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How To Write A Thesis Statement

What is thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is more than a title, an announcement of your intent, or a statement of fact. They provide the essay with no direction. However, a judgment or opinion can be an effective thesis statement. A thesis is the main idea of our essay – its central point. First, we state the thesis and then develop ideas to explain and expand the thesis. These ideas come in the form of supporting sentences.

How To Develop Thesis Statement?

Once we have grouped our ideas, we need to consider our essay’s thesis. The essay consists of an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction presents the thesis statement. The several body paragraphs develop and support the thesis. And the conclusion reinforces (strengthens) the thesis and provides closure. The thesis is the center around which the essay develops. 

1. Deciding on a Thesis

No rules work to formulate the thesis. The formulation of a thesis depends on the scope of the assignment, our knowledge of the subject, and our method of writing. If we are well-informed about the subject, we can form the thesis without doing any invention (brainstorming or freewriting). Anyway, we have to decide on a thesis before we begin our first draft.

As writing begins, new ideas begin to appear. As writing begins, it may move in unexpected directions. For this reason, the initial stage thesis is only tentative. So, while writing, we should review the thesis statement considering the points we made. If the writing goes astray (off track), we should revise it accordingly.

2. Stating Your Thesis

It is good to include a one-sentence thesis statement early in the essay. An effective thesis statement has three characteristics:

1. An effective thesis statement clearly expresses the essay’s main idea. 

An effective thesis statement clearly expresses the essay’s main idea. it not only states the topic but also indicates what we will say about the topic. It also signals how we will approach (speak about) our material.

The following thesis statement, from the essay “Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts” by Bruce Catton, clearly communicates the writer’s main idea:

They (Grant and Lee) were two strong men, these oddly different generals, and they represented the strengths of two conflicting currents that, through them, had come into final collision.

This statement says that the essay will compare and contrast Grant and Lee. Specifically, it indicates that Catton will present the two Civil War generals as symbols of two opposing historical currents. If the statement had been less fully developed – “Grant and Lee were quite different from each other” it would have just echoed the essay’s title.

 2. An effective thesis statement communicates your essay’s purpose. 

An effective thesis statement communicates the essay’s purpose. The purpose is either to evaluate, or analyze, or to describe or inform.

This purpose should be communicated to the readers. In general, the thesis can be expressive, conveying a mood or impression. The thesis can be informative, listing the major points to be discussed, or presenting an objective overview (summary) of the essay. The thesis can be persuasive, taking a strong stand on the position we will argue. 

Each of the following thesis statement communicates a different purpose:

  • To Express Feelings: the city’s homeless families live in heartbreaking (sad) surroundings.
  • To Inform: The plight of the homeless has become so serious that it is a major priority for
    many city governments.
  • To Persuade: The best way to address the problems of the homeless is to renovate abandoned
    city buildings to create suitable housing for homeless families. 

 3. An effective thesis statement is clearly worded. 

The effective thesis statement should be clearly worded to communicate the essay’s main idea. it should speak for itself. It should not start with “My thesis is … / The thesis of this paper is …” It should give an accurate indication of what follows.

It shouldn’t mislead readers about the essay’s direction, emphasis, scope, content, or viewpoint. Vague language, confusing abstractions, irrelevant details, and unnecessarily complex terminology have no place in a thesis statement.

The thesis statement shouldn’t make false promises that it can’t keep. Example: Thesis statement should not emphasize the events that led to the formation of immigration laws if we are going to discuss just the effects of it.

The thesis statement can’t include every point we will discuss in our essay. Still, it should be specific enough to indicate our direction and scope.

Effective thesis statement:

  • “New immigration laws have failed to stem the tide (to slow or stop the increase) of illegal immigrants.”

Ineffective thesis statement

  • “Because they do not take into account the economic causes of immigration, current immigration laws do little to decrease the number of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico into the United States.”

The first thesis statement is ineffective because it does not give the essay much focus. Which immigration laws will you be examining? Which illegal immigrants? But the second thesis statement is effective because it clearly indicates what the writer is going to discuss, and it establishes a specific direction for the essay. 

Implying a Thesis

An explicit thesis conveys an essay’s purpose explicitly, but an implied thesis doesn’t convey an essay’s purpose explicitly. Instead, the selection and arrangement of the essay’s ideas suggest the purpose.

Professional writers prefer implied thesis because it is subtler (over precise/hair-splitting). Implied thesis useful in narratives, descriptions, and some arguments, where explicit thesis seems heavy-handed (awkward) or arbitrary (random).

However, it is good to use explicit thesis in college writings to ensure clarity of our purpose, and guide us through to achieve our purpose.

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