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The Theses Statement: A Map For Your Writing

Updated on June 6, 2011

The theses statement challenge

My mother has lately gone back to school to earn a college degree and after suffering through her first Basic English class in twenty years she begged me to write something for her classmates. Apparently, almost none of these new high school graduates understand my first basic rule of writing. But this isn’t uncommon; it was true of my classmates as well.

I wanted to take on this challenge because I know that anybody can write an essay, and anybody can figure out that tricky thing called a theses statement. All you need is a detailed explanation and a few good examples. So let me repeat: Anyone can do this if they just try!

So how do I write a theses statement?

The reason a theses statement is the most important part of your essay is that it is your map.

A good theses statement (also called a Topic Sentence) maps out and controls your whole essay. It’s as simple as that. With a good theses statement you simply follow orders and fill in the blanks. I used to find myself baffled when my classmates would tell me that it was too hard to write the theses statement and that they would rather just write the paper and worry about the theses statement later. I really don’t understand how you can write anything academic without first working out your map for writing. To me it would be like going on a trip and saying that you would rather just get driving and figure out the address later. It makes no sense!

A theses statement should be a simple sentence with three things in it; three ideas that you will talk about, presented in the order you will discuss them. That’s it. Unless your paper must be huge and might require a little more discussion material leave it at three. I've met people who tell me that they just want to talk all about their subject and that they can’t choose just three ideas. To them I say tough cookies. Pick three, because three is enough for a basic paper and without just a few concise ideas to stick to the paper always seems rambling, and readers( like your professor) will be thinking “blah, blah, blah, so what’s the point?” Three basic ideas will get you a whole five paragraph essay at least. So pick your topic. Say you wanted to talk about smoking. You would then create a theses statement with three ideas you want to discuss about smoking. So pick them. Ideas you might want to discuss could be that smoking is unhygienic, costly, and deadly.

Now you have your building blocks so write it!

Now all you have to do is put it together in a sentence. The most basic thing you would write is something like “ This paper will discuss how smoking is unhygienic, costly, and deadly.” For most classes that would be it. Really! That’s all you need to put together a theses statement! Now you have a sentence that tells you what your whole paper will be about. No more brainstorming. Just do what it says. First write a paragraph about your first idea, in this case that smoking is unhygienic. Next write a paragraph about your second idea, and then your third. Now all you need is a conclusion, such as smoking is bad, and you have your paper!

If you wanted you could put it into a few sentences like this; “This paper will cover three ideas. First, that smoking is unhygienic. Second, that smoking is a very costly habit. Third, that smoking will ultimately kill you.” Whether you do it one way or the other really depends on you and your teacher. It also helps if your three ideas somehow lead into each other just because it helps with the flow of the writing process.

I hope this helps! If you would like to read more about essay writing check out my other hubs!


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    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 

      7 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi Ambersagen :)

      Maybe they do call it that now. It is possible. It's been a while since I was studying or teaching at University level :)

      Certainly students were encouraged to state, in the introduction, what their essays would be about, but I do think that giving this statement a clear name and role would have helped a lot of people.

    • ambersagen profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Provo, Utah

      Thanks trish_m! I have also heard a theses statement called a topic sentence. I was surprised to hear it isn't used in the UK, because my teachers just went on and on and on about it :) It's just a neat little tool to start your first paragraph.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 

      7 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      Very interesting.

      I have not heard of the phrase 'theses statement' before. It must be one that either isn't yet used in the UK, or one that I simply have not come across ~ but I think that it would be useful.

      Having written, and marked, a lot of essays, I think that this one simple idea would be very helpful to both students and teachers.

      It's all very well saying that an essay should begin with an introduction, which explains what the essay will be about (so the idea certainly exists), but this use of a 'statement' makes it much clearer, I think.


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