Article of the Week

Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences occur when writers try to combine more than one idea into a single sentence. They cause confusion because readers are not sure when one idea ends and the next one begins. Read our entry and test your knowledge with our quiz!

Thesis Statements

A thesis statement contains two parts: a claim and a justification. Your claim is the argument you want to prove. It is not a proven fact—it is an idea that is both debatable and supportable. Your justification is the collection of reasons why you believe in your claim. Most of the time, you will want to place your thesis statement at the end of an introductory paragraph, after you have introduced the problem that your thesis will solve.

  1. The Claim
  2. The Justification
  3. Finding the Right Thesis Length

Here’s an example  thesis statement we will use:

We will never make direct contact with aliens because the distances are too great to overcome.

The Claim

Here’s an example of just the claim of our previous example:

We will never make direct contact with aliens.
This claim answers the question, “Will we make direct contact with aliens?” This is not a fact, because a number of things could lead to direct contact with aliens. We might find alien life on Mars, or one of Saturn's moons. Or technological developments in space travel and the use of wormholes could allow us to move further in the universe in relatively little time. This claim is debatable. But it is also supportable with the right evidence.

The Justification

Your thesis needs more than a claim, because your readers will immediately ask why you believe this to be true. That is why you must also include a justification. Readers will be able to see why your claim might be true.

Here’s just the justification of our claim:

because the distances are too great to overcome.

Your justification gives the reader a preview of what you’ll try to prove in the essay. If I wrote an essay based on this thesis, I would need to demonstrate how far we would need to travel to reach the planets that we feel are most likely to hold alien life. 

Finding the Right Thesis Length

Your thesis must be provable in the available space. The more complicated the topic, the longer the argument. For instance, if you want to argue that the Allies won World War II because of their superior organization, you’ll have to consider evidence from two fronts, and across several countries. You’ll have to compare and contrast the organizational styles of several militaries, and demonstrate how they were key to victory. You’ll also have to address and dismiss other theories for why the Allies won, such as intellectual and technological developments (like the Atomic Bomb). This could take hundreds of pages. Adjust your thesis to match the assignment length.