The thesis statement and topic sentences form an essential road map for your paper. Your thesis statement gives readers your destination, while topic sentences are your signposts, showing readers how to reach your destination. Thesis statements and topic sentences have specific purposes, and for this reason one can be in the form of a question while the other cannot.
A thesis statement establishes what your paper will be about. It presents a point or claim that the rest of your paper will support. Because the thesis statement is the overarching conclusion your paper will lead to or defend, it is not written in the form of a question. The Wesley College Writing Center provides a suggestion for creating your thesis statement: First ask the main question your paper will answer. Then, write the answer to your question as a complete sentence. The answer is your thesis statement.
Unlike thesis statements, topic sentences can be questions that your paragraphs answer. A topic sentence presents the main point for a paragraph and gives your readers a clear idea of what the individual paragraph is about. Ideally, your topic sentences should relate to your thesis statement. As a question, your topic sentence could work to pique your reader’s curiosity, but you must also be sure that the paragraph answers your question. A topic sentence should contain a single idea or topic that you can answer in one paragraph.
The thesis statement and supporting topic sentences work together to map out your paper, guiding your reader to your final conclusion.