Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier.
A Good Thesis Statement...
- explains what you want the reader to think, do, believe, or know.
- is usually just one sentence.
- usually comes at the end of the first or second paragraph.
- may give a roadmap of the rest of the essay.
So... how do you write a really good one? Below, you'll find several brainstorming solutions for organizing your thoughts and building a strong and interesting thesis statement.
5 Easy Steps to Write a Thesis
1. Make a Thesis Question
Take your essay topic idea and turn it into a question.
Example: Divorce. Thesis Question: How does divorce affect children?
2. Brainstorm Answers
Write down as many ideas as you can think of. You might want to Google search for ideas.
Example: Divorce causes children to feel insecure about the future, not do as well in school, feel insecure in relationships, worry about their parents, become bullies or be bullied, have to get along with a new family of siblings, have a lower standard of living, wonder if they caused the divorce.
3. Pick a Thesis Answer
Look at your brainstorming and decide your main answer.
Example: How does divorce affect children? Divorce causes children to feel insecure.
4. Make a Thesis Road Map
Now go back to your brainstorming. What are the best reasons for your answer? Try to pick at least three. Add these to your thesis.
Example: How does divorce affect children? Divorce causes children to feel insecure because they often have a lower standard of living after the divorce, they feel less secure in relationships, and they worry about the future.
5. Add Emphasis
Steps 1-4 will help you build a solid thesis, but if you want to bump it up to the next level, you can do two more steps: tell how your view contrasts with other people, and use intensifying transitions like "in reality" or "in fact."
Example Format: Thesis Question. Although (what many people might answer), in reality (your answer) because: (your three or more reasons).
How does divorce affect children? Although some people argue that children quickly get over a parent's split, in reality, divorce causes children to feel insecure for a long time afterwards because they often have a lower standard of living after the divorce, they feel less secure in relationships, and they worry about the future.
— (example thesis statement)
How to Make a Great Thesis Sentence
|Thesis Question||What other people think||, transition||thesis/what you think||: list of 3 or more topic ideas|
Why do ?
, in reality
the reason is...
because: 3 or more reasons
What causes ?
Some people think...
, the truth is
the cause is...
: 3 or more causes
What is ?
, I believe
that ____ is...
: 3 or more aspects
How does ?
, in fact
what happens is...
: 3 or more steps
What is the history of ?
Most people assume...
the sequence was...
: 3 or more parts
How can we solve ?
Previously, people have tried..
, however, I suggest
the best solution is...
because: 3 or more solutions
Examples of 5 Types of Thesis Statements
Here are a variety of examples of thesis statements for different types of essays:
Thesis Statements That Assert a Cause
For example: Why are Americans rapidly becoming more obese? Some people think that the cause of rising obesity is lack of individual self-control; however, the truth is that Americans' growing waistlines are caused by corporations that covertly add sugar to make foods more addictive, technology which has made people less active and more tied to their work, and too-large portions sizes in restaurants which have ingrained overeating into our habits.
Thesis Statements That Evaluate
For example: Does recycling make a difference? Although it's true that one person's recycling may not make much of a difference, in fact, when all of us join together, we can make a difference. When we all recycle, less waste goes into landfills, reuse becomes a natural reflex, and people get into better habits.
Thesis Statements That Explain
For example: How does playing a sport affect young people? Most people would say that learning how to play is the most important thing children get from a sport. In fact, children who play sports gain even more by learning about teamwork, realizing they must overcome defeat, and accepting their own role on the team.
Thesis Statements That Assert an Argument
For example: Should parents be concerned if their children are obsessed with horror movies? Although many people scoff at the idea that movies influence our behavior, in reality, parents need to be concerned about what their children are watching because children often can't tell truth from fiction, violent images desensitize them to real violence, and kids who watch violence obsessively may exhibit signs of deeper emotional problems. (To learn more about writing argumentative essays, read How to Write an Argumentative Essay, Step by Step.)
Expository Thesis Statements
Although this article might make you think that there is only one method for writing a good thesis statement, in fact, you can write good thesis statements in several different ways. However, by following the method described here, you will learn an easy way to write a complex thesis idea that will not only impress your instructor but will also help you to organize your thoughts and write your essay more easily.
Using One Topic to Write 8 Essay Questions
Here is an example of the different kinds of essay questions you can come up with for the topic of horror movies.
Explaining: What are the shared characteristics of classic horror movies?
History: How have horror movie plots, settings, and characters changed over time?
Cause/Effect: What causes people to enjoy watching horror movies?
Description: What classifies a movie as a "horror" movie?
How to: How can you learn to like horror movies?
Propose a Solution: How should parents handle the violence of horror movies and the effect it has on their kids? (To learn more about Problem/Solution essays, read How to Write a Problem Solution Essay: Step-by-Step Instructions.)
Evaluation: What is the best horror movie of all time?
Argument: Do horror movies cause some people to act out the violence they see on the screen?
How to Use a Semicolon to Write a More Complex Thesis Statement
Using a semicolon in your thesis statement can help you because:
- You can write a longer, more complicated thesis.
- The semicolon makes the thesis statement stand out for your reader.
- Using a semicolon and transition word lets you show how your ideas relate (by contrasting with "however" or adding "moreover").
How can I use a semicolon in a thesis?
1. Combine two sentences by using a semicolon instead of a period (of course, the two sentences must be related to one another). Like this:
Example: I agree with Stephen King that horror movies are popular; I disagree that people who watch them will be less violent.
2. Combine two sentences and use a transition word which explains how the two sentences are related. Like this:
Sentence; transition, sentence.
Example: I agree with Stephen King that horror movies are very popular; however, I disagree that watching them keeps people from doing violence.
How to Use a Colon to Make a Thesis That Has a List of Answers
Using a colon (:) before your list helps you to make that list clearer.
Example: Looking at violence is dangerous: it causes people to be desensitized to real violence, it makes some viewers desire to imitate the violence or ignore the violence of others, and it leaves the viewer wanting even more violence and bloodier special effects.
Parallel structure: In a list, be careful that all of the list items are in the same form. How to check?
- Check the first words of each list item. In the example above, each phrase starts with the same sorts of words: it causes, it makes, and it leaves.
- Can you finish the sentence ("Looking at violence is dangerous...") with all of the listed items? Test each assertion:
- because watching violence causes people to be desensitized...
- because watching violence makes some viewers imitate...
- because watching violence leaves the viewer wanting even more...
Questions & Answers
Question: What do you think of, "what is the effect of addiction to online gaming?" for a thesis?
Answer: Other questions on this topic could be:
1. Is online gaming addictive?
2. When is a gaming addiction destructive?
3. Can online gaming train people to deal with real-world problems?
Question: How do I write about the difference between American and Filipino desserts or snacks? What I want to say that the difference is that Filipino snacks or desserts do not use as much sugar.
Answer: Combine your ideas into one good comparison and contrast sentence. For example, you could say, "American and Filipino desserts are both delicious, but Filipino snacks and desserts do not use as much sugar or contain as many ingredients as American treats."
Question: What is a good thesis statement for a self assessment essay about my learning strategies?
Answer: It is often helpful to write a thesis question first. The answer to that question will be the thesis statement. Whether or not you would use the question in your essay depends on whether it is helpful to clarify the answer. Possible questions are:
What do I think are my best learning strategies?
How would I assess my current learning strategies?
Answering that question clearly with 2-3 examples would be a good thesis.
Question: How can I use the question "Why is chocolate important?" as a topic for a thesis statement?
Answer: Your question would be better if you narrowed it to explain what kind of importance you are talking about. Here are some ideas:
1. Why is chocolate so important to me?
2. Why is chocolate production so important in (choose a country)?
3. Why is chocolate so important that people choose it as their favorite flavor?
4. Why is chocolate so important in a healthy diet?
5. Why is chocolate the favorite flavor of many people?
Question: "How can a graduate degree further a career goal?" Would this be a good thesis statement?
Answer: That topic is rather specific but could be a good thesis question. The answer to that question would be the thesis statement. Other possible questions could be:
1. Why is a graduate degree important?
2. How important to your career is a graduate degree?
Question: Why is Head Start important?
Answer: A good topic question generally can be answered in more than one way. Here are some better ways of wording this topic:
1. How important is Head Start?
2. Is Head Start an effective way to get children ready for school?
3. Should Head Start programs be given more attention and support?
Question: How can I convert the topic "the rainy season" into a thesis statement?
Answer: What are the advantages of the rainy season?
What problems occur because of the rainy season?
How can a person best prepare for the rainy season?
What is the importance of the rainy season?
Question: What do you think of the topic "what can people do to help the environment?" for an essay?
Answer: Making a more specific question might make the essay easier to write. Here are some other ideas:
1. McDonald's is eliminating plastic straws from all it's restaurants in Europe. How important is it for businesses to make decisions about packaging to help the environment?
2. What are five things a person can do in their everyday life that will actually help the environment?
3. How can governments best help the environment?
4. How can (pick a country) create laws to help the environment?
5. Is recycling really important?
Question: How do you write a thesis statement for a college application essay? I am asked to write the events and experiences that led me to apply for a master's degree in social work, how the MSW will help me further my future career goals, and my experiences with diversity.
Answer: Your thesis for a college application essay should be the main reason you want to obtain this degree and what you plan to do afterward. If possible, add in something that would make you stand out. Here is a sample:
Because I have adopted siblings from China, I have an interest in helping people who want to add to their family through adoption and would like to obtain an MA in social work to be better prepared for this work.
Question: How do I form a thesis statement about Functional Numeracy from early education to adulthood?
Answer: You need to form a thesis question first. The question would be something that people debate about Functional Numeracy. Then your thesis question would be the answer to that question. Here are some possible questions:
1. What is functional numeracy?
2. How important is it for children to get functional numeracy?
3. When should children be tested to see if they have functional numeracy?
4. How can we be sure students who graduate from school have functional numeracy?
Question: Would "What do you think of vaccinations in children being mandatory?" make a good thesis statement?
Answer: That thesis statement needs to start with a question such as "Should vaccinations of children be made mandatory?" However, it is better if a thesis question can't be answered with a simple yes or no. Here are some better questions:
1. How can we avoid the problem of parents choosing to not vaccinate their children?
2. What are the best arguments for choosing vaccination?
3. Why do some people not choose vaccination?
4. How can mandatory vaccination be implemented?
Question: What do you think of, "How many generations of families are in jail and why?" for a thesis question?
Answer: A thesis question needs to have a clearer and broader answer. Here are some better ones:
1. What causes people to have generational poverty?
2. Why do some families have many members who become incarcerated?
3. How can we prevent generational incarceration?
4. Are children of parents who are incarcerated more likely to go to prison themselves?
5. How are poverty and incarceration related?
6. How can we prevent people released from prison from returning?
Question: What do you think of, "How does the truth set you free?" for a thesis?
Answer: That is a topic question rather than a thesis. The thesis would be the answer to that question. How does the truth set you free?
Question: "Was Shi Huang Di brilliant or brutal?" How can I develop this into a thesis statement?
Answer: Your question is about the first emperor of China, who is also called Qin Shi Huang. He is generally credited with unifying China to start the first dynasty (Qin dynasty) as well as starting the project of The Great Wall and ordering the creation of the Terracotta Warriors for his burial. Your question is interesting but a better way to word it to create a good thesis question would be to leave the question more open-ended:
1. How should we evaluate the life and works of Shi Huang Di?
2. Is the legacy of Shi Huang Di something the Chinese people should admire?
Question: Our thesis topic is "How does the government address the issue of destructive fishing in the country?". How should I approach writing about this topic?
Answer: That is a problem solution essay where you would describe how the government tries to fix the problem of fishing. Alternatively, you could write an essay which argues that the government should do more, or something different.
Question: How can you construct a thesis abstract?
Answer: A "thesis abstract" is actually a summary of the whole document you are writing, rather than just a single thesis sentence. Generally, this term is used for dissertations or master's thesis. You will start your thesis abstract with your thesis question and answer, but then you will need to add all of the main reasons for your response to this thesis. If you were writing a short paper, you would have all of your topic sentences, but if your abstract is of a more extended document, like a dissertation, you will need to tell just the main points of argument. For help in writing, see my articles on How to Write a Topic Sentence https://hubpages.com/academia/How-to-Write-a-Great...
and How to Write a Summary https://hubpages.com/academia/How-to-Write-a-Summa...
Question: What do you think of the topic " Should Sen Antonio Trillianes' amnesty be revoked?
Answer: That topic is very current. Here are some alternative ideas:
1. What should be done about Sen Antonio Triallianes?
2. Is the War on Drugs effective?
3. Are the President's problems with Sen Antonio Triallianes going to hurt him?
Question: Please suggest a thesis statement for saving the Ussuri brown bear?
Answer: A thesis question could be one of the following:
How can the Ussuri brown bear be rescued from extinction?
What is the best solution to the problems facing the Ussuri brown bear?
What has caused the problems of the Ussuri brown bear?
Your thesis statement would be your answer to the question.
Question: What do you think about the topic "Plastic Waste" for an essay? How would that topic be formed into a thesis?
Answer: Here are some research questions on the topic of plastic waste:
1. What is the best method of ridding the ocean of plastic waste?
2. How important is it to create a plan to deal with the earth's plastic waste?
3. What problems does plastic waste create?
4. Should we ban plastic bags and other unnecessary plastic waste?
5. Is banning plastic straws going to help the problem of plastic waste?
6. Should people have to pay for plastic containers like grocery bags? Will this help eliminate plastic waste?
7. What can an individual do to help solve the problem of plastic waste?
To form a thesis from one of these questions, you will need to answer the question and then give reasons for your answer. Those reasons will be what you use for your topic sentences in the body of your essay. For more information about how to develop those topic sentences see my article on How to Write a Great Topic Sentence (which includes information about writing a thesis as well): https://owlcation.com/academia/How-to-Write-a-Grea...
Question: What is a good thesis statement for the topic of "increased living cost in silicon valley"?
Answer: Thesis questions are where you start and then the answer to the question is your thesis statement. Here are some thesis questions on your topic:
1. What can be done about the increase in living costs in Silicon Valley, California?
2. Should tech companies make sure their employees have a living wage that allows them a comfortable life in Silicon Valley?
3. What has caused increased living costs in Silicon Valley?
Question: How to do a thesis statement about education?
Answer: Generally, an education essay is probably a "problem-solution" essay, so your thesis question would be a question about the best way to solve that educational problem (example: what is the best way to teach children to multiply?) and the thesis statement would be the answer to the question (the best way to teach children how to multiply is XX).
Leila on March 05, 2020:
I really enjoyed reading this article. Well organized and straightforward explanations with examples made this article very helpful and easy to understand resource. Thank you so much!
Samuel Ndegwa on January 20, 2020:
This article has turned out to be the most resourceful articles I have ever read on thesis statements .Thanks alot
Kelly Ann Christensen from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas on December 30, 2019:
Going back and reading articles like this is so helpful even if you still remember it from years ago. These articles are good refreshers, too! Your writing is clear, concise, and well organized. Thanks!
Joan on March 21, 2019:
this article has really been helpful, i have been wondering how to start writing my thesis am glad to say i feel inspired to start immediately.
Christina Gould on March 04, 2019:
i wish this has been around when i was doing writing tutoring in school.
CAG on October 25, 2018:
I consider myself a pretty decent writer, however, in my 46 years of life, I've never had to write a thesis statement. After being away from college for 25 years, I'm back and am filled with determination to obtain my undergraduate degree. To satisfy graduation I must pass a writing proficiency test, which requires me to write a thesis statement. Your article has been a tremendous benefit as it will not only help me develop my thesis statement but will also help me structure my paper. I especially love the "Thesis Format Chart". Thank you for making this article available; it is truly invaluable.
Alexandra Hoerl from USA on October 30, 2017:
I wish this had been around when I was doing writing tutoring in graduate school. This would be useful not just for struggling writers, but for decent high school writers who might have been hamstrung by a particularly rigid teacher. I can't tell you how many people I've worked with who had it drilled into their head in high school English that a thesis had to be a single sentence. They couldn't understand why college professors were telling them this was not sufficient!
Dorothy Tran on August 23, 2017:
I really enjoyed your article. Writing a thesis in the past has been one of the most time consuming and difficult stages for writing my papers. Your thesis table makes the process much more organized and straightforward. In addition, I never thought that using contrast words like "although" and "however" could improve the thesis. I will definitely use these tips when writing my own papers.
Marie Meyer on August 23, 2017:
This article was so helpful! The video was very catchy and helped tie everything together into my memory. I also love the format chart to use as an outline when writing a thesis.
Grand Old Lady on February 01, 2017:
I never wrote a thesis in my life, and now that I see how eagerly my daughter wanted to write a thesis, I have come to regret it. Thank you for this article, it shows me that it is never to late to start.
Emily Roesch on August 24, 2016:
Hi Professor Kearney!
I found this article extremely helpful regarding how to write a thesis. Finding a suitable thesis is a challenge for me, but I think if I use your tips I will be set. I had not heard of asking a thesis question before, so I look forward to trying that very soon! I also like the idea of using a semicolon in my thesis, because I tend to write a longer thesis.
Thank you very much,
Evan Gibbs on August 24, 2016:
I actually really enjoyed this article, as thesis statements are a must learn for any essay. The 5 steps and the examples really make it easy to have a great thesis statement. I look forward to your class this semester.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on August 17, 2016:
Glenis, I'm glad you are recommending my articles to young people you know. I actually have about 100 articles on various aspects of writing, so if they search on my profile, they can probably find things to help them on the various papers they write.
Glen Rix from UK on August 16, 2016:
Recommending to my niece - I recently read one of her papers and feel that this hub will be very beneficial. Will also send a link to my son, who is distance learning with the OU.
Conica on November 15, 2015:
I really appreciate these tips. I have gotten away from hand written brainstorming. This information is very helpful and I will use these Keynotes to help me finish all my writing assignments
Victoria Harrison on August 26, 2015:
Hi Professor Kearney,
One of the things I struggle the most with in writing is forming a clear thesis statement. Although I know that there is no exact formula that will help me produce a quality thesis statement 100% of the times, this article helped expose me to ways that I can use brainstorming to come up with a quality thesis. I was especially a fan of the Thesis Statement Chart and will be referring to it in the future!
Looking forward to a great semester with you,
Molly Dempsey on August 26, 2015:
This article will definitely be useful throughout the school year! I really enjoyed the examples and I think the chart will help me when creating my own thesis statements.
Ashley Arceneaux on August 25, 2015:
I normally struggle with writing a thesis, but this article has made it seem very simple. I enjoyed the format and the many examples you have provided. The practice questions were also very helpful and good tip with the semicolon.
William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on October 02, 2014:
Thank you, so much, for sharing. Certainly much food for thought. ;-)
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 02, 2014:
Thanks so much donnah! I re-write my material so much that I sometimes miss the typos and always appreciate it when someone calls it to my attention so I can correct it.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 02, 2014:
This is a good article to read because it helps me be a better writer.
Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on October 02, 2014:
Thank you for this overview. I am going to suggest it as a resource to my students.
Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on October 02, 2014:
FYI: you have a typo in your first sentence. (Feel free to delete this comment.)