The Thesis Statement Usually Appears At The End Of The First Paragraph Of A Paper

The Introductory Paragraph

The paragraph that begins an essay causes students the most trouble, yet carries the most importance. Although its precise construction varies from genre to genre (and from essay to essay), good introductory paragraphs generally accomplish the same tasks and follow a few basic patterns. I have listed some of them below, but keep in mind that what follows are guidelines, not immutable templates.

Tasks: The introductory paragraph to a short essay usually attempts to do three things:

  • Introduce the topic with some indication of its inherent interest or importance, and a clear definition of the boundaries of the subject area
  • Indicate the structure and/or methodology of the essay, often with the major sections of the essay or its structural principle clearly stated
  • State the thesis of the essay, preferably in a single, arguable statement with a clear main clause
Not every essay does all three in the first paragraph, and the degree to which an essay declares its structure or methodology may vary widely, depending on how necessary that information will be to the readers. Sometimes, the entire first paragraph will serve no other purpose than to generate interest in the subject or raise a question, leaving the other tasks for the second paragraph. However, this kind of opening requires a lot of skill, and you can lose your readers in the second and third paragraphs if do not make your purpose clear.

Patterns: The standard pattern for an introductory paragraph follows the order of the tasks outlined above. Below is an outline of that pattern, written as if it were the first section of a formal outline of the entire essay:

I: Introduction

    1. The topic
      1. Its boundaries
      2. Why it is interesting
    1. Structure and/or Methodology
      1. The essay’s main sections (structure)
      2. Why they come in that order (structural principle)
      3. How the author plans to draw the necessary conclusions from the information available (methodology)
    1. The Thesis Statement (usually a single sentence)
      1. Its premise (the general claim about the information available)
      2. Its conclusion (the consequences of the first claim)
Not every essay contains every element in precisely this order, but most good essays cover all of them, either explicitly or implicitly. In longer and more scholarly essays, the structure/methodology section should be longer, or can even be its own paragraph. It should also include some mention of the essay’s position within the field as a whole.

Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements

Summary:

This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

Contributors: Elyssa Tardiff, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-01-24 02:29:37

Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement

1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing:

  • An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
  • An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
  • An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.

If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.

2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.

3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.

4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

Thesis Statement Examples

Example of an analytical thesis statement:

An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds.

The paper that follows should:

  • Explain the analysis of the college admission process
  • Explain the challenge facing admissions counselors

Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:

The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers.

The paper that follows should:

  • Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers

Example of an argumentative thesis statement:

High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness.

The paper that follows should:

  • Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college

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