Thesis.” The thesis is the argument



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Thesis Statements

The position you take is your “thesis.” The thesis is the argument you are making and should be succinctly stated in the “thesis statement.”



Example: A new stadium should be built for the Sacramento Kings.

Your thesis statement should appear in the first paragraph.

Supporting Arguments

Your task is to then defend your thesis throughout the body of the essay. The way in which you defend your thesis is through sound arguments, which are organized into paragraphs. Each paragraph presents and develops one argument. Each argument can be viewed as a mini-thesis statement and, as such, must be supported with facts, details, and examples. You should have three strong arguments to support your thesis statement, with each argument presented in a separate paragraph.



Example: The first reason that we need a new stadium is . . .

Secondly, . . .

Finally, . . .
Guidelines for Writing Strong Thesis Statements

A thesis is a one sentence statement about your topic. It is an assertion about your topic, something you claim to be true. A topic alone makes no such claim; it merely defines an area to be covered. To make your topic into a thesis statement, you need to make a claim.



  1. A good thesis statement makes clear where the author stands on a particular issue. Be sure that you clearly state your opinion.

Examples of weak thesis statements:

1. The subject of this essay is school uniforms.



Why? This is an announcement of the subject, not a thesis.
2. I’m going to discuss school uniforms.

Why? This is a statement of intention, rather than a thesis.
3. Many schools are requiring that their students wear uniforms.

Why? This is a fact, not an opinion. There is no argument to be made.
4. I’d like to discuss the reasons why school uniforms should be required.

Why? This is an announcement of what you’re going to do. You need to say more than whether you agree or disagree.
Examples of strong thesis statements:

1. School uniforms improve the learning environment by reducing competition among students and increasing the focus on learning.



Why? The writer states an opinion that he/she can defend in the body of the essay.
2. School uniforms stifle a truly rich learning environment by creating a culture of conformity and prevent students from expressing their individuality.

Why? The writer states an opinion that he/she can defend in the body of the essay.

Both statements address the same question: Do school uniforms strengthen or hinder the learning environment? Notice that the viewpoints of each statement are very different, yet they are both strong thesis statements. You can take any view that you wish in an essay, as long as you can support your view with strong evidence.



B. Don’t just state a fact. A thesis is a statement of opinion. If everyone agrees with your point, there is nothing to argue.

Weak Thesis Statement:

Murderers should be punished.



Why? Few people would disagree with this. Now what? It would be better to take a stand on the type of punishment that is appropriate for murderers; this is a controversial issue that can be argued.
Strong Thesis Statements

1. Since murder is the most serious crime that a person can commit, society should use the strongest punishment available: the death penalty.

Why? This is an opinion, not a fact. Some people would agree that murderers should get the death penalty, while others would disagree. The challenge of the writer will be to defend his thesis throughout the body of the essay and convince the readers that he is right.
2. If we truly wish to reduce homicides in this country, we should sentence every murderer to death; people would certainly think twice before killing for fear of losing their own life.

Why? This is an opinion, not a fact. Some people would agree that murderers should get the death penalty, while others would disagree. The challenge of the writer will be to defend her thesis throughout the body of the essay and convince the readers that she is right.
Practice with Thesis Statements

A. Writing the Thesis Statement

Evaluate the following thesis statements. State if the thesis is strong or weak. If it is weak, fix it. If it is strong, state why it is strong. Remember: A thesis reflects an opinion, not a fact.




  1. Cigarettes contain extremely harmful substances such as tar and nicotine and should therefore be illegal:

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  1. I would like to stop drinking coffee, since it makes me feel agitated during the day:

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  1. School uniforms would improve the learning environment by reducing pressure on students and increasing the focus on learning:

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  1. Bananas grow best in humid, tropical regions, where the average temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit:

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  1. Vitamins are very good for you:

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  1. The death penalty constitutes cruel and inhuman punishment and should be abolished:

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