Your thesis statement is a clear, concise sentence that states the main points of your topic. It is not a personal announcement of your intention.
Essay assignments for a high school class, college admissions, or even your S.A.T., must be clear, concise, address your main points, and never be an announcement of your assignment:
- ANNOUNCEMENT: In this essay I will be describing the different approaches of the French authors of the Symbolist movement in the late 19th century.
- THESIS STATEMENT: In the late nineteenth century, a group of French poets known as the Symbolists revolutionized literature by rejecting strict forms and classical subjects; they wrote bold, affectionate poems that demonstrated both literal and figurative meanings.
What’s the Difference Between a Thesis Statement and an Announcement?
The announcement example is an incorrect thesis statement; it does not demonstrate that you have a focus; it’s vague and very general. You could write an entire book or a short dissertation on that general topic alone. Also, the other glaring problem is that it declares to the reader what “you are going to do”: I will tell you about…; I am going to discuss…; As you can see…; In this paper you will learn… This essay will explain… This paper is going to discuss…. These are announcements of your purpose or assignment and they don’t belong in formal writing.
Middle school students are often taught to write in an “announcement” type fashion so they can quickly get the hang of demonstrating a clear thought. But once you’ve reached high school, you should wean yourself quickly to avoid this habit before your junior year.
The thesis statement example demonstrates the point of the assignment. When I read this statement, I know that the essay will inform me of: 1) Who the Symbolists were 2) How they revolutionized literature 3) How their poetry demonstrated emotion.
This good thesis statement example not only shows the objective of your essay, but it outlines the basic five paragraph format: Introduction, three Body Paragraphs, and the Conclusion.
Thesis Statements Are Neither General Nor Narrow.
If your thesis statement is too general, you will be writing pages of information that may or may not target your assignment. If it’s too narrow, you will appear to go off on a tangent about details that weren’t mentioned in your thesis statement.
If you’re certain and confident about your subject, write your body paragraphs first. This will give you the flexibility to tweak the content then evaluate the best way to craft your thesis statement.
Thesis Statements Are Concise (but not always short)
A concise statement shouldn’t be confused with a short and simple sentence. Yes, good thesis statements are simple and can appear to be short, but the simplicity isn’t revealed by the word count but by the fluency and articulation of the statement itself.
Terrible thesis statements of nine words can appear to be a paragraph merely because they may have to be read a dozen times before it’s point is understood. However, a great thesis statement may be six lines but seems to be shorter because it’s clear, concise, and easy to understand.