• What is a thesis statement?
▫ A summary of your argument in 1-3 sentences
▫ The main idea that you will explore in-depth
within the body of your essay
▫ Your debatable opinion
• Your thesis statement should come early in your
paper, so the reader immediately knows the
direction and purpose of your essay
▫ Ideally at the end of your introductory paragraph
▫ Note: When reading longer texts, particularly
book-length works, the thesis can come after
several introductory paragraphs
• Write in third person
▫ Eliminate statements such as “I think,” “In my
opinion,” “In this essay, I will show…”
▫ It is already understood that the essay is your
opinion, so there is no need to state it
▫ Writing in third person will give your essay a
stronger factual voice, making it more emphatic
Why avoid first person?
• To avoid sounding like you’re writing in your diary.
▫This should be a formal essay, not a reflective journal
• To avoid using your own personal experiences as
▫Academic essays rely on verifiable documented
▫Your own personal experiences have not been
professionally recorded and documented
▫Personal experience is considered anecdotal evidence
and is not scientifically valid due to small sample size
• What makes a good thesis statement?
▫ Focused, specific, clear, debatable
• Avoid writing a thesis that is:
▫ Too general
▫ Too broad to be covered in the space/time
▫ Simply a compare and contrast
• “Language is important to humanity”
▫ This thesis statement is too general and too broad.
▫ It is also not very debatable. Few would disagree
and say that language is unimportant.
▫ If your thesis is already a generally accepted
opinion, then there is no need to write an
argumentative paper defending the claim.
• “Chinese is spoken by the largest number of
people, while English is spoken by the world’s
leading superpower, so both languages are
▫ A mediocre thesis statement that is mostly
compare & contrast, largely observational, and
vague in terms of what is ‘important’
• Refine your thesis by asking yourself “So what?”
“Language is important to humanity.” That’s great,
but so what?
How is it important to humanity? What has it allowed
us to achieve? What do you mean by ‘language’?
• A better thesis statement: “Written communication
was the essential element that allowed humans to
evolve into a technologically advanced species.”
Much more specific, narrow, and focused
Improved diction and vocabulary
• Remember your reader
▫ Don’t assume that your reader will automatically
know what you mean when you use general terms
▫ Clarify, demonstrate, define
With your thesis statement, as well as throughout
the body of your essay
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