There are several common errors that students make when composing thesis statements.
Some of these are listed below, with examples.
1. A thesis cannot be a fragment; it must be expressed in a sentence.
Poor: How life is in a racial ghetto.
Better: Residents of a racial ghetto tend to have a higher death rate, higher disease rates, and higher psychosis rates than do any other residents of American cities in general.
2. A thesis must not be in the form of a question. (Usually the answer to the question could be the thesis.)
Poor: Should eighteen-year-old males have the right to vote?
Better: Anyone who is old enough to fight in a war is old enough to vote.
3. A thesis must not contain phrases such as “I think.” (They merely weaken the statement.)
Poor: In my opinion most men wear beards because they are trying to find themselves.
Better: The current beard fad may be an attempt on the part of men to emphasize their male identity.
4. A thesis must not contain elements that are not clearly related.
Poor: All novelists seek the truth; therefore some novelists are good psychologists.
Better: In their attempt to probe human nature, many novelists appear to be good psychologists.
5. A thesis must not be expressed in vague language.
Poor: Bad things have resulted from religion being taught in the classroom.
Better: Religion as part of the school curriculum should be avoided because it is a highly personal and individual commitment.
6. A thesis must not be expressed in muddled or incoherent language.
Poor: In Act One of Othello, to cause them to feel fury against Othello, Iago fuels Brabantio, Othello, Roderigo, and Cassio with deceit by telling them lies.
Better: In Act One of Othello, Iago deceives several characters in order to further his plot to destroy Othello’s life.
7. A thesis should not be written in figurative language.
Poor: Religion is the phoenix bird of civilization.
Better: As long as man can conceive the idea of a god, religion will rise to give man a spiritual reason for existence.