Because clause thesis writing
Jun 1, 2018
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Arthur Ashe
Downloadable version: Thesis Statements
Overview: Your thesis statement is the foundation for your entire argument. It is the position you are taking on the issue in question, and it should inform every part of the essay—the introduction should lead clearly to it, and every paragraph that follows should support it. Thus, it is most important that your thesis is well considered and clearly articulated. These pages will present a tool for constructing solid thesis statements and pitfalls to avoid. First, the pitfalls:
Pitfall #1: Painfully Obvious Theses
A thesis is not a simple statement of fact, something everyone knows. A thesis is an opinion, a particular interpretation, a value judgment, or a suggestion. In other words, it must be arguable. If it is not arguable, it is factual, and thus not a thesis at all.
- Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman, is a classic of American literature.
- Whitman was inspired by the works of his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Pitfall #2: Shopping List Theses
A thesis statement should not include all of the specific points you will make in the body of your essay. A strong thesis is like an umbrella that will cover all the points you want to make and will suggest relationships between those points. A thesis that simply lists the main ideas the essay will discuss comes from the old five-paragraph essay form. The “list thesis” may have been encouraged in high school, but it usually leads to shallow discussion of ideas that are not clearly connected, so it should be avoided in college.
- I would recommend Leaves of Grass to anyone interested in poetry because it is easy to read, it teaches a love of nature, and it is very important in American literary history.
Pitfall #3: Overly General, Vague, Non-Academic Language Theses
The following phrases are much too vague for argumentation because they do not refer to specifics that can be examined critically, and they tend to make dangerous and inaccurate generalizations. Your word choice should be precise and well thought-out.
- Huge Historical Sweep: throughout time, throughout history, since the dawn of man, since Adam and Eve, since our country was founded
- Huge Population Sweep: humanity, mankind, all of society, all over the world, all across America
- The Scary Present Day: in today’s world, in the modern world
- Wishy-Washy Badness: crisis, problem, epidemic
- Wishy-Washy Goodness: important, nice, good, interesting
- Just Plain Wishy-Washy: kind of, basically, practically, pretty much, things, stuff, to a certain extent, different
- False Humility: in my opinion, it seems to me, it can be said
- Ghostly Authority: experts contend, people think, scientists agree, passive voice: it has been noted, it is often said
The Sheridan/Baker Thesis Machine
The Sheridan/Baker Thesis Machine is a tool that can help you construct a clear, arguable thesis with the necessary components for a strong argument. It will feel rather formulaic—and it is—but it is highly effective. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this technique is beneath you. The Thesis Machine is incredibly useful in focusing your thoughts into a specific position upon which to structure your argument.
A strong thesis consists of two main parts: a claim and a rationale. You must take a position on the issue, and you must give a reason for your claim. An acknowledgement of the opposing viewpoint can also strengthen your own position and set up the counterargument portion of your essay. The Sheridan/Baker Thesis Machine asks for these three components in constructing a solid thesis.
CLAIM (your position on the issue)
RATIONALE (your reason for holding your position; the “because” clause)
QUALIFICATION (the counterargument to your position; the “although” clause)
State your position as an arguable claim. This should be a direct answer to the prompt, or writing task, you have been given.
- Understanding Whitman’s idiosyncratic use of the first person singular pronoun, “I” is necessary for truly comprehending Leaves of Grass.
- Text messaging is harming young people’s social skills.
- A grammar course should be included in students’ GE requirements.
Give a main reason for your position in the form of a “because” clause. Do not list every point you will make to prove your position; your reason should encompass the many points you will address in the following paragraphs.
- Understanding Whitman’s use of the first person singular pronoun, “I,” is necessary for truly comprehending Leaves of Grass because he is using the term in a very unconventional manner.
- Text messaging is harming young people’s social kills because it takes them away from face-to-face conversations.
- A grammar course should be included in students’ GE requirements because too few students have college-level grammar skills upon entering CSULB.
Acknowledging potential counterarguments to your position strengthens rather than weakens your argument. By doing so, you show your reader that you are aware of the issue’s complexity and that you believe your position to be correct even in the face of contradictory opinions. State the main qualification to your argument in an “although” clause.
- Although the poem is somewhat autobiographical, understanding Whitman’s use of the first person singular pronoun, “I,” is necessary for truly comprehending Leaves of Grass because he is using the term in a very unconventional manner.
- Although it is useful for keeping in contact with friends and family throughout the day, text messaging is harming young people’s social skills because it takes them away from face-to-face conversations.
- Although students already have a large number of GE classes they must take, a grammar course should be included in students’ GE requirements because too few students have college-level grammar skills upon entering CSULB.
All of the above theses are solid positions from which to begin planning and drafting your essay. They state clearly the position being argued (claim), and they give a main reason for holding that position (rationale). These two components are crucial for a strong essay. The qualification sets up your counterargument, which will add complexity to your argument and will allow you to refute claims against your own. From this point, you have a good foundation for your argument, and you can proceed with confidence to the next step of the writing process.
However, all three of our sample theses sound very much alike. The formulaic nature of the Sheridan/Baker Thesis Machine creates theses that, while effective as working positions, do not reflect much of a personal style and that stand out as theses created by a “formula.” Therefore, you should plan to refine and polish your thesis during your revisions. Remember that no thesis is “set in stone” until the final draft.
Refine your thesis, perhaps dropping the obvious “because” and “although” from your rationale and qualification. Your thesis may even be broken up into two sentences, often comprised of a background sentence followed by a specific claim.
- While Whitman certainly invites us to read his work autobiographically, Leaves of Grass becomes an infinitely more complex poem when we better understand the idiosyncratic nature with which he uses the first person singular pronoun. Whitman’s “I” is actually his paradoxical attempt to encompass the entire young American nation.
- Teenagers claim that text messaging allows them necessary contact with friends and family throughout the day; however, by taking them away from immediate personal interaction, text messaging is actually doing great harm to young people’s social skills.
- Too few students have college-level grammar skills upon entering CSULB. Therefore, despite the fact that students already must complete a large number of GE classes, a grammar course should be included among students’ GE requirements.
PRACTICE: Using one of the prompts you have been assigned in class, create a Sheridan Baker thesis statement that answers the prompt. You can do this individually or as a group.