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How to write a thesis statement for a contrast essay

May 27, 2018

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Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements

Summary:

This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

Contributors: Elyssa Tardiff, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-01-24 02:29:37

Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement

1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing:

If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.

2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.

3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.

4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

Thesis Statement Examples

Example of an analytical thesis statement:

An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds.

The paper that follows should:

Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:

The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers.

The paper that follows should:

Example of an argumentative thesis statement:

High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness.

The paper that follows should:

Thesis Statement Creator:

Directions: This web page explains the different parts to a thesis statement and helps you create your own. You can click on the example button in each section to see an example of a thesis statement.

Question: Write the the question you have been assigned or the prompt you are going to answer with your essay in the box below.


1. The Topic

The “topic” of your essay is the general category your essay is about. Either write the topic your teacher has assigned or the topic you have chosen in the space provided. What do you have an opinion about?   What are some things that interest you? Topics are just general categories--school, fishing, parenting, hunting, cars, women’s rights, racial issues, the law, etc...

Type the topic of your essay in the box below.



2. The Position

What is one thing about your topic that you believe to be true, and that you wish to argue?
You may already have a “position” in mind, or you may just have a general topic you know you wish to work with. 


If you do not yet have a position, making a cluster or a map with  your topic in the center is a good way to help yourself find a position. Another good way is to begin a free write, “I’m supposed to write an essay about____________. . .”  and see where it takes you.
However you get there, write a short statement describing your position in the space below.


Write your position in the space below.


3. The Qualification

Is what you say always true always? 
Are there exceptions? 
Are there good reasons why your position may have a down side?
How can you make your position have a reality check?
What general reasons why your position may have problems can you admit up front?
To make absolute statements usually causes your essay’s thesis to seem foolishly simplistic.  Get real!.
Here’s a trick: begin your qualification with a word like “although” or “It is true that. . .” Don’t worry if it’s not a complete sentence.
Program’s Example Qualification: Although schools of over a thousand students have flourished in America. . .
Write your qualification in the space below.

 


4. The Reason

In general why do you believe your position to be correct in spite of your qualification?
What is the over all good to be gained by agreeing with your position?
This is a general statement; your specific reasons will follow in the body of your essay.

Write your reason in the space below.


5. Put them all together.

In one or two sentences, present your thesis, including a qualification, a reason, and a position.
The classic, traditional way of combining is to first present your qualification.  This immediately demonstrates your interest in accuracy. Then present your general reason which demonstrates your thinking process, and finally the punch line--your position.

Click on the My Thesis button to see your thesis statement.


Edit your thesis statement in the box above so that the parts of the thesis flow smoothly, check for proper grammar and standard spelling. When you are satsified with your thesis statement click on the final draft button.

In the pop-up window, you can print your thesis or save a copy to your computer by going under the file menu.

 
 

To write a compare/contrast essay, you’ll need to make NEW connections and/or express NEW differences between two things.  The key word here…is NEW!

  1. Choose 2 things that could go in the same category, but are also quite different. Good choices might be:
    • Basketball & Football (both sports)
    • Horses & Cats (both animals, but different in many ways)
    • Writing & Singing (both art forms, but different in many ways)
  2. Gather your ideas by writing down characteristics of each thing.Note the differences and similarities between them.
  3. Ask yourself these important questions before you begin writing your draft:

Does my instructor want me to compare AND contrast, or am I only being asked to do one of those things?

Some instructors prefer that you only write about the differences between two things, while others want you to focus on explaining the similarities as well.  Either way, you'll need to make sure that your thesis statement reflects your instructor's expectations. For example, if I wanted to write about Social Networking sites, I'd need to write different thesis statements depending on my compare/contrast assignment.  

Sample thesis statement for contrast paper:  In terms of social networking sites, Facebook focuses on presenting your daily life to others, whereas MySpace allows you to focus more on demonstrating your personal style.

Sample thesis statement for compare/contrast paper:  While both Facebook and MySpace allow you to meet other users who have similar interests, only MySpace allows you to demonstrate your personal style.       

Are these 2 things similar and/or different, in at least one meaningful way?

If you want to write a successful compare/contrast essay, you'll need to avoid writing about really obvious differences and similarities.  For example:

Tell us something we don't know (or might not notice)!

It would be better to write about how sensitive both horses and cats are to human needs and emotions.  You could also suggest that though both basketball and football require a lot of teamwork, basketball players are expected to be a lot more versatile than football players.

You don't have to be a genius to write an interesting compare/contrast essay--you just have to look at ordinary things in a new way!

Do I know enough about my topic to write an effective compare/contrast essay?

Unless you're being asked to do some research as part of your compare/contrast project, make sure that you choose 2 things that you feel comfortable discussing, at length.

Your instructor may ask for multiple similarities and differences--make sure you're prepared to write a well-developed, meaningful essay on a topic that you know well before you get started!   

Organizing Your Compare and Contrast Paper

There are two primary ways to organize your compare and contrast paper.

Chunking: placing all of the information for each individual subject in one place (chunk), and then using similarities as transitions.

Here’s a sample outline:

  1. Jane is distinct because…
  2. Jane is similar to Alice in these ways
  3. Alice is distinct because…

Piecing: giving pieces of the information for each individual subject in each paragraph—arranging the information by topic rather than by subject.

Here’s a sample outline:   

  1. Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s appearances
  2. Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s backgrounds
  3. Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s interests

Sample Papers

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