English 104: Thesis Statements


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Presentation delivered to the English 104 class at Victor Valley College.

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English 104: Thesis Statements

  1. 1. English 104 Thesis Statements
  2. 2. Thesis Statements • 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
  3. 3. Placement • 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
  4. 4. Tone • 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
  5. 5. 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 evidence ▫Academic essays rely on verifiable documented evidence ▫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
  6. 6. Thesis Statements • 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 provided ▫ Simply a compare and contrast
  7. 7. Example #1 • “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.
  8. 8. Example #2 • “Chinese is spoken by the largest number of people, while English is spoken by the world’s leading superpower, so both languages are important.” ▫ A mediocre thesis statement that is mostly compare & contrast, largely observational, and vague in terms of what is ‘important’
  9. 9. Be specific • 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
  10. 10. Be clear • Remember your reader ▫ Don’t assume that your reader will automatically know what you mean when you use general terms (like ‘language’) ▫ Clarify, demonstrate, define  With your thesis statement, as well as throughout the body of your essay
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