A thesis statement sums up the focus of you whole essay or paper. It is basically done in one or two sentences and it prepares your reader for the argument, material, analysis that will follow.
Why Have a Thesis Statement?
There are several reasons to include a thesis statement in your essay. It helps to organize your paper, gives your reader a guide to your paper and prepares them for what is to come and it forces you to put your ideas into just one or two sentences so that they are tested.
How to Create Your Own Thesis Statement
The best way to write your thesis is to think of the question that your paper is exploring, the main focus of the topic and use the thesis to give the answer. The rest of the paper explores the question and explains the answer.
If you are given an topic on which to write, part of your work is done. You have a topic, possibly even a specific focus, so there are just a couple of things you need to do to create a thesis:
- Try to find the one, burning question that is the focus of your paper.
- Write one or two concise answers to the question.
If you have to come up with your own topic, in other words, if your topic does not ask a specific question, you can still create a thesis statement. What you need to do is find a question in the topic that interests you, one that you would like to explore. This means that you need to decide on the focus, what you would like to write about in your paper.
Parts of a Good Thesis Statement
There are basically four things that your thesis statement needs in order to be effective:
- It will propose a subject that people can reasonably dispute. For instance, if your subject is “murder is wrong,” few reasonable people will dispute it. On the other hand, if you tackled something such as assisted suicide, the death penalty, thesis statement for alcoholism or abortion, you have a better probability of reasonable people disputing it.
- It will deal with a subject that you can keep concise and focused, within the nature and scope of the assignment.
- It will express only one main idea. In other words, you don’t want your thesis to be all over the place in its ideas. The whole reason of a thesis is to keep your paper organized and focused.
- It will show your own conclusions on your subject.
The Process of Writing a Thesis Statement
Once you have your topic, write some ideas that come to mind regarding the topic.
For instance, your topic is Responsible Pet Ownership. You have decided that you are interested in the programs offered by many vets and animal shelters that allows pet owners to have their pets spayed or neutered for a discounted cost. This would prevent unwanted animals from being brought into the world and winding up in kill shelters to be euthanized.
Start with this:
Responsible pet ownership
This is a fragment, not a thesis statement. This just shows a very general subject. Also, this tells your reader nothing about where you want to go with your paper on responsible pet ownership.
This means that you need to narrow your topic a little. You have decided that you want to focus on spaying and neutering pets as a part of responsible pet ownership. Your research had led you to the conclusion that many, many unwanted animals are euthanized each year. Spaying or neutering your pet will prevent unwanted animals from being born, thus decreasing the overcrowding of the animal shelters and allowing pets to be placed in loving homes.
You expand your thesis to this:
Programs for responsible pet owners
This fragment expands your thesis and brings our conclusions more into focus. However, it only focuses on one main idea which is programs for responsible pet owners. Reasonable could disagree, because many people do believe that there should be programs for responsible pet owners. However, not everyone would agree on what programs should be offered or who should offer them.
This is not a thesis statement because you have not offered your own conclusions on the subject. It is time for you to take a position on your topic.
This is where you talk about the spay/neuter programs that are offered through veterinary clinics, animal shelters and animal rescue organizations. You want to raise public awareness on these programs and make them more accessible.
You may write your thesis to look something like this:
There are literally thousands of unwanted cats and dogs euthanized yearly, yet there are programs available to pet owners that allow them to have their pets spayed or neutered. The problem is that many pet owners do not know that these programs exist and this needs to change.
Or you could write:
Programs that allow pet owners to have their pet spayed or neutered at a discounted cost should be more publicized so that more people could participate.
You have told your reader exactly what you plan to discuss in your paper. You have used specific language and you have made a clear assertion about what you think should be done.
This thesis statement answers the question, “What should be done to help pet owners be more responsible and how should it be done?” You may not have realized this question at first, but as you have developed your thesis and brought your paper into focus, your question came into view. As you delved further into your topic and explored it more, your ideas became more focused and specific. Your thesis has actually set the tone for your paper!
Strong Thesis Statement vs. Weak Thesis Statement
1. A strong thesis statement takes a stand.
As we have noted here, your thesis statement should reflect your own conclusions about your subject. I should answer a question, express your conclusions on the topic and be as clear as possible.
Take a look at these thesis statements:
There are some good things about owning a Boxer as an inside pet and there are some bad things.
This thesis is weak. It does not take a stand and it is too vague. There are positive things about owning a Boxer as an inside pet and there are some negative things. So? There is not firm stand on anything here and none of your own conclusions are shown. The reader is not really led to care one way or another.
Boxers are loyal and loving dogs which are great as indoor pets if trained properly; but they are very active and lots of exercise which can be a downside to keeping them indoors.
This is a strong thesis. It takes a stand and your reader knows exactly where you are going with you paper. They want to read more.
2. A strong thesis gives a good reason for a discussion.
Your thesis statement should be the focus of the discussion. It should show the point of the discussion or argument. These two thesis statements are good examples:
I live in a blended family.
This thesis is rather weak. It just makes a statement. It is an observation. Your reader will be left wondering just what the point is of the statement, of your paper. They will probably stop reading.
Many people think about Cinderella’s wicked stepmother when they hear the term “stepfamilies” but living in a blended family can be a great experience because you get to bring together two families with two different backgrounds and different ideas.
This thesis statement is strong because it gives your reader a good point of discussion. It is an observation. Your reader is likely to continue reading just because they want to see how the rest of your paper supports this point.
3. A strong thesis gives one idea or one main point.
Your reader needs to see that you have just one main point and you need to keep your one main point in mind so that you don’t go all over the place with your ideas. A thesis that shows more than one idea or point may confuse your readers and leave them wondering just what is the subject of the paper.
Take a look at these thesis statements:
Valentine’s Day is the most romantic day of the year when lovers exchange sweet sentiments and candy and card companies make a nice profit.
This thesis statement is weak. The reader can’t decide if the paper is about the romance of Valentine’s day with lovers and sweet sentiments, or if it is about the candy and card companies making a nice profit. You need to work on this thesis to make is more clear. Show how the romance of Valentine’s Day, the sweet sentiments and the profit of the candy and card companies are related.
Even though Valentine’s Day it traditionally a day for lovers, the candy and card companies also feel the romance when they see their profits rise.
This thesis is strong because it pulls the two ideas together and shows your reader how they are related.
4. A strong thesis is specific and to the point.
Your thesis statement should show your readers exactly where you paper will go, exactly what it is about and will help you keep your topic manageable.
Peace can be achieved in many ways and lost in others.
This thesis statement is weak because “peace” is so broadly defined. Do you mean world peace? Peace of mind? Peace after death? Additionally the part “can be achieved in many ways and lost in others” is extremely vague. You should be able to specify peace, or if you are speaking of peace on a broad scale, identify the many ways it can be achieved and lost.
Faith in something, such as a deity, has been proven to improve a person’s peace of mind, but a lack of adherence to the codes and structures connected with the deity can cause upset and an unsettled mind.
This thesis is stronger because it draws the subject into focus and narrows it into something manageable. It gives a specific type of peace and causes for peace of mind and for losing peace of mind.
A Word on Good, Clear, Engaging Thesis Statements
Try to use these words in your thesis statements, they add clarity and engage your reader
Find some words of your own and develop some good thesis statements!