Argumentative Thesis


As explained in Research & Citations, not all essays will require an explicitly stated thesis, but most argumentative essays will. Instead of implying your thesis or main idea, in an argumentative essay, you’ll most likely be required to write out your thesis statement for your audience. A thesis statement is a one- to two-sentence statement that presents the main idea and makes an assertion about your issue. You may have a longer thesis for much longer essays, but one to two sentences is a good general guideline. And, remember, in an argumentative essay, the assertion you present in your thesis is going to be particularly important.

When you make your assertion in your thesis, it should be clear and direct. You want your audience to have no doubt about your point. Of course, how assertive you are in your thesis and the content you choose to include depends upon the type of argumentative essay you are writing. For example, in a Classical or Aristotelian argument (explained in pages that follow), your thesis statement should clearly present your side of the issue. In a Rogerian argument (explained in pages that follow), your thesis should bring both sides of the issue together.

Still, there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to an argumentative thesis statement.

  • Your thesis statement should be one to two sentences.
  • Your thesis statement should clearly present the main idea of your essay and make some kind of assertion (even if that assertion is about bringing two sides together).
  • Your thesis should not make an “announcement” about what your essay will cover. Instead, it should just present your assertion. For example, a thesis like this makes an announcement:

In this paper, I will persuade you to vote for candidates who support education reform.

Instead you might write:

Because our education system is in need of reform, we should vote for candidates who are willing to make the necessary changes.
  • While there is no such thing as a “required” place for your thesis statement, most academic essays will present the thesis statement early on, usually near the end of the introduction. There is a reason for this. Audience members are more likely to understand and absorb each point as readers if you have told them, in advance, what they should be getting out of your essay. Still, you should check with your professor if you would like to present your thesis somewhere else, such as at the end of your essay.
  • Your thesis statement is the most important sentence in your essay. It’s your chance to make sure your audience really understands your point. Be sure your assertion and your writing style are clear.

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