If you have written at least one essay in your life, you should already know that a thesis statement is one of its essential components. Just like a speech, an argument, an ad — anything that conveys a message — an essay should have a strong, solid thesis, which acts as the foundation of your paper.
It really does not matter if you are writing a personal, narrative, argumentative, or compare-contrast essay. All of these need a thesis. Without it, the whole paper falls apart and fails to convey its message. And, now that we have determined how important a thesis is, how about we discuss some tips on writing one? So, here goes.
What is a thesis, in a nutshell?
Let’s make one thing clear right from the start — the thesis we are referring to here is actually a ‘thesis statement,’ not a Master’s thesis students are supposed to write before they graduate from university. The first one is a short, condensed sentence that summarizes the gist of your essay. The second one is a voluminous work that may take years to complete.
So, a thesis is the gist of your paper. Also, it should make your position on the subject very clear. And finally, a thesis should be compelling enough to make your reader (whoever he is) proceed with your paper.
Informative and Persuasive Thesis Statements
Essays can be very different, so the approaches to formulating thesis statements are different as well. On the whole, you can roughly subdivide all thesis statements into informative and persuasive. Let’s discuss them in greater detail.
It may seem that an informative essay calls for an informative statement. It is, of course, so but informative papers are not the only ones that can be based on an informative thesis. Basically, any paper where you are conveying facts and data should be based on an informative thesis.
To get a Master’s degrees, you must enter university, comply with the curriculum, and pass the exams.
Simply put, your essay goal is to convey information, and you make that goal clear in your thesis statement.
However, most essays (including argumentative, compare/contrast, and narrative) will have a purpose of persuading the reader in the author’s opinion. That is why these essays will be based on persuasive statements.
Getting a Master’s degree is an atavism, as most successful entrepreneurs today did not even finish high school.
As you can see, this example makes author’s position on the subject pretty clear, and it gives a reason why readers should agree with this stance. Once again, such an approach to formulating a thesis is perfect for argumentative, persuasive, and any other kind of opinion essays.
Thesis Statements Styles
Apart from approaches to formulating, thesis statements differ in styles. And, once again, it possible to roughly subdivide all thesis statements styles in two.
The first example uses evidence (at least two points) to support its reasoning. This style is usually used for short essays that have only a couple of body paragraphs. Why? Because it is a perfect way to convey the whole gist of your paper.
Take a look at this example:
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is one of the best epic fantasy novels of the twentieth century because it takes readers to a realistic yet imaginary setting, promotes courage in the face of difficulties, and teaches the value of friendship.
The example above is a persuasive thesis because it makes the author’s position pretty clear — Lord of the Rings is the greatest epic of the twentieth century. Further on, it conveys three major points (each of them will be discussed in a separate body paragraph): realistic setting, courage, and friendship. So, it lays out a perfect foundation for a five-paragraph essay (intro, three body paragraphs, and conclusion).
However, as you enter college, you will unlikely be assigned a lot of five-paragraph essays. As a rule, those are going to be longer works, so cramming up main points of each body paragraph into your thesis will not be reasonable. This leads us to the second style of writing a thesis statement — focusing on one larger point, traceable through your entire essay.
The opposition of good and evil is the central theme in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, which is vividly portrayed through the struggles of each separate character, as well as the general plot line.
Once again, this persuasive thesis makes a claim (that the opposition of good and evil is the central theme, not something else) and explains why it is so. And, even though the author’s reasoning becomes clear (the essay will discuss characters and plot line), the writer is no longer limited to a number of paragraphs. This kind of thesis statement works fine, no matter if the essay is three or ten pages long.
Strong Thesis Formula
Some students perceive visual information better than textual one, so let’s quickly turn all of the above paragraphs into just a couple of formulas.
So, shorter, 5-paragraph essays are based on thesis statements that go like this:
________ is because ________, ________, and ________.
Longer papers (above high school level) are based on thesis statements that go like this:
________ is because ________.
Of course, don’t use the exact ‘is because’ pattern — that level of writing is not acceptable even on a high school level. This quick figure is for your convenience only — so that you could structure a better-formulated thesis on this template.
What Features Make a Strong Thesis Statement?
So far, we have discussed all possible formats of structuring a thesis statement in great detail. Yet, format and structure alone do not always make up for a solid, convincing statement. What does then? There are three major qualities to look up to:
Length: of course, there is no such thing as a universal length of a thesis statement. Here, everything depends on the number of points it makes. Still, standard practice is to state your thesis in just one sentence. It is, however, subdivided into two parts (as we discussed above). First, you make a claim (that is, state your position) and then, you proceed to evidence (that is, enumerate your points). So, this sentence can run up to forty words, sometimes even longer. Note, though, that if you need more than 40 words for your thesis statement, you’d better break into two sentences — while not common, it is still acceptable for longer papers.
Placement: obviously, you cannot state your thesis in a concluding paragraph — what would be the point? Thesis belongs in the introduction; usually, in the final sentence; or, in some cases, somewhere by the end of your introduction.
Strength: still, one of the major features that make up a solid thesis is its strength. A strong thesis is a statement that can be argued; in other words, it cannot be a fact or general knowledge statement. Remember — you are to express your opinion on the subject. And, as you know, opinions differ, so make sure you choose something your reader might not agree with.
Here is how a weak thesis looks like:
Burgers are the most popular type of fast food in America.
While few people might want to refute this statement, the vast majority will agree with it. So, this sentence looks more like a fact, which makes it a poor thesis.
Here is a strong thesis looks like:
Burgers are of the most popular borrowed dishes in America.
This thesis is better because many people believe burgers to be national food.
Bottom line, coming up with a thesis statement does take some time — that is, if you are looking for a high grade and are not ready to settle for a C. The best tip here would be to decide what your paper is going to be about, what evidence you will be using in your work, and only then, proceed to formulating your thesis.