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Developing Strong Thesis Statements

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These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.

The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable

An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.

Another example of a debatable thesis statement:

In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.

The thesis needs to be narrow

Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.

Example of a thesis that is too broad:

There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.

Example of a narrow or focused thesis:

In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.

We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:

Narrowed debatable thesis 1:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.

Narrowed debatable thesis 2:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.

Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.

Types of claims

Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.

Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:

Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:

Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:

Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:

Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.

Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.

Question-to-Assertion

If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

qualities of an argumentative thesis statement

Writing Process and Structure

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? 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 of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Humanities LibreTexts

9.4: Argumentative Thesis Statements

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Learning Objective

  • Recognize an argumentative thesis

A strong, argumentative thesis statement should take a stance about an issue. It should explain the basics of your argument and help your reader to know what to expect in your essay.

This video reviews the necessary components of a thesis statement and walks through some examples.

You can view the transcript for “Purdue OWL: Thesis Statements” here (opens in new window) .

Key Features of Argumentative Thesis Statements

Below are some of the key features of an argumentative thesis statement. An argumentative thesis is debatable, assertive, reasonable, evidence-based, and focused.

An argumentative thesis must make a claim about which reasonable people can disagree. Statements of fact or areas of general agreement cannot be argumentative theses because few people disagree about them. Let’s take a look at an example:

  • BAD: Junk food is bad for your health.

This is not a debatable thesis. Most people would agree that junk food is bad for your health. A debatable thesis would be:

  • GOOD: Because junk food is bad for your health, the size of sodas offered at fast-food restaurants should be regulated by the federal government.

Reasonable people could agree or disagree with the statement.

An argumentative thesis takes a position, asserting the writer’s stance. Questions, vague statements, or quotations from others are not argumentative theses because they do not assert the writer’s viewpoint. Let’s take a look at an example:

  • BAD: Federal immigration law is a tough issue about which many people disagree.

This is not an arguable thesis because it does not assert a position.

  • GOOD: Federal immigration enforcement law needs to be overhauled because it puts undue constraints on state and local police.

This is an argumentative thesis because it asserts a position that immigration enforcement law needs to be changed.

An argumentative thesis must make a claim that is logical and possible. Claims that are outrageous or impossible are not argumentative theses. Let’s take a look at an example:

  • BAD: City council members are dishonest and should be thrown in jail.

This is not an argumentative thesis. City council members’ ineffectiveness is not a reason to send them to jail.

  • GOOD: City council members should be term-limited to prevent one group or party from maintaining control indefinitely.

This is an arguable thesis because term limits are possible, and shared political control is a reasonable goal.

Evidence-Based

An argumentative thesis must be able to be supported by evidence. Claims that presuppose value systems, morals, or religious beliefs cannot be supported with evidence and therefore are not argumentative theses. Let’s take a look at an example:

  • BAD: Individuals convicted of murder will go to hell when they die.

This is not an argumentative thesis because its support rests on religious beliefs or values rather than evidence.

  • GOOD: Rehabilitation programs for individuals serving life sentences should be funded because these programs reduce violence within prisons.

This is an argumentative thesis because evidence such as case studies and statistics can be used to support it.

An argumentative thesis must be focused and narrow. A focused, narrow claim is clearer, more able to be supported with evidence, and more persuasive than a broad, general claim. Let’s take a look at an example:

  • BAD: The federal government should overhaul the U.S. tax code.

This is not an effective argumentative thesis because it is too general (What part of the government? Which tax codes? What sections of those tax codes?) and would require an overwhelming amount of evidence to be fully supported.

  • GOOD: The U.S. House of Representatives should vote to repeal the federal estate tax because the revenue generated by that tax is negligible.

This is an effective argumentative thesis because it identifies a specific actor and action and can be fully supported with evidence about the amount of revenue the estate tax generates.

In the practice exercises below, you will use this information from your reading to see if you can recognize and evaluate argumentative thesis statements. Keep in mind that a sound argumentative thesis should be debatable, assertive, reasonable, evidence-based, and focused.

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Home / Guides / Writing Guides / Parts of a Paper / How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement

How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement

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.

Whether you’re writing an argumentative paper, an informative essay, or a compare/contrast statement, you need a thesis. Without a thesis, your argument falls flat and your information is unfocused. Since a thesis is so important, it’s probably a good idea to look at some tips on how to put together a strong one.

Guide Overview

What is a “thesis statement” anyway.

  • 2 categories of thesis statements: informative and persuasive
  • 2 styles of thesis statements
  • Formula for a strong argumentative thesis
  • The qualities of a solid thesis statement (video)

You may have heard of something called a “thesis.” It’s what seniors commonly refer to as their final paper before graduation. That’s not what we’re talking about here. That type of thesis is a long, well-written paper that takes years to piece together.

Instead, we’re talking about a single sentence that ties together the main idea of any argument . In the context of student essays, it’s a statement that summarizes your topic and declares your position on it. This sentence can tell a reader whether your essay is something they want to read.

2 Categories of Thesis Statements: Informative and Persuasive

Just as there are different types of essays, there are different types of thesis statements. The thesis should match the essay.

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).

Most other types of essays, whether compare/contrast, argumentative, or narrative, have thesis statements that take a position and argue it. 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. This persuasive type of thesis can be used in any essay that contains the writer’s opinion, including, as I mentioned above, compare/contrast essays, narrative essays, and so on.

2 Styles of Thesis Statements

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.

C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series is one of the richest works of the 20th century because it offers an escape from reality, teaches readers to have faith even when they don’t understand, and contains a host of vibrant characters.

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.

Good vs. evil is the main theme of Lewis’s Narnia series, as is made clear through the struggles the main characters face in each book.

In this thesis, I have made a claim about the theme in Narnia followed by my reasoning. The broader scope of this thesis allows me to write about each of the series’ seven novels. I am no longer limited in how many body paragraphs I can logically use.

Formula for a Strong Argumentative Thesis

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:

___________ is true because of ___________, ___________, and ___________.

Conversely, the formula for a thesis with only one point might follow this template:

___________________ is true because of _____________________.

Students usually end up using different terminology than simply “because,” but having a template is always helpful to get the creative juices flowing.

The Qualities of a Solid Thesis Statement

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.

Length: A thesis statement can be short or long, depending on how many points it mentions. Typically, however, it is only one concise sentence. It does contain at least two clauses, usually an independent clause (the opinion) and a dependent clause (the reasons). You probably should aim for a single sentence that is at least two lines, or about 30 to 40 words long.

Position: A thesis statement always belongs at the beginning of an essay. This is because it is a sentence that tells the reader what the writer is going to discuss. Teachers will have different preferences for the precise location of the thesis, but a good rule of thumb is in the introduction paragraph, within the last two or three sentences.

Strength: Finally, for a persuasive thesis to be strong, it needs to be arguable. This means that the statement is not obvious, and it is not something that everyone agrees is true.

Example of weak thesis:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to make because it just takes three ingredients.

Most people would agree that PB&J is one of the easiest sandwiches in the American lunch repertoire.

Example of a stronger thesis:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are fun to eat because they always slide around.

This is more arguable because there are plenty of folks who might think a PB&J is messy or slimy rather than fun.

Composing a thesis statement does take a bit more thought than many other parts of an essay. However, because a thesis statement can contain an entire argument in just a few words, it is worth taking the extra time to compose this sentence. It can direct your research and your argument so that your essay is tight, focused, and makes readers think.

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II. Getting Started

2.5 Writing Thesis Statements

Kathryn Crowther; Lauren Curtright; Nancy Gilbert; Barbara Hall; Tracienne Ravita; and Kirk Swenson

To be effective, all support in an essay must work together to convey a central point; otherwise, an essay can fall into the trap of being out of order and confusing. Just as a topic sentence focuses and unifies a single paragraph, the thesis statement focuses and unifies an entire essay. This statement is like a signpost that signals the essay’s destination; it tells the reader the point you want to make in your essay, while the essay itself supports that point.

Because writing is not a linear process, you may find that the best thesis statement develops near the end of your first draft. However, creating a draft or working thesis early in the writing project helps give the drafting process clear direction. You should form your thesis before you begin to organize an essay, but you may find that it needs revision as the essay develops.

A thesis is not just a topic, but rather the writer’s comment or interpretation of the question or subject. For whatever topic you select (for example, school uniforms, social networking), you must ask yourself, “What do I want to say about it?” Asking and then answering this question is vital to forming a thesis that is precise, forceful, and confident.

In the majority of essays, a thesis is one sentence long and appears toward the end of the introductory paragraph. It is specific and focuses on one to three points of a single idea—points that are able to be demonstrated in the body paragraphs. It forecasts the content of the essay and suggests how you will organize your information. Remember that a thesis statement does not summarize an issue but rather dissects it.

Working Thesis Statements

A strong thesis statement must have the following qualities:

  • It must be arguable.  A thesis statement must state a point of view or judgment about a topic. An established fact is not considered arguable.
  • It must be supportable.  The thesis statement must contain a point of view that can be supported with evidence (reasons, facts, examples).
  • It must be specific. A thesis statement must be precise enough to allow for a coherent argument and remain focused on the topic.

Examples of Appropriate Thesis Statements

  • Closing all American borders for a period of five years is one solution that will tackle illegal immigration.
  • Compared to an absolute divorce, no-fault divorce is less expensive, promotes fairer settlements, and reflects a more realistic view of the causes for marital breakdown.
  • Exposing children from an early age to the dangers of drug abuse is a sure method of preventing future drug addicts.
  • In today’s crumbling job market, a high school diploma is not significant enough education to land a stable, lucrative job.
  • The societal and personal struggles of Troy Maxson in the play Fences symbolize the challenges of black males who lived through segregation and integration in the United States.

Pitfalls to Avoid

A thesis is weak when it is simply a declaration of your subject or a description of what you will discuss in your essay.

Weak Thesis Statement Example

My paper will explain why imagination is more important than knowledge.

A thesis is weak when it makes an unreasonable or outrageous claim or insults the opposing side.

Religious radicals across America are trying to legislate their Puritanical beliefs by banning required high school books.

A thesis is weak when it contains an obvious fact or something that no one can disagree with or provides a dead end.

Advertising companies use sex to sell their products.

A thesis is weak when the statement is too broad.

The life of Abraham Lincoln was long and challenging.

Ways to Revise Your Thesis

Your thesis statement begins as a working thesis statement, an indefinite statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process for the purpose of planning and guiding your writing. Working thesis statements often become stronger as you gather information and develop new ideas and reasons for those ideas. Revision helps you strengthen your thesis so that it matches what you have expressed in the body of the paper.

You can cut down on irrelevant aspects and revise your thesis by taking the following steps:

  • Pinpoint and replace all non specific words, such as people, everything, society, or life, with more precise words in order to reduce any vagueness.

Pinpoint and Replace Example

Working thesis:  Young people have to work hard to succeed in life.

Revised thesis:  Recent college graduates must have discipline and persistence in order to find and maintain a stable job in which they can use, and be appreciated for, their talents.

Explanation:  The original includes too broad a range of people and does not define exactly what success entails. By replacing those general words like people and work hard , the writer can better focus their research and gain more direction in their writing. The revised thesis makes a more specific statement about success and what it means to work hard.

  • Clarify ideas that need explanation by asking yourself questions that narrow your thesis.

Clarify Example

Working thesis:  The welfare system is a joke.

Revised thesis:  The welfare system keeps a socioeconomic class from gaining employment by alluring members of that class with unearned income, instead of programs to improve their education and skill sets.

Explanation:  A joke means many things to many people. Readers bring all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives to the reading process and would need clarification for a word so vague. This expression may also be too informal for the selected audience. By asking questions, the writer can devise a more precise and appropriate explanation for joke and more accurately defines their stance, which will better guide the writing of the essay.

  • Replace any linking verbs with action verbs. Linking verbs are forms of the verb to be , a verb that simply states that a situation exists.

Replace with Action Verbs Example

Working thesis:  Kansas City school teachers are not paid enough.

Revised thesis:  The Kansas City legislature cannot afford to pay its educators, resulting in job cuts and resignations in a district that sorely needs highly qualified and dedicated teachers.

Explanation:  The linking verb in this working thesis statement is the word are . Linking verbs often make thesis statements weak because they do not express action. Rather, they connect words and phrases to the second half of the sentence. Readers might wonder, “Why are they not paid enough?” But this statement does not compel them to ask many more questions.

  • Who is not paying the teachers enough?
  • How much is considered “enough”?
  • What is the problem?
  • What are the results?
  • Omit any general claims that are hard to support.

Omit General Claims Example

Working thesis:  Today’s teenage girls are too sexualized.

Revised thesis: Teenage girls who are captivated by the sexual images on the internet and social media are conditioned to believe that a woman’s worth depends on her sensuality, a feeling that harms their self-esteem and behavior.

Explanation:  It is true that some young women in today’s society are more sexualized than in the past, but that is not true for all girls. Many girls have strict parents, dress appropriately, and do not engage in sexual activity while in middle school and high school. The writer of this thesis should ask the following questions:

  • Which teenage girls?
  • What constitutes “too” sexualized?
  • Why are they behaving that way?
  • Where does this behavior show up?
  • What are the repercussions?

This section contains material from:

Crowther, Kathryn, Lauren Curtright, Nancy Gilbert, Barbara Hall, Tracienne Ravita, and Kirk Swenson. Successful College Composition . 2nd ed. Book 8. Georgia: English Open Textbooks, 2016. http://oer.galileo.usg.edu/english-textbooks/8 . Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License .

Relating to lines; a way of explaining information logically and/or sequentially; can refer to the chronological relaying of information.

A brief and concise statement or series of statements that outlines the main point(s) of a longer work. To summarize is to create a brief and concise statement or series of statements that outlines the main point(s) of a longer work.

To analyze closely or minutely; to scrutinize every aspect. Unlike the fields of biology, anatomy, or medicine, in rhetoric and writing, dissect does not refer to the cutting apart of a physical body but to the taking apart the body of an argument or idea piece by piece to understand it better.

A logical, rational, lucid, or understandable expression of an idea, concept, or notion; consistent and harmonious explanation.

Assertion or announcement of belief, understanding, or knowledge; a formal statement or proclamation.

Without a defined number or limit; unlimited, infinite, or undetermined.

An altered version of  a written work. Revising means to rewrite in order to improve and make corrections. Unlike editing, which involves minor changes, revisions include major and noticeable changes to a written work.

Not relevant; unimportant; beside the point; not relating to the matter at hand.

Attractive, tempting, or seductive; to have an appealing and charismatic quality.

To influence or convince; to produce a certain or specific result through the use of force.

2.5 Writing Thesis Statements Copyright © 2022 by Kathryn Crowther; Lauren Curtright; Nancy Gilbert; Barbara Hall; Tracienne Ravita; and Kirk Swenson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.

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Table of contents

When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.

You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.

The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.

Argumentative writing at college level

At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.

Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.

  • Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
  • Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
  • Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
  • Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
  • Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
  • Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.

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An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.

There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.

Toulmin arguments

The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:

  • Make a claim
  • Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim
  • Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
  • Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives

The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.

Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:

  • Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
  • Cite data to support your claim
  • Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
  • Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.

Rogerian arguments

The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:

  • Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position
  • Highlight the problems with this position
  • Present your own position , showing how it addresses these problems
  • Suggest a possible compromise —what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?

This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.

Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:

  • Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
  • Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
  • Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
  • Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.

You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.

Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .

Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.

In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.

Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.

This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.

Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.

No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.

Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

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Collaboration, information literacy, writing process, the guiding idea and argumentative thesis statement.

  • CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 by Rhonda Dietrich

Two Types of Essays

Your composition professor has given you an assignment, requiring you to write an essay in which you identify your favorite book and explain why you like it best. Later they assign an essay in which you take a stand either for or against homeschooling.

Both assignments require you to write a paper, yet the essays called for are in two different  genres . Thus, you will need to present your views in two different ways.

Two Types of Main Point

Although these genres are different, they are similar in that both require your essay to have a main point. In fact, it is crucial that you have a central idea in both types of essay. Neither paper will be successful without it. It’s that important. It is also highly recommended that you present your main idea toward the end of your first paragraph, so readers will know at the onset what point you plan to make in your essay. It also should be around 1-2 sentences long. However, that’s where the similarity ends. As you will see, you need to present a guiding idea when discussing your favorite book; however, when taking a position on the controversial issue of homeschooling, you will have to present your point of view in an argumentative thesis statement . Let’s take a closer look at both ways of presenting the main point of an essay to get a better idea of why and how each is used.

The Guiding Idea

It may seem that papers in which you state your favorite book, relate your most cherished memory, or describe your little sister don’t need a central idea. After all, you aren’t trying to convince anyone to vote for a certain political candidate or to ban smoking in public places. However, without a main point even these types of essays will have no coherence. The guiding idea provides this crucial ingredient. Without this expressly written main point, the paper will be unclear and unfocused, and readers will often be confused about the idea you are trying to get across.

For the guiding idea to be effective it must be:

  • Example of a good guiding idea: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is my favorite book because it includes a wide variety of characters.  Note: The sentence is clear and leaves no question in the reader’s mind regarding what the student wants to say in the essay.
  • Example of an unclear guiding idea:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is good, so I like it. Note: The sentence is unclear because the reader doesn’t know if this is the student’s favorite book or why the student thinks it is “good.”
  • Example of a specific guiding idea: During the summer of my thirteenth year, I developed a passion for British Romantic poetry due to its celebration of nature. Note: This makes clear what the writer’s main idea is.  It is also likely to make the reader want to read on. 
  • Example of a vague guiding idea:  During the summer of my thirteenth year, I learned that there are a lot of good things about Romantic poetry.  Note: The words “good things” are too vague to give the reader a clear understanding of the writer’s main point. The vague terms may also make the statement a little boring for the reader and may not entice them to read on.
  • Example of a supportable guiding idea: If you follow these five easy steps, you will soon be enjoying a delicious piece of chocolate cake with your friends. Note: Here the student only has to explain in detail each of these steps in order to support the central point of the essay.
  • Example of an unsupportable guiding idea: Nobody likes baking cakes. Note: There is nowhere to go in this paper. The writer doesn’t know everyone, so it would be impossible to prove this in the essay.  

The Argumentative Thesis Statement

On the other hand, if you want to convince your reader that your position on the issue of homeschooling or capital punishment is valid, you will need to present your point of view in an argumentative thesis statement . With this statement, you not only tell readers what you think about an issue, but you also let them know what you intend to prove in your paper. For this reason, there is no need to explain to readers that you will back up your thesis in your essay. Setting out to prove the validity of your point of view as your paper develops marks the difference between stating an opinion and presenting an argument.

Although the thesis statement’s purpose is different from that of the guiding idea, the two are similar in some very important ways. Both express the writer’s central idea or main point and, thus, need to be clear and specific. In addition, the two need to be written in a way that makes it possible for the writer to support them effectively. However, because the thesis statement presents an argument that must be convincing to readers, it needs to have some important characteristics of its own:

  • Example of a reasonable thesis: The habit of bullying is caused by parental neglect. Note: Whether or not the reader agrees, it seems like a reasonable claim and one that could be supported in the essay.
  • Example of an unreasonable thesis: All Democrats should be thrown out of the country.  Note: This thesis suggests an impossible solution to an unknown problem and, thus, cannot be supported. 
  • Example of a controversial thesis: The Health Care Reform Act threatens our civil liberties. Note: If you have watched the news lately, you know that many liberals and conservatives battle over this issue. Thus, no matter what position you choose, half of your readers will probably disagree with your stance, and you will definitely need to convince them that your view is valid.
  • Example of a non-controversial thesis: War is bad. Note: Most readers would agree. Thus, the writer has no need to prove anything in the paper, and it will be boring to write and to read. Also, many times students who present this type of thesis find it very hard to fill the assigned number of pages.
  • Example of a provable thesis: The laws surrounding legalized physician-assisted suicide don’t go far enough in protecting doctors from prosecution. Note: This writer here can present case studies, quotes from experts, and strong supporting arguments to convince the reader that this argument is valid.
  • Example of an unsupportable thesis: Euthanasia is wrong. Note: There is no way to back up this thesis. It is impossible to prove the validity of statements that include value judgments such as “right,” “wrong,” “immoral,” “moral” etc.
  • For an example of the effective opinion-based thesis, review the logical, controversial, and provable thesis statements given above.  Note: Each one presents a personal viewpoint that will need to be backed up through supporting arguments and evidence in order to be convincing to readers. 
  • Example of a fact-based thesis: There are many types of dogs. Note: This thesis presents a fact rather than an opinion; thus, the writer will simply report data concerning various dogs. There is no personal viewpoint that needs to be backed up by supportive evidence.   

Other Requirements of the Argumentative Thesis

While the list above provides many crucial criteria for the thesis, there are others that need to be mentioned briefly as well. Your thesis statement should never be in the form of a question, and it should always present your view and not someone else’s. Thus, always avoid quoting or paraphrasing someone in your thesis.

Read each thesis statement below and determine if it is effective. If it isn’t stated, identify which of the characteristics discussed above that it violates.

Example: It is important to spay or neuter pets. Answer: This thesis is not controversial.  

  • Students who cheat on tests should be shot.
  • The Internet makes it easy to learn a lot of facts.
  • Cheating on income taxes is wrong.
  • Many people assign stereotypes to homosexuals out of fear.
  • Penguins mostly live on the North Pole.

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What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement makes an argument and identifies your point of view. Learn how to:

  • Set up your essay for success with a thesis statement.
  • Write your own thesis statement using a step-by-step guide.
  • Adapt your thesis statement after you've completed your writing.

Start any essay with a thesis statement.

Whether you’re writing a five-paragraph essay or a 50-page dissertation, you need to make your intention or argument clear to the reader. A thesis statement does just that. It’s a one- or two-sentence summary that covers the main point or argument you plan to explore in depth throughout your essay.

Where to put a thesis statement.

Sometimes called a topic sentence, a thesis is usually the last sentence of your introductory paragraph. It offers a specific point of view that will be expanded upon in the body paragraphs and pages to follow. This argument needs to be backed up by supporting facts, analysis, and research.

Your thesis statement may adapt.

Keep in mind that writing a paper is a process. It often takes several rounds of writing and editing to get to the final product. As you edit your essay, gather feedback and comments , and conduct more research, your thesis may need to change or adjust. That’s perfectly fine, but always make sure the following arguments tie back to your main point.

A photo of a person sitting at a table and taking notes for their thesis statement.

Five steps for writing a thesis statement.

A thesis statement should come before any essay. After all, you can’t continue the writing process if you don’t know what you’re writing about. But just because you write it first, your thesis statement doesn’t have to come out perfect right off the bat. Landing on it is a process:

1. Ask yourself a question.

A good working thesis starts as a question you ask yourself and helps guide the direction and structure of your essay. What are you trying to solve or prove in your paper? When you’ve identified that question, start gathering some research.

2. Answer your question.

After you’ve done some preliminary analysis, formulate an answer to your topic question.

3. Develop your stance.

Using more research and analysis, consider your answer again. If you’re writing an argumentative essay, figure out how to convince your reader to agree with your viewpoint. Start drafting an outline to organize your points and keep your essay clear and concise.

4. Refine your statement.

Your final thesis statement needs to summarize your argument or topic. Instead of just stating your position, it should identify your point of view and set you up to make a compelling argument for it.

5. Write your essay.

Now’s the time to flesh out your paper. Draft an introduction and put your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph. This gives you a chance to build up to your main point. From there, continue outlining your supporting arguments and use that as a roadmap for the rest of your essay. When you’re done, save your essay as PDF to make it easier to share with your professor or editor and gather comments.

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The qualities of a strong thesis statement.

Starting with an effective thesis statement is the key to writing a good paper. This single sentence should tell the reader what position you take and why you take that position. It should also explain what the reader will learn from your paper and briefly outline the highlights of your argument. A weak thesis statement means you’re building your essay on unsteady ground. If the statement is obvious, ambiguous, or not a complete sentence, you’ll need to hit the drawing board again.

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Your thesis should follow these guidelines.

1. Concise . Keep it short and clearly state your point.

2. Contentious. Don’t write a simple statement that’s obvious or self-evident. Make sure your thesis statement is an argument that requires explanation and discussion.

3. Coherent. Anything mentioned in your thesis must be explained with facts and points throughout the rest of your paper.

Explore different kinds of thesis statements.

Your thesis statement will depend on your writing assignment. So before jumping in to write a thesis, explore these different types of essays (and different types of thesis statements) to identify the style of writing you need to employ.

Analytical essay.

This is a piece of writing that identifies a topic, often in the form of a specific question, and initially takes a neutral, balanced stance. For this essay, you’ll need to gather information from different credible sources and provide a well-supported critical analysis without necessarily persuading the reader to one side over the other. Analytical essays are a standard form of academic writing and can dissect research findings, analyze books, and so much more.

Analytical thesis statement example:

Topic: How does Shakespeare use metaphors in his sonnets?

Thesis statement: In Sonnet 60, Shakespeare uses metaphors and imagery to explain how individuals experience the passage of time differently.

Expository essay.

This style of essay communicates factual information and educates the reader. These papers are clear and let the facts speak for themselves. This isn’t about being clever or argumentative — it’s about analyzing the information and explaining the process of how you reached a specific conclusion.

Expository thesis statement example:

Topic: Explore the elements of a healthy lifestyle.

Thesis statement: The core components of a healthy lifestyle include a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.

Argumentative essay.

This is your chance to investigate a specific topic, collect evidence, and establish a concrete position. As the name suggests, you’ll need to form an argument and gather detailed research. Whether it’s a research paper or an academic essay, argumentative writing aims to sway a reader to your point of view. This style of essay can also include counterarguments, followed by the author’s response to those counterpoints.

Argumentative thesis statement example:

Topic: Identify how social media affects mental health.

Thesis statement: Although social media platforms have a positive place in most people’s lives, with nearly 2.85 billion users currently active on Facebook, the long-term effects on those users’ mental health are proving to be quite damaging.

Narrative essay.

This type of writing tells a story and doesn’t require a thesis statement. Narratives can expand upon a personal experience or explore an imaginary story. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, narrative writing follows characters and can include dialogue.

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Thesis Characteristics

Whenever you are writing to explain something to your reader or to persuade your reader to agree with your opinion, there should be one complete sentence that expresses the main idea of your paper. That sentence is often called the thesis, or thesis statement. (Some other names it goes by are "the main idea" and "the controlling idea.") Based on everything you've read, and thought, and brainstormed, the thesis is not just your topic, but what you're saying about your topic. Another way to look at it is, once you've come up with the central question, or organizing question, of your essay, the thesis is an answer to that question. Remember, though, while you are still writing your paper, to consider what you have to be a "working thesis," one that may still be "adjusted." As you continue to write, read, and think about your topic, see if your working thesis still represents your opinion.

Handy reminders about the thesis (on this page): 

  • Where to put it
  • Put it as a statement
  • Don't go overboard
  • Focus further
  • Choose the right shape

Where to Put the Thesis

The thesis usually comes within the introductory paragraph, which prepares the reader to listen to your ideas, and before the body of the paper, which develops the thesis with reasons, explanations, and evidence or examples. In fact, if you examine a well-written thesis, you will find hidden in it the questions your reader will expect you to answer in the body. For example, if your thesis is "Cannibalism, if practiced tastefully, can be acceptable in extreme circumstances," the body of your essay will develop this idea by explaining HOW it can be practiced tastefully, WHY it would be acceptable, and WHAT you would consider extreme circumstances.

Put the Thesis as a Statement

Make sure your thesis is in the form of a statement, not a question. "Can we save the Amazon rain forest?" is an ear-catching question that might be useful in the introduction, but it doesn't express an opinion or perspective as the following statements do:

  • "We can save the Amazon rain forest by limiting tourist presence, boycotting goods made by companies that deplete the forest's resources, and generally educating people about the need to preserve the rain forest in order to preserve the earth's ecological systems."
  • "We cannot save the Amazon rain forest since the companies that deplete its resources in their manufacturing are so widely-spread throughout the world, so politically powerful in their respective countries, and so wealthy that they are able to fight the opposition fully."

Don't go Overboard!

Make sure your thesis expresses your true opinion and not an exaggerated version of it. Don't say "Computers are wonderful" or "Computers are terrible" if what you really believe is "Computers do more good than harm" or "Computers do more harm than good." Why commit yourself to an extreme opinion that you don't really believe in, and then look like you're contradicting yourself later on?

Focus Further

Make sure your thesis covers exactly the topic you want to talk about, no more and no less. "Drugs should not be legalized" is too large a thesis if all you want to talk about is marijuana. "Boxing should be outlawed" is too small a thesis if you also want to discuss wrestling and football. Bite off as much as you can chew thoroughly--then chew it!

Choose the Right Shape

Shape your thesis to fit the question you wish to answer. A thesis can come in many forms, including the following:

  • Simply stating an opinion: "Langston Hughes was a master stylist."
  • Indicating categories or reasons: "Langston Hughes was a master stylist because of his vivid imagery, surprising metaphors, and effective alliteration."
  • Showing two aspects of a topic and emphasizing one (in this sample, the 2nd topic in the sentence is emphasized): "While Langston Hughes was a master stylist, as a critic he had several blind spots."

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Thesis Statement Examples

Thesis Statement Examples

In academic writing, a strong thesis statement serves as the backbone of any successful essay or research paper. It provides the reader with a clear and concise overview of the main point or argument that will be discussed in the text. A well-written thesis statement not only guides the reader throughout the entire paper but also helps to maintain focus and clarity. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various thesis statement examples across different categories and discuss the characteristics that make them strong.

One of the most common types of thesis statements is the informative thesis statement. This type of statement presents information and facts without expressing an opinion or taking a stance on the topic. For example, “The legalization of marijuana has been a topic of debate in the United States for many years.” This statement provides the reader with a clear understanding of the topic and what will be discussed in the paper, without expressing a personal opinion on the matter.

Another type of thesis statement is the persuasive thesis statement, which aims to convince the reader to adopt a certain viewpoint or take a specific action. For example, “The United States should legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.” This statement not only informs the reader about the topic but also presents a clear argument and supports it with evidence and logic.

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Finally, the argumentative thesis statement takes a strong stance on a controversial issue, presents an argument, and supports it with evidence and reasoning. For example, “The secession of the Southern states was the primary cause of the American Civil War.” This statement not only states a clear argument but also opens the door for further discussion and analysis of the historical events that led to the Civil War.

Literary Criticism: Examining the Role of Thesis Statements

In literary criticism, the thesis statement serves as a guide for readers to understand the main focus of the analysis. It provides a roadmap for the essay and helps the writer organize their thoughts and arguments. Without a strong thesis statement, the essay may lack direction and coherence.

Thesis statements in literary criticism can take various forms. They can analyze the characteristics of the characters, explore the historical and cultural context of the writings, discuss the major themes and elements of the literature, or even make comparisons and parallels between different texts. The possibilities are endless depending on the specific topic and focus of the analysis.

For example, a thesis statement in a literary criticism essay about American literature might be: “The portrayal of women in 19th-century American literature reveals their struggle for independence and empowerment.” This statement sets the stage for further analysis of women’s roles in American literature and provides a clear direction for the essay.

When crafting a thesis statement for a literary criticism essay, it’s important to keep in mind some key characteristics. Firstly, the statement should be concise and specific. It should clearly state the main argument or point of view the writer wants to convey.

Secondly, the thesis statement should be arguable. It should present a stance that can be debated or challenged. This allows for a more engaging and dynamic analysis of the literature.

Lastly, a strong thesis statement needs to be supported by evidence and analysis. It should not simply state an opinion without backing it up with relevant examples and explanations from the text.

In order to craft a solid thesis statement, one needs to take some time to brainstorm ideas and find the central point they want to make. It may be helpful to exchange thoughts with others or seek guidance from professors or peers.

Using online resources like Easybib or consulting writing guides can also provide a helpful structure and guide for developing a strong thesis statement.

To sum up, thesis statements are essential in literary criticism as they set the stage for the analysis and provide a roadmap for the essay. They need to be concise, arguable, and supported by evidence. By keeping these qualities in mind, writers can ensure that their thesis statements will capture the attention of their readers and lead to a successful analysis of the literature.

The Qualities of a Solid Thesis Statement: Key Elements for Success

In order to create a solid thesis statement, writers need to carefully consider these elements and ensure that their statement reflects these qualities. By following a clear formula and keeping these key elements in mind, authors can create strong thesis statements that effectively convey their ideas and arguments to the readers.

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Finding Your Point of View: Developing a Unique Thesis Statement

One of the first steps in developing a unique thesis statement is to clearly understand the main points and structure of your paper. Whether you are writing an informative or persuasive essay, your thesis statement will serve as the foundation for the rest of your work. It is important to make sure that your thesis statement clearly states your main idea and takes a specific stance on the topic.

Unfortunately, finding a unique thesis statement can be difficult, especially if you’ve been stuck on the same topic for a while. Many students and writers struggle to come up with a strong thesis statement because they’re not sure what makes a good one.

One way to overcome this challenge is to start by doing some background research on the topic. Read through a series of examples and see how other authors have formulated their thesis statements. This will give you a good overview of the different ways you can approach your topic and help you find your own unique point of view.

Another tactic is to look for parallels or similarities between different studies or ideas. Sometimes, the best thesis statements come from making connections between seemingly unrelated topics. For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of medical marijuana, you could draw parallels between the positive effects of marijuana on certain medical conditions and the criticisms governments have faced in regards to its legalization.

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Once you have some ideas in mind, it’s time to draft your thesis statement. Start by writing a clear and concise sentence that states your main point. Avoid vague or weak statements that don’t clearly outline your argument. Instead, strive for a thesis statement that is specific and makes a strong point.

As you write your thesis statement, keep in mind the characteristics of a good thesis. It should be arguable, meaning that there are different sides or perspectives on the topic. It should also be relevant and timely, taking into consideration the current state of the field you’re writing about. Finally, it should be supported by solid evidence or research that you will present throughout your paper.

Remember, developing a unique thesis statement is just the first step in the writing process. After you’ve stated your thesis, you will need to further support and expand upon your main points in the body paragraphs of your paper. But by taking the time to find your unique point of view and craft a strong thesis statement, you will set yourself on the right track to writing a successful and compelling paper.

Formula for a Strong Argumentative Thesis: Crafting Persuasive Statements

  • Start with a clear point: A strong thesis statement should present a clear and specific argument. It should take a stance on a particular topic and make a definitive claim. For example, instead of saying “Women’s rights are important,” a stronger thesis statement would be “The government should implement policies to ensure equal pay for women in the workforce.”
  • Use evidence and analysis: A persuasive thesis statement is not merely an opinion, but rather a well-supported argument. It should provide evidence and analysis to back up your claims. This can be done by citing relevant studies, historical writings, or using examples from literary works. For instance, “In the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Harper Lee critiques the racial prejudice present in southern society during the Great Depression.”
  • Consider counterarguments: A strong thesis statement acknowledges opposing viewpoints and then refutes them. By addressing counterarguments, you demonstrate that you have considered different perspectives and strengthen your own argument. For example, “Although some may argue that secession was a legal right of the Southern states, historical evidence shows that weak governments and a desire to protect the institution of slavery were the primary motivations.”
  • Make it specific: A strong thesis statement should be specific and focused. Avoid vague or broad statements that lack clarity. Instead, use precise language to outline the main points you will discuss in your essay. For instance, “This essay will provide an overview of the characteristics and qualities that make dragons fascinating creatures in fantasy literature.”
  • Avoid weak qualifiers: A strong thesis statement should be assertive and confident. Avoid using weak qualifiers like “maybe,” “might,” or “could.” Instead, use language that conveys certainty and conviction. For example, “The government should implement stricter regulations to reduce the population’s access to prescription drugs.”

2 Styles of Thesis Statements: Informative vs Persuasive Approaches

Informative Thesis Statements:

An informative thesis statement is used in essays that require you to provide an overview or a factual account of a topic. It states the main idea of the paper and guides the reader on what to expect in the following paragraphs. Informative thesis statements focus on presenting information and do not attempt to persuade or argue a specific viewpoint.

For example, let’s consider the topic of the use of medical marijuana. An informative thesis statement for a research paper on this topic could be: “The use of medical marijuana has been shown to have various benefits for patients with certain medical conditions.”

Persuasive Thesis Statements:

A persuasive thesis statement is used in argumentative essays where the author takes a specific stance on an issue and tries to persuade the reader to adopt their viewpoint. Persuasive thesis statements make a strong claim and present the main argument that will be supported throughout the essay.

Continuing with our example on the use of medical marijuana, a persuasive thesis statement could be: “The legalization of marijuana for medical use should be implemented by governments worldwide to provide relief for patients suffering from various conditions.”

The main difference between an informative and persuasive thesis statement lies in the aim and tone of the writing. While an informative thesis states facts and provides an overview, a persuasive thesis takes a stance and tries to convince the reader.

In order to create a strong thesis statement, it’s important to consider the specific characteristics that make it effective. A good thesis statement should be clear, concise, and specific. It should also present a well-developed argument that can be supported with evidence and logical reasoning.

In summary, whether you’re writing an informative or persuasive essay, the thesis statement is a crucial element that sets the tone and structure of your paper. Using the above guide, you’ll breeze through the often difficult stage of finding the main point of your writing and ensure that your thesis statement is strong and solid.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a sentence or two that clearly states the main point of an essay or research paper. It is usually located at the end of the introductory paragraph and presents the writer’s position or argument on a particular topic.

How can I write a strong thesis statement?

To write a strong thesis statement, you need to be clear and specific about your main argument. It should be a statement that can be supported with evidence and logical reasoning. Additionally, a strong thesis statement should be concise and focused, avoiding vague or general statements.

What are the different types of thesis statements?

There are two main types of thesis statements: informative and persuasive. An informative thesis statement simply states the topic or subject matter without expressing the writer’s stance. On the other hand, a persuasive thesis statement takes a clear position or opinion on a particular issue and aims to convince the reader of its validity.

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50 Argumentative Essay Thesis Statement Examples

argumentative essay thesis statement

A thesis statement in an argumentative essay needs to present a point of view . The biggest mistake you can make is to provide a thesis statement that doesn’t demonstrate what your argument will be. So, your thesis statement should set a clear argument, perspective, or position in relation to a debate. Check out the examples below.

Thesis Statements for Argumentative Essays

1. mandatory school uniforms.

school uniforms and dress codes, explained below

For: “School uniforms should be mandatory as they promote equality and reduce distractions, fostering a better learning environment.”

Against: “Mandatory school uniforms infringe on students’ freedom of expression and fail to address the root causes of bullying and social stratification.”

Read More: School Uniform Pros and Cons

2. School Should Start Later

moral panic definition examples

For: “Schools should start later in the morning to align with adolescents’ natural sleep cycles, resulting in improved mental health, increased academic performance, and better overall student well-being.”

Against: “Starting school later in the morning disrupts family routines, poses logistical challenges for after-school activities and transportation, and fails to prepare students for the traditional workday schedule.”

Read More: School Should Start Later Arguments | School Should Start Earlier Arguments

3. College Athletes Should be Paid

pros and cons of paying college athletes, explained below

For: “College athletes should be compensated for their contributions to the multi-billion dollar collegiate sports industry, as their commitment and efforts generate significant revenue and marketing value for their institutions.”

Against: “Paying college athletes undermines the spirit of amateurism in collegiate sports, complicates the primary focus on education, and poses significant financial and regulatory challenges for universities.”

Read More: Why College Athletes Should be Paid

4. Homework should be Banned

homework pros and cons

For: “Excessive homework can lead to student burnout, reduce family time, and is not always effective in enhancing learning.”

Against: “Homework is essential for reinforcing learning, fostering independent study skills, and preparing students for academic challenges.”

Read More: 21 Reasons Homework Should be Banned

5. Nature is More Important than Nurture

nature vs nurture examples and definition

For: “Genetic predispositions play a more critical role in shaping an individual than environmental factors, highlighting the importance of nature in personal development.”

Against: “Environmental factors and upbringing have a more significant impact on an individual’s development than genetic factors, emphasizing the role of nurture.”

Read More: Nature vs Nurture

6. The American Dream is Unattainable

American Dream Examples Definition

For: “The American Dream is an outdated and unachievable concept for many, masked by systemic inequalities and economic barriers.”

Against: “The American Dream is still a relevant and attainable goal, symbolizing hope, opportunity, and hard work in a land of limitless potential.”

Read More: Examples of the American Dream

7. Social Media is Good for Society

social media examples and definition

For: “Social media is a vital tool for modern communication, fostering global connectivity and democratizing information dissemination.”

Against: “Social media platforms contribute to mental health issues, spread misinformation, and erode quality face-to-face interactions.”

Read More: Social Media Pros and Cons

8. Globalization has been Bad for Society

types of globalization, explained below

For: “Globalization leads to the exploitation of developing countries, loss of cultural identity, and increased income inequality.”

Against: “Globalization is beneficial, driving economic growth, cultural exchange, and technological advancement on a global scale.”

Read More: Globalization Pros and Cons

9. Urbanization has been Good for Society

urbanization example and definition

For: “Urbanization is a positive force for economic development and cultural diversity, offering improved opportunities and lifestyles.”

Against: “Rapid urbanization leads to environmental degradation, overpopulation, and heightened social inequalities.”

Read More: Urbanization Examples

10. Immigration is Good for Society

immigration pros and cons, explained below

For: “Immigration enriches the social and economic fabric of the host country, bringing diversity and innovation.”

Against: “Uncontrolled immigration can strain public resources, disrupt local job markets, and lead to cultural clashes.”

Read More: Immigration Pros and Cons

11. Cultural Identity must be Preserved

cultural identity examples and definition, explained below

For: “Maintaining cultural identity is essential to preserve historical heritage and promote diversity in a globalized world.”

Against: “Excessive emphasis on cultural identity can lead to isolationism and hinder integration and mutual understanding in multicultural societies.”

Read More: Cultural Identity Examples

12. Technology is Essential for Social Progress

technology examples and definition explained below

For: “The advancement of technology is crucial for societal progress, improving efficiency, healthcare, and global communication.”

Against: “Over-dependence on technology leads to privacy concerns, job displacement, and a disconnection from the natural world.”

13. Capitalism is the Best Economic System

capitalism examples and definition

For: “Capitalism drives innovation, economic growth, and personal freedom, outperforming socialist systems in efficiency and prosperity.”

Against: “Capitalism creates vast inequalities and exploits workers and the environment, necessitating a shift towards socialist principles for a fairer society.”

14. Socialism is the Best Economic System

socialism definition examples pros cons, explained below

For: “Socialism promotes social welfare and equality, ensuring basic needs are met for all citizens, unlike the inequalities perpetuated by capitalism.”

Against: “Socialism stifles individual initiative and economic growth, often leading to governmental overreach and inefficiency.”

Read More: Socialism Pros and Cons

15. Pseudoscience has no Value to Society

pseudoscience examples and definition, explained below

For: “Pseudoscience is harmful as it misleads people, often resulting in health risks and the rejection of scientifically proven facts.”

Against: “Pseudoscience, while not scientifically validated, can offer alternative perspectives and comfort to individuals where mainstream science has limitations.”

Read More: Pseudoscience Examples

16. Free Will is Real

free will examples and definition, explained below

For: “Individuals possess free will, enabling them to make autonomous choices that shape their lives and moral character, independent of genetic or environmental determinism.”

Against: “The concept of free will is an illusion, with human behavior being the result of genetic and environmental influences beyond personal control.”

Read More: Free Will Examples

17. Gender Roles are Outdated

gender roles examples and definition, explained below

For: “Rigid gender roles are outdated and limit individual freedom, perpetuating inequality and stereotyping.”

Against: “Traditional gender roles provide structure and clarity to societal functions and personal relationships.”

Read More: Gender Roles Examples

18. Work-Life Ballance is Essential for a Good Life

work-life balance examples and definition, explained below

For: “Achieving a work-life balance is essential for mental health, productivity, and personal fulfillment.”

Against: “The pursuit of work-life balance can lead to decreased professional ambition and economic growth, particularly in highly competitive industries.”

Read More: Work-Life Balance Examples

19. Universal Healthcare

universal healthcare pros and cons

For: “Universal healthcare is a fundamental human right, ensuring equitable access to medical services for all individuals.”

Against: “Universal healthcare can be inefficient and costly, potentially leading to lower quality of care and longer wait times.”

Read More: Universal Healthcare Pros and Cons

20. Raising the Minimum Wage

raising minimum wage pros and cons

For: “Raising the minimum wage is necessary to provide a living wage, reduce poverty, and stimulate economic growth.”

Against: “Increasing the minimum wage can lead to higher unemployment and negatively impact small businesses.”

Read More: Raising the Minimum Wage Pros and Cons

21. Charter Schools are Better than Public Schools

charter schools vs public schools, explained below

For: “Charter schools provide valuable alternatives to traditional public schools, often offering innovative educational approaches and higher standards.”

Against: “Charter schools can drain resources from public schools and lack the same level of accountability and inclusivity.”

Read More: Charter Schools vs Public Schools

22. The Internet has had a Net Positive Effect

internet pros and cons

For: “The internet is a transformative tool for education, communication, and business, making information more accessible than ever before.”

Against: “The internet can be a platform for misinformation, privacy breaches, and unhealthy social comparison, negatively impacting society.”

Read Also: Pros and Cons of the Internet

23. Affirmative Action is Fair and Just

affirmative action example and definition, explained below

For: “Affirmative action is necessary to correct historical injustices and promote diversity in education and the workplace.”

Against: “Affirmative action can lead to reverse discrimination and undermine meritocracy, potentially harming those it aims to help.”

Read More: Pros and Cons of Affirmative Action

24. Soft Skills are the Most Important Workforce Skills

soft skills examples and definition, explained below

For: “Soft skills like communication and empathy are crucial in the modern workforce, contributing to a collaborative and adaptable work environment.”

Against: “Overemphasis on soft skills can neglect technical proficiency and practical skills that are essential in many professional fields.”

Read More: Examples of Soft Skills

25. Freedom of the Press has gone Too Far

freedom of the press example and definition, explained below

For: “Unregulated freedom of the press can lead to the spread of misinformation and biased reporting, influencing public opinion unfairly.”

Against: “Freedom of the press is essential for a democratic society, ensuring transparency and accountability in governance.”

Read More: Free Press Examples

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Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 50 Durable Goods Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 100 Consumer Goods Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 30 Globalization Pros and Cons
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 17 Adversity Examples (And How to Overcome Them)

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Thesis Sentences

Characteristics of a strong thesis.

What makes a strong thesis in a college essay?

qualities of an argumentative thesis statement

  • A strong thesis is non-obvious . High school teachers needed to make sure that you and all your classmates mastered the basic form of the academic essay. Thus, they  were mostly concerned that you had a clear and consistent thesis, even if it was something obvious such as “sustainability is important.” A thesis statement like that has a wide-enough scope to incorporate several supporting points and concurring evidence, enabling the writer to demonstrate his or her mastery of a basic essay format.  College instructors, though, fully expect you to produce something more developed.
  • A strong thesis is arguable . In everyday life, “arguable” is often used as a synonym for “doubtful.” For a thesis, though, “arguable” means that it’s worth arguing: it’s something with which a reasonable person might disagree. This arguability criterion dovetails with the non-obvious one: it shows that the author has deeply explored a problem and arrived at an argument that legitimately needs 3, 5, 10, or 20 pages to explain and justify. In that way, a good thesis sets an ambitious agenda for an essay. A thesis such as “sustainability is important” isn’t at all difficult to argue for, and the reader would have little intrinsic motivation to read the rest of the paper. However, an arguable thesis such as “sustainability policies will inevitably fail if they do not incorporate social justice,” brings up some healthy skepticism. Thus, the arguable thesis makes the reader want to keep reading.
  • A strong thesis is well specified . Some student writers fear that they’re being too obvious if they specify their thesis early in the essay; they think that a purposefully vague thesis might be more intriguing to the reader. However, consider movie trailers: they always include the most exciting and poignant moments from the film to attract an audience. In academic essays, too, a well specified thesis indicates that the author has thought rigorously about an issue and done thorough research, which makes the reader want to keep reading. Don’t just say that a particular policy is effective or fair; say what makes it is so. If you want to argue that a particular claim is dubious or incomplete, say why in your thesis.
  • A strong thesis is supportable . The angle in your thesis should be able to be supported with examples, details, facts, observations, and other types of evidence, including research as appropriate.
  • A strong thesis includes implications . Suppose your assignment is to write an essay about some aspect of the history of linen production and trade, a topic that may seem exceedingly arcane. And suppose you have constructed a well supported and creative argument that linen was so widely traded in the ancient Mediterranean that it actually served as a kind of currency. [1]   That’s a strong, insightful, arguable, well specified thesis. But which of these thesis statements do you find more engaging?
Version A: Linen served as a form of currency in the ancient Mediterranean world, connecting rival empires through circuits of trade. Version B: Linen served as a form of currency in the ancient Mediterranean world, connecting rival empires through circuits of trade. The economic role of linen raises important questions about how shifting environmental conditions can influence economic relationships and, by extension, political conflicts.

Strong thesis sentences have angles that are arguable, well-specified, and supportable. Not all topics and angles lend themselves to implications. However, if you’ve chosen a topic and created an angle that allows you to put your claims into a broader context, that additional context and its implications can create additional interest in an essay.

H ow do you produce a good, strong thesis? And how do you know when you’ve gotten there? Many instructors and writers find useful a metaphor based on this passage by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. [2] :

There are one-story intellects, two-story intellects, and three-story intellects with skylights. All fact collectors who have no aim beyond their facts are one-story men. Two-story men compare, reason, generalize using the labor of fact collectors as their own. Three-story men idealize, imagine, predict—their best illumination comes from above the skylight.

Looking up from below the corner of a Japanese temple, so that three levels of red eaves, capped by black gutters, are arranged in a strong vertical point

The biggest benefit of the three-story metaphor is that it describes a process for building a thesis. To build the first story, you first have to get familiar with the complex, relevant facts surrounding the problem or question. You have to be able to describe the situation thoroughly and accurately. Then, with that first story built, you can layer on the second story by formulating the insightful, arguable point that animates the analysis. That’s often the most effortful part: brainstorming, elaborating and comparing alternative ideas, finalizing your point. With that specified, you can frame the third story by articulating why the point you make matters beyond its particular topic or case.

For example, imagine you have been assigned an essay about the impact of online learning in higher education. You would first construct an account of the origins and multiple forms of online learning and assess research findings about its use and effectiveness. If you’ve done that well, you’ll probably come up with a well considered opinion that wouldn’t be obvious to readers who haven’t looked at the issue in depth. Maybe you’ll want to argue that online  learning is a threat to the academic community. Or perhaps you’ll want to make the case that online learning opens up pathways to college degrees that traditional campus-based learning does not. In the course of developing your central, argumentative point, you’ll come to recognize its larger context; in this example, you may claim that online learning can serve to better integrate higher education with the rest of society, as online learners bring their educational and career experiences together.

To outline this example:

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  • Basic Thesis/1st Story : Online learning is becoming more prevalent and takes many different forms. ( has a topic and angle, and is supportable, but the angle is broad. The angle would be more interesting if it offered an argument about an issue related to online learning.)
  • Strong Thesis/2nd Story : Strong thesis: While most observers see it as a  transformation  of higher education, online learning is better thought of an  extension  of higher education in that it reaches learners who aren’t disposed to participate in traditional campus-based education.( has a topic and angle, angle is arguable, supportable, and well-specified )
  • Stronger Thesis/3rd Story : Online learning appears to be a promising way to better integrate higher education with other institutions in society, as online learners integrate their educational experiences with the other realms of their life, promoting the freer flow of ideas between the academy and the rest of society. ( has a topic and angle, angle is arguable, supportable, and well-specified, angle contains implications that set the argument within a broader context )

Here’s one more example:

  • Basic Thesis/1st Story : Scientists disagree about the likely impact in the U.S. of the light brown apple moth (LBAM) , an agricultural pest native to Australia. ( has a topic and an angle, and the angle is supportable, but the angle is broad. The angle would be more interesting if it offered an argument about an issue related to the light brown apple moth.)
  • Strong Thesis/2nd Story : Research findings to date suggest that the decision to spray pheromones over the skies of several southern Californian counties to combat the light brown apple moth was poorly thought out. ( has a topic and angle, angle is arguable, supportable, and well-specified )
  • Stronger Thesis/3rd Story : Together, the scientific ambiguities and the controversial response strengthen the claim that industrial-style approaches to pest management are inherently unsustainable. ( has a topic and angle, angle is arguable, supportable, and well-specified, angle contains implications that set the argument within a broader context )

A thesis statement that stops at the first story isn’t usually considered a thesis. A two-story thesis is usually considered competent, though some two-story theses are more intriguing and ambitious than others. A thoughtfully crafted and well informed three-story thesis, which sets the angle in a broader context,  puts the author on a smooth path toward an interesting and insightful essay. As a beginning writer, know that you need to “build” at least two stories into your thesis; the third is something to attempt and strive for.

Here’s more information on how to write a strong thesis sentence, offering your specific assertion that is feasible to support, and setting that assertion within a broader context.

  • For more see Fabio Lopez-Lazaro “Linen.” In Encyclopedia of World Trade from Ancient Times to the Present . Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2005. ↵
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast Table (New York: Houghton & Mifflin, 1892) ↵
  • The metaphor is extraordinarily useful even though the passage is annoying. Beyond the sexist language of the time, it displays condescension toward “fact-collectors” which reflects a general modernist tendency to elevate the abstract and denigrate the concrete. In reality, data-collection is a creative and demanding craft, arguably more important than theorizing. ↵
  • Characteristics of a Strong Thesis. Revision and adaptation of the page The Three-Story Thesis at https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-englishcomposition1/chapter/text-the-three-story-thesis/, which is a revision and adaptation of the page The three-story thesis: from the ground up at http://textbooks.opensuny.org/writing-in-college-from-competence-to-excellence/. Authored by : Susan Oaks. Provided by : Empire State College. Project : College Writing. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • The Three-Story Thesis. Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-englishcomposition1/chapter/text-the-three-story-thesis/ . Project : English Composition I. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • The three-story thesis: from the ground up. Authored by : Amy Guptill. Provided by : The College at Brockport, SUNY. Located at : http://textbooks.opensuny.org/writing-in-college-from-competence-to-excellence/ . Project : Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence. License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • image of pagoda's three stories. Authored by : Takashi Hososhima. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : https://flic.kr/p/gGhtya . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved
  • video How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement. Provided by : Scribbr. Located at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFp1uGTXo4Q&t=62s . License : Other . License Terms : YouTube video
  • image of a strong woman climbing a wall. Authored by : Jason Goh. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : https://pixabay.com/photos/climbing-rope-rappelling-wall-rock-756669/ . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved
  • image of a man lifting a barbell with weights. Authored by : Frederick Ochari. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : https://pixabay.com/photos/workout-gym-fitness-exercise-5350078/ . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved

IMAGES

  1. College essay: An argumentative thesis statement

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  2. 45 Perfect Thesis Statement Templates (+ Examples) ᐅ TemplateLab

    qualities of an argumentative thesis statement

  3. How to Write a Thesis Statement: Fill-in-the-Blank Formula

    qualities of an argumentative thesis statement

  4. 15 Thesis Statement Examples to Inspire Your Next Argumentative Essay

    qualities of an argumentative thesis statement

  5. How to Write A Powerful Argumentative Thesis Statement for an Academic

    qualities of an argumentative thesis statement

  6. A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing an Argumentative Thesis

    qualities of an argumentative thesis statement

VIDEO

  1. Thesis Statement +Refutation Paragraph(Argumentative Essay)

  2. Argumentative essay writing

  3. Argumentative Thesis Statements

  4. How to write a strong thesis statement

  5. What is a thesis Statement

  6. Writing a thesis statement for an argumentative essay!

COMMENTS

  1. Strong Thesis Statements

    An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

  2. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Step 1: Start with a question Step 2: Write your initial answer Step 3: Develop your answer Step 4: Refine your thesis statement Types of thesis statements Other interesting articles Frequently asked questions about thesis statements What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay.

  3. Developing a Thesis Statement

    Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic. Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper. Is focused and specific enough to be "proven" within the boundaries of your paper.

  4. Argumentative Thesis Statements

    Below are some of the key features of an argumentative thesis statement. An argumentative thesis is . . . Debatable An argumentative thesis must make a claim about which reasonable people can disagree. Statements of fact or areas of general agreement cannot be argumentative theses because few people disagree about them. Example

  5. Thesis Statements

    When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.) How do I create a thesis?

  6. 9.4: Argumentative Thesis Statements

    An argumentative thesis must make a claim about which reasonable people can disagree. Statements of fact or areas of general agreement cannot be argumentative theses because few people disagree about them. Let's take a look at an example: BAD: Junk food is bad for your health. This is not a debatable thesis.

  7. Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

    A strong thesis statement contains the following qualities. Specificity. A thesis statement must concentrate on a specific area of a general topic. As you may recall, the creation of a thesis statement begins when you choose a broad subject and then narrow down its parts until you pinpoint a specific aspect of that topic.

  8. How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement

    Formula for a strong argumentative thesis The qualities of a solid thesis statement (video) What is a "thesis statement" anyway? You may have heard of something called a "thesis." It's what seniors commonly refer to as their final paper before graduation. That's not what we're talking about here.

  9. Argumentative Thesis

    Argumentative Thesis As explained in Research, not all essays will require an explicitly stated thesis, but most argumentative essays will. Instead of implying your thesis or main idea, in an argumentative essay, you'll most likely be required to write out your thesis statement for your audience.

  10. Argumentative Thesis Statements

    Assertive An argumentative thesis takes a position, asserting the writer's stance. Questions, vague statements, or quotations from others are not argumentative theses because they do not assert the writer's viewpoint. Let's take a look at an example: Federal immigration law is a tough issue for American citizens.

  11. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    How to write a thesis statement for persuasive essays. Similar to argumentative essays, persuasive essays follow many of the same guidelines for their thesis statements: decisive language, specific details, and mentions of subtopics. However, the main difference is that, while the thesis statements for argumentative and expository essays state facts, the thesis statements for persuasive essays ...

  12. 2.5 Writing Thesis Statements

    A strong thesis statement must have the following qualities: It must be arguable. A thesis statement must state a point of view or judgment about a topic. An established fact is not considered arguable. It must be supportable. The thesis statement must contain a point of view that can be supported with evidence (reasons, facts, examples).

  13. PDF Thesis

    Thesis Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs

  14. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement. The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it. Argumentative essays are by far the most common type of essay to write at university.

  15. The Guiding Idea and Argumentative Thesis Statement

    However, because the thesis statement presents an argument that must be convincing to readers, it needs to have some important characteristics of its own: It must be logical and reasonable. Clearly, if you want your reader to "listen" to what you have to say, you need to show that you have thought out your argument from all angles.

  16. PDF Thesis Statements

    The thesis statement of an essay is the one- or ... consider the following qualities of an effective thesis statement: A good thesis statement clearly suggests an essay's direction, emphasis, and scope. ... To test whether a thesis is argumentative, ask whether a person could argue against it. If the statement can be argued against, the thesis is

  17. How to write a thesis statement

    Start drafting an outline to organize your points and keep your essay clear and concise. 4. Refine your statement. Your final thesis statement needs to summarize your argument or topic. Instead of just stating your position, it should identify your point of view and set you up to make a compelling argument for it. 5.

  18. 15 Thesis Statement Examples to Inspire Your Next Argumentative ...

    1. A good argumentative thesis is focused and not too broad. It's important to stay focused! Don't try to argue an overly broad topic in your essay, or you're going to feel confused and unsure about your direction and purpose. Don't write: "Eating fast food is bad and should be avoided."

  19. Important Tips for Writing an Argumentative Thesis Statement

    Basic Signs of Argumentative Thesis Statements. Argumentative thesis statements is an exact, understandable position at the beginning of a text that has the following characteristics: on the one hand, the author of his statement can quickly and convincingly write why he thinks so (because he/she is sure of its truth, correctness);

  20. Thesis Characteristics

    Thesis Characteristics Whenever you are writing to explain something to your reader or to persuade your reader to agree with your opinion, there should be one complete sentence that expresses the main idea of your paper. That sentence is often called the thesis, or thesis statement.

  21. Thesis Statement Examples

    The Qualities of a Solid Thesis Statement: Key Elements for Success. Clarity: ... Persuasive Thesis Statements: A persuasive thesis statement is used in argumentative essays where the author takes a specific stance on an issue and tries to persuade the reader to adopt their viewpoint. Persuasive thesis statements make a strong claim and present ...

  22. 12 Argumentative Thesis Statement Examples

    These argumentative thesis statement examples are meant to serve as possible inspiration-don't use them verbatim. That would be plagiarism, and besides, it would rob the world of your unique thoughts about the issues at hand. Look at each example and note what they have in common-each states a clear position on a given issue and then ...

  23. 50 Argumentative Essay Thesis Statement Examples (2024)

    Thesis Statements for Argumentative Essays 1. Mandatory School Uniforms For: "School uniforms should be mandatory as they promote equality and reduce distractions, fostering a better learning environment."

  24. Characteristics of a Strong Thesis

    Strong thesis sentences have angles that are arguable, well-specified, and supportable. Not all topics and angles lend themselves to implications. However, if you've chosen a topic and created an angle that allows you to put your claims into a broader context, that additional context and its implications can create additional interest in an essay.