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Thesis Statements

A thesis statement is a proposition stated or put forward for consideration to be discussed, proved, or maintained. In short, your thesis statement (usually a sentence or two) says exactly what your paper will talk about or prove. It summarizes the main idea of the essay.  Read the following sections for further information:

Purpose
How to Construct Your Thesis Statement
What to Include in Your Thesis Statement
Sample Thesis Statements
Questionnaire for Thesis Statements

 

Purpose:

To provide the reader a guideline for what the paper will be discussing, in a clear and concise way.

In other words, in your thesis statement you are telling your reader, "This is what I'm writing about, this is where I'm headed, and I'm taking you with me."

How to Construct Your Thesis Statement:

  • It is suggested that you place your thesis as the last sentence (or two) of your introductory paragraph. This is where most people expect it to be. However, the thesis may appear at this place, at the end in the conclusion, or even not be stated directly and rather be implied.
  • You may want to narrow and define your subject in the introduction. In this case the first sentence (your beginning sentence) could be a broad generalization and should become narrower toward the end of the paragraph. It's as if your first few sentences ease your reader into the larger subject matter (for example, singers who try to become movie actors), and your last sentence, the thesis sentence, says specifically where you're headed (Madonna).
  • Give thesis an argumentative edge to overwhelm the opposition. Picking an argument simplifies problems within the body of the paper which will, in a sense, help you to set up your entire paper.
  • Believe in your thesis. If you do not hold a strong opinion that your thesis is correct, who will?
  • Obtain the reader's attention with something he or she doesn't already know. Appeal to the unpopular viewpoint. Example:  Everyone knows that "Dogs are a man's best friend." Instead, catch the reader's attention by saying, "Cats are a man's best friend" (if you hold this belief).
  • Avoid stating a fact, which will prohibit you from voicing your opinion about the topic of your paper. If your paper is supposed to be persuasive (which means you choose a side of an issue and argue for that side), your thesis statement must NOT be a fact. "The sky is blue" is not your opinion; it's a fact. To make sure that your thesis is opinion, ask yourself if there is another side. If there is, then you are ready to prove your thesis.

What to Include in Your Thesis Statement

First, you should express the subject of what you are writing about and as well as the central point of the document. You may also s uggest several subtopics suggested by the general topic.  A strong statement should c ontain a general idea of the entire paper gathered from just reading the thesis statement.

Second, when writing your thesis statement, you should a void using beginning phrases such as, "My purpose in this paper is," or "I intend to show that," or "It is my opinion that." If you say, "I believe that Ebonics should be recognized in the school system," then your reader is likely to think, "Who is this person, and why do I care what his/her opinion is?"  Instead, state your opinion like a fact:  "Ebonics should be recognized in the school system."  Now your statement has power.

Finally, be sure to suggest a question of debate and b e clear and concise without being overly complex.

Sample Thesis Statements:

  • My nephew reacted to Saturday morning TV in several interesting ways.
  • Documentary dramas frequently mislead audiences into accepting a distorted view of history.
  • My attempts to study in college were thwarted by loud music, tempting extracurricular activities, and the demands of a steady boyfriend.
  • Despite their many advantages, old age pensions may actually be eroding our heritage of personal and familial responsibility.

Questionnaire for Thesis Statements:

  • The one message I want my reader to understand is __________________
  • I am an appropriate person to write on this subject because I understand this it well.  I know it from the point of view of _______________
  • This thesis will matter to my reader because ________________
  • The purpose of this paper is to ___________________________
 

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