How to Write an Argumentative Thesis Statement

How to Write an Argumentative Thesis Statement

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College-level education requires you to produce papers in which you take a stand either for or against a specific thing. These essays are called argumentative, meaning that you argue a point and present supporting evidence to back your claim. If appropriately written, argumentative essays are highly-organized papers composed with rhetorical finesse focused on a particular point you consider worth arguing. At first-attempt writing, such a paper can seem like a difficult task. However, there are simple rules to be followed to write an excellent argumentative essay. One of those is the need for a decisively formulated thesis statement. A thesis statement represents the basis for your argument, foundation stone for the whole paper, an element which connects all the others.

What is a thesis statement?

Quite simply, it’s the essence of your essay conveyed in a single sentence. It introduces your essay topic, declares your position on the subject, and gives reasons for it. For example: “Physical education should not be mandatory in college because it's a waste of students' time."

The topic is physical education, your position is against it, and the reason is that you think that students can spend their time more usefully elsewhere. Conversely, you could argue that: “Physical education should be mandatory in college because it benefits students' health". The topic remains the same – physical education, your position is in favor of it, and the reasons are its beneficial effects on students' health. Why do we label this statement as argumentative? Essentially - because there is more than one possible view on this subject.

Let’s consider these claims: “The World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945", or "Plants get their green coloring from chlorophyll." Can these sentences serve as a basis for an argumentative thesis statement? It’s highly unlikely. They express facts which are not arguable. So we've come to the second point to take into account when formulating a thesis statement for an argumentative essay: the topic should be debatable. The more controversial topic you choose, the more you will be able to argue your point passionately and to make an impression on your reader. Luckily, there’s no shortage of provocative, highly-debatable topics to choose from.

If we have agreed not to argue indisputable facts, we can discuss another critical point, namely a way in which one can argue ethical issues. When formulating an argumentative thesis statement for an ethical issue, it's imperative to be very specific. Stating a moral claim in a general manner practically makes it a fact and facts are not arguable.

For example: "We should try to help other people whenever we can" is obviously ethically sound advice against which it would be hard to argue. On the other hand, stating that "We should try to help people with special needs because they are unable to take care of themselves" is debatable. The contrary could also be argued: "We should not try to do everything for people with special needs because they are equally capable of doing it themselves."

The third and final part of an argumentative thesis statement is supporting your claim with a strong reason. It explains why you believe that your statement is true. Building upon your thesis statement, you will later clarify your reasoning in more detail and support it with factual or other evidence. Formulating your position in a brief and precise way, which is a typical requirement for a thesis statement, allows your readers to get a clear picture of what you stand for and to be compelled to continue reading either because they support your opinion or because they strongly oppose it. Whichever your case is, an argumentative thesis statement is meant to elicit a reaction that defines readers as either for or against what you argued.

You usually introduce the support part of an argumentative thesis statement with the word "because." By providing a reason for your claim, you disclose your attitude on a particular topic to the audience. This facilitates the understanding of all other parts of the essay by defining its central point and expressing your position beyond any doubt. If your point is made clear in the thesis statement, it shouldn't be too hard for the reader to follow your argumentation throughout the essay.

You usually give a single reason in support of the claim made in the thesis statement. Listing more reasons would only burden it, which makes your argument weaker. However, this puts you in a position where you have to choose the most compelling argument of all, the one that would be the hardest to find fault with or to refute. Sometimes this is quite simple, as is the case with topics you feel passionate about and you are 100% sure of why you feel that way. In all other instances, it requires a little bit more thought and consideration before you can come up with a single reason that makes your claim almost indisputable. But since this is the element around which the whole essay will eventually revolve, it's imperative to get it right.

In short – an argumentative thesis statement is a sentence that conveys your exact position on a specific topic and the reason for it. It encompasses an indication of the topic, followed by an argument and its justification. It's a critical element of the essay, so you should only formulate it after careful deliberation.

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