Developing Strong Thesis Statements
These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.
Contributors: Stacy Weida, Karl Stolley
Last Edited: 2018-01-31 03:32:44
The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable
An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.
Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:
Pollution is bad for the environment.
This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution means that something is bad or negative in some way. Further, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is good.
Example of a debatable thesis statement:
At least 25 percent of the federal budget should be spent on limiting pollution.
This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.
Another example of a debatable thesis statement:
America's anti-pollution efforts should focus on privately owned cars.
In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.
The thesis needs to be narrow
Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.
Example of a thesis that is too broad:
Drug use is detrimental to society.
There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.
Example of a narrow or focused thesis:
Illegal drug use is detrimental because it encourages gang violence.
In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.
We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:
Narrowed debatable thesis 1:
At least 25 percent of the federal budget should be spent on helping upgrade business to clean technologies, researching renewable energy sources, and planting more trees in order to control or eliminate pollution.
This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.
Narrowed debatable thesis 2:
America's anti-pollution efforts should focus on privately owned cars because it would allow most citizens to contribute to national efforts and care about the outcome.
This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.
Qualifiers such as "typically," "generally," "usually," or "on average" also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.
Types of claims
Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, in other words what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.
Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:
What some people refer to as global warming is actually nothing more than normal, long-term cycles of climate change.
Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:
The popularity of SUVs in America has caused pollution to increase.
Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:
Global warming is the most pressing challenge facing the world today.
Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:
Instead of drilling for oil in Alaska we should be focusing on ways to reduce oil consumption, such as researching renewable energy sources.
Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.
Let’s pretend you wrote the following as a working thesis statement for your persuasive essay:
Global climate change has been debated for many years.
Do you think this is a persuasive thesis statement? (HINT: Say “no”!)
- NO: The thesis statement is a fact. It is not persuasive and not debatable.
If you answered “yes” and felt the thesis was persuasive, or if you answered “no” but couldn’t explain why the thesis isn’t effective, you might want to take time to review the basics of a thesis statement.
If you answered “no” and understand exactly why the above thesis isn’t persuasive, it’s probably a good idea to review thesis statements anyway. (After all, a little review never hurt anyone, right?)
If you just need a brief refresher on the finer points of a thesis statement, here are a few quick facts:
30 Persuasive Thesis Statement Examples
Now that you’ve reviewed thesis statement basics, let’s look at the examples. In this post, I’ve provided 30 persuasive essay topics and corresponding persuasive thesis statement examples.
I’ve also included links to example essays to provide a bit of writing inspiration. (If you’d like to see the information in table format, click the link at the end of this list.)
As you review these topics and persuasive thesis statement examples, keep this in mind: when you’re writing a persuasive essay, your thesis statement should attempt to convince your audience of your point of view.
In other words, it needs to be debatable. So as you write your own thesis statement, consider your stance on the subject and how you might craft a thesis statement that’s appropriate for your own essay.
Now on to those 30 persuasive thesis statement examples I promised!
1. Is a college education necessary?
A college education is not the right choice for everyone, as many students graduate with a large amount of student debt and limited job opportunities.
2. Does Facebook (or other forms of social media) create isolation?
College students who overuse Facebook may have interactive online lives, but in reality, they are more isolated than ever because they are missing out on true face-to-face interaction with their peers.
3. Should guns be permitted on college campuses?
Guns should not be permitted on college campuses due to the increased likelihood of violence and criminal activity.
4. Do kids benefit if everyone on the team receives a trophy?
Handing out trophies to everyone on a team has created a generation of children who feel entitled.
5. Is society too dependent on technology?
Due to increasing over-dependence on technology, many people struggle to think for themselves.
6. Should all high school students be required to complete parenting classes?
In order to both educate teens about life as a parent and to help prevent teenage pregnancy, high school students should be required to complete parenting classes.
7. Does the school day start too early?
Starting the school day at a later time will help increase students’ attentiveness because they will get more sleep and be more alert and focused in class.
8. Should the minimum wage be increased?
With the cost of living continually rising, minimum wage must be raised to help workers out of poverty.
9. Should elementary schools teach cursive handwriting?
Though many elementary schools no longer teach cursive handwriting, it is still an essential form of communication that should be taught in schools.
10. Should childhood vaccinations be mandatory?
Childhood vaccinations should be mandatory, as they are safe, reduce the risk of illness, and protect other people from contagious diseases.
11. Are security cameras an invasion of privacy?
Though security cameras are a necessary and valued part of society, strict regulations need to be mandated in order to maintain citizens’ rights to privacy.
12. Should citizens be allowed to keep exotic pets?
People should not be allowed to keep exotic pets, as it is unhealthy for the animal, dangerous for the owner, and dangerous for the community.
13. Should a relaxed dress code be allowed in the workplace?
A relaxed dress code is not appropriate in many business offices because it creates a relaxed and casual atmosphere that may cause customers to lose confidence in the business.
14. Is it ethical to sentence juveniles as adults?
Adolescents’ brains are not fully developed, and they are not yet capable of making adult decisions; thus, adolescents should not be sentenced as adults.
15. Should corporations be allowed to advertise in schools?
Advertising should not be allowed in public schools as it perpetuates a perceived importance on materialism.
16. Should public transportation be free for all residents of a city?
Free public transportation is a key step in reducing unemployment rates.
17. Is professional football too dangerous for players?
Due to recent discoveries about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the rules of professional football need to change in order to protect players’ health.
18. Should minors be allowed to get tattoos (if they have parental permission)?
Even with parental permission, minors should not be allowed to get tattoos, as minors are likely to later regret the choice as adults.
19. Should fracking be banned?
Due to the environmental damage it causes, fracking should be banned.
20. Should a college education be free for everyone?
Though some argue that free college education will increase graduation rates, in actuality, free tuition will have little impact on the present rates of graduation.
21. Should all violence be banned from children’s programming?
Evidence indicates that children mimic and internalize television programming, and because viewing violence can affect their emotional health, children’s programming should not contain any form of violence.
22. Should the paparazzi be required to give celebrities some amount of privacy?
Though the paparazzi should be allowed to photograph celebrities in public places, they should respect the right of celebrities not to be filmed on private property.
23. Does the US welfare system need to be reformed?
Due to the rampant abuse of welfare benefits by recipients, welfare needs to be reformed to create temporary, rather than permanent, assistance programs for those in need.
24. Should bilingual education be implemented in more schools across the US?
In order to help children learn English yet value their native languages, bilingual education should be implemented in schools across the United States.
25. Should students be required to volunteer in their communities in order to graduate from high school?
Though some students claim they do not have time to volunteer, being a volunteer teaches students compassion, empathy, and the importance of civic engagement, and should be required for high school graduation.
26. Is the fast food industry to blame for childhood obesity?
Though fast food is often high in calories and low in nutritional content, people cannot blame obesity on the fast food industry; individuals must be responsible for their own diets.
27. Can schools prevent cyber bullying?
Even though schools can educate children and regulate technology within the school, children and teens have access to technology outside of the classroom, making it almost impossible for the education system to truly stop cyber bullying.
28. Is an online education as good as a traditional education?
An online education is just as valuable as a traditional education, as online courses include the same content as traditional classes and have the added advantage of teaching students the importance of time management.
29. Should stem cell research be permitted?
Because of the enormous potential to both treat disease and save lives, embryonic stem cell research should not only be permitted but should also receive additional funding.
30. Should pet stores be required to sell rescue animals?
In order to stop the inhumane practices of breeders and reduce overcrowding in animal shelters, pet stores should be required to sell cats and dogs from adoption centers or shelters.
Click here to download this list of persuasive thesis statements as a PDF table.
Time to Write!
You’ve reviewed thesis statements. You’ve reviewed persuasive essays and persuasive essay topics. You’ve even reviewed persuasive thesis statement examples (and maybe even read some additional thesis examples).
Now the only things left are to choose your topic, craft your thesis, and begin prewriting and drafting.
If you need additional thesis statement help before you begin writing, check out these resources:
Remember: Kibin editors are always willing to review your paper (and your thesis statement).
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.