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what is a thesis statement?

i'm confused on what exactly is a thesis statement. Someone please help explain this to me.


A thesis statement is the author's key point. A good author begins each paragraph with a thesis statement and then supports his/her thesis statement with four or five  statements that build upon their thesis statement. They then conclude use their final statement as a concluding statement.

There is only one thesis statement. Each body paragraph begins with a topic sentence.

You can see that there is more than one way to write a thesis statement, depending on what you find out in your research and what your opinion is.

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Carol D. | Highly Qualified English Teacher Available for TutoringHighly Qualified English Teacher Availab...

I've found two ways for my high school students to understand what a thesis statement is. 

Think of it as the sentence that drives the entire paper.  You know what the topic sentence of a paragraph is, right?  Well, think of the thesis statement as the topic sentence for the entire paper.  When my students are at the stage of writing that you are, I recommend that they have a 3-part thesis statement.  For example, let's say your teacher wanted you to write a persuasive paper convincing your readers that the halls in your school should be painted a different color.  You want the color to be blue.  After a brief introductory paragragh, your thesis might be:  The school halls should be painted blue because this is a calming color, it is the color of our mascot, and it provides a better coverage for the walls.

Obviously you'd never write such a paper, but I hope the basic example helps you to have a "formula" to go by.  Good luck!


The thesis statement is the sentence that states the main idea of a writing assignment and helps control the ideas within the paper. It is not merely a topic. It often reflects an opinion or judgment that a writer has made about a reading or personal experience.
Annette P. | Writing and English TutorWriting and English Tutor

A solid thesis statement not only briefly expresses what your entire essay is about, it also briefly states what your position is about this topic. 

Additionally, the thesis statement should occur somewhere within your introductory paragraph in order to not leave the reader guessing throughout the essay about what the essay's key point is.

Example of incomplete thesis statement: Some form of  exercise should be worked into one's daily schedule.

Example of complete thesis statement: Some form of exercise should be worked into one's daily schedule in order to improve one's physical, emotional, and mental health.

Victor C. | Patient & Knowledgeable Native Speaking Spanish TutorPatient & Knowledgeable Native Speaking ...
5.0 5.0 (2 lesson ratings) (2)

"A thesis statement is one or two sentences that states your goal and the main idea of your paper," (Baugh, page 21). In other words, "the thesis announce your topic and points you want to make about that topic," (Faigley, page 25). It is suppose to be located in the first paragraph of the essay. Without the thesis statement, the essay would lack focus, organization, the readers would have no idea what the essay is about, and the ideas of the essay can not be tested. So a thesis statement suppose to do 3 things:

The 3 T's


1.  "to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two"

2.  "to better organize and develop your argument"

3.  "to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument"


Baugh, L. Sue. : How to Write Term Papers and Reports. 2nd ed. Chicago: VGM Career Horizons, 1997. Print.

 Faigley, Lester. : Writing: A Guide for College and Beyond. New York: Longman, 2007. Print

Writing Tutorial Services, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. 26 February 2013



Joanie R. | English, Writing, ReadingEnglish, Writing, Reading

A thesis is the main statement which clarifies the argument for the rest of the essay.

Don M. | UCSD grad, credentialed English teacher, published author, editorUCSD grad, credentialed English teacher,...
4.8 4.8 (22 lesson ratings) (22)

Very simply put, a thesis statement is an argument. It is what you are trying to make the reader believe--or at least give credence to--by the end of your paper.

On a general topic, such as capital punishment or the best form of government, a strong thesis statement takes a very definite viewpoint on the topic. A simple example: "A democratic republic is the best form of government." The reader can agree or disagree with the argument. You must then support your opinion (yes, it is your opinion!) with evidence and logic. A weak thesis statement is not very argumentative, e.g.: "There are many good things about a democratic republic." Yes, so what? That statement does not take a lot of strong persuasion.

In literature, the thesis statement derives from the theme of the story. Remember, the theme is the message the author is sending you, the reader. For example, we might decide that the theme of "Romeo and Juliet" is: "Passions that cannot be controlled, whether those are of hate or love, inevitably lead to some form of self-destruction". We can agree, disagree, or argue both sides of the point. One thesis statement could be: "Shakespeare failed to take into consideration the bad advice and societal pressures that actually led Romeo and Juliet to their terrible fate. Their deaths were really the fault of the nurse, the priest, and Juliet’s parents." You clearly disagree with the theme. Another might be: "Shakespeare's excellent message is exemplified in the hatred of the warring families, the impetuous marriage of the two young lovers, and the hot blood of young men that causes Tybalt and Romeo to commit murder." This thesis agrees with the theme. Or you might even interpret the message as: "Shakespeare was actually using this play as a metaphor to portray the tragic and bloody civil war between Catholics and Protestants during the reign of Elizabeth I." This is obviously a much more complicated thesis statement to support.

The rest of the thesis paragraph builds around your argument, and often alludes to the evidence you will present in the paper to support your opinion.

Rizul N. | UNC-CH Grad For Math and Science TutorUNC-CH Grad For Math and Science Tutor
4.8 4.8 (12 lesson ratings) (12)

A thesis statement is basically a brief description of what you will be discussing in your paper. You don't want to be too detailed but you don't want to be broad either because this is a paper where you will be specific. Imagine that if you were searching old stacks of articles and you wanted to know about how arctic frost can affect the behavior of insects inhabiting the tundra, you would probably note the title but it would be more effective if there was a thesis statement right there in the introductions to tell you in short in a bit more detail than just the 5 letters you may see in the title. 

An example of a thesis is here: 

Let's say I was writing a paper on the civil war. 

During the mid ninteenth century, the civil war heavily influenced the lives of women by converting them into independent land owners after their husbands were drafted, enforcing many females to take up clerical positions when there was a shortage, and providing the opportunity to saturate the medical sector which eventually led Clara Barton to organize the American Red Cross. 

You should note that a paper has 5 paragraphs. 2 of them include the intro and conclusion and 3 are for body paragraphs. In your thesis, the topics for the body paragraphs are listed according to the order of discussion. These are the following topics if you can spot them clearly in the thesis statement.

1. converting them into independent land owners after their husbands were drafted

2. enforcing many females to take up clerical positions when there was a shortage

3. providing the opportunity to saturate the medical sector which eventually led Clara Barton to organize the American Red Cross

Include these topic sentences at the beginning of each's respective body paragraph so that the reader has a good idea of what you're about to discuss. 

I have included the date in the thesis, a "WHAT?" (civil war affected women), a "HOW" (topic sentences), and a "WHY?" (for topic sentence one it is because the husbands went off to war). You don't go into too much detail with the "WHY?" component, just enough to explain that you did not come up with the specific topic out of nowhere. You will go into more detail on this when you analyze it in your paper within the body paragraphs. 

Natalia E. | Experienced K-12 educator in your journey toward academic success!Experienced K-12 educator in your journ...

A thesis statement describes the topic of your essay.  It is the point you are making and what the essay is going to be about. 

Angela D. | Academic Performance Improvement GuruAcademic Performance Improvement Guru

Hi Virginia -

To add to what others have posted here...

The Thesis Statement should be around 25 words or less.  Additionally, the statement should bring a new "idea"...meaning your idea/point of the discussion on your chosen topic.  

Throughout my academic studies, I receieve good academic feedback when I restate my thesis at the close of each section of my paper.  Don't forget to restate your thesis in your conclusion also.  So, at the very least, your paper should conclude its introduction with your thesis as well as restating your thesis in the conclusion. 

If I can post a link, here is a good and FREE tool I found on Google that also helps with developing an outline


Donna Ann P. | Experienced English Tutor: Essays, Term Paper Emergencies, and ESLExperienced English Tutor: Essays, Term ...
4.8 4.8 (326 lesson ratings) (326)

Hi Virginia:

A thesis statement should not only discuss your topic, but it should also briefly state your point of view.  For example, when writing about global warming, a thesis statement might be:  Global warming and shifts in climate can be slowed, but not eradicated by reducing carbon emissions from power plants and vehicles, driving electric cars, and using energy more efficiently.

Catherine T. | English Tutor in Reading and WritingEnglish Tutor in Reading and Writing
5.0 5.0 (30 lesson ratings) (30)

A thesis statement is the main point of your paper. What are you trying to tell me, and why? Keep it short and sweet! The details come after.

Hope that helps in combination with the lengthy responses here!