Creating an Argument
In argumentative or persuasive writing, the thesis statement performs two tasks: it informs your reader of the topic you are writing about, and— more importantly in this kind of writing— it identifies your position or opinion on the topic you are discussing. A thesis statement always expresses an opinion, and since it is an opinion, the writer must expect and be ready for that opinion to be challenged.
✓ Remember what your argument is. A handy way to construct a thesis statement —but not to write one —is to use a formula like “I want to persuade you that…”
✓ Use the "Why?" Test: If what you say does not make your reader or listener want to ask "Why do you think that?" then you are probably stating a fact.
✓ Make sure that you answer the "Why?" question. You should know why you believe your argument is strong, and be able to express that to your reader.
✓ Have the research to support your thesis. Remember, a thesis statement that you cannot support will fall like a stone. You need strong supporting points to stop it from falling.
How to Look for and Interpret Literary Devices
Check out this video by Claire Pienaar (2021) to learn more about literary devices.
A thesis statement is usually one or two sentences that appear at the end of your introduction paragraph. Your thesis statement is a summary of the paper's main idea and should include your overall message (or argument) as well as your subpoints.
A thesis statement:
Tells the reader what the essay will be about and what point you will be making (be specific!).
Tells the reader how the essay is going to be structured and in what direction the argument is going.
Expresses a point that needs to be proven through discussion and examples (e.g., it can't be a simple statement of fact or an opinion that cannot be supported by evidence).
* Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect what you have discussed in the paper. That's fine!
Check out this presentation by Writing Support Specialist Claire Pienaar (2021) about how to create a thesis statement.
Examples of thesis statements from Claire's presentation:
“Many college students believe Taco Bell is the best fast-food restaurant because it is inexpensive, offers delicious food, and is open 24 hours.” (Susan Inez, Kibin.com)
“Although most American politicians support ongoing funding for the DEA, the war on drugs is a travesty of justice because sentencing laws are discriminatory, more prisons than colleges are built, and addiction is treated as a crime rather than a disease.” (Susan Inez, Kibin.com)
“At least 25 percent of the federal budget should be spent on helping upgrade businesses’ clean technologies, researching renewable energy sources, and planting more trees in order to control or eliminate pollution.” (Purdue OWL)
“An academic paper requires organization, adequate research or attention to the subject matter, and expression in conventional English; however, without the author’s deep understanding of the topic, the essay falls flat.” (University of Manitoba)
Some of the content of this section was modelled after a guide originally created by the Purdue Online Writing Lab and has been adapted for the GPRC Learning Commons in September 2020.