How to Create an Argumentative Thesis Statement

There are several types of essay assignments that a student encounters, one of which is the argumentative essay. This type of essay is meant to persuade the reader to accept a certain viewpoint. Though the thesis represents a small portion of the paper, it is an important key, setting the stage for the argument of the essay. Creating an argumentative thesis statement requires honing in on an arguable point and expressing it in a concise way.

Know the purpose of an argumentative thesis. A thesis is a one or two sentence summary of the main purpose of the paper. For an argumentative thesis, you make a claim about a subject. Then, the body of the essay shows why your claim (your thesis) is true and supports that viewpoint.

Find a debatable point. An argumentative paper presents a point of view (a claim) that can be debated and gives evidence for why that claim is correct. Look at your topic, or come up with your own topic, and find a strong stance that could be argued for and against. Write one or two sentences that explain your claim to the reader. This is your thesis statement.

Make sure your thesis isn’t too broad. Your thesis should state a very specific point that you plan to argue, and that point should be provable within the page limit of the assignment. If your thesis is too general or too broad, your paper will lack focus, will try to incorporate too much information, and will become too long. Using an example provided by the Purdue Online Writing Lab, the thesis “Drug use is detrimental to society” is an example of a thesis that is not specific enough. Rewriting the sentence to say “Illegal drug use is detrimental because it encourages gang violence” creates a thesis that is more focused and can be argued with detailed data and examples.

Use types of claims to focus the thesis. Choosing a type of claim or argument will help you keep your thesis from becoming too broad. There are several types of claims: claims of cause and effect (one thing or person causes something to occur), claims of definition or fact (argument regarding how a thing is defined or if something is an established fact), claims about values (how much something is valued by society), and claims about policies (arguments for or against a certain policy).

Properly place your thesis. A thesis appears at the end of your essay’s introduction. Normally, the introduction is a single paragraph at the beginning of the paper. The thesis will be the last one or two sentences of the essay. If your introduction runs longer than one paragraph, put the thesis at the end of the last paragraph of the introduction.

  • Once your paper is completed, recheck your thesis. Your ideas develop and change as you write. By the time you have completed the essay, your original thesis often needs to be rewritten to better mirror the content of your paper.
About the Author

Shelia Odak has over 10 years writing and editing experience for consumer and trade publications including "Radio/TV Interview Report." She has worked for over nine years in education and holds a Ph.D. from Georgia State University. Odak writes on a range of topics including education, literature and frugal living.

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