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The Thesis Statement A Road Map for Your Essay What is a thesis statement? The MOST IMPORTANT...

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The Thesis Statement The Thesis Statement A Road Map for Your Essay A Road Map for Your Essay
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The Thesis StatementThe Thesis StatementA Road Map for Your EssayA Road Map for Your Essay

What is a thesis statement?

The MOST IMPORTANT

SENTENCE in your paper!

What is a thesis statement? A road map for the rest of the paper Lets the reader know the main idea of

the paper Answers the question: “What am I

trying to prove?” Not a factual statement, but a claim

that has to be proven throughout the paper

The engine that drives the car

Role of the Thesis Statement: should guide your reader

through your argument

should be located in the introduction of the paper (at the end)

*may also be located within the body of the paper, depending upon the purpose or argument of the paper, but this practice is not recommended

IntroductionIntroductionThesis Statements

After you have brainstormed and you have some main

ideas of what you would like to write in your essay, you canbegin thinking about writing a thesis statement.

What’s a thesis statement????

DefinitionDefinition

A thesis statement is a complete sentencethat contains one main idea. This idea

controlsthe content of the entire essay. A thesisstatement that contains subpoints also helps areader know how the essay will be organized.

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

1. Do I address the prompt?

2. Is my thesis arguable?

3. Is my thesis specific?

4. Does my thesis pass the “SO WHAT” test?

5. Is my thesis manageable given the length and time requirements?

6. Is my thesis interesting to my intended readers?

When I was young, I always knew that I wanted to become a teacher someday. When I played, I would often gather my dolls together and pretend to teach them how to do math problems or how to read a book. As I grew older, my desire to become an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESL) teacher became clearer as I did some volunteer teaching overseas and in the United States. As I look back on my reasons for becoming a teacher, there are three that stand out: my love for the English language, my innate interest in how people learn, and my desire to help other people .

DefinitionDefinitionThesis Statement for Biographical Narrative

The thesis statement contains the main idea that controls the content of the essay.

Subpoints in the thesis or nearby help the reader know how the essay will be organized

Psychologists have argued for decades about how a person’s character is formed. Numerous psychologists believe that one’s birth order (e.g., place in the family as the youngest, oldest, or middle child) has the greatest influence. Placement in the family can have a significant impact on the formation of a child’s character. Birth order can strongly affect one’s relationship with parents, one’s relationships with others, and the way in which one views responsibility as an adult.

Thesis StatementThesis StatementExpository Essay

The thesis statement contains the main idea that controls the content of the essay.

Subpoints in the thesis or nearby help the reader know how the essay will be organized

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesThesis Statement

states the main idea of the essay in a complete sentence, not in a question

states an opinion or attitude on a topic. It does not just state the topic itself

is usually at the end of an introduction

often lists subtopics (Note: this is NOT required in a response to lit essay).

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesMain Idea in a Complete Sentence

Since the thesis statement is the mainstatement for the entire essay, it should expressa complete thought and be a complete sentence.The thesis statement is asserting an opinion oridea, so it should not be a question. Look at theexamples below to see how they can be madeinto thesis statements.

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesMain Idea in a Complete Sentence

The sport of cross-country running.

Why do I want to be a teacher?

This is not a complete sentence.

The sport of cross-country running has allowed me to get in better shape and meet some interesting people.

Being a teacher is a rewarding profession because it allows me to work with students and be creative.

This is a question, not a statement.

Thesis Statement

Thesis Statement

A Complete SentenceA Complete SentenceAnother Example

The problem of pollution in big cities.

Why should marijuana be legalized?

This is not a complete sentence.

The problem of pollution in major cities can bealleviated by limiting the number of cars allowed todrive on city streets and creating more efficient publictransportation systems.

Marijuana should be legalized because it is not anymore addictive than tobacco, and it can providenumerous medicinal benefits for those suffering fromterminal illnesses.

This is a question, not a statement.

Thesis Statement

Thesis Statement

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesLocation

English readers like to know what an essaywill be about near the beginning of the essayrather than at the end. This is why the thesisstatement is often found at the end of theintroductory paragraph

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesLocation

For most of my life I have lived with bad health, smelly clothes, and a chronic cough. My children and husband begged me to stop the habit that caused these conditions, but I couldn’t. The habit of smoking had wrapped its addicting arms around me and was slowly strangling me until one day I realized I had to stop. This realization came after three terrifying events occurred in my family.

The thesis statement comes at the end of the introductory paragraph. This sentence tells the reader that he/she can expect to read about the events that caused the author to stop smoking in the rest of the essay.

LocationLocationAnother Example

Maya Angelou is an accomplished African-American author in the United States. While growing up, she suffered tremendous hardship. Some of her most difficult life events are portrayed in novels and poems such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and “Still I Rise.” Her written works often include strong themes such as perseverance through trials, love for family, and passionate optimism.

The thesis statement comes at the end of the introductory paragraph. This sentence tells the reader that he/she can expect to read more about how Maya Angelou expresses these themes in her writing.

Good thesis statements often express awriter’s opinion or attitude on a particular topic.This makes the thesis statement more specificand requires the writer to explain or provehis or her opinion in the essay. Look at theexamples below.

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesStates an Opinion or Attitude

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesStates an Opinion or Attitude

I learned to play many musical instruments when I was young.

This would not be considered a good thesis statement because it is only expressing a fact. It doesn‘t give the writer’s opinion or attitude on playing musical instruments. This thesis statement doesn‘t give the writer very much to explain or prove in his essay.

Learning to play many musical instruments when I was young helped me to become a more intelligent and well-rounded person.

This thesis statement is much better because it expresses how the writer feels about the experience of learning to play musical instruments. This thesis statement requires the writer to explain how and why playing a musical instrument made him a better person.

An Opinion or AttitudeAn Opinion or AttitudeAnother Example

Cancun is a popular vacation spot in Mexico.

This would not be considered a good thesis statement because it only expresses a fact. It doesn’t reflect the writer’s opinion or attitude on Cancun. This thesis statement doesn’t give the writer very much to explain or prove in his essay.

Cancun is one of the best vacation spots in Mexico because of its comfortable climate and proximity to some well-known archeological sites.

This thesis statement is much better because it expresses how the writer feels about Cancun. This thesis statement requires the writer to explain how and why going to Cancun is a good choice for visitors.

Which thesis statement is the most effective for an argument about the need for V-chips in television sets?

1. Parents, often too busy to watch television shows with their families, can monitor their children’s viewing habits with the aid of the V-chip.

2. To help parents monitor their children’s viewing habits, the V-chip should be a required feature for television sets sold in the U.S.

3. This paper will describe a V-chip and examine the uses of the V-chip in American-made television sets.

Choose the best thesis statement from the list

below, and explain why you feel it answers questions 2, 3, and 5 from Slide 7.

1. The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different.

2. While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions.

3. While both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, Northerners focused nobly on the rights of others and the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended only their rights to own property and to be self-governing.

Choose the best thesis statement from the list below, and explain why you feel it answers questions 2, 3, and 5 from the previous slide.

1. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

2. In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.

3. Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

Titles, Facts, Purpose, and Theses

Do not confuse titles, factual statements, or purpose statements with THESIS STATEMENTS:

Title (not a thesis):Sesame Street: The Hidden Message

Factual Statement (not a thesis):Sesame Street is a successful children’s educational program.

Titles, Facts, Purpose, and Theses

Do not confuse titles, factual statements, or purpose statements with THESIS STATEMENTS:

Purpose Statement (pre-writing strategy):I plan to argue that Sesame Street emphasizes entertainment over education.

Thesis Statement:Sesame Street communicates the message that entertainment is more important than education.

Purpose vs. ThesisPurpose Statement (pre-writing):I plan to identify different kinds of action films and classify them in groups.

Thesis Statement:Action films, which lack clear definition, can be divided into four categories.

Purpose Statement (pre-writing):I plan to illustrate how guns in the home lead to trouble.

Thesis Statement:The presence of handguns in households with children frequently leads to fatal accidents, suicides, and murders.

Imply a Method of Development

Exemplification:Three former boxing champions show signs of brain damage.

CAUSE AND EFFECT:Cellular phones, video cameras, and faxes are three reasons Czechoslovakia's student rebellion succeeded.

PROCESS ANALYSIS:The psychoanalytic process requires as much intuition as training.

CLASSIFICATION:Professional dancers fall into one of two groups: trained or natural.

Definition:The phrase family values has different meanings for different political groups.

Forecast a Development Pattern

Political advertisements use three key propaganda devices to manipulate voters: bandwagon appeals, false analogies, and ad hominem attacks.

You can make your thesis statement morespecific by including subtopics or supportingideas. By doing this, you give your reader aclear idea of what will follow in the bodyparagraphs of your essay.

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesSubtopics

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesSubtopics

The large influx of people to California has had major effects on the state.

No subtopics are named in this thesis statement.

The large influx of people to California has had major effects on the ability of the state to provide housing, electricity, and jobs for all residents.

This statement names three subtopics.

subtopic #1

subtopic #2

subtopic #3

SubtopicsSubtopicsAnother Example

Inner-city public schools grapple with some serious problems.

No subtopics are named in this thesis statement.

Some of the most serious problems in today’s inner-city public schools are the overcrowded classrooms, the low percentage of trained teachers, and the lack of resources such as textbooks for students.

This statement names three subtopics.

subtopic #1 subtopic #2

subtopic #3

In thesis statements, you must avoid usingstatements like, “This essay will discuss…” or“I’m going to write about….” Try to write athesis statement that captures your reader’sattention without announcing your main topicand stating the obvious. Look at the examplesbelow.

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesDon’t State the Obvious

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesDon’t State the Obvious

In this essay, I am going to discuss the effects of long-term drug abuse.

Long-term drug use can have disastrous effects on one’s marriage, career, and health.

DonDon’’t State the Obvioust State the ObviousAnother Example

This essay will discuss some ways teachers can fight teenage drug abuse.

Teachers can fight teenage drug abuse by educating young people on its dangers and by being good role models.

Key FeaturesKey FeaturesReview

states the main idea of the essay in a complete sentence, not in a question

states an opinion or attitude on a topic. It does not just state the topic itself

is usually at the end of an introduction

often lists subtopics

does not directly announce your main topic


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