material; he or she is putting forth a specific and debatable position. The concrete information ("student interviews," "antibullying") further prepares the reader for the body of the paper and demonstrates how the student has addressed the assignment prompt without just restating that language.

Creating a Debate

This thesis statement includes only obvious fact or plot summary instead of argument:

Needs Improvement: Leadership is an important quality in nurse educators.

A good strategy to determine if your thesis statement is too broad (and therefore, not arguable) is to ask yourself, "Would a scholar in my field disagree with this point?" Here, we can see easily that no scholar is likely to argue that leadership is an unimportant quality in nurse educators.  The student needs to come up with a more arguable claim, and probably a narrower one; remember that a short paper needs a more focused topic than a dissertation.

Better: Roderick's (2009) theory of participatory leadership  is particularly appropriate to nurse educators working within the emergency medicine field, where students benefit most from collegial and kinesthetic learning.

Here, the student has identified a particular type of leadership ("participatory leadership"), narrowing the topic, and has made an arguable claim (this type of leadership is "appropriate" to a specific type of nurse educator). Conceivably, a scholar in the nursing field might disagree with this approach. The student's paper can now proceed, providing specific pieces of evidence to support the arguable central claim.

Choosing the Right Words

This thesis statement uses large or scholarly-sounding words that have no real substance:

Needs Improvement: Scholars should work to seize metacognitive outcomes by harnessing discipline-based networks to empower collaborative infrastructures.

There are many words in this sentence that may be buzzwords in the student's field or key terms taken from other texts, but together they do not communicate a clear, specific meaning. Sometimes students think scholarly writing means constructing complex sentences using special language, but actually it's usually a stronger choice to write clear, simple sentences. When in doubt, remember that your ideas should be complex, not your sentence structure.

Better: Ecologists should work to educate the U.S. public on conservation methods by making use of local and national green organizations to create a widespread communication plan.

Notice in the revision that the field is now clear (ecology), and the language has been made much more field-specific ("conservation methods," "green organizations"), so the reader is able to see concretely the ideas the student is communicating.

Leaving Room for Discussion

This thesis statement is not capable of development or advancement in the paper:

Needs Improvement: There are always alternatives to illegal drug use.

This sample thesis statement makes a claim, but it is not a claim that will sustain extended discussion. This claim is the type of claim that might be appropriate for the conclusion of a paper, but in the beginning of the paper, the student is left with nowhere to go. What further points can be made? If there are "always alternatives" to the problem the student is identifying, then why bother developing a paper around that claim? Ideally, a thesis statement should be complex enough to explore over the length of the entire paper.

Better: The most effective treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction may be a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy, as argued by Baker (2008), Smith (2009), and Xavier (2011).

In the revised thesis, you can see the student make a specific, debatable claim that has the potential to generate several pages' worth of discussion. When drafting a thesis statement, think about the questions your thesis statement will generate: What follow-up inquiries might a reader have? In the first example, there are almost no additional questions implied, but the revised example allows for a good deal more exploration.

Thesis Mad Libs

If you are having trouble getting started, try using the models below to generate a rough model of a thesis statement! These models are intended for drafting purposes only and should not appear in your final work.

  • In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____.
  • While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______.
  • Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______.

Words to Avoid and to Embrace

When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize , and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing.

Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question , and interrogate . These more analytical words may help you begin strongly, by articulating a specific, critical, scholarly position.

Read Kayla's blog post for tips on taking a stand in a well-crafted thesis statement.

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Thesis Statements

A thesis statement is the controlling idea in a medium of writing..

  • Standardized testing may reduce learning because it discourages risk-taking.
  • Reading Hamlet as "insane," and therefore as having hallucinated his father's ghost, completely redefines how we interpret the play's ultimate theme.
  • Social media overuse may increase depression among users because social media, as a platform, immerses users into a comparative culture.

Statement of Purpose:

In this paper I will argue that standardized testing, used improperly, reduces learning. To do so I will show that an effective education requires 1). student buy-in, 2). real-world application, and 3). a sort of "educational risk-taking," i.e. a curriculum that encourages thinking outside the learning box rather than teaching to a standard.

Through a psychoanalytical reading of Hamlet as "insane," and therefore as having hallucinated his father's ghost, I posit that Shakespeare's classic play explores themes of 1). perception, 2). rational, 3). manipulation, and 4). consciousness.

  • This paper will attempt two arguments. First, that a culture of comparison—in person or online—often leads to feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction. Second, that social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are programmed to immerse users into such a culture, and should therefore be regulated, at least at the personal level.

Question thesis:

  • What impact, if any, does "standardized testing" actually have on education? Is it merely a tool for assessment? Or does it become a detriment to learning?
  • But what if we read Hamlet's character as neither rational nor sane? If Hamlet only hallucinated his father's ghost, how does that impact the way we read the rest of the play?
  • In spite of its enormous popularity, what are some of the consequences of, say, social media use on teenage mental health? Is social media a 'new scourge,' as Jane Smith argues, or simply a tool for connecting grandma with her favorite grandchild?

Delayed Thesis:

Intro : What impact, if any, does "standardized testing" actually have on education? Is it merely a tool for assessment? Or does it become a detriment to learning?

Conclusion : Thus we see, standardized testing may reduce learning insofar as it discourages risk-taking.

Too Broad, Too Narrow

Here's an example of a broad and ineffective thesis:

  • Julius Caesar had an important influence on history.

The concept of this thesis is obstructed by several generic words: important, influence, and history. Important influence could refer to how Caesar became a dictator and brought about a civil war, but it could just as likely describe how he solidified the Roman Republic, laying the groundwork for Rome to rise as an empire. The first step to clarifying this thesis is to figure out the main point it wants to bring out, which can often be accomplished by asking questions about your thesis

Returning to the phrase "important influence," what might that specifically mean? Let’s take the reference to Caesar becoming a dictator. What, exactly, about his process to becoming a dictator is important? And, how does it influence history?

By asking questions like these, intended to narrow the thesis, we come to this example below:

  • Julius Caesar’s aggressive leadership at the Battle of Alesia led to his establishment as a dictator.

A strong thesis statement often employs concrete words, which reference explicit ideas. Words like Julius Caesar, aggressive, establishment, and dictator are specific enough to keep your reader from getting confused.

Keep in mind that, though pulling out specifics will solve most issues with vagueness, they might exacerbate issues when there’s a convoluted and complex thesis, especially when that thesis has a lot of qualifiers. Typically, an effective way to clarify a dense thesis is to identify the core idea and set it by itself. After identifying the main idea, identify all the qualifying information used to modify the thesis. How much of it is necessary to begin with? Can some of it be addressed later on?

Though not always an appropriate strategy, sometimes reducing initial complexity will increase clarity.

Are you ready to meet with a Writing Center Consultant? Here are some questions we can help you with:

  • Does my thesis effectively explain my argument?
  • Is there a disconnect between my thesis and the content of my paper?
  • Could my thesis be more clear or concise?
  • Should I adapt my thesis statement because of new research I’ve found?
  • Thesis Statements Quick Reference- https://rwc.prod.brigham-young.psdops.com/00000188-e4bc-d222-a7ea-eefd82000000/thesis-statement-pdf
  • Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements- https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/thesis_statement_tips.html
  • Tips and Tools for Thesis Statements- https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/

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  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

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Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

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which two thesis statements are restricted

Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
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  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

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Definition Essay

Effective thesis statements, what is a thesis statement.

  • A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an “argument,” a “main idea,” or a “controlling idea.”
  • A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should “telegraph” how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay
  • A standard place for your thesis is at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • A thesis is an interpretation of a subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel that others might dispute.
  • A strong thesis not only grabs the interest of your reader, who now wants to see you support your unique interpretation, it also provides a focus for your argument, one to which every part of your paper refers in the development of your position.
  • A thesis keeps the writer centered on the matter at hand and reduces the risk of intellectual wandering. Likewise, a thesis provides the reader with a “road map,” clearly laying out the intellectual route ahead.
  • A thesis statement avoids the first person (“I believe,” “In my opinion”).

A simple equation for what a thesis might look like this:

What you plan to argue + How you plan to argue it = Thesis Specific Topic+ Attitude/Angle/Argument=Thesis

Steps To Write Effective Thesis Statement

  • Choose a prompt or, if appropriate, select a topic: television violence and children
  • What are the effects of television violence on children?
  • Violence on television increases aggressive behavior in children.
  • Avoid general phrasing and/or sweeping words such as “all” or “none” or “every”.
  • Lead the reader toward the topic sentences (the subtopics needed to prove the thesis).
  • While poor parenting and easy access to weapons may act as contributory factors, in fact when children are exposed to television violence they become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, are more fearful of the world around them, and are more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.

The Components of an Effective Thesis Statement

  • You can’t just pluck a thesis out of thin air. Even if you have a terrific insight concerning a topic, it won’t be worth much unless you can logically and persuasively support it in the body of your essay. A thesis is the evolutionary result of a thinking process, not a miraculous creation. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment .
  • Substantial – Your thesis should be a claim for which it is easy to answer every reader’s question: “So what?”
  • Supportable – A thesis must be a claim that you can prove with the evidence at hand (e.g., evidence from your texts or from your research). Your claim should not be outlandish, nor should it be mere personal opinion or preference (e.g., “Frederick Douglass is my favorite historical figure.”) It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned.
  • Precise – It is focused and specific. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing everything. It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. It is perfectly okay to change your thesis!
  • Arguable – It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree.
  • Relevant – If you are responding to an assignment, the thesis should answer the question your teacher has posed. In order to stay focused, pay attention to the task words in the assignment: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, etc.
  • Aware of Counters – It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments.

The best thesis statement is a balance of specific details and concise language. Your goal is to articulate an argument in detail without burdening the reader with too much information.

Questions To Review Your Thesis

  • “Do I answer the question?” This might seem obvious, but it’s worth asking. No matter how intriguing or dazzling, a thesis that doesn’t answer the question is not a good thesis!
  • “Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?” If not, then you probably do not have a strong argument. Theses that are too vague often have this problem. If your thesis contains vague words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what makes something “successful”?
  • Would anyone possible care about this thesis? So What? Does your thesis present a position or an interpretation worth pursuing? If a reader’s first response is, “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • “Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering?” Just as a thesis that doesn’t answer the question ultimately fails, so does a thesis that isn’t properly supported with evidence and reasoning.
  • Does my thesis statement adequately address the direction words of the prompt: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, analyze, discuss, etc.?

Myths about Thesis Statements

  • Every paper requires one . Assignments that ask you to write personal responses or to explore a subject don’t want you to seem to pre-judge the issues. Essays of literary interpretation often want you to be aware of many effects rather than seeming to box yourself into one view of the text.
  • A thesis statement must come at the end of the first paragraph . This is a natural position for a statement of focus, but it’s not the only one. Some theses can be stated in the opening sentences of an essay; others need a paragraph or two of introduction; others can’t be fully formulated until the end.
  • A thesis statement must be one sentence in length , no matter how many clauses it contains. Clear writing is more important than rules like these. Use two or three sentences if you need them. A complex argument may require a whole tightly-knit paragraph to make its initial statement of position.
  • You can’t start writing an essay until you have a perfect thesis statement . It may be advisable to draft a hypothesis or tentative thesis statement near the start of a big project, but changing and refining a thesis is a main task of thinking your way through your ideas as you write a paper. And some essay projects need to explore the question in depth without being locked in before they can provide even a tentative answer.
  • A thesis statement must give three points of support . It should indicate that the essay will explain and give evidence for its assertion, but points don’t need to come in any specific number.

Progressively Complex Thesis Statements

The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different. The worst thesis imaginable (other than non-existent). You’ve said nothing of value.
While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions. A good pre-draft thesis. Not a bad start at all. Here’s the catch, and the time consuming part of the process. As you write, your argument may become more refined or changed. When it does, so should the thesis.
While there were many underlying causes of the Civil War, three factors converged to make conflict inevitable: the issue of slavery, the idea of states’ rights, and the fight to control the future of the West. A solid preview of your argument and the main points you intend to make. This would be a strong approach for a persuasive or exemplification essay.
While both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, Northerners focused on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their own rights to property and self-government. Bien! The thesis statement is nuanced, recognizing the existence of an opposing point of view, while strongly defending your point. It is relatively specific, yet concise—and doesn’t make the reader want to stop reading.
  • Effective Thesis Statements. Provided by : Writing Guide Wikispaces. Located at : https://writingguide.wikispaces.com/Effective+Thesis+Statements . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike

Thesis Statements

The thesis statement (which may be more than one sentence) usually appears at the end of your introduction and presents your specific argument or claim to the reader. The thesis should cover only what you discuss in your paper and be supported throughout the paper with evidence. A thesis statement serves many purposes, including the following:

  • Prepare your readers for the purpose of your paper and the content
  • Set the focus for your paper
  • States your side on an issue
  • Previews the ideas you will address

Steps to Writing a Thesis

Brainstorm by answering the following questions about your argument.

1. What is your main argument?

Miami University should install refill stations on its water fountains.

2. Why are you making this argument?

So students and faculty at Miami University can refill their water bottles easily, instead of purchasing bottled water.

3. What support will you give for your argument? What ideas will you discuss in your paper?

Refill stations can discourage waste and thus are better for the environment. Students will be more likely to use these stations if they are required to purchase reusable water bottles and do not have the option to buy bottled water on campus.

Then, combine these ideas into a thesis statement. Your thesis can be one- to two sentences long.

Miami University could improve its sustainability efforts and discourage waste through installing refill stations and encouraging their use by limiting the sale of bottled water on campus and requiring all first-year students to purchase reusable water bottles

Problems to Avoid When Writing a Thesis

1. Don't write a highly opinionated thesis. You may alienate readers, especially the ones you are trying to convince.

Example: With characteristic clumsiness, campus officials bumbled their way through the recent budget crisis. Better: Campus officials had trouble managing the recent budget crisis effectively.

2. Don't make an announcement. Include your attitude toward the subject as well as the subject. Otherwise, you're just stating your intent, not your thesis or claim.

Example: My essay will discuss handgun legislation. Better: Banning handguns is the first step toward controlling crime in America.

Example: In this essay, I will discuss cable television. OK: In this essay, I will present three reasons why cable television has not delivered on its promises. (Though this includes the writer's attitude about the subject, it is still announcing intent and is not as sophisticated and direct as the following thesis.) Even better: Cable television has not delivered on its promise to provide an alternative to network programming. (This directly states what the writer will discuss and attempt to prove.)

3. Don't make a factual statement. Your essay will develop an issue. Stating a fact doesn't give you anything to develop; there's no where to go. It just is.

Example: Many businesses pollute the environment. Better: Tax penalties should be levied against companies that pollute the environment.

Example: Today's movies are violent. Better: Movie violence provides a healthy outlet for aggression.

4. Don't make a broad statement. Your thesis should focus on the point(s) you will make; limit your subject. Use specific rather than vague or general terms.

Example: Education is often meaningless. Better: A high school education has been devalued by grade inflation.

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Refining thesis statements, what makes for an effective thesis.

In an effort to make our handouts more accessible, we have begun converting our PDF handouts to web pages. Download this page as a PDF: Refining Thesis Statements Return to Writing Studio Handouts

An effective thesis should be argumentative and controversial (i.e., if you could make a plausible case against your thesis, it is probably an argument), something not immediately obvious which you can persuade a reader to believe through the evidence in the body of your paper.

A strong thesis statement answers a specific question and takes a distinct position on the topic, is focused, and allows the reader to anticipate the organization of the argument to follow.

A weak thesis statement is vague (identifies a topic but does not specify an argument), offers plot summary or is a statement of fact, is un-provable, or does not give the reader a sense of why the argument is important.

Look over the two example thesis statements below. Consider and name how each of the progressively refined versions matches the criteria offered above.

Example Thesis A

Version 1: Marge Simpson is important to the plot of The Simpsons.

Version 2:  Marge Simpson is important to The Simpsons because she fulfills a significant family role as a mother and housewife.

Version 3:  Marge Simpson is important to The Simpsons because she fulfills a significant family role as a teacher and caregiver to her husband and children.

Version 4:  While Marge Simpson may be a model caregiver for her family, she is a different sort of model for her audience.

Version 5:  Despite her role as a seemingly submissive housewife and mother, Marge Simpson comes to function for the audience of The Simpsons as a subversive force against “middle class” values.

Example Thesis B

Version 1:  Eating disorders are a significant problem among college-aged students.

Version 2:  Eating disorders are a significant problem among college-aged men because they negatively affect academic performance, socializing, and overall psychological well-being.

Version 3:  Eating disorders among college-aged men are overshadowed by a focus on eating disorders among college-aged women.

Version 4:  Eating disorders among college-aged men are overshadowed by a focus on eating disorders among college-aged women; people don’t notice this because an eating disorder is typically considered a women’s disease and is stigmatized as such.

Version 5: Lack of attention to eating disorders among college-aged men not only leaves this group of students untreated, but also exacerbates feelings of isolation associated with this disease.

This handout was originally produced by Jane Wanninger, Graduate Student, Department of English, Vanderbilt University

Last revised: 07/2009 | Adapted for web delivery: 04/2021

In order to access certain content on this page, you may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader or an equivalent PDF viewer software.

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On Thesis Statements

The thesis statement.

This is not an exhaustive list of bad thesis statements, but here're five kinds of problems I've seen most often. Notice that the last two, #4 and #5, are not necessarily incorrect or illegitimate thesis statements, but, rather, inappropriate for the purposes of this course. They may be useful forms for papers on different topics in other courses.

A thesis takes a position on an issue. It is different from a topic sentence in that a thesis statement is not neutral. It announces, in addition to the topic, the argument you want to make or the point you want to prove. This is your own opinion that you intend to back up. This is your reason and motivation for writing.

Bad Thesis 1

Bad Thesis 2 : This paper will consider the advantages and disadvantages of certain restrictions on free speech.

Better Thesis 1 : Stanley Fish's argument that free speech exists more as a political prize than as a legal reality ignores the fact that even as a political prize it still serves the social end of creating a general cultural atmosphere of tolerance that may ultimately promote free speech in our nation just as effectively as any binding law.

Better Thesis 2 : Even though there may be considerable advantages to restricting hate speech, the possibility of chilling open dialogue on crucial racial issues is too great and too high a price to pay.

A thesis should be as specific as possible, and it should be tailored to reflect the scope of the paper. It is not possible, for instance, to write about the history of English literature in a 5 page paper. In addition to choosing simply a smaller topic, strategies to narrow a thesis include specifying a method or perspective or delineating certain limits.

Bad Thesis 2 : The government has the right to limit free speech.

Better Thesis 1 : There should be no restrictions on the 1st amendment if those restrictions are intended merely to protect individuals from unspecified or otherwise unquantifiable or unverifiable "emotional distress."

Better Thesis 2 : The government has the right to limit free speech in cases of overtly racist or sexist language because our failure to address such abuses would effectively suggest that our society condones such ignorant and hateful views.

A thesis must be arguable. And in order for it to be arguable, it must present a view that someone might reasonably contest. Sometimes a thesis ultimately says, "we should be good," or "bad things are bad." Such thesis statements are tautological or so universally accepted that there is no need to prove the point.

Bad Thesis 2 : There are always alternatives to using racist speech.

Better Thesis 1 : If we can accept that emotional injuries can be just as painful as physical ones we should limit speech that may hurt people's feelings in ways similar to the way we limit speech that may lead directly to bodily harm.

Better Thesis 2 : The "fighting words" exception to free speech is not legitimate because it wrongly considers speech as an action.

A good argumentative thesis provides not only a position on an issue, but also suggests the structure of the paper. The thesis should allow the reader to imagine and anticipate the flow of the paper, in which a sequence of points logically prove the essay's main assertion. A list essay provides no such structure, so that different points and paragraphs appear arbitrary with no logical connection to one another.

Bad Thesis 2 : None of the arguments in favor of regulating pornography are persuasive.

Better Thesis 1 : Among the many reasons we need to limit hate speech the most compelling ones all refer to our history of discrimination and prejudice, and it is, ultimately, for the purpose of trying to repair our troubled racial society that we need hate speech legislation.

Better Thesis 2 : None of the arguments in favor of regulating pornography are persuasive because they all base their points on the unverifiable and questionable assumption that the producers of pornography necessarily harbor ill will specifically to women.

In an other course this would not be at all unacceptable, and, in fact, possibly even desirable. But in this kind of course, a thesis statement that makes a factual claim that can be verified only with scientific, sociological, psychological or other kind of experimental evidence is not appropriate. You need to construct a thesis that you are prepared to prove using the tools you have available, without having to consult the world's leading expert on the issue to provide you with a definitive judgment.

Bad Thesis 2 : Hate speech can cause emotional pain and suffering in victims just as intense as physical battery.

Better Thesis 1 : Whether or not the cultural concept of free speech bears any relation to the reality of 1st amendment legislation and jurisprudence, its continuing social function as a promoter of tolerance and intellectual exchange trumps the call for politicization (according to Fish's agenda) of the term.

Better Thesis 2 : The various arguments against the regulation of hate speech depend on the unspoken and unexamined assumption that emotional pain is either trivial.

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Thesis statements

What is a thesis .

A thesis must be a statement that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

A thesis is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.

Example of a thesis: In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.Source: https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/

How long should a thesis statement be?

A thesis is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

Source: https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/

How narrow or broad should a thesis be?

The thesis needs to be narrow Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.

Example of a broad thesis:

Drug use is detrimental to society.   ❌  Too broad to argue, too general

Example of a narrow thesis:

Illegal drug use is detrimental because it encourages gang violence.   ✅Narrow, manageable topic

Source: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/establishing_arguments/index.html

Which kinds of thesis exist?

Typically, there are four kinds of claims:

Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact.

Example: While some pundits have framed a four-year college education as something necessary for adult success, this notion should not be treated as a given.

Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur.

Example: Federal student loan policies have contributed to widespread growth in college tuition.

Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something

Example: The student debt crisis is one of the most serious problems facing the country today.

Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem.

Example:   Rather than encouraging all students to attend four-year colleges, we should instead emphasize the validity of two-year colleges, technical schools, and trade schools as well.

How do I know which kind of claim is right for my thesis?

Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be.

Where in the paper should the thesis statement be?

The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.

How do I approach writing a thesis?

  • An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
  • An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
  • An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.
  • What is my claim?
  • How is my claim supported?
  • So what/why does my claim matter?
  • Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

Source: https://wp.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/UWC_handouts_What-How-So-What-Thesis-revised-5-4-15-RZ.pdf

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2.5: Identifying Thesis Statements

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Learning Objectives

  • Identify explicit thesis statements in texts
  • Identify implicit thesis statements in texts
  • Identify strategies for using thesis statements to predict content of texts

Being able to identify the purpose and thesis of a text, as you’re reading it, takes practice. This section will offer you that practice.

One fun strategy for developing a deeper understanding the material you’re reading is to make a visual “map” of the ideas. Mind maps, whether hand-drawn or done through computer programs, can be fun to make, and help put all the ideas of an essay you’re reading in one easy-to-read format.

Your understanding of what the “central” element of the mind map is might change as you read and re-read. Developing the central idea of your mind map is a great way to help you determine the reading’s thesis.

The center is a yellow star-shaped human form, labeled Dave. Primary lines leading away from it include "free," "Aranya," and "Anger." Color-coded lines lead to phrases that are difficult to see clearly.

Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) - Hand-drawn Mind Map

Locating Explicit and Implicit Thesis Statements

In academic writing, the thesis is often explicit : it is included as a sentence as part of the text. It might be near the beginning of the work, but not always–some types of academic writing leave the thesis until the conclusion.

Journalism and reporting also rely on explicit thesis statements that appear very early in the piece–the first paragraph or even the first sentence.

Works of literature, on the other hand, usually do not contain a specific sentence that sums up the core concept of the writing. However, readers should finish the piece with a good understanding of what the work was trying to convey. This is what’s called an implicit thesis statement: the primary point of the reading is conveyed indirectly, in multiple locations throughout the work. (In literature, this is also referred to as the theme of the work.)

Academic writing sometimes relies on implicit thesis statements, as well.

This video offers excellent guidance in identifying the thesis statement of a work, no matter if it’s explicit or implicit.

Topic Sentences

We’ve learned that a thesis statement conveys the primary message of an entire piece of text. Now, let’s look at the next level of important sentences in a piece of text: topic sentences in each paragraph.

A useful metaphor would be to think of the thesis statement of a text as a general: it controls all the major decisions of the writing. There is only one thesis statement in a text. Topic sentences, in this relationship, serve as captains: they organize and sub-divide the overall goals of a writing into individual components. Each paragraph will have a topic sentence.

Graphic labeled Parts of a Paragraph. It shows a hamburger separated into different layers. From the top down, they are labeled "topic sentence (top bun)"; "supporting details (tomatoes, lettuce, and meat)"; "colourful vocabulary (mustard, ketchup, and relish)"; "concluding sentence (bottom bun)."

Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\)

It might be helpful to think of a topic sentence as working in two directions simultaneously. It relates the paragraph to the essay’s thesis, and thereby acts as a signpost for the argument of the paper as a whole, but it also defines the scope of the paragraph itself. For example, consider the following topic sentence:

Many characters in Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun have one particular dream in which they are following, though the character Walter pursues his most aggressively.

If this sentence controls the paragraph that follows, then all sentences in the paragraph must relate in some way to Walter and the pursuit of his dream.

Topic sentences often act like tiny thesis statements. Like a thesis statement, a topic sentence makes a claim of some sort. As the thesis statement is the unifying force in the essay, so the topic sentence must be the unifying force in the paragraph. Further, as is the case with the thesis statement, when the topic sentence makes a claim, the paragraph which follows must expand, describe, or prove it in some way. Topic sentences make a point and give reasons or examples to support it.

The topic sentence is often, though not always, the first sentence of a paragraph.

IMAGES

  1. 25 Thesis Statement Examples (2024)

    which two thesis statements are restricted

  2. How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper: Steps and

    which two thesis statements are restricted

  3. PPT

    which two thesis statements are restricted

  4. How to Write a Thesis Statement: Fill-in-the-Blank Formula

    which two thesis statements are restricted

  5. What Are The Different Types of Thesis Statements

    which two thesis statements are restricted

  6. What Is The Thesis Statement? Examples of Thesis Statements

    which two thesis statements are restricted

VIDEO

  1. English 1AS Workshop: Thesis Statements & Support

  2. Thesis Statements: Patterns

  3. THESIS STATEMENT For writing TASK 2 // Agree / Disagree / Problem solution 🤟🤟

  4. Writing Focused Thesis Statements for Expositions

  5. Arguments & Thesis Statements Workshop Part 1

  6. Introduction to Thesis Statements.avi

COMMENTS

  1. Forming a thesis statement Flashcards

    Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards containing terms like 1.of the heart and blood vessels 2.any of a number of sides or aspects 3.a little world 4.to proceed along on a specific course of action, Which of the following thesis statements are restricted? Golf exercises the mind as well as the body. The physical sciences show us an amazing world.

  2. 3.3: Thesis Statements

    A basic thesis sentence has two main parts: Topic: What you're writing about. Angle: What your main idea is about that topic. Example Thesis Statements. Thesis: A regular exercise regime leads to multiple benefits, both physical and emotional. Topic: Regular exercise regime. Angle: Leads to multiple benefits.

  3. Developing a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement . . . Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic. Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper. Is focused and specific enough to be "proven" within the boundaries of your paper. Is generally located near the end ...

  4. 2.5 Writing Thesis Statements

    Working Thesis Statements. A strong thesis statement must have the following qualities: It must be arguable. A thesis statement must state a point of view or judgment about a topic. An established fact is not considered arguable. It must be supportable. The thesis statement must contain a point of view that can be supported with evidence ...

  5. 8.4: Creating and Revising a Thesis Statement

    To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become clearer. STRONGER THESIS: 4. A strong thesis statement is specific: A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about and the argument should be narrow enough to be concretely proven. WEAK THESIS: Slavery in the United States damaged many lives.

  6. Academic Guides: Writing a Paper: Thesis Statements

    The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper.

  7. Thesis Statements

    Thesis Statements. A thesis is the main claim you are making in an argument, similar to the hypothesis in a scientific experiment. It is what you are trying to prove or persuade your audience to believe or do. It's helpful to develop a working thesis to guide your composition process. "Working" is the operative word here; your ideas are ...

  8. Thesis Statements

    A thesis statement is the controlling idea in a medium of writing. A thesis statement is the controlling idea in a medium of writing. Skip to main content ... This paper will attempt two arguments. First, that a culture of comparison—in person or online—often leads to feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction. Second, that social media ...

  9. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Step 2: Write your initial answer. After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process. The internet has had more of a positive than a negative effect on education.

  10. 5.1: Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

    As mentioned before, a thesis statement is the controlling idea of your essay. It is the main idea that all of the other sentences in the essay relate to. After gathering information about your topic, you need to figure out what you want to say about it. An effective thesis statement has two major characteristics. 1.

  11. Effective Thesis Statements

    What is a Thesis Statement? A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an "argument," a "main idea," or a "controlling idea.". A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how ...

  12. Thesis Statements

    Thesis Statements. The thesis statement (which may be more than one sentence) usually appears at the end of your introduction and presents your specific argument or claim to the reader. The thesis should cover only what you discuss in your paper and be supported throughout the paper with evidence. A thesis statement serves many purposes ...

  13. THE THESIS STATEMENT Flashcards

    Write a thesis statement for an essay about the benefits of children owning a pet. The main points of the author's essay are that children who own pets are more responsible. They have a constant companion. Children who own pets also seem to reap health benefits. The thesis (primary argument) is as follows: "Pet ownership is highly beneficial ...

  14. Refining Thesis Statements

    Example Thesis B. Version 1: Eating disorders are a significant problem among college-aged students. Version 2: Eating disorders are a significant problem among college-aged men because they negatively affect academic performance, socializing, and overall psychological well-being. Version 3: Eating disorders among college-aged men are ...

  15. On Thesis Statements

    The Thesis Statement. This is not an exhaustive list of bad thesis statements, but here're five kinds of problems I've seen most often. Notice that the last two, #4 and #5, are not necessarily incorrect or illegitimate thesis statements, but, rather, inappropriate for the purposes of this course. They may be useful forms for papers on different ...

  16. Thesis statements

    How long should a thesis statement be? A thesis is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation ...

  17. 2.5: Identifying Thesis Statements

    Figure 2.5.2 2.5. 2. It might be helpful to think of a topic sentence as working in two directions simultaneously. It relates the paragraph to the essay's thesis, and thereby acts as a signpost for the argument of the paper as a whole, but it also defines the scope of the paragraph itself. For example, consider the following topic sentence:

  18. These thesis statements are restricted. A.) Refinishing antique

    The thesis statement that is restricted is "D.) The causes of the Vietnam War were primarily economic."A thesis statement should be debatable, clear, and concise. A debatable thesis statement is one that presents an arguable point of view. In this case, the statement is not debatable and restricts the development of a coherent argument for the ...

  19. Which two thesis statements are restricted? Golf exercises the mind as

    The two thesis statements that are restricted are: Refinishing antique furniture is a precise art. Classical music is the basis for most rock music. These statements are restricted because they concentrate on a narrow aspect of a broader subject. The first one focuses specifically on the preciseness required in refinishing antique furniture ...