The Thesis Statement

Contributor: Jodi Powell. Lesson ID: 11707

Every large building has a foundation to anchor and guide the rest of the structure. The foundation of a research paper is the thesis statement, and it must be strong and clear to direct your writing!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Thesis statement #1: Many people in the world are victims of stereotyping.

Thesis statement #2: Not just empty stories for kids, fairy tales shed light on the psychology of young children.

  • Which is the stronger thesis statement?
  •  What makes it so?

The thesis statement is arguably the most important part of the research paper.

The thesis statement is a declarative sentence that states the main point of the paper and identifies the aspects of the topic that will be addressed throughout the writing.

The thesis statement will almost always appear as the last sentence of the introductory paragraph.

In short, the thesis statement serves as the foundation for writing your paper from start to finish. It serves not only as a guide for you as the writer but also — perhaps more importantly — for the reader.

A weak thesis statement is a sign of a weak paper.

Before you continue, if you missed or need to review the Writing a Research Paper introduction lesson or other Related Lessons on topic selection and research, you can find them in the right-hand sidebar.

Definition of a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the most important sentence in your essay.

  • It tells the reader the subject of your essay and your stance on it.
  • It makes a claim that you will prove throughout your essay.
  • It introduces the reader to the evidence you will use to prove your claim.
  • It answers a question: either the essay or topic question or the implied "What am I trying to prove?" question.

For instruction on how to write a thesis statement, watch The Thesis Statement: Research Paper, by Chandra Martz:

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Next, read over some examples of weak thesis statements and strong thesis statements.

Take notes from this section to keep handy, so you can use it to guide you as you create your own thesis statement.

A Weak Thesis

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A Strong Thesis

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  • What would you say is the biggest difference between a good thesis statement and a weak thesis statement?

How to Write a Thesis

  1. First, you need to know your topic. Make sure your topic is specific enough to make a claim or to take a position on.
  1. Next, ask yourself a question. Your question can be simply "What am I trying to prove?" or it can be an essay question given by a teacher, proposed by a friend or parent, or formed by an observation.
  1. Decide your stance or claim.
  1. Think of your reasoning for the claim. This will be the evidence you will use to prove it. In your thesis statement, this can come after "because."
  1. Write several versions of your thesis. Start with "(claim) because (reasoning)."
  1. Edit and choose the best version of your thesis.

Visit Purdue Online Writing Lab at Purdue University for Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements. Take note of any new information mentioned in this article.

Before revising thesis statements yourself in the next section, review Thesis Statements from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ask yourself what makes a weak thesis statement?

When you are ready to fix weak thesis statements on your own, head over to the the Got It? section.

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