One of the requirements for writing any essay is providing a strong thesis statement and then arguing it convincingly. Even if not explicitly asked to write a thesis statement, your professor expects you to do so and assumes you will not omit it from your paper. But what is a thesis statement, what makes it strong, and what purpose does it serve? Here you will find answers to all the above questions together with thesis statement examples to clarify and illustrate the points made. You will discover which traps to avoid and how to create an excellent starting point for your paper.
A thesis statement is a short, usually one sentence-long claim written near the beginning of your paper, which serves as a point of reference, a roadmap or a compass for the whole paper. It's written immediately after the topic is introduced and declares the stance you're going to take on it. It summarizes the argument you are about to make and gives a comprehensive idea of what the rest of your essay will discuss and on what terms.
Does this sound like too much to expect from a single sentence or does it make you feel like sinking into despair before you even start? Remember one thing – as long as your paper is a "work in progress," the thesis statement is a working one as well. It will evolve in the course of writing your essay, and you will adjust it to suit the newly uncovered facts or to explain your point of view better.
A thesis statement always answers a question, and it does so in a clear and specific way. Here, you will find examples of a thesis statement, with explanations of how they were formulated and why. For instance – in an attempt to answer the question: "Is jogging good or bad and why?" you might state: "Jogging regularly in the morning is beneficial for the cardiovascular system of healthy adults." Let us analyze the strength of this statement: it states your point unquestionably – you are in favor of jogging. But why not just say: "Jogging is healthy"? Well, first of all, this would be too general: it doesn't say when it is healthy to jog, for whom or why. Besides, it states the obvious and doesn't add any new information to the body of knowledge. Although a lot of people would probably agree with your statement, it wouldn't prompt them to read your paper or find out why you think this so. Having everyone agree with you is not something you look for when formulating a thesis statement. Declaring facts that no one would dispute is useless. The reader should be able to oppose or challenge your point of view.
Another fundamental requirement of a strong thesis statement is specificity. Be as precise in your formulation as you can. Avoid vague and ambiguous terms such as "good," "bad," "nice," "successful," etc. Define these terms specifically to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. Here is a sample of a weak thesis statement that uses imprecise terms and lacks specificity: "Eating healthy is important." Of course, it is. Almost everyone agrees this is true but why should they read the rest of your paper? What point are you trying to argue? And what do you mean by "eating healthy"? A strong and specific thesis statement could sound something like this: "Regular consumption of fruit and vegetables lowers cholesterol levels and helps maintain a healthy body weight in persons over 40." Why is this thesis strong? It specifies what kind of diet you encourage, why, and for whom. It provides three pieces of information on why your point is worthy of attention.
To some degree, this depends on the kind of essay you're writing. Thesis statements differ in informative essays from those in argumentative, persuasive or compare-and-contrast ones. The thesis for an informative essay should give a summary of the information that you will present in your paper. Good thesis statement examples for this type of essay include: “To make a strawberry cake you need to buy all the ingredients, find a recipe, and follow the instructions carefully." Note the rule of three which you should apply for most thesis statements. You either list three pieces of information as we did here or three reasons why you think your opinion is correct in argumentative essays. Another strong informative thesis statement might say: “Global warming leads to melting of the permafrost, changes in biodiversity, and extinction of certain animal species." Merely stating that "global warming leads to important environmental changes" is not enough. It fails to provide answers as to what changes your paper will discuss or why they are worth hearing. If the topic of the essay is broad, you need to narrow it down in your thesis statement. You cannot possibly cover all the significant consequences of global warming, so your reader needs to know on which ones you intend to focus.
In persuasive thesis statements, you take a stance and explain why you think your opinion is correct. If your opinion is, for example, that "Parents should control their children's internet use" it's not enough to end this sentence with a general claim "because it can be dangerous." An effective thesis includes specific arguments for your point, invites your reader to read on, and opens a possibility for discussion. So, in the previous example you would be well-advised to claim: "Parents should control what sites their children visit on the internet because of the wide availability of adult content, sexual predators lurking, and a possibility to fall victim to dangerous religious cults." You state your opinion and give compelling arguments as to why you believe it is true.
In other words, the formulation of a strong thesis statement includes:
As we have mentioned, it's usually advisable to use three arguments for a claim, and this is especially the case in shorter high school or middle school essays. In classic five-paragraph essays frequently required at this level of education, you can present each of your arguments in separate paragraphs of the body of the essay. However, higher academic levels call for lengthier essays that are impossible to write in five paragraphs, and the thesis statement should be adjusted accordingly. For college or university papers, it's possible to give a single argument for a statement and then to elaborate on it extensively throughout the paper. Especially when writing a research paper, it's important to keep it simple and investigate the link between no more than two or three variables.
Thesis statement examples for research papers include "Children develop resilience in children through their experience with adversity, such as poverty due to parental unemployment" or "Social support from peers and teachers alleviates the effects of being raised by drug-dependent mothers." These provide a clear answer to the question of what the paper is about and what stance the author is taking. It also gives the writer a framework for research and the basis for discussion of the obtained data. Research papers do not tolerate vagueness and ambiguity. Thesis statements should be formulated precisely, leaving no room for different interpretations of what the paper is dealing with. This type of paper follows strict rules of scientific writing which is expected to be precise and accurate with all terms operationally defined.