Writing a Strong Thesis Statement
Every argument has an opening line. Even in day-to-day life, debates and lively conversations are centered around a specific theme or topic. These central arguments are called thesis statements, and they make up the entire basis of an argument.
How Does It Function?
If a paper were a tree, the thesis statement would essentially function as the roots, grounding the tree, giving it depth, and providing the base for which the remainder of the tree is grown. Without a thesis statement, the writer of a paper or argument is likely to veer off topic, get distracted, and confuse the reader.
Different Forms for Different Writing Purposes
So what exactly is a thesis statement? The creation of a thesis is predicated on the type of paper being written.
In an argumentative essay, for instance, the thesis will definitively state a position, such as “The fluoridation of the United States’ water supply was done preemptively, without long-term safety testing.”
In an expository essay, a thesis statement will not take a stand on an issue, but will instead detail what the paper is expected to discuss. This might look similar to, “Butterflies go through four stages in their life cycle: eggs, larva, pupa, and adult.”
An analytical paper might have a thesis similar to the following: “The use of a large number of electronic devices in the classroom may be detrimental to students’ social skills over the long-term.” The paper can then use this as a springboard to analyze how social skills and electronics usage intersect, and how the relationship may be detrimental.
Characteristics of a Strong Thesis Statement
A strong thesis statement should be specific, succinct, and soon.
Thesis statements must be specific in their claims. A poor thesis would be:
Schools should not serve unhealthy foods.
A stronger thesis statement for the same essay might read:
Schools should be required to serve healthy, whole foods, while limiting processed and hyperpalatable foods.
The first one could leave a great deal to interpretation (“What is unhealthy food, exactly?”) while the second clearly identifies what schools should and should not serve.
A strong thesis will also be succinct, requiring no more than a single sentence—though, in some cases, two sentences are acceptable. If you are unsure how to narrow your thesis down into one sentence, take the smallest description of your paper you have, and continually ask “Why?” or “How?” until you have a single sentence descriptor.
Thesis statements should also be delivered soon—or near the beginning of your paper. A thesis should be found quickly in the introduction of a paper, and functions best when it is placed toward the end of a paper’s introductory paragraph.
Is It Strong Enough to Last?
Writing a strong thesis is the first step in writing a strong paper. It must be a statement that can be supported throughout the body of the paper. Being too simplistic as you construct your thesis can spell trouble down the road. Suppose you are assigned to write a five-paragraph essay, and your thesis statement reads:
Headphones are useful for teenagers.
You might quickly run out of things to say. Let’s change it to:
Headphones can contribute to students’ performance in school and day-to-day tasks by increasing focus.
This way, you will give the reader a better idea of why headphones are useful, while giving yourself a more distinct range of topics to discuss in subsequent paragraphs.
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