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Thesis Statements


What is a Thesis Statement?

If you get your thesis statement right, it will make writing the paper a breeze and reading it a pleasure. But there seems to be a lot of confusion about what thesis statements are, what sort of thing should go into them, where they should appear in the paper, and how long they are allowed to be. So let's start by addressing these.

  1. A thesis statement comes somewhere in the introduction, wherever it works best for the individual assignment.
  2. It is an expression of intention about the conclusion you plan to form and how you intend to do that. That is, it contains your answer and the main grounds for it.
  3. It can be as long as you need. Usually, one sentence is enough, but if your assignment has several parts then you may need the same number of sentences. Generally, try not to let it get longer than three sentences for a 2,000 word paper (5-10 pages double line spacing).
  4. Form your thesis statement after you have done your research or preparation, when you know your material but haven't yet started to write your paper. Alternatively, plan your paper first in outline form, and then form your thesis statement, then tweak the outline plan to match, and then write up.

Forming the Thesis Statment

A thesis statement has two obligatory parts. The first is where you emphasise intention (because it is at or near the beginning of the paper and you haven't proved or shown anything yet). The second is where you state clearly what your answer will be at the end of the paper (after you have proved your argument or at least presented your evidence).

Let's take this one stage at a time:

Part I

  1. A thesis statement is an expression of intention
  2. It is an expression of something you plan to do

Part II

  1. A thesis statement addresses the assignment fully and specifically. It leaves no part of the assignment out.

You probably get the idea now, but you'll need practice. It's a fun challenge - see what you can do!

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