Thesis Statement

What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement is the main point of an essay.


The thesis statement is found in the introductory paragraph, contains the subject of an essay, and makes a statement or an assertion about the subject.



What is the formula for a good thesis statement?

A specific subject + a particular stand, feeling, or feature = an effective thesis.

Examples:
Subject: aerobics
Stand/Feeling: is an ideal way to lower blood pressure, lose weight, and release tension.
Thesis: Aerobics is an ideal way to lower blood pressure, lose weight, and release tension.

Subject: suicide
Stand/Feeling: is affecting our youth today, and unless there is more awareness and prevention, suicide will continue to take the lives of our youth.
Thesis: Suicide is affecting our youth today, and unless there is more awareness and prevention, suicide will continue to take the lives of our youth.


What are the qualities of a good thesis statement?

  • Identifies a limited, specific subject
  • Focuses on a particular aspect or direction
  • Is stated in a clear, direct sentence
  • Can be supported with facts and details
  • Meets the requirements of the assignment
  • Is usually placed at the end of the introductory paragraph
  • Does not contain personal pronouns (Ex. I, me, you, etc.)
  • Avoids vague words such as "good," "interesting," "a serious problem," "in many ways," etc.

NOTE: A thesis statement should not be a well-known fact (Ex. Bats are nocturnal mammals.), a biased opinion that cannot be proved (Ex. Golden Retrievers make better pets than poodles.), or a biographical statement (Ex. Albert Schweitzer made many important scientific contributions.).


What if I do not know what my thesis statement should be?

It is alright to begin work on an essay with a tentative thesis statement in mind. If you do not have a clear, focused idea for a thesis, try re-reading your assignment and doing some research on your subject. This should help you go from a tentative thesis like "The theme of To Kill a Mockingbird is revealed in many ways" to a more focused one which might be "The theme of To Kill a Mockingbird is revealed through plot, character, and setting."


What if my thesis statement is too vague?

The thesis statement should give the reader a "road map" to follow so the reader has a clear idea of what you are going to discuss in your essay.

Thesis statements like "Eating breakfast is important" are too vague. This type of sentence leaves the reader with too many questions about what the essay will address. A better thesis would be "Eating breakfast is important in maintaining health."

Although the above thesis is more focused, it could even be clearer. A better thesis statement could read, "Increased energy, a higher metabolism, and decreased hunger pangs are the benefits of eating breakfast."


What if my thesis statement does not fit my essay?

Before you submit your essay to your instructor, make sure you discuss some aspect of your topic as it is stated in your thesis in every paragraph. If this is not the case, you must either revise your thesis to fit your essay or revise your essay to fit your thesis.

NOTE: Before submitting your essay, make sure your thesis statement fulfills the requirements of the assignment. For example, if the assignment asks you to compare and contrast two characters in a novel, your thesis statement should indicate that you will be comparing and contrasting and should identify the characters.