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Thesis Statements

Thesis Statements

Author: Mackenzie W

Understand the importance of a good thesis statement.

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Hi, everyone. I'm Mackenzie. And today, we're learning about thesis statements. Have you ever heard the term "thesis statement" and wondered what exactly it was? In this tutorial, we'll learn about the definition of thesis statements, we'll discuss qualities of a good thesis statement, and we'll talk about different types of thesis questions.

We'll begin by discussing the definition of a thesis statement. The thesis statement is one specific, clear, concise statement that expresses the controlling idea of a piece of writing. The controlling idea of a piece of writing is the core idea that's driving the writing in its entirety. A thesis statement is different from a topic, because the topic of a piece of writing tends to be broad, nonspecific. It could go in several directions. Whereas the thesis itself is very specific. It's guiding everything that's discussed in the writing.

Thesis statements are typically found in the beginning of a piece of writing, usually the first few paragraphs. For smaller compositions, it may actually be the first paragraph. You should put your thesis statement where it makes logical sense. The thesis is introducing the reader to the overall idea of the entire piece of work. You figure out where it makes the most sense to include that so that the reader has that information. It's important to realize that your thesis statement may change as you continue working on your writing, because that's the nature of the writing process. We change things as we go. And it's important to know that the thesis is going to guide our development of the writing. That's why we have to have a strong thesis. It tells us where to go. It helps to show us what to write about and how to write about it.

Now that we know what a thesis statement is, let's discuss the specific qualities that a successful thesis statement will include. The first of which is that a thesis is one single, clear claim regarding a topic. And that means that it needs to be written in a clear, compelling way. The thesis statement needs to be specific and concise, because the goal of the thesis is to help the reader to predict what to expect. It's kind of like a signpost. It tells the reader where the essay or the writing is going to go.

The other job of the thesis is to compel the reader to want to keep reading. If a thesis does each of these, it can be considered successful.

When we're developing a thesis statement, it's useful to ask ourselves specific questions about the nature of the thesis statement. We can actually think of the thesis as an answer to a very specific question. That question can serve as a guide to help us to figure out how to write the rest of our paper. Oftentimes, the question can also help us to understand, focus, revise, and narrow our thesis statement as we get a more clear picture of what the question is that we're answering with our thesis statement.

Oftentimes, the questions that we ask ourselves about our thesis are open ended. This gives us more flexibility for creative and critical thinking about our topic. One type of question we can ask ourself is a question of fact. This is when we ask ourselves whether or not something is or is not true. Here's an example. My question is, "Is it true that low fat or fat free foods are healthier than full fat versions of the same food?" I then use that to create a thesis statement that answers the question, my thesis is, "Although foods labeled low fat or fat free may sound healthy, they are, in fact, less healthy than the full fat versions of the same food."

Another question I can ask to develop a thesis is called of the question of preference or value, in which I'm asking myself, is something preferable or is something good, not good, better, or worse. Here's an example. My question is, "Is it preferable for students to attend college directly after high school?" And my thesis is the answer to that question. It's what I want to discuss in my paper. The thesis reads, "Despite the common cultural perception that students should begin college immediately after finishing high school, it is preferable for students to begin college when they are ready for the challenges of collegiate study, which may not be directly after high school graduation."

Yet another question for us to ask to develop a thesis is a question of definition. This is when we ask ourselves what the definition of something is. How do we explain what something actually is? Here is our example. My question is, "In what ways does the definition of "life saver" apply to animals?" And my answer, the thesis, reads, "Due to their companionship, intuitive nature, and assistance during emergencies, animals fit the definition of life savers."

Next. A question of interpretation asks how we would describe or interpret or analyze something. Here is our example. The question is, "How effective is Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism?" And my answer, my thesis, is that, "Riddled with flawed logic, Ayn Rand's stance on objectivism lacks the integrity of a solid, well-developed philosophy." And I'll support that throughout my developed essay.

The last type of question we can ask ourselves is a question of policy. This asks whether something should or should not be done, specifically about a social or legal cause. Here's the example. My question is, "Should senior citizens be required to take driving tests to keep their driver's licenses?" My answer, the thesis, is, "Because they cause more car accidents than other demographics of drivers, senior citizens should be required to take driving tests to keep their driver's licenses."

By asking ourselves questions and then answering those questions in the form of a thesis statement, we give ourselves a guide for how we're going to develop our paper. We're going to answer the question posed and answered by the thesis statement in the body of our writing.

In this tutorial, we learned about the definition of thesis statement, we discussed qualities of a good thesis statement, and we talked about different types of thesis statement questions. A thesis tells you where to go. I'm Mackenzie. Thanks for listening.

Terms to Know

A single sentence that expresses the controlling idea of a piece of writing.