Most academic essays contain a thesis statement located at the end of the introductory paragraph. The thesis states the subject of the essay and takes a stand, gives a position, or makes a claim about the subject which will be supported or argued throughout the essay. If you are answering a writing prompt, you may think of the thesis statement as your short answer to the question. If you are developing your own subject, the thesis lets the reader know what subject you will discuss and what your position is on that subject. In addition, the thesis should suggest the organization or overall movement of your discussion.
Write your thesis after you have generated ideas. Look at your clusters, lists, freewrites, or graphic organizers to see what you have available to write about and what groups together. What do you think about your subject? What facts led you to your ideas? How can you support your position and convince others of your position? How will you organize your essay so that others can follow your logic? Now put your thinking into one or two sentences. This will be your thesis.
The more specific your thesis is, the easier it will be for the reader to follow your argument. For example:
General: Pollution should be stopped.
More specific: Everyday pollution by household products such as oil and lawn fertilizer should be stopped because these products are entering our sewage systems and critically damaging our sea life.
The second example narrows the subject of pollution to household products and forecasts the discussion. You can expect that the essay will show how these products are entering the sewage systems and then how this hurts sea life. This subject is more manageable than the general subject of pollution. Likewise, you know the direction the argument will take, a presentation of the critical damage the household products are creating for sea life.
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