Student Support Services Project San Diego State University The Thesis Statement What is a Thesis Statement?



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Student Support Services Project San Diego State University

The Thesis Statement
What is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is the main idea in a piece of writing. The thesis statement is typically placed in the introduction and should be comprised of two parts: a topic part, which states the topic, and a comment part, which makes an important point about the topic.


Example:

There is new evidence that garlic (topic part) does not have as many healthy properties as previously thought (comment part).


Thesis statements may vary depending on the particular structure of a piece of writing. Here are a few examples following the above structure:


  • Narrative: The day my father brought home Max, my new puppy, I learned some valuable lessons about life that I carry with me to this day.

  • Compare/Contrast: Although McDonald’s and Burger King are two of the largest fast-food franchises in the world, Burger King’s menu offers more for the customer’s money.

  • Cause and Effect: While Greek organizations on campus can create a sense of spirit, unity and community, they can also create an environment that is counter-productive to an undergraduate student’s academic progress.


How to Write a Thesis Statement when the Subject is Given:

If you are given a question, the simplest way to write your thesis is to rephrase the question into a statement.


Consider this question: What are the greatest contributing factors to the child obesity epidemic in America?
Your thesis could be stated as follows: The greatest contributors to child obesity are the consumption of fast food, poor nutrition standards in public school cafeterias and poor parenting.
Here, “The greatest contributors to child obesity” is the topic section, and “the consumption of fast food, poor nutrition standards in public school cafeterias and poor parenting” is the comment section.

How to Write a Thesis Statement when the Subject is not Given:

This is when developing the thesis statement becomes more difficult. If you are asked to write on a topic of your choice, then how should you phrase your thesis statement? This depends solely on the subject for which you are writing.


Let us pretend that you decide to write a paper on modern China. You do some research and you discover that you are interested in economic, political, and social issues. After continuing your research, you decide to write on the successes and failures of reforms involving these issues. You find that the economic and political reforms have shown amazing successes. However, you discover that many problems exist due to the limited rights of China’s citizenry. How should your thesis be phrased?
Example:

Though China’s economic and political reforms have shown much success, the social problems inherent in modern China remain a constant reminder of its past.
Not only does this thesis state your opinion on three potential areas of focus, but it also gives a general outline for both you and the reader to follow as the paper progresses.
Points to Remember

  • A thesis statement should be phrased as a statement and not as a question. In other words, give an opinion like, “Though China’s economic and political reforms have shown much success, the social problems inherent in modern China remain a constant reminder of its past. Do not use a title such as “China’s economy, politics and social problems.”

  • A thesis statement should normally occur within the first paragraph of your paper.

  • A thesis statement should set the tone for the rest of your paper.

  • When appropriate, make your thesis thought provoking. Does it invite the reader to consider the point to be addressed in the writing?

  • The thesis statement is the most important sentence in the essay: Word it carefully and be aware of how changes to the thesis may affect the essay.

  • When argumentative, the thesis should not argue something too obvious. Example: The war in Iraq is a very serious issue.





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