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What Is a Thesis in an Essay?

What is a Thesis?

❶Example of weak thesis: For a longer essay, you need a thesis statement that is more versatile.

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Parts that are not connected must be revised so that they do connect, or else eliminated. A thesis, in other words, is not the same as the thesis statement, which is a sentence or two in your introduction that tells the reader what the thesis is.

The thesis is not limited to one spot in your essay; it runs through the whole thing, from start to finish. An arguable thesis is one you have to give reasons for, that is worth proving i. So my example above is not a valid thesis, because everybody knows what color the sky is. This statement is not obvious, and it would require evidence about the nature of the atmosphere a billion years ago, and explanations of why that evidence is reliable, in order to be proved.

Theses can be statements about matters of fact e. In this class theses about values are not allowed. Your paper should make a persuasive case about some question of fact, interpretation or analysis.

Your paper will then attempt to answer this question, and the answer you provide will be your thesis. A descriptive thesis makes a claim about how things are. A prescriptive thesis makes a claim about how things should be. Therefore, prescriptive theses deal with questions of values, ethics or morality. And as I said, such theses are not allowed in this class. A prescriptive thesis also uses evidence, logic, measurement, analysis, interpretation and explanation. However, unlike a descriptive thesis, it also.

In some cases a descriptive thesis may strongly imply a prescriptive argument as well as in most of the examples above. However, note that one can agree or disagree with the descriptive thesis regardless of how one feels about the moral question. For example, some people agree that global warming is real and caused by human activity, but they do not believe it is a bad thing. A thesis is arguable An arguable thesis is one you have to give reasons for, that is worth proving i.

Descriptive and prescriptive theses A descriptive thesis makes a claim about how things are. For example, with an informative essay, you should compose an informative thesis rather than argumentative. You want to declare your intentions in this essay and guide the reader to the conclusion that you reach. To make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you must procure the ingredients, find a knife, and spread the condiments.

This thesis showed the reader the topic a type of sandwich and the direction the essay will take describing how the sandwich is made. In other words, unless your purpose is simply to inform, your thesis is considered persuasive. A persuasive thesis usually contains an opinion and the reason why your opinion is true. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the best type of sandwich because they are versatile, easy to make, and taste good.

In this persuasive thesis statement, you see that I state my opinion the best type of sandwich , which means I have chosen a stance.

Next, I explain that my opinion is correct with several key reasons. Just as there are two different types of thesis statements informative and persuasive , there are two basic styles you can use. The first style uses a list of two or more points. This style of thesis is perfect for a brief essay that contains only two or three body paragraphs. This basic five-paragraph essay is typical of middle and high school assignments. In the above persuasive thesis, you can see my opinion about Narnia followed by three clear reasons.

This thesis is perfect for setting up a tidy five-paragraph essay. In college, five paragraph essays become few and far between as essay length gets longer. Can you imagine having only five paragraphs in a six-page paper?

For a longer essay, you need a thesis statement that is more versatile. Instead of listing two or three distinct points, a thesis can list one overarching point that all body paragraphs tie into. In this thesis, I have made a claim about the theme in Narnia followed by my reasoning. I am no longer limited in how many body paragraphs I can logically use.

One thing I find that is helpful for students is having a clear template. While students rarely end up with a thesis that follows this exact wording, the following template creates a good starting point: Conversely, the formula for a thesis with only one point might follow this template: When composing a thesis, you must consider not only the format, but other qualities like length, position in the essay, and how strong the argument is.

A thesis statement can be short or long, depending on how many points it mentions. Typically, however, it is only one concise sentence.


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This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can discover or refine one for your draft. If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course.

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A thesis can be found in many places—a debate speech, a lawyer’s closing argument, even an advertisement. But the most common place for a thesis statement (and probably why you’re reading this article) is in an essay.

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Thesis (plural: theses, pronounced THEES-eez): The point that an essay is trying to prove. Also known as the claim or argument. Everything in a persuasive essay relates to the thesis, either as evidence, explanation, elaboration or rebuttal of alternative claims. Think of the thesis as the spine of your paper. In composition, a thesis statement is a sentence in an essay, report, research paper, or speech that identifies the main idea and/or central purpose of the text. Also called the controlling idea.

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Essay writing is a key skill for any student, and the thesis statement is the key sentence of any essay. Function The thesis is a statement of the paper's purpose; it therefore drives every paragraph of the essay. Developing A Thesis You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument.