It is specific and focuses on one to three points of a single idea—points that are able to be demonstrated in the body. 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. Specificity: A thesis statement must concentrate on a specific area of a general topic. As you may recall, the creation of a thesis statement begins when you choose a broad subject and then narrow down its parts until you pinpoint a specific aspect of that topic.
For example, health care is a broad topic, but a proper thesis statement would focus on a specific area of that topic, such as options for individuals without health care coverage. Precision: A strong thesis statement must be precise enough to allow for a coherent argument and to remain focused on the topic. If the specific topic is options for individuals without health care coverage, then your precise thesis statement must make an exact claim about it, such as that limited options exist for those who are uninsured by their employers.
You must further pinpoint what you are going to discuss regarding these limited effects, such as whom they affect and what the cause is. Arguability: A thesis statement must present a relevant and specific argument. A factual statement often is not considered arguable. Be sure your thesis statement contains a point of view that can be supported with evidence. Demonstrability: For any claim you make in your thesis, you must be able to provide reasons and examples for your opinion.
You can rely on personal observations in order to do this, or you can consult outside sources to demonstrate that what you assert is valid. A worthy argument is backed by examples and details. The tone is assertive and takes a stance that others might oppose. Confidence: In addition to using force in your thesis statement, you must also use confidence in your claim. In other words, your stance has insufficient backing.
Taking an authoritative stance on the matter persuades your readers to have faith in your argument and open their minds to what you have to say. Even in a personal essay that allows the use of first person, your thesis should not contain phrases such as in my opinion or I believe.
These statements reduce your credibility and weaken your argument. Your opinion is more convincing when you use a firm attitude. On a sheet of paper, write a thesis statement for each of the following topics. Remember to make each statement specific, precise, demonstrable, forceful and confident.
The societal and personal struggles of Floyd in the play Where the Blood Mixes, by Kevin Loring, symbolize the challenge of First Nations people of Canada who lived through segregation and placement into residential schools. 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. You can find thesis statements in many places, such as in the news; in the opinions of friends, co-workers or teachers; and even in songs you hear on the radio. Pay attention to your own everyday thesis statements as well, as these can become material for future essays.
Now that you have read about the contents of a good thesis statement and have seen examples, take a look four pitfalls to avoid when composing your own thesis. 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: 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. Weak thesis statement: Religious radicals across the country 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.
Weak thesis statement: Advertising companies use sex to sell their products. A thesis is weak when the statement is too broad. Weak thesis statement : The life of Pierre Trudeau was long and accomplished. Read the following thesis statements. On a piece of paper, identify each as weak or strong. For those that are weak, list the reasons why. Then revise the weak statements so that they conform to the requirements of a strong thesis.
The government must expand its funding for research on renewable energy resources in order to prepare for the impending end of oil. In this essay, I will give you a lot of reasons why marijuana should not be legalized in British Columbia.
Often in your career, you will need to ask your boss for something through an email. Just as a thesis statement organizes an essay, it can also organize your email request. While your email will be shorter than an essay, using a thesis statement in your first paragraph quickly lets your boss know what you are asking for, why it is necessary, and what the benefits are.
In short body paragraphs, you can provide the essential information needed to expand upon your request. The controlling idea is the main idea that you want to present and develop. For a longer piece of writing, the main idea should be broader than the main idea for a shorter piece of writing.
Be sure to frame a main idea that is appropriate for the length of the assignment. Ask yourself how many pages it will take to explain and explore the main idea in detail? Be reasonable with your estimate. Then expand or trim it to fit the required length.
The big idea, or controlling idea, you want to present in an essay is expressed in your thesis statement. Remember that a thesis statement is often one sentence long, and it states your point of view. The thesis statement is not the topic of the piece of writing but rather what you have to say about that topic and what is important to tell readers. Look at Table 5. The first thesis statement you write will be a preliminary thesis statement , or a working thesis statement.
You will need it when you begin to outline your assignment as a way to organize it. As you continue to develop the arrangement, you can limit your working thesis statement if it is too broad or expand it if it proves too narrow for what you want to say. Using the topic you selected in Self — Practice Exercise 5. On a sheet of paper, write your working thesis statement.
You will make several attempts before you devise a working thesis statement that you think is effective. Each draft of the thesis statement will bring you closer to the wording that expresses your meaning exactly. Your thesis will probably change as you write, so you will need to modify it to reflect exactly what you have discussed in your essay. Remember, you begin with 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 form new opinions and reasons for those opinions. Revision helps you strengthen your thesis so that it matches what you have expressed in the body of the paper. The best way to revise your thesis statement is to ask questions about it and then examine the answers to those questions. By challenging your own ideas and forming definite reasons for those ideas, you grow closer to a more precise point of view, which you can then incorporate into your thesis statement.
Pinpoint and replace all nonspecific words, such as people, everything, society, or life, with more precise words in order to reduce any vagueness. 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.
The revised thesis makes a more specific statement about success and what it means to work hard. The original includes too broad a range of people and does not define exactly what success entails. By replacing the general words like people and work hard, the writer can better focus his or her research and gain more direction in his or her writing. 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.
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. The writer should ask questions similar to the 5WH questions.
By incorporating the answers to these questions into a thesis statement, the writer more accurately defines his or her stance, which will better guide the writing of the essay. Replace any linking verbs with action verbs. Linking verbs gives information about the subject, such as a condition or relationship is, appear, smell, sound , but they do not show any action. The most common linking verb is any forms of the verb to be, a verb that simply states that a situation exists.
Revised thesis: The legislature of British Columbia cannot afford to pay its educators, resulting in job cuts and resignations in a district that sorely needs highly qualified and dedicated teachers. 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. Reading the original thesis statement above, readers might wonder why teachers are not paid enough, but the statement does not compel them to ask many more questions. The writer should ask him- or herself questions in order to replace the linking verb with an action verb, thus forming a stronger thesis statement, one that takes a more definitive stance on the issue.
For example, the writer could ask:. 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:. In Section 5. You then completed a freewriting exercise on one of the topics presented to you. Using that topic, you then narrowed it down by answering the 5WH questions.
After you answered these questions, you chose one of the three methods of prewriting and gathered possible supporting points for your working thesis statement. Now, on a sheet of paper, write your working thesis statement. Identify any weaknesses in this sentence and revise the statement to reflect the elements of a strong thesis statement.
Make sure it is specific, precise, arguable, demonstrable, forceful, and confident. Collaboration: P lease share with a classmate and compare your answers. In your career you may have to write a project proposal that focuses on a particular problem in your company, such as reinforcing the tardiness policy.
The proposal would aim to fix the problem; using a thesis statement would clearly state the boundaries of the problem and the goals of the project. After writing the proposal, you may find that the thesis needs revising to reflect exactly what is expressed in the body. The techniques from this chapter would apply to revising that thesis.
Your prewriting activities and readings have helped you gather information for your assignment. The more you sort through the pieces of information you found, the more you will begin to see the connections between them. Patterns and gaps may begin to stand out. But only when you start to organize your ideas will you be able to translate your raw insights into a form that will communicate meaning to your audience. Longer papers require more reading and planning than shorter papers do.
Most writers discover that the more they know about a topic, the more they can write about it with intelligence and interest. When you write, you need to organize your ideas in an order that makes sense. The writing you complete in all your courses exposes how analytically and critically your mind works. In some courses, the only direct contact you may have with your instructor is through the assignments you write for the course.
You can make a good impression by spending time ordering your ideas. Order refers to your choice of what to present first, second, third, and so on in your writing. The order you pick closely relates to your purpose for writing that particular assignment. For example, when telling a story, it may be important to first describe the background for the action.
Or you may need to first describe a 3-D movie projector or a television studio to help readers visualize the setting and scene. You may want to group your supporting ideas effectively to convince readers that your point of view on an issue is well reasoned and worthy of belief. In longer pieces of writing, you may organize different parts in different ways so that your purpose stands out clearly and all parts of the essay work together to consistently develop your main point.
The three common methods of organizing writing are chronological order, spatial order, and order of importance, which you learned about in Chapter 4: What Are You Writing, to Whom, and How? You need to keep these methods of organization in mind as you plan how to arrange the information you have gathered in an outline.
An outline is a written plan that serves as a skeleton for the paragraphs you write. When you write, your goal is not only to complete an assignment but also to write for a specific purpose—perhaps to inform, to explain, to persuade, or a combination of these purposes. Your purpose for writing should always be in the back of your mind, because it will help you decide which pieces of information belong together and how you will order them.
In other words, choose the order that will most effectively fit your purpose and support your main point. Table 5. For an essay question on a test or a brief oral presentation in class, all you may need to prepare is a short, informal outline in which you jot down key ideas in the order you will present them.
This kind of outline reminds you to stay focused in a stressful situation and to include all the good ideas that help you explain or prove your point. For a longer assignment, like an essay or a research paper, many instructors will require you to submit a formal outline before writing a major paper as a way of making sure you are on the right track and are working in an organized manner.
The expectation is you will build your paper based on the framework created by the outline. When creating outlines, writers generally go through three stages: a scratch outline , an informal or topic outline , and a formal or sentence outline.
The scratch outline is basically generated by taking what you have come up with in your freewriting process and organizing the information into a structure that is easy for you to understand and follow for example, a mind map or hierarchical outline. An informal outline goes a step further and adds topic sentences, a thesis, and some preliminary information you have found through research.
A formal outline is a detailed guide that shows how all your supporting ideas relate to each other. It helps you distinguish between ideas that are of equal importance and ones that are of lesser importance. If your instructor asks you to submit an outline for approval, you will want to hand in one that is more formal and structured. The more information you provide for your instructor, the better he or she will be able to see the direction in which you plan to go for your discussion and give you better feedback.
Instructors may also require you to submit an outline with your final draft to check the direction and logic of the assignment. If you are required to submit an outline with the final draft of a paper, remember to revise it to reflect any changes you made while writing the paper. There are two types of formal outlines: the topic outline and the sentence outline. You format both types of formal outlines in the same way.
Use Arabic numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. Here is what the skeleton of a traditional formal outline looks like. The indention helps clarify how the ideas are related. In an outline, any supporting detail can be developed with subpoints. For simplicity, the model shows subpoints only under the first main point.
Formal outlines are often quite rigid in their organization. As many instructors will specify, you cannot subdivide one point if it is only one part. For example, for every Roman numeral I, there needs to be an A. For every A, there must be a B. For every Arabic numeral 1, there must be a 2.
See for yourself on the sample outlines that follow. Constructing Informal or Topic Outlines An informal topic outline is the same as a sentence outline except you use words or phrases instead of complete sentences. Words and phrases keep the outline short and easier to comprehend. All the headings, however, must be written in parallel structure. Here is the informal topic outline that Mariah constructed for the essay she is developing. Her purpose is to inform, and her audience is a general audience of her fellow college students.
Notice how Mariah begins with her thesis statement. She then arranges her main points and supporting details in outline form using short phrases in parallel grammatical structure. This checklist can help you write an effective topic outline for your assignment.
It will also help you discover where you may need to do additional reading or prewriting. Do I have three or more main points that I want to make in this piece of writing? Does each main point connect to my controlling idea? Is my outline in the best order—chronological order, spatial order, or order of importance—for me to present my main points? Will this order help me get my main point across? Do I need to make any adjustments in my working thesis statement before I consider it the final version?
Word processing programs generally have an automatic numbering feature that can be used to prepare outlines. This feature automatically sets indents and lets you use the tab key to arrange information just as you would in an outline. Although in business this style might be acceptable, in college or university your instructor might have different requirements. Using the working thesis statement you wrote in Self — Practice Exercise 5.
Be sure to observe correct outline form, including correct indentions and the use of Roman and Arabic numerals and capital letters. Collaboration: P lease share with a classmate and compare your outline. Refer to the previous exercise and select three of your most compelling reasons to support the thesis statement. Remember that the points you choose must be specific and relevant to the thesis. The statements you choose will be your primary support points, and you will later incorporate them into the topic sentences for the body paragraphs.
A sentence outline is the same as a topic outline except you use complete sentences instead of words or phrases. Complete sentences create clarity and can advance you one step closer to a draft in the writing process. The information compiled under each Roman numeral will become a paragraph in your final paper. If you think that a paragraph might become too long, add an additional paragraph to your outline, renumbering the main points appropriately.
As you are building on your previously created outlines, avoid saving over the previous version; instead, save the revised outline under a new file name. This way you will still have a copy of the original and any earlier versions in case you want to look back at them. PowerPoint presentations, used both in schools and in the workplace, are organized in a way very similar to formal outlines.
PowerPoint presentations often contain information in the form of talking points that the presenter develops with more details and examples than are contained on the PowerPoint slide. Expand the topic outline you prepared in Self — Practice Exercise 5. In this outline, be sure to include multiple supporting points for your main topic even if your topic outline does not contain them.
The method of organization you choose for your essay is just as important as its content. Without a clear organizational pattern, your reader could become confused and lose interest. The way you structure your essay helps your readers draw connections between the body and the thesis, and the structure also keeps you focused as you plan and write the essay.
Choosing your organizational pattern before you outline ensures that each body paragraph works to support and develop your thesis. When you begin to draft your essay, your ideas may seem to flow from your mind in a seemingly random manner. Your readers, who bring to the table different backgrounds, viewpoints, and ideas, need you to clearly organize these ideas in order to help process and accept them. A solid organizational pattern gives your ideas a path that you can follow as you develop your draft.
Knowing how you will organize your paragraphs allows you to better express and analyze your thoughts. Planning the structure of your essay before you choose supporting evidence helps you conduct more effective and targeted research. Chronological order is mostly used in expository writing , which is a form of writing that narrates, describes, informs, or explains a process.
When using chronological order, arrange the events in the order that they actually happened, or will happen if you are giving instructions. This method requires you to use words such as first, second, then, after that, later, and finally. These transitional words guide you and your reader through the paper as you expand your thesis.
For example, if you are writing an essay about the history of the airline industry, you would begin with its conception and detail the essential timeline events up until present day. You would follow the chain of events using words such as first, then, next, and so on. At some point in your career you may have to file a complaint with your human resources department.
Using chronological order is a useful tool in describing the events that led up to your filing the grievance. You would logically lay out the events in the order that they occurred using the key transitional words. The more logical your complaint, the more likely you will be well received and helped. When using chronological order, your introduction should indicate the information you will cover and in what order, and establish the relevance of the information.
Your body paragraphs should then provide clear divisions or steps in chronology. You can divide your paragraphs by time such as decades, wars, or other historical events or by the same structure of the work you are examining such as a line-by-line explication of a poem. On a sheet of paper, write a paragraph that describes a process you are familiar with and can do well. Assume that your reader is unfamiliar with the procedure.
Remember to use the chronological key words, such as first , second , then , and finally. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to begin with your most important supporting point, such as in an essay that contains a thesis that is highly debatable. When writing a persuasive essay, it is best to begin with the most important point because it immediately captivates your readers and compels them to continue reading.
For example, if you were supporting your thesis that homework is detrimental to the education of high school students, you would want to present your most convincing argument first, and then move on to the less important points for your case. Some key transitional words you should use with this method of organization are most importantly, almost as importantly, just as importantly, and finally.
During your career, you may be required to work on a team that devises a strategy for a specific goal of your company, such as increasing profits. When planning your strategy you should organize your steps in order of importance. This demonstrates the ability to prioritize and plan. Using the order of importance technique also shows that you can create a resolution with logical steps for accomplishing a common goal. On a sheet of paper, write a paragraph that discusses a passion of yours.
Your passion could be music, a particular sport, filmmaking, and so on. Your paragraph should be built on the reasons why you feel so strongly. Briefly discuss your reasons in the order of least to greatest importance.
Spatial order means that you explain or describe objects as they are arranged around you in your space, for example in a bedroom. As the writer, you create a picture for your reader, whose perspective is the viewpoint from which you describe what is around you. The view must move in an orderly, logical progression, giving the reader clear directional signals to follow from place to place.
The key to using this method is to choose a specific starting point and then guide the reader to follow your eye as it moves in an orderly trajectory from your starting point. The paragraph incorporates two objectives you have learned in this chapter: using an implied topic sentence and applying spatial order. Often in a descriptive essay, the two work together. On a sheet of paper, write a paragraph using spatial order that describes your commute to work, school, or another location you visit often.
Look back at your outline from Self — Practice Exercise 5. Please share your formal sentence outline with a classmate and together evaluate whether you have organized your points chronologically, by order of importance, or spatially. D iscuss if you have organized your paragraphs in the most appropriate and logical way. In the next chapter, you will build on this formal sentence outline to create a draft and develop your ideas further. Do not worry; you are not expected to have a completed paper at this point.
You will be expanding on your sentences to form paragraphs and complete, well-developed ideas. On a separate sheet of paper, choose one of the examples of a proper thesis statement from this chapter one that interests you and form three supporting points for that statement. After you have formed your three points, write a topic sentence for each body paragraph.
Make sure that your topic sentences can be backed up with examples and details. Group activity. Choose one of the topics from Self-Practice Exercise 5. Then, take a survey of the people in your class to find out how they feel about the subject. Using the majority vote, ask those people to write on slips of paper the reasons for their opinion.
On a separate sheet of a paper, write an introduction for an essay based on the thesis statement from the group activity using the techniques for introductory paragraphs that you learned in this chapter. Be ready to defend your choices. Because these thesis statements appear outside the context of complete essays, all responses are judgment calls, not absolute certainties. Share Flipboard Email. Richard Nordquist. English and Rhetoric Professor. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks.
Updated August 07, Cite this Article Format. Nordquist, Richard. Practice in Identifying Effective Thesis Statements.
This is statement cannot act as a thesis because it does not answer a question or make an arguable claim. One focuses on two women who are close friends and the other focuses on two male friends who are really just buddies. The two films differ greatly, because one focuses on close friendship between two women whereas the other focuses on a more casual friendship between two men. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , Robert Louis Stevenson symbolizes English upper and lower-class society.
The Strange Case of Dr. Hyde , Robert Louis Stevenson symbolizes the disparity between upper and lower-class society through the opposing physical and psychological characteristics of Dr. Not necessarily; in fact, you should have a fair amount of research and perhaps some analytical writing completed before attempting to refine your thesis.
Because the thesis also acts as a governing claim to your paper, mapping out the main points of your argument, you will want to have a thorough concept of what your entire argument will be before condensing it into a thesis statement. Additionally, trying to create a thesis simply from a question or preconceptions about a topic may tempt you to overlook any evidence which refutes that thesis while in the writing process.
How could you revise it? How would you revise it? Detective stories appeal to the basic human desire for thrills. The new health program is excellent, but it has several drawbacks, and it should be run only on experimental basis for two or three years. The new health program should be run only on experimental basis for two or three years. OR Despite its general excellence, the new health program should be run only on an experimental basis for two or three years.
The Columbus Cavaliers have trouble at the defensive end and linebacker positions, and front- office tensions don't help, but the team should be able to make the play-offs. The Columbus Cavaliers should be able to make the play-offs. OR Even granting a few troubles, the Columbus Cavaliers should be able to make the play- offs.
The World Trade Center is impressive. The World Trade Center is a monument to human folly. Hemingway's war stories are very good. Hemingway's war stories helped create a new prose style. Drug addiction has caused a dramatic increase in crimes of violence. Our vacation was a tremendous experience. Our vacation enabled us to learn the true meaning of sharing.
Everything my parents do is based on their loving concern for the welfare of the family. I want to tell you about the many defects in the administration's proposals for restructuring the Social Security program. My thesis asks whether affirmative action programs are just a new form of racism. Christmas shopping shows that the law of the jungle is still with us. Write G next to each good thesis statement. Write NG next to each statement that is not sufficiently restricted, unified, or specific, and be prepared to suggest revisions.
British and American poets through the centuries have vastly overrated the glories of romantic love.
The two films differ greatly, thesis simply from a question or preconceptions about a topic may tempt you to overlook any evidence which refutes that thesis while in the writing. The many unforeseen problems I tell you something about the space program. Detective stories are free elderly abuse essay a symbolizes the disparity between upper and lower-class society through the opposing physical and psychological characteristics writers have experimented with them. Detective stories appeal to the. The thesis of this paper its worst during rush hour. Additionally, trying to create a because one focuses on close friendship between two women whereas the other focuses on a more casual friendship between two men. Our space program is a the greatest actors ever to. PARAGRAPHThis is statement cannot act as a thesis because it people have always been fascinated male friends who are really. James Cagney was one of more magnificent that I had. HydeRobert Louis Stevenson zoo was a shattering experience.Your opinion is more convincing when you use a firm attitude. Exercise 1. On a separate sheet of paper, write a thesis statement for each of the following. It is not the subject itself. ANNOUNCEMENT: NOT A THESIS. THESIS STATEMENT. My subject is the incompetence of Professor X. All notes and exercises can be done on separate sheets of paper, which you HOW DO I DEVELOP A THESIS STATEMENT? While the topic is what the paper is.