What is a Thesis Statement?

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Every strong paper begins with a strong thesis.  This will be the central idea that you will be trying to prove or explain in the body of your essay.  The thesis statement should clearly answer the question: “What is this essay about?”  The thesis will explain, in one or two sentences, the main point of the entire essay.  It will need to be clear, concise, and impactful in order for the rest of the essay to be understood.  The body of an essay will further expand on the thesis statement; supporting it with thorough and thoughtful analysis and strong research.  A good writer is able to take the main idea that is the thesis and expand it into a well-written and strongly supported essay.

Creating a Thesis

Since the thesis will dictate how the rest of an essay is written, it is very important to develop a clear understanding of what the essay should be trying to say.  The thesis will differ slightly depending on the type of essay, whether it be narrative, descriptive, persuasive, or expository.  However, all thesis statements should have one thing in common: they need to be powerful.  That is, it needs to take a clear stand.  Do not be ambiguous, do not be apprehensive, but write a thesis as if you truly believe the message behind it.  X is Y because of Z, and then explain it carefully in the body of the essay.

Usually, a good thesis will avoid “buts” or anything that can take away from a strong central point.  For example, the essay topic is “Who was stronger: Rome or Ancient Greece?”  A weak thesis is “Rome may have had a strong empire, but Greece was also very strong.”  No.  No “buts” or “may haves”. Take a stand: “Rome was most certainly was stronger because…”  If a writer is not certain about their thesis, then a reader will not be certain about the rest of the essay, so be confident and be clear.

Try to do the necessary research beforehand, or at least have in mind the proper evidence that will back up the thesis.  Strong thesis statements are supported throughout the body of the essay.  State the purpose and explain.

Writing the Thesis

Structurally, the thesis will be at the end of the introductory paragraph in most essays.  This helps to avoid confusion as to what the thesis actually is.  The introduction should give a brief, but descriptive overview of the rest of the paper, with the thesis tying everything together at the end.  A good writer will often reference the thesis throughout the body of the essay, as it is important to reinforce the main point while the rest of the essay develops.  Revisions to the original thesis can be made if the direction of the essay changes.



Q: Describe a moment in your life that shaped you as a person.

Thesis: The time I did X had a lasting impact on my life and helped make the person I am today by…

Q: Which character do you believe truly personifies the story’s theme of greed in society?

Thesis: Character X clearly personifies the greed described in the novel because…

Q: Should the law to ban smoking on campus be lifted?

Thesis: The Law to ban smoking should not be lifted as it would…