In an argumentative thesis, instead of hinting at your main idea, you’ll most likely have to write a statement for your audience. A thesis statement is a one- or two-sentence statement that presents the main idea and makes a statement about its topic. A sentence or two is a good general guideline. And remember that, in an argumentative thesis, the statement you present is going to be especially important.
When you make your statement in the thesis, it should be clear and direct. You want your audience to have no doubt about your point of view. Of course, the degree of assertiveness of your thesis and the content you decide to include depends on the type of argument you are writing. For example, in a classical or Aristotelian argumentation, the thesis statement should clearly present your point of view. In a Roger argument, the thesis must unite both sides of the question.
The thesis statement should have one or two sentences
The thesis statement must clearly present the main idea and make some kind of statement (even if that statement consists of joining two sides). Your thesis should not make an “announcement” about what it will deal with. Instead, you should limit yourself to presenting your claim. For example, a thesis like this makes an announcement:
In this thesis, I will persuade you to vote for candidates who support education reform.
Instead, you could write:
Since our education system needs reform, we should vote for candidates who are willing to make the necessary changes.
Although there is no “mandatory” place for the statement, most academic theses present the statement at the beginning, usually near the end of the introduction. There is a reason for that. Audience members are more likely to understand and assimilate each point as readers if you’ve told them, in advance, what they should get out of your thesis.
The statement of the thesis is the most important phrase of the writing. It’s your chance to make sure your audience really understands your point of view. Make sure your affirmation and writing style are clear.
How to write a thesis statement in 3 steps
The statement is the most important part of your argumentative thesis. The thesis appears in your introductory paragraph, summarizes the topic, and prepares the reader for what’s to come. These steps will help you convey your point of view clearly and concisely:
Turn the topic into a question and answer it
It poses a big question in the title of the thesis or in the first few sentences. Next, answer that question in the thesis statement. As a very simple example, you could ask the question: “What is the best type of sandwich?” And then respond with the thesis statement: “The best type of sandwich is peanut butter and jam.” This method is effective because intriguing questions attract readers and encourage them to read on to find the answer.
Make an argument and then refill it
Introduce an idea that contrasts with their belief and immediately explain why you disagree with it. For example: “While some people believe that peanut butter and jam sandwiches are too simple, they are versatile sandwiches that you can easily turn into a gourmet meal.” This method is effective because it uses evidence and immediately proves your credibility.
Briefly summarize your main points
Introduce your main point and explain how you’re going to back it up. For example: “You can turn a peanut butter and jam sandwich into a gourmet meal using artisanal bread, toasting the bread, and adding extra ingredients.” This method is effective because it gives readers a clear idea of everything you are going to deal with in your thesis. It also serves as a roadmap to help you get organized and follow the path.
5 types of argumentative statements
Once you decide what you are going to argue and know the statement of your thesis, consider how you are going to present your argument. There are five types of argument statements that can guide your thesis:
Fact: whether the claim is true or false.
Definition: The dictionary definition of what you’re arguing, plus your own personal interpretation of it.
Value: the importance of what you argue.
Cause and effect: what causes the problem in your thesis and what effects it has.
Politics: Why the reader should care and what they should do about it after reading it.
3 main types of arguments and how to use them
There are three main ways to structure an argumentative thesis. Choose one of the following or combine them to write your thesis:
Present the main argument, state your opinion and do your best to convince the reader that your position is correct. Also called Aristotelian, it is the most popular strategy to argue because it is the simplest line of thought to follow. It’s effective when your audience doesn’t have a lot of information or a strong opinion on your topic, as it lays out the facts clearly and concisely.
Present the problem, recognize the opposite side of the argument, state your point of view, and explain why yours is the most beneficial to the reader. This type of argument is effective for polarizing issues, as it recognizes both sides and presents the middle ground.
Present your claim, present the rationale for supporting that claim, and then justify that the rationale is tied to the claim. This type of argument is also effective for polarizing issues, but instead of presenting both sides, it presents one, especially based on facts presented in a way that makes the claim difficult to refute.
Whether you are writing a thesis as an artistic exercise or trying to get the attention of a publication it is important to know how to correctly structure your point of view is the key to a good argumentative thesis. Malcolm Gladwell, renowned non-fiction storyteller and author of the bestsellers Blink and The Tipping Point, has been perfecting his art for decades. His books have helped millions of readers understand complex ideas such as behavioral economics and performance prediction. Gladwell provides insight into how to investigate topics and distills great ideas into simple, powerful narratives.
Characteristics of an argumentative thesis
Below are some of the key features of an argumentative thesis statement. An argumentative thesis is:
An argumentative thesis must make a claim that reasonable people can disagree on. Statements of fact or areas of general agreement cannot be argumentative theses because few people disagree with them.
That junk food is bad for health is not a debatable thesis. Most people agree that junk food is bad for your health.
Since junk food is bad for health, the size of the sodas offered in fast food restaurants should be regulated by the federal government is a moot thesis. Reasonable people may or may not agree with the statement.
An argumentative thesis adopts a position, affirming the writer’s position. Questions, vague statements, or quotes from others are not an argumentative thesis because they do not affirm the writer’s point of view.
Federal immigration law is a difficult issue that many people disagree on is not an argumentative thesis because it does not assert a position.
Federal immigration enforcement law needs to be revised because it places undue restrictions on state and local police is an argumentative thesis because it asserts a position that immigration enforcement law needs to be changed.
An argumentative thesis must make a statement that is logical and possible. Scandalous or impossible statements are not argumentative theses.
Members of the city council are irresponsible and should go to jail is not an argumentative thesis. The ineffectiveness of councillors is not a reason to send them to jail.
Councillors should have a limited mandate to prevent a group or party from maintaining control indefinitely is a debatable thesis because term limits are possible and shared political control is a reasonable goal.
An argumentative thesis must be able to be supported by evidence. Claims that presuppose value systems, morals or religious beliefs cannot be supported by evidence and are therefore not argumentative theses.
Individuals convicted of murder will go to hell when they die is not an argumentative thesis because their support is based on religious beliefs or values and not on evidence.
Rehabilitation programs for individuals serving life sentences should be funded because these programs reduce violence within prisons is an argumentative thesis because evidence such as case studies and statistics can be used to support it.
An argumentative thesis must be focused and narrow. A focused and limited statement is clearer, can rely more on evidence, and is more persuasive than a broad, general statement.
That the federal government should revise the U.S. tax code is not an effective argumentative thesis because it is too general (what part of the government? What tax codes? What sections of those tax codes?) and would require an overwhelming amount of evidence to be fully supported.
The U.S. House of Representatives Voting to repeal the federal wealth tax because the revenue generated by that tax is negligible is an effective argumentative thesis because it identifies a specific actor and action and can be fully supported by evidence about the amount of revenue the estate tax generates.
How to outline an argumentative thesis in 4 steps
Argumentative theses should have a simple structure so that they are easy for readers to follow. The objective of an argumentative thesis is to clearly outline a point of view, reasoning and evidence. A good argumentative thesis should follow this structure:
The first paragraph of your thesis should describe the topic, provide the background information needed to understand your argument, outline the evidence you will present, and lay out your thesis.
The statement of the thesis
It is part of the first paragraph. It is a concise, one-sentence summary of the main point and the statement.
Paragraphs of the body
A typical argumentative thesis consists of three or more paragraphs explaining the reasons why you support your claim. Each paragraph in the body should encompass a different idea or test and contain a topic phrase that clearly and concisely explains why the reader should agree with your position. In the paragraphs of the body of the text you must back up your claims with examples, research, statistics, studies and textual quotations. Address opposing views and dismiss them or explain why you disagree with them. Presenting facts and considering a topic from all angles adds credibility and will help you gain the reader’s trust.
A paragraph that reiterates the thesis and summarizes all the arguments presented in the paragraphs of the body. Instead of introducing new facts or more arguments, a good conclusion will appeal to the reader’s emotions. In some cases, writers will use a personal anecdote that explains how the topic affects them personally.
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Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers. Ed. Lynn Quitman Troyka, 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.
The Writer’s Workplace. Ed. Sandra Scarry and John Scarry. 6th ed. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008.
Ellis, Matt (2021). How to Write a Standout Argumentative Essay. In: https://www.grammarly.com/blog/argumentative-essay/
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