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Thesis Statements


What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a sentence that briefly but thoroughly explains the point you will be making in the paper.
A thesis statement is a CONTROLLING IDEA that outlines the focus of your paper.
A thesis statement is an ASSERTION that introduces your stance about that focus.
A thesis statement is a PROMISE to your reader about the content and organization of the essay.

When should I write my thesis statement?

Every writer has a different process, so there is no definite rule about when it is appropriate to write your thesis statement. Some people like to write the body of their essay before they write their thesis statement. However, if you are new to essay writing, you should probably try to compose the thesis statement prior to writing the body of your paper because doing so will enable you to better organize your ideas. If you begin with a solid thesis statement, you are well on the way to having a strong paper.

Where should I put my thesis statement?

A thesis statement belongs at the end of the first paragraph.

Why do I need a thesis statement?

A thesis statement clarifies the purpose of your paper to readers from the outset and prepares them for the way your ideas will be organized within the essay. Having a thesis statement helps you stay focused on the logic of your argument; every sentence in your text should support the thesis.

How can I write a thesis statement?

*The subject of your sentence should be the topic of your paper.
*The predicate of your sentence should be the assertion about that topic that the essay makes. Try to use strong, active verbs and avoid using the verb "to be."

Consider the following two thesis statements:

BAD: There is a lot of symbolism in The Scarlet Letter.
BETTER: Hawthorne's use of symbolism in The Scarlet Letter falters and ultimately breaks down with the introduction of the character Pearl.
The second one is more successful than the first because it uses the topic as the subject of the sentence and then employs a strong, active verb (not a derivative of "to be") to make a specific assertion about that topic.

Here are more examples of thesis statements:

BAD: Drug abuse is a big problem.
BETTER: Heroin, long regarded as a street drug, is fast becoming the drug of choice among middle class urban professionals.
The second one is more successful than the first because it is specific about both the subject of the paper and what argument the paper will make.

BAD: The so-called "right to bear arms" is a bunch of crap.
BETTER: While revered as truth by many Americans for decades, the Constitutional "right to bear arms" has in fact been misinterpreted.

BAD: College is better than high school
BETTER: NOVA is better than Broad Run High School because the teachers are more attentive and the school is closer to my house.

Check your thesis by asking yourself these questions:

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Is your thesis specific?
yellowcheck.gif (290 bytes)Is it concise?
yellowcheck.gif (290 bytes)Does it have a strong subject and verb?
yellowcheck.gif (290 bytes)Does it introduce the organization of your essay?
yellowcheck.gif (290 bytes)Does it cover everything you plan to cover in your paper?



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