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For this assignment, you will use various writing processes to develop an essay on a personal topic. You will be given an opportunity to explore the topic in rough form, but the final version of the essay will be in standard written English.

The project is designed to help you meet several objectives that are important for a successful writer. It will help you to

  • explore a focused topic in writing,
  • demonstrate awareness of an audience and purpose through language and style choices,
  • use topic sentences and appropriate transitions, and
  • use standard written English when appropriate.

Objective I. Explore a focused topic in writing.

For writers, developing a clear focus is an essential part of the writing process. For readers, a clear focus is essential for their understanding of a writer’s message and purpose. The following section of the Handbook will introduce you to the factors that are important for creating a piece of writing with a clear focus.

Specifically, this section will offer answers to these questions:

  • What is an essay?
  • How do I focus my ideas?
  • What is a thesis statement?
  • Does a personal essay have to have a thesis statement?
  • Where should I place my thesis statement?
  • How do I use my thesis statement to talk to other people?
  • How is a thesis statement like a claim?

1. What is an essay?

An essay is a relatively short piece of nonfiction prose that explores an idea or topic. Essays are written for many reasons. For example, an essay may recount an event, develop a position on an issue, or describe a person, place, or thing.

Notice that this description does not specify a format. (Even length is left vague.)  The organization, the length, the style, the tone—often these are determined not by any template but by an author making choices in response to purpose, context, and audience.

In the past, one choice may have been made for you. In grades K-12, some instructors assign the five-paragraph theme: introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, concluding paragraph. That organization may have worked as a school exercise, but going forward you cannot always rely upon that template. In reality, essays have as many paragraphs as they need to have. If you are exploring a complex issue, five paragraphs may not be enough. On the other hand, under some circumstances even fewer than five paragraphs may be appropriate. Always keep in mind that your instructors will provide specific guidance on the appropriate length and format for particular writing assignments.

2. How do I focus my ideas?

Initially, you may be unsure about what you want to say, and you may have to do some preliminary writing to begin to develop your viewpoint. But even before that, you may need to write a bit to make certain that the subject is narrow enough to be manageable. This writing in order to establish a focus is something that you do for yourself, without being concerned about how it will come across to an audience. As you write informally (even a bulleted list can help), react to your own writing. If you are writing about a broad subject, notice the topics within the subject. Consider zeroing in on one of them. Ask yourself what interests you about this new subject and how it is important to you or other people. Think of yourself as going through a writing funnel—broad at the top, narrow at the bottom—and repeat the process until you settle upon something doable within the space, time, and resources available to you.

3. What is a thesis statement?

The thesis statement is “in charge” of an essay. It identifies the subject, indicates your viewpoint, and often forecasts the essay’s organization. While drafting, return repeatedly to the thesis statement to make certain that it is still in charge of the essay. If a passage does not explain or illustrate the thesis, then you have three options: eliminate the passage, revise it so that it is relevant, or consider changing the thesis statement. Authors continually develop their ideas as they write, so revising (even replacing) a thesis statement is not a sign that the writing process is going badly; instead, it is a reminder that writing is thinking.

Example of a thesis statement:

I admired my cousin’s decision to enlist because she had to withstand criticism from people who thought women shouldn’t be in the army and because in basic training she had to stand up to physical and mental challenges that I don’t think I could face.

This thesis statement provides quite a lot of guidance for both writing and reading the essay. Writer and reader are equally able to see what the subject of the essay is and what is being stated about the subject, and both writer and reader can see how the essay should be organized.

Subject: cousin’s decision to enlist.

Statement about subject: writer admires cousin’s decision.

Organization: No matter how many body paragraphs there are, they will be divided into two sections. One section will group together the paragraphs on this topic:  cousin “had to withstand criticism from people who thought women shouldn’t be in the army.” Another section will group together the paragraphs on this second topic: “in basic training she had to stand up to physical and mental challenges.”

The thesis also suggests a further subdivision under “in basic training she had to stand up to physical and mental challenges.” In this section of the essay, paragraphs could be divided into ones devoted to ‘physical challenges’ and ones devoted to ‘mental challenges’ .

4.     Does a personal essay have to have a thesis statement?

  While many personal essays include a direct statement of the thesis, in some personal essays the thesis may be implied rather than stated outright.

Imagine, for example, that in your personal essay you decide to write about the way someone influenced you. The influential individual could be a relative, a friend or classmate, an employer or a teacher. As you shape your essay, you would not simply assemble a collection of miscellaneous observations about the person; instead, you would be selective and focus on details about this person that show his or her impact upon you.

Let us say that the person who influenced you is a grandparent. You may know a lot about this individual: personality traits, family and marital history, medical history, educational background, work experience, military experience, political and religious beliefs, hobbies, tastes in music, etc. But as you shape your essay about how this individual affected you, you wouldn’t try to catalog all that you know. Instead, you would try to create a dominant impression by including details that guide your reader toward the idea that is central to the essay. For example, if you developed certain habits and attitudes as you and your grandparent worked together on a project, that experience might provide the focus for the essay. If you chose details consistent with that focus, then you wouldn’t need to state that this was the point of the essay. Your readers would understand that that was the governing idea based on the details you had so carefully chosen.

Whether the thesis is stated outright or implied, then, the personal essay will have a governing idea—an idea that is “in charge” of what you decide to include in the essay in terms of content, vocabulary, sentence structure, and tone. In short, the personal essay may not have a thesis statement, but it will have a thesis.

5.     Where should I place my thesis statement?

In shorter essays, the thesis statement tends to be found in the first paragraph, often in the last sentence of that paragraph. In longer essays it may take longer to lay the groundwork for the statement. In some cases, the thesis is in fact stated in the final paragraph: the essay may open with a question and work through answers and state the thesis as a conclusion. Wherever the thesis appears in the essay, keep in mind that sometimes it takes more than one sentence to adequately convey a thesis.

6. How do I use my thesis statement to talk to other people?

Your readers will need to be able to grasp what the essay is about, what your viewpoint is, and how the essay will be structured. Without this information, your audience may not always know what to make of the information you are providing. For example, you may describe something, but your audience may wonder what point you are trying to illustrate if they don’t know what the essay is about, don’t have of sense of your viewpoint, and don’t know where the essay is heading.

At the outset, a thesis statement provides the initial “instructions” that your audience needs in order to follow your reasoning. After the opening, the thesis statement continues to play a role when language from it reappears as the audience advances through the essay. Each time the thesis statement is echoed, readers are reminded of the subject and of your point of view.

Example of reinforcement of thesis statement:

Thesis: I admired my cousin’s decision to enlist because she had to withstand criticism from people who thought women shouldn’t be in the army and because in basic training she had to stand up to physical and mental challenges that I don’t think I could face.

Echo as topic sentence of body paragraph: After my cousin made the decision to enlist, she had to break the news to her parents, who expected her to remain near home and to get a job locally.

7.     How is a thesis statement like a claim?

In everyday speech, when we say that someone has “claimed” something to be true, often we are implying that we will not believe a statement unless the speaker provides support for it. In that sense, a thesis statement is like a claim . Through your thesis statement, you have expressed your viewpoint on a subject, but your audience may not accept your viewpoint unless you explain your reasoning and provide evidence.

In persuasive writing and speaking, one way in which the two terms are similar is that both state something that can be argued. The statement “President George W. Bush was the forty-third president of the United States” is not arguable and is therefore neither a thesis nor a claim. The statement that “The Veterans Administration should be exempt from budget cuts in order to serve veterans of the Iraq war” is arguable and is therefore a claim or thesis.

In a personal essay, you may not think of your thesis as “arguable” in the same way as a claim in a persuasive essay would be arguable, but in fact you can think of it as something that should need to be demonstrated—backed up through explanations and illustrations.

If the thesis does not need to be demonstrated, then there may not be much purpose in writing the essay. For, example, like the statement that George W. Bush was the forty-third president, the statement that “Senior proms are exciting” would not be considered arguable by most people and likely would not spark a reader’s interest and make her want to keep reading.

On the other hand, the thesis statements below would need to be explained and illustrated. In that sense, these Personal Essay thesis statements are equivalent to claims that are “arguable.”

  • The evening was nearly ruined because parents acting as dress-code vigilantes threw several people out of the prom.
  • My team spent hours planning the prom and managed to head off a repeat of the after-prom drinking that caused some parents to question whether the prom should be held this year.
  • Everyone was able to attend the prom proudly because our prom committee got several stores to loan outfits to make certain everyone would feel like they fit in.
  • I opted to attend an alternative prom because the principal refused to allow a same-sex couple to attend.
  • Although some parents objected to allowing a same-sex couple to attend, the prom was a great success because we felt like everyone was respected so we were really a class—all of us together.

Objective II. Demonstrate awareness of purpose and audience through language and style choices.

Audience awareness is one of the defining characteristics of college-level writing and speaking. Your audience will be the reader, viewer, or listener who encounters and interprets your work.

The following sections will help you to understand why you should consider your audience carefully. It also will suggest ways for tailoring written or oral communication to suit your audience and your purpose or goals.

  • Why should I care about my audience?
  • Who is my audience?
  • H ow do I show that I have considered my audience?
  • How do I write for an audience that includes my instructor?
  • What do I want to accomplish through my communication?
  • How can I use language appropriately and effectively to accomplish my writing goals?

1. Why should I care about my audience?

You need to make writing choices based on an audience just as you will need to make choices based on your purpose or your subject matter. Members of your audience may have certain expectations, and if you violate those expectations, you may lose their interest and possibly even their respect. Those expectations may include

Even if your audience has no strong expectations, you need to consider that certain choices of language, arguments, and examples may be more successful for one audience as opposed to another audience. You have been making such choices for nearly as long as you have been communicating, both in speech and in writing. You only have to think about the difference between text messages you send to friends and the high school reports you have written to recognize that you already understand that it is important to consider your audience when choosing what to say and write.

2. Who is my audience?

There are two types of audiences: an ideal and an actual one. The ideal audience is made up of the types of people you hope will read, view, or listen to your work. They may be members of a scholarly field, like physics or history, or they may be everyday people with shared experiences, beliefs, or values. Your audience might have a particular relationship with you and might encounter your text under particular circumstances, such as in a town hall meeting, classroom presentation, or local newspaper.

You imagine an ideal audience as you create your text, but in the end your actual audience might turn out to be very different, with experiences, beliefs or values that don’t match those of the audience you were imagining. In addition, your actual audience might encounter your work outside of its intended context. For example, you may write an editorial for The Tartan or Whim , thinking that only members of the Radford University community will read it. In fact, your editorial could be read by family members in other states or complete strangers from other countries. If your actual audience knows nothing about you, it will form an impression of you based solely on your paper, speech, or video. Given these uncertainties, it can be tempting to simply forget about any audience, ideal or imagined. However, doing so would be a grave mistake because the effectiveness of your work is a direct result of your careful consideration of how an audience, either ideal or actual, may react to it.

3. How do I show that I have considered my audience?

To show that you have considered your audience, you must present ideas in ways that the audience is accustomed to seeing. For example, a paper for an English course might rely on an analysis of specific words and phrases from a poem, play, or novel. The paper might also show that its ideas respond in some way to a discussion that was started by experts on the literary text. A presentation in a sociology course, on the other hand, might rely on evidence obtained through controlled experiments and direct observations of people’s behaviors. It may also explain how these observations compare with observations made by experts on that particular subject.

You need to consider non-academic audiences with similar care. For example, the audience of The New York Times tends to be less politically, fiscally, and socially conservative than that of The Wall Street Journal . Knowing this, a writer would tailor her communication accordingly. Similarly, a speaker might address a group of small business owners much differently from how she would address a Parent-Teacher Association. Each audience values different ideas and would be receptive to different arguments, and a speaker is unlikely to succeed if she does not consider them beforehand.

4. How do I write for an audience that includes my instructor?

In cases where an instructor is your audience, it certainly is appropriate to think of him or her as someone who will grade your work. It is also, however, very helpful to think of an instructor as a representative of a scholarly discipline. In other words, your instructors—whether in English, psychology, chemistry, or criminal justice—read essays and books that present arguments and evidence in a manner that is convincing to experts in their fields. What constitutes “evidence,” or “clear writing” varies greatly from one discipline to another. Therefore, the key to writing successfully for audiences in different disciplines is to learn what constitutes effective communication in each field.

5. What do I want to accomplish through my communication?

Every text—whether it is written, oral, visual—is trying to do something. In other words, every text has a purpose or goal. Its purpose might be very clear and straightforward. For example, the purpose of an advertisement is very obvious: an advertisement is trying to get the viewer to buy a product. On the other hand, the purpose of a creative short story might be more difficult to describe: it might be an attempt to understand one’s experience, to share one’s thoughts, to surprise or challenge the reader, to critique social practices, and so on. A literary analysis often tries to get the reader to consider a new interpretation of a text like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , while a classroom presentation might communicate the various ways in which labor practices in China affect prices at big box stores in the United States. Notice that all of the above “purposes” are verbs rather than nouns.  In other words, to have a purpose when speaking or writing is to take action, to try to “do” something: to argue, investigate, persuade, or explain.

6. How can I use language appropriately and effectively to accomplish my writing goals? 

In order to use language effectively, you need to evaluate your text’s purpose and audience, along with the context of its presentation.

Some things to consider: 

  • Where and how will your text be published and/or circulated?
  • Will you be presenting your work orally or in written form?
  • What time or space limits might you face?
  • What is your relationship to your audience?  Are you strangers? Friends?  Relatives?  Are you social or professional equals?
  • Will formal or informal language be more effective in addressing your audience?
  • Will an appeal based on reason and evidence be effective with your audience?
  • Will an appeal based on emotion or shared values be effective with your audience?
  •  Will an appeal based on your credibility or the credibility of your sources be effective with this audience?
  • To what degree might anecdotes, jokes, and so on, be appropriate or inappropriate for your audience and purpose?
  • What kinds of grammatical structures and/or language practices does your audience use? How much do you want to conform to or challenge the way your audience uses language?
  • How much will communication conventions or spelling matter to your audience?

Objective III. Use topic sentences and appropriate transitions.

Topic sentences and transitions provide the framework for an essay or speech. They help you as you work to develop your ideas in an organized fashion, and they guide your audience members as they work to follow your reasoning and see how your explanations and examples fit into an overall picture.

The following sections will help you to understand how to create and use topic sentences and transitions, as well as how to create an introduction and a conclusion for your personal essay.

  • How do I begin a personal essay?
  • What is a topic sentence?
  • What is the purpose of a body paragraph in a personal essay?
  • How do I structure a body paragraph in a personal essay?
  • What is an illustration?
  • What is a transition?
  • How can I make an effective transition?
  • How do I conclude a personal essay?

1. How do I begin a personal essay?

The first paragraph (sometimes the second as well) is the reader’s introduction to the essay. However, the introduction to the final draft of your essay may not be the introduction that you wrote for the first draft of the essay. As you shape and reshape your essay, you may find your ideas evolving so that the paragraph you wrote as a way to get started no longer works as the opening for the finished essay. Finding that you have to replace the essay’s introduction does not indicate that you have done something wrong. Instead, it indicates that you have done something right: you have used the writing process to develop your ideas. In fact, many writers find that the last thing they finish is the introduction—when they have completed sorting out what it is they want to say.

When you craft the introduction for the finished essay, you may use it to signal the subject of the essay and to indicate your viewpoint. You may state your thesis in the introduction, and you may use it to forecast the essay’s organization.

The above type of information can be helpful to a reader. However, there is one more way in which you can use the introduction: to capture the interest of your reader. A clear thesis, a careful organization—these will be lost on a reader who decides to put down your essay and pick up something else to read instead. When you develop your introduction, try to hook your reader. One way to do so is to describe a memorable individual, scene, or event. Make your description vivid and detailed. Seize the reader’s interest by showing her that this is not a run-of-the-mill person, place, or incident.

Some writers include a quotation or a question in the introduction. This strategy can work, but be careful not to seem to be following a worn-out formula. Some quotations have been trotted out again and again until they come across as platitudes —stale statements that are unlikely to excite the reader. For example, “Love conquers all” was first written (in Latin) by the Roman poet Virgil more than two thousand years ago. After being repeated for two thousand years, the statement may not seem to be a novel or exciting way to introduce an essay.

2. What is a topic sentence?

A topic sentence states the main point, or key idea, of a paragraph. For example, in this excerpt from “Is social media making us socially awkward?” by Janie Maitland (2013), the first sentence is the topic sentence:

Keeping up with friends from your past is also easy with social media. Not that it’s incredibly hard to call your best friend from fifth grade from time to time, but with social media you can keep up with not only your long-lost BFF, but your entire fifth grade class.

Topic sentences not only serve to guide your paragraph structure, they are also there to further your thesis, or main claim. Compare the thesis below with examples of topic sentences. Notice how each topic sentence reinforces an idea that can be traced back to an element of the thesis .

I admired my cousin’s decision to enlist because she had to withstand criticism from people who thought women shouldn’t be in the army and because in basic training she had to stand up to physical and mental challenges that I don’t think I could face .

Topic sentences:

After my cousin made the decision to enlist, she had to break the news to her parents, who expected her to remain near home and to get a job locally.

She also had to put up criticism from the people she went to school with who were raised to expect women to marry and start families at a young age.

Even her employer opposed her decision because although he was a veteran, in his day women only joined auxiliary services.

3. What is the purpose of a body paragraph in a personal essay?

Body paragraphs should serve to strengthen and develop the ideas that you laid out in your introduction and/or via your thesis or main claim. Your body paragraphs also should help to guide the reader through your points, so they should be clear and focused.

Notice that each example topic sentence in What is a topic sentence? identifies a point that would be developed into a body paragraph.

4. How do I structure a body paragraph in a personal essay?

In an argument essay, writers often use the PIE (Point, Illustration, Explanation) format: state the point (topic or key idea), illustrate the point, explain the point. In a personal essay, sometimes the explanation may be omitted. What is vital for a body paragraph in a personal essay is that (1) it include a single point (a topic sentence or key idea) that furthers the thesis and (2) that the point be fully developed via  an illustration or example of some sort. Each body paragraph also should contain some sort of transition from the paragraphs that follows it.

5. What is an illustration?

Illustrations generally are examples or pieces of evidence to show the reader what your points are telling them. For example, in her article “Is social media making us socially awkward?”, Janie Maitland (2013) tells her audience that “Without social media, it’d be impossible…to keep up with all of” the people she’s met as a result of moving around a lot. She follows up by showing:

When I reunited with my best friend from Florida…reconnecting was so easy because…She already had a list of my friends that she had seen on my Facebook page that she had wanted to meet, and I already knew what kind of topics interested her…

While her audience might very well believe her when she “tells” them that social media has helped her to stay connected to important people in her life, the illustration serves to make it much clearer and much more unique to her experience.

6. What is a transition?

A transition is a signal to readers that you are moving from one point or idea to another point or idea. This signal shows your audience that a new sentence or paragraph has some connection to the previous sentence or paragraph.

Transitions often remind readers of what was covered in the previous sentence or paragraph. When the transition reminds readers of a previous idea while introducing a new one, the new idea exists within a context. As a result, readers see that the new sentence or paragraph is a link in a chain of sentences or paragraphs.

Without transitions, it may be hard follow the logic of an essay because readers may not be able to tell why the new sentence or paragraph is being introduced. In extreme cases, poor or missing transitions may make an essay seem too much like a loose collection of sentences or paragraphs rather than a focused piece of writing.

7. How can I make an effective transition?

At the sentence level—usually within a paragraph—a transitional word or phrase might be sufficient. Common transitional words or phrases include also , another , furthermore , in addition to , and so on. Between paragraphs, however, it’s generally a good idea to show how the idea you are leaving behind is related to the one you are starting.

One way to show how the idea you are leaving behind is related to the one you are starting is to begin a paragraph with a sentence that has two parts to it: one part referring back to an idea from the previous paragraph and another part introducing the idea that the new paragraph will focus on.

  Although I knew I would have to walk the dogs morning and evening, I had not counted on having to get up in the middle of the night to let them in to my room every time it thundered—and it thundered a lot that summer.

Careful repetition of language from the previous paragraph in the beginning of the new paragraph can help create a transition that reminds readers of an old idea while introducing a new one. The example below illustrates how this kind of transition works, with the phrase at the beginning of the second paragraph echoing a phrase in a preceding sentence.

In this case, it’s a good idea to repeat a key word or phrase from the last sentence of one body paragraph in the first sentence of the next.

Repeating a key word or phrase will make it easier for your reader to see how you got from point A to point B. If at any time you find it difficult to create a transition from one paragraph or idea to the next, you may need to re-order your paragraphs to create a more logical progression.

Be careful to place the transitional sentence at the beginning of the new paragraph. Do not attach it to the end of the old paragraph. Even though the transition sentence may recap language or ideas from the old paragraph, as soon as the new idea is stated, the essay has moved on to new territory.

8. How do I conclude a personal essay?

Your task in concluding is to remind the reader of where the essay has taken them and why its message matters. There is no need to construct a dramatic sitcom-style conclusion; nor does the conclusion need to state the obvious by using the phrase “in conclusion.”  Also avoid the pitfall of bringing up new issues that you did not cover in the body of the essay. Above all, the conclusion should not feel forced, so don’t tack on a “moral” or a “lesson” that might come across as an afterthought.

Instead, reemphasize what you’ve already said, with the conclusion growing out of the step-by-step progression of the essay. One way to conclude is to simply reword and restate the thesis and key ideas. Alternately, you can create a “frame” for the essay by returning to something from the introduction. This strategy creates a sense of closure for the audience by bringing readers full circle, that is, back to the beginning. For example, if you started your essay with a question to draw the reader in, a full-circle conclusion might end by answering that attention grabbing question.

Objective IV. Use standard written English when appropriate.

Your Core courses are intended to help you meet the expectations of both your instructors and your future employers, and both audiences are likely to expect you to communicate in standard written English.

  • What is grammar?
  • What is usage?
  • What is the difference between grammar and usage?
  • Why should I care about usage?
  • What counts as “proper” grammar?
  • What if I don’t use “proper” grammar?

1. What is grammar?

A rough and ready definition of grammar is that it is a set of rules by which a language operates. But defining grammar is a little more complicated than that because for any language there are several different versions of grammar. One of these versions will be a descriptive grammar that covers the way a language is actually used by its speakers. Another version, though, will be a prescriptive grammar that reflects beliefs about how a language should operate. These prescriptive expectations about how a language should work often are held by people in authority, such as teachers and employers. If your audience includes people who embrace a prescriptive grammar, you need to be able to adapt to that set of language rules in order to meet audience expectations.

2.     What is usage?

Usage is a set of writing and speaking conventions—that is, a set of standards that language users have agreed upon for particular contexts. For example, in some types of writing, such as formal reports, contractions may be frowned upon. A writer would be expected to spell out “they are” instead of writing “they’re.” The contraction “they’re” is not ungrammatical, but people who are creating and receiving communications have agreed that contractions are not appropriate within a particular context. In another writing situation, contractions may be perfectly acceptable because of different usage expectations.

3. What is the difference between grammar and usage?

Grammar is a matter of following the rules that allow a language to work, but usage is a matter of convention, a set of standards that language users have agreed upon for a particular context. This distinction is important because a text could be completely free of grammar mistakes but still contain errors of usage.

4. Why should I care about usage?

Your ability to communicate effectively partly depends upon your ability to shape language to fit the demands of particular situations. In certain academic and professional contexts, you will be expected to use what has been called, variously, Well Edited American Prose (WEAP), Standard American English, or Network Standard English. Whatever label you use, this variety of English is linked to the social classes and racial and ethnic class groups that have held political power. It is therefore the variety of language that is most frequently used in the arenas—such as business and academia—that are associated with political power. Your ability to succeed in these academic and professional contexts may be impacted by your ability to utilize WEAP effectively.

5. What counts as “proper” grammar? 

While many of us are trained to think that there are “proper” and “improper” modes of grammar, this approach isn’t necessarily current. Certain types of grammar are more appropriate for certain situations. Thus, in a scientific research paper you might be expected to use the form of language preferred in academic and professional settings that is known as Well Edited American Prose (WEAP), but on Twitter you would be expected to rely on another form of language. Furthermore, conventions of “proper” grammar change over time. Therefore, rather than learning only one “proper” version of grammar, it is important to learn how to choose between types of grammar. Always adopt the register or variety of English that is suitable for the communication situation. Whether you use “who” or “whom”, whether you use “he or she” instead of “they”—these decisions hinge less on what is “proper” grammar than on what is appropriate for the communication situation you find yourself in.

6. What if I don’t use “proper” grammar?

Very few of us naturally speak or write using the grammatical forms that characterize Well Edited American Prose (WEAP) or other types of writing that may be preferred in academic and professional settings. English is characterized by a range of dialects that are often dependent upon geographical region and ethnicity. In addition, there are numerous registers of English—varieties of English suitable for specific social or professional situations—that may depart in some ways from the conventions of Well Edited American Prose (WEAP). The fact that your instructor asks you to write using WEAP doesn’t mean that the other language forms you or others may use are inferior forms of English. Nor does it mean that you have to leave those other forms of English behind. Rather, you are being asked to become accustomed to recognizing the demands of the communication situations in which you find yourself and to evaluating which modes of English are appropriate and effective for those contexts.

References for Personal Essay Section

Maitland, J. (2013, December 9). Is social media making us socially awkward? Whim Internet Magazine , Retrieved from http://www.ruwhim.com/?p=40370

This work ( Radford University Core Handbook by Radford University) is free of known copyright restrictions.

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Your Personal Essay Thesis Sentence

  • Writing Research Papers
  • Writing Essays
  • English Grammar
  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

"The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet."- Aristotle

Why do famous quotes become famous? What is special about them? If you think about it, famous quotes are succinct statements that make a bold claim. A thesis statement should do the same thing. It should state a big idea in just a few words.

Consider this quote: " He who opens a school door, closes a prison. " - Victor Hugo

This statement manages to encapsulate an enormous argument in one terse comment, and that is your goal when writing a thesis statement. If Victor Hugo had wanted to use simpler words, he could have said:

  • Education is important for personal growth and awareness.
  • Social awareness develops from education.
  • Education can reform.

Notice that each of these statements, like the quote, makes a claim that can be backed up with evidence?

Here's another quote: " Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm ." - Winston Churchill

Once again, the statement sets up an argument in interesting but terse language. Churchill might have said:

  • Everybody fails, but successful people fail many times.
  • You can learn from failure if you don't give up.

A Word of Advice

When creating a thesis, you don't have to use colorful words like the ones that appear in famous quotes. But you should try to sum up a big idea or make a big claim in one sentence.

Just for fun, look over the following quotes and come up with your own versions that could work as a thesis statement. By studying these quotes and practicing in this way, you can develop your own ability to sum up your thesis in a brief but engaging sentence.

  • Bette Davis : "Attempt the impossible in order to improve your work."
  • Henry Ford : "Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success."
  • Carl Sagan : "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."

The most successful students know that practice always pays. You can read more famous quotes to get the hang of creating concise, engaging statements.

  • How to Help Your 4th Grader Write a Biography
  • Write an Attention-Grabbing Opening Sentence for an Essay
  • How to Write a Good Thesis Statement
  • How to Write a Solid Thesis Statement
  • How to Narrow the Research Topic for Your Paper
  • An Introduction to Academic Writing
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Essay Writing Guide

Thesis Statement Examples

Last updated on: Jun 10, 2023

The Art of Effective Writing: Thesis Statements Examples and Tips

By: Nova A.

13 min read

Reviewed By: Chris H.

Published on: Mar 5, 2019

Thesis Statement Examples

Are you tired of struggling with weak and ineffective thesis statements for your academic papers?

Frustrated by the lack of clarity and direction in your writing?

It's time for a change!

Thesis statements are a very important part of essay writing .

In this blog, we will guide you through the process of crafting impactful thesis statements.

Get ready to captivate your readers with strong thesis statements that make a lasting impression.

Let's dive in!

Thesis Statement Examples

On this Page

What is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is the backbone of your academic paper. It serves as a concise summary of the main argument or point you will be making in your writing. 

Think of it as the roadmap that guides your readers through your essay, providing a clear direction and focus.

A solid thesis statement should be:

  • Clear and Specific: It should clearly state the main idea and focus of your paper, leaving no room for ambiguity.
  • Argu able: A good thesis statement presents a debatable claim or position that invites discussion and analysis.
  • Supported by Evidence: Your thesis statement should be supported by relevant evidence and logical reasoning throughout your paper.
  • Relevant to Your Topic: It should directly address the main topic or issue you are exploring in your essay.
  • Concise and Well-Structured: A strong thesis statement is usually one or two sentences long, clearly expressing the main point without unnecessary details.

If you want a detailed guide about crafting a thesis statement, you can read our thesis statement writing blog!

Thesis Statement: Bad vs. Good 

The quality of a thesis statement can make or break your essay. 

Let's explore the difference between bad and good thesis statements to understand how to create strong arguments that captivate your readers.

  • Bad Thesis Statement Example:  "A lot of people use social media."
  • Good Thesis Statement Example: "The pervasive use of social media has transformed interpersonal communication, leading to both positive and negative impacts on personal relationships and societal dynamics."

Here's a table comparing the characteristics of a bad thesis statement versus a good thesis statement:

How to Write a Thesis Statement Examples 

Writing a strong thesis statement is crucial for academic writing. It establishes the purpose of your essay and gives your readers a clear direction to follow.

To help you become proficient in this skill, let's examine some examples.

How to Start a Thesis Statement Example 

When starting a thesis statement, it's essential to identify the main topic or issue you will be discussing. 

For example, if your essay focuses on the impact of social media on society, a strong starting thesis statement could be:

Introductory Paragraph with Thesis Statement Example 

In the introductory paragraph, the thesis statement should be prominently featured to provide a clear preview of the main argument. 

For instance, if you are writing an essay about the benefits of exercise, your introductory paragraph could begin with a compelling thesis statement like this:

Topic Sentence and Thesis Statement Example 

The topic sentence sets the tone for the paragraph and connects it to the thesis statement. 

Consider an essay exploring renewable energy sources. A topic sentence that aligns with the thesis statement could be: 

Thesis Statement Example for Different Types of Essays 

The thesis statement plays a crucial role in setting the tone and focus of your essay. Depending on the type of essay you are writing, the structure and content of your thesis statement may vary. 

Let's explore some examples of thesis statements for different types of essays to understand how they differ in their approach and purpose:

Argumentative Essay 

In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should clearly present your position on a controversial topic. It should provide a preview of your main arguments. 

Persuasive Essay 

In a persuasive essay , your thesis statement aims to convince the reader of your viewpoint or opinion on a particular issue. 

Expository Essay 

In an expository essay , your thesis statement should provide an informative explanation or analysis of a topic. 

Comparative Essay 

In a comparative essay, your thesis statement highlights the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. 

Analytical Essay 

In an analytical essay , your thesis statement presents an analysis or interpretation of a literary work, artwork, or phenomenon. 

Informative Essay 

In informative essays , the goal is to educate and inform your readers about a specific topic. It should be without expressing a personal opinion or taking a stance. 

Thesis Statement for Informative Speech 

An informative speech discussing the impact of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems, highlighting environmental consequences and proposing sustainable solutions.

Thesis Statement for Literary Analysis

In this literary analysis essay , explore themes of perseverance and the struggle between man and nature.

Thesis Statement for Cause and Effect Essay

Examine the cause and effect of social media addiction among teenagers, in this cause-and-effect essay example.

Thesis Statement for Narrative Essay

In this narrative essay thesis statement example, discover valuable life lessons about perseverance, self-discovery, and the beauty of nature.

Example of Thesis Statement for Personal Essay

In personal essays, the thesis statement often reflects the central message or main idea that you want to convey about your personal experiences or reflections.

Good Thesis Statement Examples

A good thesis statement is the backbone of a well-structured and compelling essay. It presents a clear and concise argument or main point and sets the direction for your writing.  Let's explore some examples of good thesis statements to understand what makes them effective:

High School Thesis Statement Example

Problem thesis statement example, thesis statement example about education, thesis statement example in research paper, thesis statement example about covid-19, tips for writing an effective thesis statement.

Crafting a strong thesis statement is essential for a well-structured and focused essay. Here are some tips to help you write an effective thesis statement in an essay:

  • Be Clear and Specific: Clearly state your main argument or claim in a concise manner. Avoid vague or general statements that lack clarity.
  • Make it Arguable: Your thesis statement should present a debatable position that invites discussion and analysis. Avoid stating obvious or indisputable facts.
  • Tailor it to Your Essay: Your thesis statement should reflect the purpose and scope of your essay. Ensure that it directly addresses the main topic and focus of your writing.
  • Provide a Roadmap: Your thesis statement should act as a roadmap for your readers, outlining the main points or arguments that will be discussed in your essay.
  • Support with Evidence: Your thesis statement should be supported by relevant evidence, facts, or examples throughout your essay. Ensure that you can back up your claims.
  • Revise and Refine: Don't be afraid to revise and refine your thesis statement as you develop your essay. It's normal for it to evolve and become more refined as your understanding of the topic deepens.
  • Keep it Concise: Aim for a thesis statement that is clear, focused, and concise. Typically, it should be one or two sentences that capture the main point of your essay.
  • Consider Counterarguments: Anticipate counterarguments and address them in your thesis statement. This demonstrates a thoughtful and nuanced understanding of the topic.
  • Stay Relevant: Ensure that your thesis statement directly relates to the main topic and purpose of your essay. Avoid going off-topic or introducing unrelated ideas.

If you need more guidance, check out this descriptive video!

All in all, this blog has provided you with everything to get started with your thesis statement. However, if you still need any help, taking assistance from professional essay writers is a good option.

We, at 5StarEssays.com will help you with your ‘ write my essay ’ needs.

Feel free to contact us for placing your order today! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 parts of a thesis statement.

A thesis statement is made up of the following 3 parts.

  • Your opinion
  • And your reasons

No thesis statement is complete without these three parts and this is why it is important to add all three to your statement.

Can a thesis statement be a question?

No, a thesis statement could not be a question. A thesis statement should be debatable and inform the readers about the main points of the essay or paper. A question could not do it.

Can a thesis statement be 2 sentences long?

Yes, a thesis statement could be 2 lines or even longer. The length of the thesis statement depends on the length and depth of your work’s subject.

Nova A.

Marketing, Law

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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70 Examples of Excellent Thesis Statements for Essays in All Subjects

Looking at examples of thesis statements can be helpful when you’re crafting a thesis statement to guide your essay.

Text reads: 70 examples of strong thesis statements for all subjects

We’ve already looked at how to write a thesis statement and the thesis statement formula . In this article, we’ll present a ton of examples of solid thesis statements for a range of different subjects.

If you’ve yet to decide on your research topic, take a look at our 85 examples of great dissertation research topics .

When you read through them, you should start to see a pattern emerge in terms of how they typically adhere to the following set of rules:

  • A single sentence located at the end of your essay introduction
  • The thesis statement summarizes what your opinion is and what you are going to explore.
  • Directs your reader to the main arguments you will present.

A good dissertation proofreader will be able to help you ensure your thesis statement is strong and structured properly.

Alternatively, you could tap into the powers of AI and use this thesis statement generator:

Can a Thesis Statement Include More Than One Question?

A thesis statement does not need to be a single sentence. The length of your thesis statement will vary according to the complexity of the subject you are exploring.

In some cases, a solid thesis statement will consist of a single sentence. However, in other cases, you may use two, or even three, sentences.

Your overall aim should be to ensure the statement is as short and direct as possible, as this will help you to appear confident. This is particularly important in an argumentative thesis statement for argumentative essays .

Let’s remind ourselves of the basics of a good thesis statement.

How to write a thesis statement checklist:

An example of a thesis statement checklist

70 Strong Thesis Statement Examples for Research Papers and Dissertations

Now we’ve covered the basis, let’s take a look at some really great examples of thesis statements you can use when writing a thesis .

15 Example Thesis Statements on the Social Sciences

  • Climate change is a pressing global issue that requires immediate action, as it threatens to undermine the stability of entire ecosystems, disrupt economies, and jeopardize the health and well-being of future generations.
  • The role of technology in education cannot be underestimated because it has the potential to transform the learning experience, enhance the quality of education, and provide students with access to information and resources that were previously unavailable.
  • The use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower is crucial to achieving a sustainable future, as it reduces dependence on finite resources, minimizes greenhouse gas emissions, and protects the environment.
  • The widespread prevalence of fake news and misinformation on social media is a growing concern, as it undermines the credibility of journalism, public trust in information, and the democratic process.
  • The rise of automation and artificial intelligence in the workplace is transforming the way people work, leading to increased productivity and efficiency; however, it is also linked with job displacement and the need for workers to acquire new skills.
  • The intersection of race, gender, and class has a significant impact on a person’s life opportunities and experiences, and it is crucial to understand these intersections in order to address systemic inequalities and promote social justice.
  • The growing demand for food and the increasing use of industrial agriculture are putting a strain on the environment, leading to soil degradation, deforestation, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The phenomenon of gentrification is transforming cities, leading to the displacement of low-income communities, the loss of cultural diversity, and the commodification of urban spaces.
  • The impact of mass migration on countries and communities is complex and far-reaching, leading to both cultural enrichment and increased social and political tensions.
  • The growing concern about income inequality and wealth disparity has important implications for social and economic mobility, as well as for the stability of democracies and the legitimacy of political systems.
  • The rise of nationalism and populism around the world is challenging the stability of global institutions and the foundations of democratic systems. It raises important questions about the role of the nation-state in the 21st century.
  • Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur and innovator, has made a significant impact on the tech industry and the world as a whole through his numerous ventures and ambitious projects, making him a visionary leader and a symbol of technological progress. However, his actions and public statements have also generated controversy and criticism, calling into question the ethical and social implications of his vision for the future.
  • Bitcoin, the decentralized digital currency, has revolutionized the financial industry and challenged traditional financial systems. However, the growing popularity and acceptance of Bitcoin has also brought to light important issues regarding security, regulation, and the potential for negative impacts on the economy and society as a whole.
  • Quantum computing, a rapidly evolving field that harnesses the principles of quantum mechanics to perform calculations, has the potential to revolutionize the computing industry and solve complex problems that are beyond the capabilities of traditional computers; however, quantum computing poses a significant threat to contemporary society that should not be overlooked.
  • Electric cars have emerged as a promising alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, holding great promise for reducing humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels. However, this technology is not sustainable or viable on a long-term basis

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15 Sample Thesis Statements for Literary Analysis Essays

  • The political and social developments of the 18th century had a significant impact on the development of the English novel, which reflected both the ideals and the realities of the time.
  • The Romantic movement in English literature constituted a notable divergence from the Enlightenment ideas of reason and order by emphasizing emotion, imagination, and individualism.
  • Although Jane Austen is well known for her wit and social satire, her writings also serve as a commentary on the discrimination that women encountered in early 19th-century England.
  • The manner in which authors of the Victorian era portrayed non-European cultures and peoples is one way to show how colonialism and imperialism had an impact on English literature.
  • The literature of the Victorian era reflects the position of women in English society at the time, with female characters frequently acting as icons of moral and cultural values.
  • The use of symbolism within English literature serves as a potent instrument for examining complicated themes and ideas, from the profound to the ridiculous.
  • When writers like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf introduced the stream-of-consciousness narrative approach, the English novel underwent a revolution that allowed for a new degree of depth and reflection in storytelling.
  • The writings of English Romantic poets, like William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, marked a turning point in the development of English literature by ushering in a novel kind of writing that praised the natural world, human emotion, and unique experiences.
  • From Beowulf to Paradise Lost, the evolution of the English epic poem reflects the shifting morals and ideologies of English society over time, as well as its changing perception of who we are and where we belong in the world.
  • The three Bronte sisters—Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—used literature to question the restrictions and standards that were imposed on women in 19th-century England, setting a new precedent for female emancipation.
  • With its rigid structure and rhyme schemes, the English sonnet tradition has been a well-liked and enduring manner to convey one’s thoughts on both the political and personal levels as well as the human condition.
  • With its emphasis on experimentation, fragmentation, and psychological depth, the Modernist movement in English literature marked a significant shift from the realism and naturalism of older literary traditions.
  • The evolution of English literature in the 20th century was greatly influenced by the writings of T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats, which capture the period’s intellectual and cultural upheaval as well as the significant changes evident in European society.
  • The expansion of the English empire and its influence over the world had a significant impact on the literature of the nation, influencing new kinds of storytelling as well as the themes, writing techniques, and perspectives of its authors.
  • From the biblical account of the Fall to the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the use of allegory and myth in English literature has been a potent means of examining difficult concepts and universal truths.

10 Sample Thesis Statements on History

  • Beginning in 1789, the French Revolution marked a significant turning point in European history that eventually resulted in the collapse of the monarchy and the foundation of a democratic republic.
  • The American Civil War, which took place between 1861 and 1865, was a pivotal event in the history of the nation, influencing its political structure, identity, and values for a number of years.
  • An important turning point in world economic and social history, the Industrial Revolution, which started in England in the late 18th century, fundamentally changed how products were created and consumed, leading to significant changes in the lives of people all over the world.
  • One of the biggest and most influential empires in history, the Roman Empire, which ruled from 27 BC to 476 AD, had an impact on the growth of art, architecture, law, and language throughout the Mediterranean region.
  • The Enlightenment, an intellectual and cultural movement that began in Europe in the 18th century, represented an important turning point in the history of ideas and gave rise to new ways of thinking about politics, religion, and society.
  • One of the deadliest and most significant conflicts in modern history, the First World War, which raged from 1914 to 1918, drastically altered the political, social, and economic climate of Europe and other parts of the world.
  • The Cold War, which lasted from 1945 to 1991, marked a pivotal period in the history of the 20th century, impacting the advancement of science, technology, and culture as well as the political and military landscape of the world.
  • The 1754–1763 French and Indian War was a pivotal period in the history of the American colonies, paving the way for the ultimate independence of the United States and determining the course of the nation’s future.
  • Capitalism, which first appeared in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, marked a significant turning point in the development of modern market economies and the lives of millions of people.
  • An important turning point in the history of the American colonies was the American Revolution, which took place between 1775 and 1783 and ultimately resulted in the independence of the United States and the development of a new system of government.

10 Example Thesis Statements on Art

  • The Italian Renaissance, which started in the 14th century and lasted until the 17th, was a time of great artistic and cultural revival. The painting, sculpture, and architectural expressions that emerged during this time had a significant influence on Western art and culture.
  • A time of great artistic and cultural diversity, the Baroque period was characterized by the emergence of new forms of artistic expression, such as painting, sculpture, and music, that reflected the religious, political, and cultural values of the day.
  • The late 19th-century French Impressionist style was a ground-breaking trend in painting that aimed to represent the fleeting, transient effects of light and color in the natural world.
  • Mid-20th-century modern art movement known as Abstract Expressionism, which emphasized spontaneous, expressive brushwork and explored the emotional and psychological components of the creative process, was a prominent force in the world of contemporary art.
  • Pop Art, a modern art movement that began in the middle of the 20th century in response to the Abstract Expressionist movement, was distinguished by its use of common objects, commercial imagery, and vibrant colors to produce a fresh kind of art that was approachable and pertinent to popular culture.
  • Surrealism, a modern art movement that began in the 1920s, used methods like automatic drawing and dream-like images to produce a new kind of work that was both strange and enticing while prompting an investigation of the subconscious mind.
  • The 1920s and 1930s saw the emergence of the Art Deco movement, which aspired to create a new genre of modern art that was elegant, sophisticated, and representative of the contemporary world. It was distinguished by its use of geometric shapes, brilliant colors, and metallic finishes.
  • Gothic Art, a key influence on Medieval art that first appeared in the 12th century, is known for its concentration on lofty cathedrals, exquisite stained glass, and ornate sculptures that capture the period’s religious and cultural values.
  • The Romanesque period was a time of great artistic and cultural rebirth. Painting, sculpture, and architectural styles all emerged during this time, and they had a significant influence on Western art and culture.
  • The 19th-century art movement known as realism tried to portray the world as it actually was by employing precise, lifelike depictions of people, places, and things to produce a new kind of art that was both realistic and compelling on an emotional level.

15 Examples of English Language Thesis Statements

  • Due to historical, cultural, and social influences on the development of the English language, numerous dialects and variations have emerged all over the world. For individuals, groups, and cultures, the emergence of English as a world language has yielded both benefits and challenges and had a profound impact on global language education and language policy.
  • Understanding the structure, purposes, and meanings of English allows us to better comprehend how language both influences and is influenced by human cognition, perception, and interaction.
  • The widespread use of English in digital communication and social media has given rise to new linguistic elements and conventions, like emoticons, acronyms, and hashtags, which have significantly changed how our ability to express ourselves and interact with others.
  • The English language has taken on a greater significance in higher education because it is frequently the language of instruction and research in many academic subjects and is necessary for worldwide communication and collaboration.
  • Studying English as a second or foreign language requires not only learning linguistic abilities but also gaining intercultural competence and the capacity to deal with diversity and cultural differences.
  • The influence of the English language on other languages has led to phenomena such as word borrowing, grammar borrowing, and punctuation changes. This has led to a fundamental change in language boundaries and the emergence of hybrid forms of language.
  • English usage in the workplace has become crucial for successful communication and career advancement, especially in multinational organizations and international industries. This has resulted in the growth of specialized linguistic abilities and discourse patterns.
  • Language diversity and linguistic justice have become ethical and political hot topics as a result of how English has affected the identities and cultural practices of speakers of other languages, led to the extinction of indigenous languages, and initiated negotiations over language rights and language maintenance.
  • Understanding the cultural, historical, and social circumstances in which literary works were created helps us to examine and interpret the literary works’ artistic and aesthetic qualities as well as its larger relevance and societal effects.
  • The widespread use of English in popular culture, such as music, film, and television, has significantly influenced the language’s acceptance around the world and sparked the development of new genres, styles, and modes of expression.
  • By studying English as a discourse community and examining its norms, practices, and communication techniques, it is possible to get insight into the power structures and social hierarchies that influence how people use language and formulate language ideologies.
  • English’s use in the tourism sector as a universal language and a vehicle for cross-cultural engagement has had economic and social repercussions for both host communities and guests, sparking discussions about how globalization is affecting regional cultures and identities.
  • English should be taught to all children since it not only fosters language proficiency but also creativity, social responsibility, and critical thinking.
  • The impact of English on the linguistic landscape of cities and communities, including the use of English in media, ads, and public signs, reflects language interaction dynamics and the negotiation of linguistic identities and rights.
  • The impact of English on the linguistic landscape of cities and communities, including the use of English in public signs, advertisements, and media, reflects the dynamics of language contact and the negotiation of linguistic identities and rights.

As you will see from all the example thesis statements shared above, a solid thesis statement follows a general formula.

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What Is the Function of the Thesis Statement in a Personal Essay?

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A personal essay, also called a narrative essay or reflective essay, tells a story. It will have all the components of a story, such as characters and plot. It may also have dialogue. Although short stories and novels have an implied purpose in writing them, a personal essay requires the writer to clearly state this purpose. This statement, called a thesis statement, informs the reader of what she can expect to learn by reading your essay.

You may have a difficult time creating a thesis statement in a personal essay, but seeing an example may help you see this as relatively simple. For example, if your essay covers a story that shaped you in your early childhood, you might say, “The day I went with my father to see my mother in the hospital was the day I grew up.” With this in mind, the rest of your essay will show how that day shaped you.

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Kate Beck started writing for online publications in 2005. She worked as a certified ophthalmic technician for 10 years before returning to school to earn a Masters of Fine Arts degree in writing. Beck is currently putting the finishing touches on a novel.

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25 Thesis Statement Examples That Will Make Writing a Breeze


Understanding what makes a good thesis statement is one of the major keys to writing a great research paper or argumentative essay. The thesis statement is where you make a claim that will guide you through your entire paper. If you find yourself struggling to make sense of your paper or your topic, then it's likely due to a weak thesis statement.

Let's take a minute to first understand what makes a solid thesis statement, and what key components you need to write one of your own.

Perfecting Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement always goes at the beginning of the paper. It will typically be in the first couple of paragraphs of the paper so that it can introduce the body paragraphs, which are the supporting evidence for your thesis statement.

Your thesis statement should clearly identify an argument. You need to have a statement that is not only easy to understand, but one that is debatable. What that means is that you can't just put any statement of fact and have it be your thesis. For example, everyone knows that puppies are cute . An ineffective thesis statement would be, "Puppies are adorable and everyone knows it." This isn't really something that's a debatable topic.

Something that would be more debatable would be, "A puppy's cuteness is derived from its floppy ears, small body, and playfulness." These are three things that can be debated on. Some people might think that the cutest thing about puppies is the fact that they follow you around or that they're really soft and fuzzy.

All cuteness aside, you want to make sure that your thesis statement is not only debatable, but that it also actually thoroughly answers the research question that was posed. You always want to make sure that your evidence is supporting a claim that you made (and not the other way around). This is why it's crucial to read and research about a topic first and come to a conclusion later. If you try to get your research to fit your thesis statement, then it may not work out as neatly as you think. As you learn more, you discover more (and the outcome may not be what you originally thought).

Additionally, your thesis statement shouldn't be too big or too grand. It'll be hard to cover everything in a thesis statement like, "The federal government should act now on climate change." The topic is just too large to actually say something new and meaningful. Instead, a more effective thesis statement might be, "Local governments can combat climate change by providing citizens with larger recycling bins and offering local classes about composting and conservation." This is easier to work with because it's a smaller idea, but you can also discuss the overall topic that you might be interested in, which is climate change.

So, now that we know what makes a good, solid thesis statement, you can start to write your own. If you find that you're getting stuck or you are the type of person who needs to look at examples before you start something, then check out our list of thesis statement examples below.

Thesis statement examples

A quick note that these thesis statements have not been fully researched. These are merely examples to show you what a thesis statement might look like and how you can implement your own ideas into one that you think of independently. As such, you should not use these thesis statements for your own research paper purposes. They are meant to be used as examples only.

  • Vaccinations Because many children are unable to vaccinate due to illness, we must require that all healthy and able children be vaccinated in order to have herd immunity.
  • Educational Resources for Low-Income Students Schools should provide educational resources for low-income students during the summers so that they don't forget what they've learned throughout the school year.
  • School Uniforms School uniforms may be an upfront cost for families, but they eradicate the visual differences in income between students and provide a more egalitarian atmosphere at school.
  • Populism The rise in populism on the 2016 political stage was in reaction to increasing globalization, the decline of manufacturing jobs, and the Syrian refugee crisis.
  • Public Libraries Libraries are essential resources for communities and should be funded more heavily by local municipalities.
  • Cyber Bullying With more and more teens using smartphones and social media, cyber bullying is on the rise. Cyber bullying puts a lot of stress on many teens, and can cause depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. Parents should limit the usage of smart phones, monitor their children's online activity, and report any cyber bullying to school officials in order to combat this problem.
  • Medical Marijuana for Veterans Studies have shown that the use of medicinal marijuana has been helpful to veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Medicinal marijuana prescriptions should be legal in all states and provided to these veterans. Additional medical or therapy services should also be researched and implemented in order to help them re-integrate back into civilian life.
  • Work-Life Balance Corporations should provide more work from home opportunities and six-hour workdays so that office workers have a better work-life balance and are more likely to be productive when they are in the office.
  • Teaching Youths about Consensual Sex Although sex education that includes a discussion of consensual sex would likely lead to less sexual assault, parents need to teach their children the meaning of consent from a young age with age appropriate lessons.
  • Whether or Not to Attend University A degree from a university provides invaluable lessons on life and a future career, but not every high school student should be encouraged to attend a university directly after graduation. Some students may benefit from a trade school or a "gap year" where they can think more intensely about what it is they want to do for a career and how they can accomplish this.
  • Studying Abroad Studying abroad is one of the most culturally valuable experiences you can have in college. It is the only way to get completely immersed in another language and learn how other cultures and countries are different from your own.
  • Women's Body Image Magazines have done a lot in the last five years to include a more diverse group of models, but there is still a long way to go to promote a healthy woman's body image collectively as a culture.
  • Cigarette Tax Heavily taxing and increasing the price of cigarettes is essentially a tax on the poorest Americans, and it doesn't deter them from purchasing. Instead, the state and federal governments should target those economically disenfranchised with early education about the dangers of smoking.
  • Veganism A vegan diet, while a healthy and ethical way to consume food, indicates a position of privilege. It also limits you to other cultural food experiences if you travel around the world.
  • University Athletes Should be Compensated University athletes should be compensated for their service to the university, as it is difficult for these students to procure and hold a job with busy academic and athletic schedules. Many student athletes on scholarship also come from low-income neighborhoods and it is a struggle to make ends meet when they are participating in athletics.
  • Women in the Workforce Sheryl Sandberg makes a lot of interesting points in her best-selling book, Lean In , but she only addressed the very privileged working woman and failed to speak to those in lower-skilled, lower-wage jobs.
  • Assisted Suicide Assisted suicide should be legal and doctors should have the ability to make sure their patients have the end-of-life care that they want to receive.
  • Celebrity and Political Activism Although Taylor Swift's lyrics are indicative of a feminist perspective, she should be more politically active and vocal to use her position of power for the betterment of society.
  • The Civil War The insistence from many Southerners that the South seceded from the Union for states' rights versus the fact that they seceded for the purposes of continuing slavery is a harmful myth that still affects race relations today.
  • Blue Collar Workers Coal miners and other blue-collar workers whose jobs are slowly disappearing from the workforce should be re-trained in jobs in the technology sector or in renewable energy. A program to re-train these workers would not only improve local economies where jobs have been displaced, but would also lead to lower unemployment nationally.
  • Diversity in the Workforce Having a diverse group of people in an office setting leads to richer ideas, more cooperation, and more empathy between people with different skin colors or backgrounds.
  • Re-Imagining the Nuclear Family The nuclear family was traditionally defined as one mother, one father, and 2.5 children. This outdated depiction of family life doesn't quite fit with modern society. The definition of normal family life shouldn't be limited to two-parent households.
  • Digital Literacy Skills With more information readily available than ever before, it's crucial that students are prepared to examine the material they're reading and determine whether or not it's a good source or if it has misleading information. Teaching students digital literacy and helping them to understand the difference between opinion or propaganda from legitimate, real information is integral.
  • Beauty Pageants Beauty pageants are presented with the angle that they empower women. However, putting women in a swimsuit on a stage while simultaneously judging them on how well they answer an impossible question in a short period of time is cruel and purely for the amusement of men. Therefore, we should stop televising beauty pageants.
  • Supporting More Women to Run for a Political Position In order to get more women into political positions, more women must run for office. There must be a grassroots effort to educate women on how to run for office, who among them should run, and support for a future candidate for getting started on a political career.

Still stuck? Need some help with your thesis statement?

If you are still uncertain about how to write a thesis statement or what a good thesis statement is, be sure to consult with your teacher or professor to make sure you're on the right track. It's always a good idea to check in and make sure that your thesis statement is making a solid argument and that it can be supported by your research.

After you're done writing, it's important to have someone take a second look at your paper so that you can ensure there are no mistakes or errors. It's difficult to spot your own mistakes, which is why it's always recommended to have someone help you with the revision process, whether that's a teacher, the writing center at school, or a professional editor such as one from ServiceScape .

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How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement


Bad news about thesis statement goes first:

You won’t get an A for an essay if it doesn’t have a thesis statement. It is one of the first things your teacher looks for and one of the main factors for your grade.

And this is where most students run into trouble:

  • “What does it mean to write a compelling thesis statement?”
  • “Where should I put it?”
  • “What is its structure?”
  • “How should I write it, after all?”

Take it easy! Good news is on its way:

This article is here to explain everything in plain English and share actionable tips with you on how to write strong thesis statements for your academic papers.

Here we go.

So, what is a thesis statement?

Definition of thesis is simple:

It’s a sentence or two at the end of the introduction to your paper that explains a central claim you’ll discuss and prove in each of the following paragraphs.

Attention, please!

Do not confuse thesis statements with introductions, as most students asking how to start an essay do! An essay thesis closes your introduction rather than substitutes it. Hook readers first , then introduce your topic, and only then state a thesis.


  • A hook. Write a strong opening sentence capturing readers’ attention.
  • A topic. Tell readers about the focus of your informative essay.
  • A thesis. State your opinion on the topic.

In other words, it’s the heart of your essay. It explains to the reader what your paper will be about.

Why write a thesis statement

First, a strong thesis statement influences your teacher’s feedback on your essay and your final grade for it.

Second, it makes a paper logical and focused, simplifying the writing process for you: once you figure out the main idea for yourself and express it in a clear, brief, and intelligible thesis statement, all the following paragraphs of your paper will be based on it.

As a result, you won’t be distracted by your reasoning and therefore avoid the risk of turning your essay into gibberish full of weak arguments.

And third, it summarizes your topic and declares your position on it. You need a strong thesis statement for the audience to understand if your paper is something they want to read.

The elements of a thesis statement

An essay thesis consists of four elements:

  • The main idea of your paper in a simple sentence.
  • A reason why you support this idea.
  • A counterargument to your claim, if there is one.
  • A valid piece of information that supports your position.

When you have all the four points, you should organize them in a coherent sentence or two using transitions and linking words.

Here is an example of a thesis statement with all the necessary elements:


How to know your statement is strong

  • It’s brief and informative.
  • It presents a clear argument with your opinion on the issue or a side of the issue you’ll support.
  • It has a logical basis. Even if sharing your personal opinion, make sure to back it up with logic or facts.

In other words, your thesis should identify the topic , the claim , and the major points you’ll use in an essay to support the claim.

Thesis statement examples (1):

“Stress in the fast-food workplace has led to serious physical, psychological, and emotional problems for employees.”

Topic: stress in the fast-food workplace

Claim: led to serious problems

Major points: physical problems, psychological problems, emotional problems

Thesis statement examples (2):

“Advertisers target young people when marketing cigarettes, alcohol, and adult movies.”

Topic: aggressive advertising

Claim: wrong targetting young people

Major points: cigarettes, alcohol, and adult movies

A thesis is an interpretation of a subject, not the subject itself. Also, choose a claim that others might dispute. It should be specific and express one main idea.

Further reading: How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned

In this case, the example of a thesis statement will look more difficult because you were not given a prompt. In this case, you must find the issue you want to write a paper about. Most often, it is possible to distinguish four features of such a thesis statement:

  • it is necessary to use only one thought in it;
  • the topic should not be one-sided so that there are arguments against it;
  • must apply to the subject of your research paper , i.e., understandable;
  • should create conclusions on the taken subject of the scientific material.

This lets you quickly write a thesis without additional problems and pass it on to the teacher.

Here is a simple example:

  • A common theme is the problem with food, habits, and obesity.
  • You can talk about the amount of sugar consumed and what it leads to.
  • Next, you compress the topic further to sugar problems in children in junior high school.
  • After that, you take one of the positions. Either it is valid, or it is not.
  • Write an essay based on your position and look for appropriate statements.

After that, you can ask yourself a question in the standard way and compose a successful thesis statement. As you delve deeper into the topic, you will find it easier and easier to come up with an appropriate question to answer. For example, it might now be, “What can be done to reduce the amount of sugar children consume at school?”. The answer will be your thesis statement. You can then develop your position as you write your research paper.

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned

Such academic thesis statement examples are much simpler than the previous ones because the topic helps to create a quality statement at the beginning of the research paper. In this case, your first step will be to ask yourself a question. For example, if the topic looks like “How computers can change education in elementary school,” you can ask, “What benefits will children gain from having computers in the classroom?”.

By doing this, you get an actual thesis statement for the essay. Just answer the question, and you will have, “Computers will allow children in the classroom to do this and learn this.” This statement will be your thesis statement, which you can further develop through argumentation and facts.

Do ALL essay types need a thesis statement?

Hope is the last to die, right?

Sorry to disappoint you but yes , a thesis statement is a fundamental element of nearly any type of paper, apart from, possibly, creative writing.

However, it may look different depending on the type of paper .

  • If you are writing a review or a response , your thesis must contain your opinion of the piece you are reviewing, based on the elements of a film, article, or book and the way they impacted you as the audience.
  • If you are writing a literary or business analysis , your thesis statement must reflect your main finding and the method you applied to reach it.
  • If it is a compare and contrast essay , you should point out the similarities and differences of the works discussed in your thesis statement and develop the details in the body of your paper.
  • If it is a personal narrative or reflection , your thesis statement should contain the main idea you have learned and what you want to share.

When you write it wrong, and how to change that

The most common mistake that undermines the strength of a thesis statement in the essay is making a descriptive thesis instead of an argumentative one .

Descriptive is a statement that simply names the topic but doesn’t present any claim and major points.

Let’s say you write an essay about the relevance of uniforms at schools.

Your descriptive thesis statement would be:

“This paper will discuss whether students have to wear school uniforms because this issue has two sides and the arguments on both are compelling.”

Your argumentative thesis statement may be as follows:

“Though uniforms are told to enhance community spirit and unity, educational institutions should not force students to wear them. This idea is based on the fact that uniforms limit students’ freedom of expression, and this is especially supported by the fact that limiting the freedom of expression is a violation of human rights.”

Why the descriptive one doesn’t work? Because it simply duplicates the title of your paper and does not enlighten on the work you are supposed to do as a student.

So here go some tips for you to write strong thesis statements:

  • Brainstorm your topic: take a sheet of paper and write down everything that comes to your mind on it.
  • Limit it to a specific area.
  • Make it a question and (surprise-surprise!) answer it. Ta da! The answer is exactly what your thesis statement will be.

Now, everything you need to do is tailor your statement to the type of paper you are assigned to write and limit it to one or two sentences in length .


To ease the process, you can try online thesis statement generator : write your topic, claim, and major points there – and get your thesis statement, strong and ready to rock the world.

It’s not only a marker of good academic writing but also an aid for the logic of your writing. A strong thesis statement should exactly communicate what you want to tell in your paper and be as concise as possible . This can be especially helpful when using an essay maker to help craft an effective essay .

Our Writing Guides

17 thoughts on “ how to write a strong thesis statement ”.

Thanks for this article! It helped me write essay intro yesterday!

I’ve read the post and even could understand something new from it, lol! that I will use for further requirements.

Can you tell me how to write an argumentative essay which have 5 paragraph with topic sentence stress is good for human body

Hi Kaleab, thanks for passing by!

For that, please check our guide on argumentative essays here :

Or, feel free to choose a writer that will help you 🙂

How can stress be good for human body? I think this is a topic that is really hard to write.

A good and very detailed guideline. Liked it, Lesley Vos!

This article has been heplful. My only regret is i didnt discover it sooner.

quite informative and beneficial to new essay writers and the experienced ones.

Thank You! This by far the easiest way to understand how to write or begin writing an essay, always had problems, due to not being a writer nor interest of writing.

Thank you, Lesley Vos! So very simply explained and informative too.

I love how it is explained in plain English, and I think other should also use this approach.

Thanks, I understand quite well what to do now 🙂

Thank you, Brotus!

Happy to know you find it helpful!

Please tell me if these rules work for all essays or just some particular types. I need to write informative essay. Can I write my thesis with tips you tell here?

Thanks for your question, Ismael!

Yes, feel free to use these tips for writing different types of essays. If you look for more specific tips on informative essays in particular, please stay tuned – we gonna publish the ultimate guide on this essay type this month 🙂

What is standard college essay format?

The standard format is a 5-paragraph essay: an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

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