After you have chosen a topic, your next step is to state your position in an argumentative thesis, one that takes a strong stand. Properly worded, this thesis statement lays the foundation for the rest of your argument. One way to make sure that your thesis statement actually does take a stand is to formulate an antithesis, a statement that takes the opposite position. If you can state an antithesis, your thesis statement takes a stand.
Thesis Statement: Term limits would improve government by bringing people with fresh ideas into office every few years.
Antithesis: Term limits would harm government because elected officials would always be inexperienced.
To make sure your argumentative thesis is effective, ask the following questions:
- Is your thesis one with which reasonable people would disagree?
- Can you formulate an antithesis?
- Can your thesis be supported by evidence?
- Does your thesis make clear to readers what position you are taking?
3) Defining Your Terms
You should always define the key terms you use in your argument— especially those you use in your thesis statement. After all, the soundness of an entire argument may hinge on the definition of a word that may mean one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. For example, in the United States, democratic elections involve the selection of government officials by popular vote; in other countries, the word democratic may be used to describe elections in which only one candidate is running or in which all candidates represent the same party. For this reason, if your argument hinges on a key term like democratic, you should make sure that your readers know exactly what you mean.
Be careful to use precise language in your thesis statement. Avoid vague and judgmental words, such as wrong, bad, good, right, and immoral.
Vague: Censorship of the Internet would be wrong.
Clearer: Censorship of the Internet would unfairly limit free speech