Thesis statements

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English I

A THESIS STATEMENT is a one-sentence statement that expresses the central claim or argument that you seek to prove in an essay. It typically falls at the end of the introductory paragraph.

  • The thesis should contain two parts –

    • (1) identification of the topic

    • (2) an explanation of what your essay will prove/demonstrate about that topic.

  • A thesis should be an arguable statement. There is no point in proving something that is obviously true.

  • NEVER use “I think,” “I believe,” “I will prove,” or any “I” statement within your thesis.

  • A thesis should never contain summary.

Example of an effective thesis statement:

Universities should require high school graduates to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness.

  • This essay should:

    • Present the argument that students should pursue community projects before entering college

    • Present evidence to support the claim that community projects increases maturity and global awareness.

    • Present evidence that increased maturity and global awareness benefit students before entering college.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s tireless efforts to promote equality for all and his instrumental role in the Civil Rights Movement make him an integral and noteworthy part of America’s history.

  • This essay should:

    • Present evidence that MLK, Jr. promoted equality for all and was instrumental in the Civil Rights movement

    • Present an argument and evidence that these contributions allow us to say that he led a “life worth knowing.”

A TOPIC SENTENCE expresses the main idea of a body paragraph. All other sentences in a paragraph provide details to support the topic sentence.

  • Everything in the paragraph should tie back to and prove the topic sentence, and the topic sentence should tie back to and help prove the thesis statement.

  • Just like a thesis statement, the topic sentence should contain both the topic and an arguable statement about that topic.

  • Think of the topic sentence as the “mini-thesis” of the paragraph!

A CONCRETE DETAIL is a specific example (piece of evidence) to support your topic sentence.

  • Concrete detail can take the form of:

    • Direct quotations (most effective, but they must always be embedded and you must properly cite them!)

    • Paraphrasing

    • Facts

    • Descriptions

  • The concrete detail must

    • 1) be related to the topic sentence/thesis.

    • 2) be used to prove the topic sentence/thesis.

  • Quotations/Concrete Detail should NOT be used merely to summarize plot!

COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS is your interpretation of the concrete detail (evidence) as it relates to your topic sentence/thesis statement.

  • This is where you prove that your concrete detail proves your topic sentence, which proves your thesis. You see that there’s a whole lot of proving going on, yes?

  • This is your explanation of the quotation and how it relates to your argument.

  • This should NOT contain plot summary.

  • Concrete detail should ALWAYS be followed by Commentary/Analysis. Don’t ever leave a quote hanging!


  1. ALL assignments that are handed in (whether typed or handwritten) must include a full MLA heading in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. The correct format for the heading is as follows:

Your Name Ima Freshman Mustang

Teacher’s Name Mr. Feudo

Course – Period English I Pre-AP – 1

Date in MLA Format 25 August 2010
If the MLA heading contains one error (i.e., the date in the incorrect format or two lines transposed), it will result in two points being deducted from the assignment. Two or more errors will result in a five-point deduction.
PLEASE NOTE: A heading and a header are NOT the same thing! Your heading does not belong in your header if you are typing the paper.

  1. All essays and major writing assignments must be typed and formatted according to the following guidelines:

    1. One-inch (1”) margins

    2. Times New Roman, 12 point font

    3. Double spacing

    4. Last Name and Pagination in the header in the upper right hand corner of every page

    5. Center the title after the heading. Do not italicize it, place it in quotation marks, or make it bold.

    6. DO NOT add extra spaces between the heading and the title or the title and the body of the essay.

    7. Other than the title, all text should be left-aligned.

    8. Print on one side of the paper only.

PLEASE NOTE: These are generally NOT the default settings in Microsoft Word. You have to set them yourself!

Because these are the very basic expectations, deductions for failing to format papers correctly will be heavy! Be sure to keep this document in your Permanent Papers section so that you have quick and easy access to it at all times.

  1. All assignments must contain an original title.

  1. Unless told otherwise, maintain a formal, academic tone in your essays. This means that you need to avoid slang, contractions, and abbreviations. This also means using the third-person unless otherwise directed. Do not use first- or second-person unless it is in a direct quotation.


I. Bad Words List This is a list of words that should NEVER appear in your formal writing for this class.

*using "you know?"

‘cause (instead of “because”)


a lot (and when you do use it, it is two words)


and so on

and then






get, got, getting, gotten




I believe

I feel

I think







in conclusion

in my opinion

s/he says

the author says

it says

this quote / this quote shows

this shows / this shows that

kind of (“I am kind of tired”)

major / majorly

make/made (“It makes/made me…”)



pretty (“I am pretty full”)


sort of “(I am sort of tired”)


to me




well (“Well, I saw him”)

II. Contractions and "slang"

Your essays should not sound like your speech (how you sound when you are talking to your friends), however they should carry a more formal tone at all times. You should avoid slang (this excludes instances of dialogue or poetry, in which you try to incorporate the real sound of the spoken word in order to make a point), as well as cliches.
Examples to avoid:

can't I'm I'd haven't ya'll wanna

don't I'll she'll hadn't you're it's

won't they'd he'll we'll gonna

Freshman English Writing Basics Packet 2012-2013

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