How to Write a Thesis Statement for an Essay

Nothing can make or break your essay like a thesis statement. It is the cornerstone of any good paper. A reader should be able to understand the essence of an essay simply by reading the thesis statement. And yet many students not only don’t spend much time working on their thesis statements, they aren’t sure what it is for or what makes a good thesis statement in the first place. There are three components to any good thesis.

  1. It makes a definite claim. This means that it makes a positive statement or point that someone could potentially disagree with. Avoid subjective language like “I feel,” or “I believe.”
  2. It is clear. Because the thesis expresses the central point of the whole essay, it should be easily understandable by anybody. Don’t use vague or ambiguous words.
  3. It is concise. You want to express your central idea in as few words as possible without losing any of the meaning.   A thesis statement should be one to two sentences long.

All three of these aspects reinforce one another. Shorter statements tend to clearer and more definite as well.  If you find yourself writing a long sentence with many clauses, you probably don’t have a very good thesis. You might be asked to write a “three point,” thesis statement, which includes three reasons or pieces of evidence for your argument. In this case your statement will be longer. Keep it clear and precise by using parallel construction. This means that each clause of a sentence has the same grammatical structure. The statement “Recent studies have shown that sprinters are healthier than people who jog,” can be improved by changing “people who jog” to “joggers,” to parallel “sprinters.”

So now you know what your goal is when writing a thesis. But how do you come up with a good thesis in the first place? Here are some good guidelines:

  • Brainstorm. Write down all of your ideas, even ones that seem vague or incomplete. You can refine your ideas later, but at first you need to generate as many ideas as possible.
  • Make sure the thesis is appropriate to the scope of your paper. The shorter the paper, the more specific the thesis.
  • Write several drafts of your thesis statement. You’ll need to state the thesis at least twice, at the beginning and end of your paper.

Posted by January 28th, 2013