I. What is a thesis?
A thesis is a statement that is supported or proven in the body of the essay. It creates focus in an essay, and tells the reader what the writer believes. A good thesis is written in a single sentence, and it prepares an audience to understand what follows.
A thesis is the central idea of any stance or argument. Every main idea in an essay should connect clearly to the thesis. Any facts or evidence used in an essay should be there to show that the thesis is true.
The thesis of an essay should come at either the beginning or the end of the introductory paragraph. (The reasons for this will be explained in section V.)
It is important to understand that a thesis must be a statement that a person could disagree with. A statement that has no opposing point of view, or does not need to be proven, it is simply a fact, not a thesis.
- FACT: “People need water to live.”
- THESIS: “People in cold climates need less water than people who live in tropical climates.
- FACT: Captain America is a superhero.
- THESIS: Captain America is tougher than Batman.
II. Examples of a thesis
Here are some examples of theses statements. They briefly and clearly let the audience know what they will be reading about.
- Students should sleep more often because it makes them healthier and better at concentrating.
- The most important part of staying healthy is eating right.
- Astronauts travelling to Mars will face unique physical and mental dangers.
III. Parts of a Thesis Statement
A thesis has to do two things: identify the topic and state what the writer believes. The parts of the thesis that do these things are called the topic and the stance
- Topic: The topic is the main idea that your entire essay is about. Your thesis must make the topic clear to the reader.
- Stance: The stance is the point of view or opinion that the writer has about the topic. The stance in the thesis tells the reader what you are going to support or prove in your body paragraphs.
Look again at the sample thesis statements in section II. How would you complete the table below?
IV. Types of thesis
A thesis will vary slightly, depending on what the writer is trying to achieve. There is some overlap in these types – some thesis statements may fit in more than one of the below categories.
a. Making a claim
A claim is a statement that something is true. If a thesis makes a claim, the body of the essay will need to prove that the claim is correct.
Clean water is the most important natural resource in the world.
The claim here is that we need water more than any other natural resource (such as wood, gold, oil, or fish). The writer will use the body of the essay to show why water is so important.
The American Revolution was caused by King George’s stubbornness.
The claim is that the revolution happened because the King was too stubborn. The writer believes that if the King was less stubborn, the Colonists might not have revolted. The body of the essay will include examples of King George’s stubborn behavior in order to support the claim in the thesis.
b. Choosing sides
A thesis may state that one side, or one choice, is better than another. This type of thesis works well when the writer wants to compare and contrast between different options.
Going to college in a city is better than going to a college in a small town.
The writer is choosing city colleges over small town colleges. The reader can expect to read about the reasons why in the body of the essay.
Hip Hop music is more artistic than Country music.
This thesis is choosing Hip Hop over Country music when it comes to being artistic. The writer will use the body of the essay to explain how they define ‘artistic’, and give examples of where Hip Hop shines above Country music.
c. Expressing an opinion or idea.
This type of thesis expresses the writer’s feeling about something. It may also express a new idea in order to get readers to think about it.
Our school should put drink machines in the locker rooms.
This is an idea that the writer wants to see happen. The body of the essay will give the writer’s reasons, and may include a plan to get the machines put in.
The United States needs to do more to fight cyber crime.
The writer of this thesis is expressing their fear of a crime, and their desire to see something done about it. The reader can expect to find statistics that support the writer’s point of view.