A thesis statement is “a short summary of the main idea, purpose, or argument of an essay that usually appears in the first paragraph.” It’s generally only one or two sentences in length.
A strong thesis statement is the backbone of a well-organized paper, and helps you decide what information is most important to include and how it should be presented.
What is a good thesis statement?
This thesis statement, for example, could open a paper on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s importance as a civil rights leader: “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential figures of the American civil rights movement. His moving speeches and nonviolent protests helped unite a nation divided by race.”
This example lays out the writer’s basic argument (King was an important leader of the American civil rights movement), offers two areas of evidence (his speeches and nonviolent protests), and explains why the argument matters (united a divided nation).
A good thesis statement delivers a clear message about the scope of the topic and the writer’s approach to the subject. In contrast, poor thesis statements fail to take a position, are based solely on personal opinion, or state an obvious truth. For example, “Democracy is a form of government,” is a weak thesis statement because it’s too general, doesn’t adopt a stance, and states a well-known fact that doesn’t need further explanation.
What are the different types of thesis statements?
Thesis statements can be explanatory, argumentative, or analytical. The type of paper determines the form of the thesis statement.
1. Explanatory thesis statement
An explanatory thesis statement is based solely on factual information. It doesn’t contain personal opinions or make claims that are unsupported by evidence. Instead, it tells the reader precisely what the topic will be and touches on the major points that will be explored in the essay. An explanatory thesis statement is sometimes also called an expository thesis statement.
For example: The core components of a healthy lifestyle include a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.
2. Argumentative thesis statement
In an argumentative essay, the writer takes a stance on a debatable topic. This stance, and the claims to back it up, is the argument. Unlike an explanatory thesis statement, an argumentative thesis statement allows the writer to take a position about a subject (e.g., the deeper meaning of a literary text, the best policy towards a social problem) and to convince readers of their stance. The body of the argumentative essay uses examples and other evidence to support the writer’s opinion.
For example: Shakespeares’s Taming of the Shrew uses humor, disguise, and social roles to criticize the lack of power women had in Elizabethan England.
3. Analytical thesis statement
An analytical thesis statement analyzes, or breaks down, an issue or idea into its different parts. Then, it evaluates the topic and clearly presents the order of the analysis to the reader.
For example: The school’s policy to start its school day an hour later revealed three related benefits: students were more alert and attentive in class, had a more positive about school, and performed better in their coursework.
How to write a thesis statement
Writing a thesis statement requires time and careful thought. The thesis statement should flow naturally from research and set out the writer’s discoveries. When composing a thesis statement, make sure it focuses on one main idea that can be reasonably covered within your desired page length. Try not to write about the entire history of America, for example, in a three-page paper.
Although deciding upon a thesis statement can be challenging and time-consuming, a strong thesis statement can make the paper both easier to write and more enjoyable to read. Don’t worry: we’re not going to leave you hanging! We’ve got a whole article to help you write an effective thesis statement here.