Thesis Statement

Definition of Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a statement that occurs at the end of the introduction, after the background information on the topic. The thesis statement is connected with the background information through a transition, which could be a full sentence, or a simple transition word, such as therefore, because, but etc.

The thesis statement is called the “heart of the essay.” The idea of an essay without a thesis statement is akin to a body without its heart. It also is called the “central point” or the “core” of an essay. It is comprised of evidences that the writer uses to elaborate on his topic further. Each of these evidences is then elaborated and discussed in the body paragraphs.

If there are three body paragraphs, the thesis statement must have three evidences, and should it have more than three body paragraphs, may be additional evidences. In argumentative essays, three evidences support the topic, while the fourth evidence is against it. The same is the case of persuasive essays. This applies to five-paragraph essays, but in case of a longer essay, the thesis statement could make use of more than one sentence.

There is a slight controversy over the placement of a thesis statement. Some writers and professors argue that it could be placed in the first paragraph at the end, while others feel that, in longer essays, it is not possible to give background information in just one paragraph. As background information takes two or three paragraphs, the thesis statement is kept slightly larger, having two or three sentences, and is placed at the end of the second or third paragraph. However, in a five-paragraph essay, the thesis statement is always placed at the end of the introduction, after the background information.

Qualities of a Good Thesis Statement

  1. It must have evidences.
  2. It should be interesting.
  3. It should be limited.
  4. It should be manageable.
  5. It should be researchable.

Difference Between a Thesis Statement and Topic

Sometimes students confuse a thesis statement with a topic, mistaking the thesis statement as the very topic of the essay they are going to read. However, it must be kept in mind that a thesis statement is not a topic, but a brief explanation of the topic in a way that sets the direction of the essay. It predicts the path the essay will take, and tells readers how the essay is going to be organized, and what each part contains.

The topic, however, is a general idea of the essay. It is a specific topic, which has been organized by the thesis statement. The thesis statement in turn elaborates evidences to support to the topic.

Examples of Good and Bad Thesis Statements

  • Bad Thesis Statement – “Social media is proving a good marketing tool.”
  • Good Thesis Statement – “Social media is proving to be, not only a better marketing tool, but also a source of advertisement for short and medium enterprises intending to expand their consumer base.”

Examples of Thesis Statements in Literature

Example #1:  Dream On (by Mark Krikorian in National Review Online)

“The core principal behind this amnesty proposal is that it is amid at those who have grown up here and are, psychologically and emotionally, Americans.”

This is the first sentence of the second paragraph. The second sentence further elaborates this thesis. It is placed in the second paragraph because the first paragraph introduces the controversial DREAM Act. As the writer is going to argue against the bill, he has stated his argument as to why he is going to oppose it. This is a very compact thesis statement with various implicit counter arguments.

Example #2: Editorial (by The Washington Post)

“There is no doubt that the attacks profoundly affected our country’s policy, politics, economics, society and even collective psychology. Moreover, in addition to sharing the immediate experience of September 9/11, Americans have dealt with its consequences in the years since.”

This is the best thesis statement with clear evidences in it. It is not as complicated as other thesis statements usually are.

Example #3: I Have a Dream (by Martin Luther King)

“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds’.”

This is one of the best examples of long thesis statements. It highlights what Martin Luther King is going to speak about. It comes after three paragraphs of background information.

Function

A good thesis statement is the heart of an essay. It gives a gist of the thoughts a writer expresses in his essay. It determines the shape of the essay, predicts its content, and foreshadows its events. It narrates the whole story in just one sentence, provided the essay is a short one. Without a thesis statement, an essay is just a written piece, not an organized and well-connected essay