What is a thesis statement?

Most of us are still confused about the thesis statement. So let’s break down some basics that can make it slightly easier to write.  Remember writing is a process and it will take time and practice to write strong thesis statements.

A thesis statement does the following:

–          It is your idea about a question or subject and offers a way to understand it

–          It makes a claim that is arguable

–          Presents your argument to your readers

–          Is a guide for the reader, so they know what to expect from your paper

–          Shows how you plan to explain your argument about the significance of the main topic

So how do we write a thesis statement?  To start out you will go through a long thinking period. Then you write down a basic statement that you think you are going to prove. However, before you can develop a completely arguable claim you will need to research your topic, collect evidence that supports or counters your idea, look at facts and examine the relationship of all the materials you have gathered.

Then you will have a “working thesis”.  Why a working thesis only after all of that work? As you research you will find material that might change your ideas and maybe even your argument. Keep in mind that your thesis is a guide for the reader so it must reflect what will be in your paper.  Your final thesis isn’t actually done until you are finished writing your essay. After all, it is much easier to adjust one sentence rather than your whole essay.

So now that you have a good working thesis- let’s put some questions to test it:

–          Is it a rhetorical question? Remember it is called a thesis  statement

–          Is my statement specific enough?  “Love surpasses all” would be weak because “love” is too broad a topic; are you talking about platonic love, family love, maternal love?

–          Is your statement to vague? “Water is good.”  What is the definition of good here? Good is subjective to each person and their circumstance.

–          Does it take a position that others might challenge? Remember you want it to be arguable.

–          Does it pass the how/why test?  “Pride and Prejudice is a great novel” Why?? This thesis is open ended and subjective again. Use details that will give your reader why you think the novel is important or what the structural meaning can be.

The thesis statement gives a good map to your essay, so writing a strong thesis statement is a must. Practice will make it easier to construct but these basic guides will give you a good start to an engaging essay.


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