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Can you give some instruction on how to write a thesis for an essay? What purpose does the thesis serve and how can I write one?

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carol-davis eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Your assignment is to write an argumentative essay

  • You have chosen the topic which is an issue, a subject, or a situation. 
  • There has to be a problem or conflict located within the topic. 
  • The problem is the argument on which you will need to take a position.  
  • After completing some preliminary research, the next step in preparation for the actual writing of the essay is to formulate your thesis or claim statement.

What is the thesis  statement in an essay? A thesis statement clarifies the argument and your position. The thesis is the central and guiding idea of an essay.  It helps to create a unified essay. Specifically,  a thesis is the sentence that states the topic and gives your position about the topic. 

Typically, the thesis statement is positioned at the end of the introductory paragraph so that it will provide a forecast for what is to come in the essay.  

Thesis statements need to be adequately limited in scope but not so limited that they give you nothing to explore.  The best way to decide on your position is to word the argument in the form of a question.

This is the logical procedure for writing thesis:

Topic=Death penalty

Argument=Does the death penalty deter capital crimes? (This is not a thesis statement.)

The answer to this question will be the position or stance that you are taking on the subject. From this answer, you will be able to formulate your thesis. Include the topic and the position that you are taking on the topic in your thesis sentence.

Thesis-The death penalty does not deter criminals from committing capital crimes. 

This sentence becomes the controlling sentence for your essay. After more research, the next step would be to choose at least three sub points which would prove that your position is the right one.

Thesis with sub points=

The death penalty does not deter a criminal from committing capital crimes.  (1) Most homicides are not calculated; however,(2)  if the crime is premeditated, the criminal does not think that he will be caught. (3) The person may sit on death row for as long as 10 years before his execution. 

Here are the steps again:

  1. Choose a topic which has an inherent conflict or problem within it.
  2. Write the conflict/argument in the form of a question.
  3. Answer the question in a complete sentence including the topic and the position that you are taking.
  4. Do more research to select the sub points that you will prove in the body of your paper. 

The following is another example of writing the thesis statement:

Topic= Smoking

Argument=Should smoking be banned in all public places?

Thesis statement=Smoking must be banned in all public places.

The answer to this question will be the position that you are taking on the subject. From this answer, you will be able to formulate your thesis. Include the topic and the position that you are taking on the topic in your thesis sentence

Thesis statement with sub points=Smoking must be banned in all public places.  If a smoker is unable to smoke in public, he might be encouraged to quit, thus making it less likely to influence non-smokers to begin to smoke.  Furthermore, the passive smoker would be saved from second hand smoke. 

The thesis statement is the most important sentence(s) in the essay. The rest of the paper will support the thesis. 

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zumba96 | Student

A thesis basically summarizes your entire essay and is what you go off of throughout your essay. Like for example if you have a thesis on why the NSA is bad then write a thesis on taking a side on whether its good or bad and then throughout your paragraphs state your beliefs and back them up. No matter what always remember to put a thesis in your intro paragraph as the last sentence whether you are writing a 5 paragraph essay or a 5 page essay. Always go back to your thesis. 

kevin0001 | Student

A thesis for an essay is basically your entire essay written into one sentence. To write a thesis, simply think of what you are trying to prove or say in an essay and write it out. In a debating essay, a thesis could be what side you are arguing for or what you think of the whole situation. Remember that a thesis should belong in your introductory paragraph.

Wiggin42 | Student

The thesis should outline the argument you intend to make in your writing. 

There is a nice thesis skeleton for literary analysis. 

Through _____, _____, and _____, the author conveys/shows/demonstrates/illustrates that ________________. 

The first three blanks can be something along the lines of "harsh diction", "reverse syntax", "juxtaposition of good and evil", etc. 

The last blank is your argument. It must be arguable and say something meaningful. 

In higher level classes, your thesis can become more implicit in nature and less formulaic. But this is a nice tool to have for beginning writers. 

minjoo98 | Student

My English teacher always said that a thesis is like an umbrella. It covers your whole essay by having all the parts and points of your whole essay to introduce the writing. Just try to summarize your whole essay into one sentence. The thesis should contain all the main points and ideas.