• Understand the purpose of a thesis
• Recite the two characteristics of a thesis
• Define the attributes of a thesis statement
• Identify a good thesis statement
• Write a thesis statement
A thesis statement is the central opinion
in a paper. It is this opinion that the
writer tries to prove in the paper. A
thesis statement is sometimes called
the focus of the paper, controlling
idea, or central idea.
Is a sentence
Is an opinion
• Do not confuse the title for the thesis
• The thesis statement is part of the essay
• A thesis statement • It gives a point of
is not a list of
• It is the focus of
• It is not a fact
the entire paper
A thesis statement usually has three parts:
topic, position and limit.
The topic is usually the topic of the paper. It is
usually the subject of the sentence.
• Mortgage crisis
• Assisted suicide
• The best movie
The position is the writers position on the
topic. It is usually the verb in the sentence.
• The mortgage crisis has affected people.
• Assisted suicide should be banned.
• The best movie is The Blind Side.
The limit narrows the topic to a workable size.
• The mortgage crisis has led America to the
brink of economic meltdown.
• Assisted suicide should be banned in the
• The best movie for demonstrating the
power of compassion is The Blind Side.
Attributes of a Good Thesis
Writing a thesis that holds together
Language is straight forward and simple.
The main idea is in an independent clause.
1. Although the movie Avatar, which starred Zoé Saldana
as princess of the Omaticaya, even with the great fight
scenes, it is an ecological story.
2. The movie Avatar has a strong ecological message
about preserving the environment.
The thesis statement is narrow enough to
1. Avatar is a great movie.
2. The movie Avatar has some of the best
fight scenes of any recent movie.
Not a Promise
The thesis statement should not contain a
promise or a statement of purpose.
1. I will demonstrate why the movie Avatar is an
modern love story.
2. The movie Avatar is an modern love story..
Not a Question
Although a question is sometimes used as a thesis
statement, it should be avoided because
questions are not as emphatic as statements.
1. Is Avatar the best movie Zoé Saldana ever
2. Zoé Saldana in the movie Avatar is
convincing as the blue alien Na’vi.
Not a Negative
Avoid using not or other negative words in a thesis
sentence. A negative thesis is weaker than
1. Avatar is not the best movie Zoé Saldana
2. Zoé Saldana in the movie Avatar lacked
real depth of expression as computer
generated image. Better
• The thesis statement is usually in the first or
second paragraph of a paper.
– Frequently it is the last sentence of the first
• Change the thesis if it does not reflect what
the paper is about.
• Extra attention should be paid to the
grammar of the thesis statement since it is
the most important sentence in the paper.
– Run-on or comma splices
1. What are the causes of the Civil War?
2. Although slavery is thought of as the cause
of the Civil War, states rights was the true
3. The Civil War was fought between 1861 and
1. Prison sentences in the United States.
2. Prison sentences in the United States have
become more punitive.
3. Since the 1980s and the War on Crime, prison
sentences for repeat offenders are based
more on punishment than justice.
1. Homer’s Iliad is still read today because it explores
basic human emotions.
2. Homer’s Iliad is good reading.
3. Writers and artists through the centuries have used
Homer’s Iliad as a source of inspiration.
1. Stanley Kubrick was a visionary director.
2. Stanley Kubrick’s movie Lolita shocked and
challenge the movie-going public because of the
adult-teenager affair that is the basis of the story.
3. Stanley Kubrick’s directorial style is as important to
his movies as are the topics.
U.S. government policies on health care have changed
during the past 20 years.
U.S. government policies on health care differ greatly
from those of Asian nations and the different social
and economic structures that underlie the
The purpose of this paper is to show that the U.S.
government policies on health care should be
changed to reflect citizen’s current concerns.
• The thesis statement is the most
important part of the essay.
• The thesis statement is an opinion.
• The thesis statement is a sentence.
• The thesis statement must be clear and to
• The DK Handbook, pages 102-103
• How to Write a Thesis Statement
• Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis