Common errors that students make when composing thesis statements

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.