The claim that sets your argument into forward motion
Thesis as an Argument • A thesis statement is an arguable claim – you are creating an argument. This is something you know how to do; you’ve been doing it all your life.
“I get to make the rules because I’m the oldest!”
“Look, it wasn’t my fault – the speedometer said I was going 55 – I swear! Maybe his radar gun needs recalibrating – how should I know?
The Academic Thesis In an academic argument, the “thesis statement” is the main thing you are trying to prove. It must be arguable – there must be room for someone to disagree with you. If an argument has a claim that no one would disagree with, it won’t make for a very interesting paper.
Claims everyone agrees with: (and are thus, unarguable) â€˘ â€˘ â€˘
There are many problems in the world. The US has many similarities to Europe, yet there are still many differences. Rap music is just one of many kinds of popular music. In addition to being unarguable, these thesis statements are vague and too broad for a short essay. They can be remedied by finding an smaller controversial issue within the larger topic of choice.
“I told you ten times already; my shirt is PINK!”
Claims that can be argued: (because there are people who may disagree)
• The British social welfare system has served as a model for the president’s current social reforms. • The economic crisis in the United States has been increased by low tax rates for the wealthy.
These thesis statements work well because they are specific and controversial. It’s old grouchy hoards like you making the whole economy bad!
So ask yourself: Is my claim arguable?
Specificity In addition to being arguable, your thesis statement must be specific. Some claims are too broad and would cover too much information for a short essay. Broad claims may also make statements that might not be true of everyone. Being specific allows you to talk accurately and thoroughly about your subject.
Claims that are too broad: • Americans love European style and try to imitate it. • People in America who descended from European Immigrants have no memory of their country’s culture but have created their own new culture.
These thesis statements are too broad because they make large general claims that can not possibly be true of all Americans.
Amended: • Since the success of European designers such as Gucci and Prada in the 1980’s, American designs have begun to show European influence. • Due to the large number of White Americans that can no longer trace their ancestry back to a single European country, a new, self-described, “mutt” sub-culture, has emerged.
These thesis statements now work well because they identify specific people and places rather than using general terms such as “some people.”
To avoid being too Broad: Watch out for the following words and phrases which can often be exchanged for more specific terms: •There are •There is •It is •It was
Today’s society Situation Qualities Popular music
Things Nature Circumstances Love
Problems Similarities World Differences People
So then . . . • The thesis must be: • Arguable and
In addition, â€˘ A good thesis will have two parts: 1. What? 2. Why?
Letâ€™s look at some thesis statements that we have already discussed.
Here’s the Why
• Since the success of European designers such as Gucci and Prada in the 1980’s, American designs have begun to show European influence. Here’s the What
Here’s the Why
• Due to the large number of White Americans that can no longer trace their ancestry back to a single European country, a new, self-described, “mutt” sub-culture, has emerged. Here’s the What
The What is the main claim. Adding the Why gives specificity and clarity to develop a thorough argument.
So then . . . • The thesis must be: • Arguable - something someone can disagree with • Specific – identify specific terms, people, places, plant types, etc. The thesis must have two parts 1. What – what are you claiming? 2. Why – why is your claim true?
Having a strong thesis not only lets your reader know exactly what you think and what your paper will address, but it gives you a strong main claim that you will develop and prove in your essay.