: Thesis Statements

Reading: Thesis Statements


The thesis statement* is the backbone of the essay, and therefore, writers often feel a lot of pressure to come up with a final, polished version of the statement right from the start. In fact, in previous coursework, you were probably asked to come up with a thesis statement before drafting an essay. The problem with that method is that our perceptions and writing changes over time, so a thesis statement that was written at the start of the writing process may not end up aligning with ideas in the most recent draft.

Now that you have already begun the process of drafting your critical analysis essay, you are ready to construct your thesis statement. In Assignment 2, Milestone 1, you identified your claim*, an opinion about your selected article. This claim will now become the basis for your thesis statement. Thesis statements not only announce the main claim of the essay, they also often provide the specific examples the essay will address in order to support the main claim.

When you first begin writing essays, it can be helpful to think of thesis statements as having two parts:

  1. identifies the main topic of the essay
  2. states the main point of the essay

For example:

The life of a working parent is often complicated.

In this thesis,

  • “The life of a working parent” presents the main topic of the essay.
  • “Is often complicated” introduces the main point being made about the topic of the essay. This is the claim, the heart of the thesis statement.

The next step is to take the standard two-part thesis statement and add an additional element: show the specific reasons a working parent’s life is often complicated.

For example, consider the following thesis statement that is made up of the main topic, the claim, and the specific reasons that support the claim:

Thesis Statement: The life of a working parent is often complicated because they try to maintain a healthy work/life balance, have to pay exorbitant day care costs, and usually do not have a lot of time in their schedule for anything outside of work and their child. Supporting Point 1: A working parent has to work hard to maintain a healthy work/life balance to ensure he or she does not burn out. Supporting Point 2: A working parent's life can also be financially complicated by exorbitant day care costs. Supporting Point 3: A working parent's life can also be challenging, as they may struggle to find time for anything outside of work and time with their children.

The thesis statement for your critical analysis essay should follow a similar pattern. First, you should clearly state your claim, which is what you believe is the author’s intent in writing his or her article. Then you should explain three specific reasons to support your claim. (Keep in mind that you have started to develop these supporting reasons when discussing your key points* in 5-3.) You can use the framework below to help you construct your thesis statement:

The article’s theme of __________________ is ___________________ because ______________, ______________________, and ______________________.

For example, after reading an article about the benefits of yoga, I might construct the following thesis statement:

The article’s theme of yoga as the best form of exercise for both mind and body is well argued because the author includes medical research, provides compelling personal stories, and acknowledges the point of view of “non-yogi’s.”

A reminder: The thesis statement should appear at the end of the introductory paragraph.