Sorry, but the nature of a good thesis depends to a great extent on the nature of the assignment--the kind of essay you're being asked to write.
If the assignment is to write an argumentative or persuasive essay, the thesis should be a sentence that clearly states your position on the issue you're writing about.
If you're writing an extended definition, a one-sentence formal definition would be a good thesis: "A ____ is a ____ with _____." (I. e. it should put the thing being defined in its class or category and distinguish it from other members of that class.)
If you're writing a process analysis, the thesis should describe the process in one sentence--say whether it's a simple process or a complex one, or mention the number of steps, or simply say in that one sentence what it does.
If you're writing a cause-and-effect analysis, decide whether you're going to analyze the effects of one cause or the causes of one effect; then write a thesis that states what those causes or effects were or are. (Here, if you're going to discuss causes, begin the introduction by describing the existing situation, and end it with a thesis that says in one sentence why that situation came about. And if you're going to discuss effects, use the first two or three sentences of the introduction to describe or recount the events that brought these effects about, and end the introduction with a thesis that covers all the effects you're going to discuss. It needn't mention them all specifically, but it should COVER them.)
As you've noticed, I keep saying that the thesis should be the last sentence of the introduction and that the introduction should lead up to it. The introduction should also begin with a sentence that catches the reader's attention. And the thesis should always be one sentence that states the main idea of the entire essay, just as a topic sentence does for a single paragraph.
I hope I haven't just told you things you already knew!
Edit: You asked whether the thesis has to be the last sentence of the introduction. No, it doesn't absolutely HAVE to, but I've found that it works better there than at the very beginning. Since your teacher requires it there, you may as well put up with the restriction for the next three months, but if you really want to experiment with putting it at the beginning when you have a little more flexibility, just be sure not to put too much in the rest of the introduction--save most of what you want to say for the body. And above all, be sure to put your thesis either first or last and don't bury it in the middle.
Source(s): Retired English professor
aida · 1 decade ago
Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.
Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?”
A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”
A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”
The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.
[Back to top]
How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned.
Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.
A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:
* take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
* deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
* express one main idea
* assert your conclusions about a subject
Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.
Brainstorm the topic.
Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.
You start out with a thesis statement like this:
This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.
Narrow the topic.
Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.
You change your thesis to look like this:
Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.
This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.
Take a position on the topic.
After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.
You revise your thesis statement to look like this:
More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.
This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.
Use specific language.
You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices, so you write:
Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.
This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.
Make an assertion based on clearly stated support.
You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:
Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.
Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.
[Back to top]
How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One.
1. A strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand.
Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:
There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.
This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.
Anonymous · 9 years ago