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thesis statements, topic sentences, and transitions. Amanda Karim Writing Lab TA. Thesis Statements. A thesis statement is one sentence that briefly states your main point. A thesis statement must answer two questions for the reader: What is your topic?

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thesis statements, topic sentences, and transitions

Amanda Karim

Writing Lab TA


Thesis Statements

  • A thesis statement is one sentence that briefly states your main point.

  • A thesis statement must answer two questions for the reader:

    • What is your topic?

    • What is your opinion, or how do you feel about your topic?


Thesis Statements

  • Your thesis statement cannot be an announcement.

    • In this paper, I will discuss whether murderers should go to jail.

  • Your thesis statement cannot be a fact.

    • Murderers are people who kill other people.

  • Your thesis statement must be something you have an opinion about and can argue.

    • All murderers should go to jail.


Working Thesis Statements

  • Your thesis statement does not need to be perfect before you write your paper.

  • Instead, write a working thesis statementfor two reasons.

    • Working thesis statements help you organize your thoughts.

    • Once you organize your thoughts, you may want to change your thesis statement to make it more specific.


Specific Thesis Statements

  • Using specific information in your thesis statement helps the reader understand exactly what you will write about.

    • Not specific: All murderers should go to jail.

    • Specific: All murderers should go to jail because the law needs to be equal, they need to learn a lesson, and it will prevent them from murdering again.

  • The specific thesis statement tells the reader that you will write about three reasons why murderers should go to jail.


Topic Sentences

  • All body paragraphs need a topic sentence.

  • The topic sentence is like a thesis statement for a paragraph.

  • It tells the reader what you will talk about in that paragraph.

  • A topic sentence is usually the first sentence of your body paragraph.


Topic Sentences

  • A topic sentence cannot be an announcement.

    • This paragraph will tell you why the law needs to be equal.

  • A topic sentence cannot be a fact.

    • The law allows a jury to send murderers to jail.

  • Instead, your topic sentence needs to present an argument that supports your thesis statement.

    • If only some people who commit murder go to jail, then society will not trust the government to administer the law fairly.


Transitions

  • Transitionsguide the reader through your essay from one idea to another.

  • You can transition from one idea to the next using transition words, i.e. first, second, then, after that, etc.

  • A good list of transition words can be found on page 216 of The DK Handbook by Anne Frances Wysocki and Dennis A. Lynch.


Transitions

  • You should not use transition words to start every paragraph because this is boring for the reader.

  • Instead, use synonyms or repeat “crucial words, phrases, or concepts” in the last sentence of one paragraph and the topic sentence of the next paragraph (Wysocki and Lynch 296).

  • This allows the reader to understand the connection because you have made the words in your sentences connect.


Transition Example

… Murderers cannot kill other people and expect to continue their lives as if nothing happened. It is important that murderers go to jail so that they will learn the seriousnessof taking a person’s life.

To prevent people from committing crime, society needs to send all murderers to jail so that everyone will understand the serious consequences of murder.


Transition Example

  • The words highlighted in blue are an example of repeating words to connect ideas.

  • The phrases highlighted in orange show how you can use synonyms to connect ideas.


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