What is a thesis and why is it important?

We can think of a thesis statement as a very short version of the entire essay. If a friend asks us: “What are you trying to say in your essay?” the thesis should give the answer. It is like a signal that indicates the destination of the essay. The essay itself explains, justifies, questions and elaborates on that thesis.

As for why we need a thesis, have you ever heard someone speak and wondered, “Where are they going with this? What is the point?” When we listen or when we read, we can take in multiple ideas if we know how they are related to a general statement. Otherwise, we might be tempted to tune out.

In Chapter 2: Reading to Understand the Argument , we practice finding main claims and supporting reasons, as well as counterarguments and limits. When we write our own essays, we want to make it clear to readers what our main claim is and how our other points fit together.

How do I come up with a good thesis?

A thesis is usually one long sentence and appears towards the end of the introduction. However, as our essays get longer and more complex, we may need two sentences to fully articulate the thesis. Check with your professor to see if he considers a two-sentence thesis legitimate and necessary for you. In general, keeping your thesis brief and stating it early will allow readers to easily understand where the essay is going and how each paragraph is related. A strong thesis statement will have the following qualities:

  • Specific. thesis statement should be precise enough to allow for a coherent argument and stay focused on the topic. For example, healthcare is a broad topic, but a proper thesis statement would focus on a specific area of ​​that topic, such as limited options for individuals without healthcare coverage.
  • Arguable. A thesis statement has to be something that not everyone would immediately accept right away. A point of view or judgment on a subject is debatable and worth exploring in an essay. An established fact is not debatable.
  • Bearable. For any statement we make in our thesis, we must be able to provide reasons and examples. We can rely on personal observations for this, or we can consult external sources to demonstrate that what we affirm is valid. A strong argument is supported by examples and details.

In essay assignments, teachers often provide a central question that they want us to answer. That question can be our guide as we develop the thesis. The thesis may be our best answer to the question, an answer that we can explain in more detail throughout the essay. If the teacher doesn’t ask a question in the essay assignment, she can still describe a general theme. In that case, we can ask ourselves: “What do I want to say about this topic?” We will discuss developing a topic for more open-ended essay tasks in Section 6.*: Focused Research Topics (link).

Many times as we write, we get a clearer idea of ​​what we are ultimately trying to say, so that we can revise the thesis as we go along. Writing process strategies such as brainstorming, outlining, getting feedback, and revising will help us refine the thesis (Reference and link to the Writing Process Chapter).

Examples of Thesis Statements

  1. Closing all US borders for a period of five years is a solution that will address illegal immigration.
  2. Compared to an outright divorce, a no-fault divorce is less expensive, promotes fairer settlements, and reflects a more realistic view of the causes of marital breakdown.
  3. Exposing children from an early age to the dangers of drug abuse is a sure way to prevent future drug addicts.
  4. In today’s crumbling job market, a high school diploma is not a significant enough education to land a stable and lucrative job.
  5. Troy Maxson’s social and personal struggles in the work Fences symbolize the challenge of black males who lived through segregation and integration in the United States.

How can I improve a thesis?

Check if you cover the ideas in the essay

  1. Your thesis will likely change as you write, so you’ll need to modify it to reflect exactly what you’ve discussed in your essay. Thesis statements of work often become stronger as we gather information and form new opinions and reasons for those opinions. The revision helps us strengthen our thesis to match what you have expressed in the body of the paper.

make it more specific

Replace nonspecific words, such as people , everything , society , or life , with more precise words.

  • Working thesis: Young people have to work hard to succeed in life.
  • Revised thesis: Recent college graduates must have the discipline and persistence to find and keep a stable job where they can use and be appreciated for their talents.
    • The revised thesis makes a more specific statement about success and what it means to work hard. The original includes too wide a range of people and does not define exactly what success entails. By replacing those general words like people and hard work , the writer can better focus their research and gain more direction in their writing.

Add key information

  • We can ask ourselves the following questions to anticipate what readers will want to know.
    • Working thesis: Kansas City teachers are not paid enough.
    • Who is not paying teachers enough?
    • What is considered “enough”? Because?
    • How do low teacher salaries affect the overall operation of a school?
    • Revised thesis: Kansas City legislature can’t afford to pay its educators, resulting in job cuts and resignations in a district in need of highly qualified and dedicated teachers

clarify an idea

  1. What could readers be confused about after reading the thesis? What basic questions will they have about the meaning of the thesis? We can review so that the answers are clear.
  2. Working thesis: The welfare system is a joke.
  3. A joke means many things to many people. Readers bring all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives to the reading process and would need clarification for such a vague word. This expression may also be too informal for the selected audience. By asking questions, the writer can come up with a more accurate and appropriate explanation for the joke .
  4. Revised Thesis: The welfare system prevents a socioeconomic class from gaining employment by attracting members of that class with unearned income, rather than programs to improve their education and skills.
  5. Thesis of work: Today’s adolescents are too sexualized.
  6. It is true that some young women in today’s society are more sexualized than in the past, but that is not true for all girls. The writer of this thesis should ask the following questions:
  • Which teenagers?
  • What constitutes “too” sexualized?
  • Are we talking about the girls’ behavior or the way other people see them, or both?
  • What is causing this?
  • Why does it matter? What are the repercussions?
  1. Thesis Revised: Teenage girls who are captivated by sexual images on MTV are conditioned to believe that a woman’s worth depends on her sexual attractiveness, a sentiment that impairs her self-esteem and behavior.
Alex Musk
Author: Alex Musk

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