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How to Write a Pro & Con Thesis Statement


Your teacher may require you to write a paper evaluating the pros and cons of a particular issue, providing both positive and negative attributes of a specific subject as well as the student’s position. A pro and con thesis statement sets your position and justifies the stance by identifying reasons. It tells readers what you want them to know or consider about the topic after reading your essay.

Research Your Topic

The key to developing a pro and con thesis statement that includes the most relevant information is research. Research helps you become better informed and determine what it is about your topic you want to examine. Gather resources that help you establish inferences or raise questions. Use information gathered from credible sources to determine your position, support your claim, and defend your viewpoints against opposing arguments. Informed writers write a more authoritative thesis statement.

Brainstorm Pros and Cons

Once you have completed your research, brainstorm and list all pros and cons you can think of concerning your topic. This can be done by separating positive from negative sides or randomly listing them together. Try to develop a counterpoint for each pro and con. Eliminate any pros or cons for which there is no counterpoint and narrow the list of those for your side of the issue and those against your side. You need at least three pros and cons for a sufficient argument.

Take a Stand

A strong thesis statement is one that takes a stand and can be defended. Decide which side of the argument you support and group all your thoughts into one central theme. In order to take a stand, you must know opposing viewpoints and provide evidence against them. Your viewpoints must be clearly defined, and all of your pro and con points should prove your thesis or disprove the opposing side. Do not use words such as “I believe” or “I feel” in your thesis statement. Your opinion of the topic must be a powerful statement that fits the facts.

Putting it Together

A formula for putting together a pro and con thesis statement that shows both positive and negative benefits and chooses a position is by making a claim plus reason. Make your claim and give the reason for it. A claim plus reason thesis allows the writer to determine the focus, simplifies the relationship between ideas and keeps the reader focused on the viewpoint. For example, you may decide to write about the effects of being a child star and state the thesis like this: “Although being a child star can be a learning experience and a stepping stone to a successful adult acting career, it can be harmful because a child actor has an unstable school schedule, less social activity with other children and more exposure to adult subject matter.” Using a claim plus reason formula gives your reader enough detail about the topic to grasp your argument.

About the Author

Based in Virginia, Susan Harlow is an adjunct English professor and writing resource coordinator. She specializes in education and technical communication. She holds a Master of Arts in English with a concentration in literacy, technology and professional writing from Northern Arizona University.

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