47 6. The Thesis Statement

Thesis Statements

Your thesis statement is the most important sentence in your essay. Everything else should revolve around your thesis. It should stand out in your opening paragraph and should point the way to everything else you have to say about your topic.

Here are several guidelines for writing a good thesis:

A good thesis states the writer’s clearly defined opinion.

· Poor example: Many Americans have differing perspectives on the proper attire to wear for an interview, and I agree with some of them. (The writer’s opinion is not clear.)

· Good example: Proper attire for a job interview should be professional, modest and unassuming. (Clear position on the issue.)

A good thesis asserts one main idea.

· Poor example: The proposed feral-cat neutering program in our town will not successfully control the population, and there is no proof that feral cats pose a problem to human health anyway. (Two main ideas.)

· Good example: The proposed feral-cat neutering program will not successfully control the population. (The essay will show various problems with the program.)

A good thesis has something worthwhile to say.

· Poor example: The great Pyrenees is a nice breed of dog. (Nothing new for the reader to know.)

· Good example: The great Pyrenees makes a good pet because of its loyalty, affection and bravery.

A good thesis is limited to fit the assignment.

· Poor example: Gun ownership should be banned in every state of the union.

· Good example: Voters in our county should be allowed to determine what kinds of gun-control laws should be used locally.

A good thesis is clearly stated in specific terms.

· Poor example: The isolationist movement is good for our country.

· Good example: President Trump’s isolationist agenda has several problems that will create major problems between us and other nations.

Avoiding Common Errors in Thesis Statements

1. Don’t make your thesis merely an announcement of your subject matter or a description of your intentions. State an attitude toward the subject.

· Poor: I am going to discuss bearded dragons as good pets.

· Good: Bearded dragons make excellent pets, as long as proper procedures are followed.

2. Don’t clutter your thesis with such expressions as “in my opinion,” “I believe” and “In this essay I will argue that…”

3. Don’t be unreasonable. Avoid irresponsible charges, name calling and profanity.

· Poor: Radical religious fanatics across the nation are trying to impose their right-wing views by censoring high school library book.

· Good: Only local school board members – not religious leaders or parents – should decide which books high school libraries should order.

4. Don’t merely state a fact. A thesis is an assertion of opinion that leads to discussion.

· Poor: Child abuse is a terrible problem.

· Good: Child-abuse laws in this state are too lenient for repeat offenders.

5. Don’t express your thesis in the form of a question unless the answer is already obvious to the reader.


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