Thesis Statements

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Thesis Statements

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a sentence that tells the reader exactly what you will be
covering in the paper. The thesis statement presents the main topic while also
providing the reader with exact order in which the topics/ideas will be

A thesis statement should include the essay’s subject and purpose while
informing the reader of your focus. A thesis statement should use specific
language while giving the reader an idea of the order in which topics will be
discussed. It should cover ONLY material discussed in your paper while
covering ALL of material in your paper.

Think of your thesis statement as the map of your paper. By looking at this
statement, your reader should be able to discern what he/she will read in the

Depending on the purpose of the paper, a thesis statement may take several

1. For an argumentative/persuasive paper, your thesis statement should state
your main claim, which should be debatable. It should also provide your
reader with the reasons and evidence that support your claim, in the order
you plan to discuss them in your paper.

2. For an informative/expository paper, your thesis states the specific topic
you plan on discussing in the exact order that it will appear within your

Thesis Statements
Nine Errors to Avoid When Composing a Thesis

1. A thesis cannot be a fragment; it must express a complete thought.

Unacceptable: how students learn to write

Acceptable: The best means for teaching students to write is to have them focus on the steps of the

writing process rather than the end product.

2. A thesis must not be worded as a question. (Sometimes the answer to the question can be the thesis.)

Unacceptable: Do Americans really need large refrigerators?

Acceptable: If Americans did their marketing daily, as do some Europeans, they could save energy

and money because they could use smaller refrigerators.

3. A thesis must not be too broad.

Unacceptable: The literature of mythology contains many journeys.

Acceptable: In Greek mythology, the motif of the journey represents the internal struggles and

eventual perseverance of mortals.

4. A thesis should not contain unrelated elements.

Unacceptable: All novelists seek the truth, and some novelists are good psychologists.

Acceptable: In their attempt to probe human nature, many novelists strive to reveal the intricacies of

human relations.

5. A thesis should not contain phrases like “I think” or “in my opinion” because they weaken the
writer’s argument.

Unacceptable: In my opinion, all cigarette smoking in public places should be banned because of the

adverse effects of “passive smoking” on non-smokers.

Acceptable: All cigarette smoking in public places should be banned because of the adverse effects of

“passive smoking” on non-smokers.

6. A thesis should not be expressed in vague language.

Unacceptable: Religion as part of the school curriculum should be avoided because it can cause

Acceptable: Religion should not be part of the public school curriculum because it is a highly

personal commitment and can cause conflict with those who hold alternative beliefs.

7. A thesis must not be expressed in muddled or incoherent language.

Unacceptable: Homosexuality is a “status” offence to the effect that the participants are willing so

that the relationship is voluntary in character rather than the type described in a “victim-perpetrator”
between two consenting adults should be considered as alternate life

style rather than a crime.

8. A thesis should not be expressed in figurative language (symbolic in any way).

Unacceptable: The amazons of today are trying to purge all the stag words from the English

Acceptable: Today’s feminists are trying to eliminate the use of sexually-biased words from public

9. A thesis should not simply state a fact.

Unacceptable: Women have been repressed at different times and in different cultures.

Acceptable: The repression of women writers in America during the nineteenth century contributed to

the idea that there were relatively few writers who should be included in anthologies.

*Reproduced with permission of the Bucks County Community College Tutoring Center*