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What Is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is a summary of an entire academic, expository, or argumentative paper or essay. A good thesis statement functions as a road map for the piece of writing that lies ahead. It articulates a paper's main point in one or two sentences, and the rest of the paper serves to reinforce that point.
In short essays, a thesis statement typically falls within the introductory paragraph. It may be the very first sentence of an essay, or it may come at the end of the first paragraph. Longer research papers and books may save their thesis statements for later, but they nearly always appear in the first chapter.
3 Examples of Thesis Statements
The qualities that make a great thesis statement vary depending on your writing format. Here are some ways a thesis statement might manifest in a piece of writing:
- Narrative essay thesis statement: "Famous in death for his fascination with the occult, Alistair Crowley was better known in his lifetime as a mountaineer who made expeditions to the Himalayas and the Karakoram."
- Argumentative essay thesis statement: "Human civilization is headed for collapse unless we significantly limit climate change over the next two decades."
- Analytical essay thesis statement: "Edith Wharton's life was a study in contradictions, which directly shaped her into the timeless author she's remembered as today."
How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement
A great thesis statement guides the essay-writing process. With practice, you’ll be able to write solid thesis statements for argumentative, expository, and analytical essays.
- Brainstorm before you write. An eloquent or provocative thesis statement will do you little good if it's too difficult to defend. When writing a thesis statement, try to imagine the body paragraphs you could write to support it. Consider counterarguments, and make sure that you can argue for your thesis against those counterpoints.
- Answer a specific question. Think of your thesis as the answer to an important question. Your thesis statement should help a potential reader understand why your essay is worth their time and what they will learn by reading your work.
- Keep it concise. Most strong thesis statements can be expressed in a single complete sentence. A multi-sentence thesis statement may be appropriate, but take care not to launch too far into your argument. That's what the rest of your multi-page paper is for.
- Visualize a hub-and-spoke model. Think of your thesis as the central hub for your whole essay. Your body paragraphs are spokes that split off from the thesis, and your topic sentences are the screws that attach each spoke to the hub. Like the hub of a wheel, your thesis must be central to your paper's content, the home base to which that content returns. If your thesis isn't strong enough to fulfill this role, revise it or find a stronger one.
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