Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a sentence that expresses the writer’s position/opinion on a particular subject.   A thesis statement is the controlling idea of a paper. It expresses succinctly the idea that the body of the paper will prove. Other names for the thesis statement are “main idea,” “controlling idea,” and “thesis.”

The thesis statement first appears at the end of the introductory paragraph and it is developed, supported, and explained in the course of the paper by means of examples and evidence.

The thesis statement is formatted according to the type of paper.

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/persuasive 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.
In a literary analysis, the writer will argue for his/her interpretation of the literature that is asked in the paper prompt or topic.  In this, it is a persuasive thesis statement that is arguing for a particular opinion about the literary development of a text.The thesis statement typically includes the author’s name and the title of the literature as well as the comment about the literature.

Formatting a Persuasive Thesis Statement

The persuasive thesis statement has three main parts – the topic, the comment, and the call to action.  It should also include the targeted audience for the paper.

Topic Pesticides
Comment endangers lives of farm workers
Call to action government should ban the pesticides(note that the call to action specifies the audience)
Ex Thesis:  The US Government should ban pesticides because pesticides endanger the lives of farm workers.
Something that has helped students has been to format your thesis like this:

Audience:  _____________________  (Jack and Jill)Should

[aka Call to Action]: _______________________  (walk up the hill)

Because [comment] : ______________________  (because that is where they will get the water)


Thesis:  Jack and Jill should walk up the hill because that is where they will get the water.


Figure out your audience and what you want them to do/think about your topic and why the audience should do/think what you want them to.

The order of the three parts does not matter, but you must have all three parts for a persuasive thesis statement

 Thesis Tree Diagram

Formatting the Literary Analysis Thesis

An analytical writing prompt asks the writer to prove an abstract idea by using concrete evidence from a literary text.  There are three parts to this thesis

Subject The literature that is being analyzed
Comment The writer’s opinion on the subject –  how the writer thinks the author used the literary devices
Concrete element Usually the abstract portion, known as literary devices such as theme, tone, characterization, etc. that is used to prove the writer’s opinion
Ex Prompt: In a well written essay, explain how the author uses figurative language and imagery to characterize Jay Gatsby.

Ex Thesis:  In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the protagonist Jay Gatsby is portrayed as the naïve by grasping character through Fitzgerald’s use of color symbolism and weather motifs.

Handouts and Websites for the Thesis Creation

Thesis Statements – Mini-Lesson (1)

Google Doc Version of Thesis mini-lesson

Thesis Statement Thesis chart

Thesis chart for OCS Students

Google Doc version of Thesis chart for OCS students


Literary Analysis Thesis

 Video on Thesis Statements
Purdue OWL on Thesis Statements U. of Illinois Writing


Topic Sentences


In order to come up with topic sentences, students must do preliminary research to find argument/reasons that their targeted audiences should do their intended calls to action.  Those reasons will then become topic sentences and body paragraphs in the persuasive paper.

Brainstorm for Subtopics OCS Subtopics for Research Paper

Topic Sentences

Once you have defined your research paper with an effective thesis statement and written an introduction, the simplest way to develop the paper is by using a series of topic sentences–an additive sequence in which each paragraph introduces a new argumentative point in support of the thesis

A. Each body paragraph must begin with a topic sentence that is the main idea sentence of that paragraph. B. In a persuasive paper, each topic sentence will be persuasive and also contain a topic, comment, and call to action
C. Each topic sentence will be one of the specific reasons why your audience should think/do what you want them to think/do in the thesis. D. To add clarity and to show relation to the thesis, each topic sentence should use the same or synonymous  language/words as the thesis statement (anaphora).
Thesis: Because pesticides endanger the lives of farm workers, the government should ban their use.Topic Sentence: The government should ban the use of pesticides such as ChloroKill since studies show high rates of cancer with the use of similar pesticides.Topic Sentence: High infant mortality rates among farm workers have been linked to the use of pesticides which is another reason that these pesticides should be banned.
Thesis:  The important link between Civil Rights era music and today’s conception of the R & B genre has been overlooked in today’s music history courses.

Topic Sentence: The turmoil of the Civil Rights era led popular musical artists and lyricists to incorporate explosive and highly personal lyrics into their songs, very much like the explicit lyrics we’ve come to expect from Eminem and Kid Rock today.

Websites and Handouts for Topic Sentences:

Topic Sentences topic-sentences-review
 Thesis and Topic Sentences Topic Sentences for OCS

OCS Subtopics for Research Paper

Purdue OWL for Topic Sentences Video on topic sentences
Structure of the Research Paper


Transitions in Topic Sentences

Transitions emphasize the relationships between ideas, so they help readers follow your train of thought or see connections that they might otherwise miss or misunderstand.  Transition words should be used in topic sentences, throughout body paragraphs, and in concluding sentences

Topic Sentences with transitions Transition Words
Website on Topic Sentences and Transitions 

– with video and examples

Topic Sentence with Transition formula

– from Delmar College

87 Replies to “Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences”

  1. Hospitals should have more translators because there are a lot of patients that do not speak English and need medical attention.

  2. topic sentence
    while global warming can have natural causes, humans have played a very large role because of the burning of fossil fuels and should cut back their usage

    1. You should capitalize “while” and also you forgot the period. I also disagree we should burn more fossil fuels.

      1. The burning of fossil fuels is what is causing global warming. Burning more of them would only further promote the problem. Other sources of energy should be explored, like solar or ethanol.

  3. Humans should combat the global effects of deforestation because if it doesn’t stop, there will be major climatic changes that could affect the way humans live.

    1. the public school system should create more dropout prevention programs to help Hispanics students stay in school.

      1. Good. Now your subtopics would be the types of programs and prove how they would help stay in school. try to find 4 programs.

  4. the sports committee should not convict athletes if or not they used performance enhancing drugs and loose their metals, records, and titles.

  5. The federal government should allow illegal immigrants to be eligible for financial aid when they can legally go to college because they grew up as Americans and they are students looking for a better future with talent that shouldn’t be wasted.

  6. Johnston County Schools should allow students to listen to music when taking tests because music enhances intelligence.

  7. Johnston county schools should allow students to listen to music when taking tests because it enhances intelligence

    1. I think this may be too narrow. Try this:
      School boards should allow students to use music while studying and test-taking because music enhances learning and retention.

  8. The Government should create more programs for Hispanics Students who wants to drop out of School, because Hispanics Students need to graduate to have a better future…..

    1. Say the State government should create more school programs for Hispanic students who want to drop out of school because Hispanic students are an at-risk population.

  9. The U.S. government needs to implement a law that help illegal immigrants who have been brought to the U.S. as children get legal status because this will eventually have a positive impact on the economy.

  10. Thesis: Nuclear power plants should not continue to be used by the global society because they do more harm than good.
    Topic Sentences: I. Nuclear reactors use some of the earth’s resources that are already being steadily depleted.
    II. A portion of the resources that are used to power the nuclear reactors can cause dangerous explosions.
    III. The explosions that are caused by a portion of the resources used for nuclear reactors pose health risks to humans and animals, both marine and terrestrial.
    IV. With the knowledge that nuclear explosions pose health risks to humans, nuclear power plants are often targets for terrorists.

  11. athletes that are convicted of using performance enhancing drugs should keep past medals because they don’t have proof if they were on the drug when they won that medal.

  12. The death penalty should be federally legalized in the US. To keep murders, rapists etc away from innocent people. And to prevent people from committing crimes in the first place.

  13. 1 what is used to kill the animals in shelters ,and is it painful
    2 why do shelters take in animals if shelters are going kill them and not give them a chance

  14. Owners should learn about rules and regulations about shelters and other oragnizatione like ASPCA before turning his or her animal in.

  15. Government should consider legalizing physician assisted suicide because life threaten illness can sometimes be painful and can cause early death with agonizing pain it should be a choice.

  16. The government should legalize physician assisted suicides beacause assisted suicide should be an option for terminally ill patients.

  17. Sports officials should test for Performance Enhancing Drugs more frequently because it affects the sports negatively.

  18. The Navy should change their enlistment requirements for womens entry into the Navy because the constitutuion calls for equality for both genderes.

  19. If the media was less focused on an “ideal” body type, there would be fewer eating disorders in young girls, and a more positive body image.

  20. thesis statement:

    north carolina state school board should demand safety features for school busses beacuse children get injured or die each year from bus related accidents.

  21. Thesis statement: Civillians have every right under the Second Amendment to purchase assault weapons as long as it is used legally and responsibly.

  22. The federal government should create a law that states domestic animals have the same rights to live as humans to eliminate the cruelty and unlawful deaths of animals.

  23. To become an Auto Mechanic you must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma and have on the job training.

  24. Pharmaceutical labs should not test products on animals because animals don’t have the ability to agree to be tested on.

  25. To become an athletic trainer you must have a college degree, have athletic experience and be good with people.

  26. To become a server in a restaurant you must have training, work long hours, have a positive attitude, and be good at talking to people.

  27. To become a auto mechanic you must have a high school diploma, earn a certificate, and enroll in a vocational education program.

  28. The North Carolina High School Athletics Association shout monitor drug use in HS athletes by peiodically testing them because there are many health risks and it ruins the game for other players.

    1. People who oppose hunting should understand that hunting benefits the hunter and his/her family, and should be approved rather than resented.

  29. To become a daycare worker you must have a high school diploma, you also need patience and kindness and cleaning and learning and TRY not to go CRAZY on the kids.

  30. To become an auto Mechanic you most have a high school diploma training and you have to be good with your hands.

  31. The North Carolina School bus Board should install both on and off board cameras on all school buses in the state, because to many children are getting injured on buses and theres no way to prove fault or to document what exactly happened.

  32. N.C. State Senetors should make getting a concealed weapons permit more strict so the crime rates will go down and guns wont be banned.

  33. The FDA should investigate pharmaceutical companies because they’re over charging for cancer medications.

  34. Students and Teachers should support bullying programs, because it can decrease the violence and the loss of student life.

  35. The best type of hay is one with alot of protein and energy, which produces more milk in dairy cows and more beef in beef cows.

  36. Mental health professionals should believe OCD is caused by biological and genetic disorders because certain parts of the brain have abnormal activity and fluctuations during compulsions.

  37. Coca Cola uses evil business strategies and cruel methods to maximise their profit. we as consumers should boycott their products.

  38. Thesis Statement:
    The US federal government should continue funding 3D-Bioprinting because its various medical benefits greatly outweighs any ethical debates that it faces in today’s society.

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