Here are some example pairs of thesis statements. The first statement is a weak example and the second statement is a strong example.
Broad Topic: Reasons to dislike going to the dentist
Going to the dentist can be painful.
Going to the dentist can be painful if you have a tooth pulled, a cavity filled, or a root canal.
Explanation: There is no direction in the first statement. It does not tell the reader what will be discussed in the essay. The second statement outlines three reasons why going to the dentist can be painful.
Broad Topic: Differences between growing up in rural and urban areas
Growing up on a farm was safe, I learned a lot and I enjoyed it.
Growing up on a farm was a safe, educational, and enjoyable experience.
Explanation: The first statement lists the three points in the essay, but they are not in parallel form. The second statement lists the three points, and all three points are parallel, in adjective form. Parallel structure is an important writing technique. It is easy to read; it reinforces the similarity between ideas by using similar grammatical forms; and, it has a strong tradition in English writing that adds significance to the ideas being expressed.
Broad Topic: School uniforms
School uniforms are bad.
Wearing school uniforms inhibits individuality because students are not given an opportunity to express themselves.
Explanation: The first statement does not have a controlling idea, and it is not clear why school uniforms are bad. The second statement gives a clear explanation of what the writer is going to talk about.
Writing a Three Point Thesis Statement
It’s almost impossible to overrate how important a good thesis statement is to an essay. The thesis statement is basically the whole essay in capsule form. Your audience should be able to understand the point of your essay by reading the thesis statement alone. There are three qualities that make for a good thesis:
- It is arguable. Someone must be able to potentially make a case against your thesis. Otherwise, what is the point of the essay? “The growth of nationalism was a factor leading up to World War I,” is not a very good thesis. While someone could argue against it, most scholars agree on this point, so it is weak as the basis for essay. “Nationalism was the leading factor leading up to World War I,” is much stronger.
- It is clear. Again, the reader should be able to get the main point of the essay from the thesis alone, so the thesis should be understandable. Don’t rely on further explanation in the body of the paper. If someone is confused when they read the thesis, they’re not likely to read the rest of the essay. Avoid vague words. When drafting your thesis statement, it’s a good idea to have someone else read it to see if there is anything confusing or unclear.
- It is concise. The best thesis is the one that expresses the point in the briefest way possible without leaving anything out. It should be no more than two sentences, and preferably one.
A three point thesis statement is a particular type of thesis statement in which the main point is stated along with three supporting points or pieces of evidence. You can think of your paper as being a case you’re presenting in court. Your thesis statement contains your plea (the main point of argument) along with exhibits, A, B, and C. For instance, “Nationalism was the key cause of World War One because it caused a power struggle between European nations, led to the Serbian crisis, and gave wide support to the militaristic policies of governments.” Here you have the main point with three reasons given. The essay should go on to devote one paragraph (in a short paper) or section (in a longer one) to each of the three points. Notice that the three points have a parallel structure, meaning they follow the same grammatical pattern.