When writing an essay, its main idea must be clearly stated at the beginning. That is the role of the thesis statement of an essay.
The thesis statement is usually the last part of the first paragraph of an essay (the introduction). It can be one or two sentences long. In the thesis statement, the writer tells the reader what to expect in the essay. There are two types of thesis statements, namely, stated and implied – also known as direct and indirect respectively.
Stated thesis statement
Some writers prefer to give a specific outline of their essays in their thesis statements. For example:
The main problems facing South American countries are a lack of job opportunities for citizens, increasing demand for better health care, and limited university programmes for poor students.
With this thesis statement, it is clear that the body of the essay has three main parts. The first discusses job opportunities, the second one discusses health-care needs, and the last part talks about university programmes for poor students.
Implied thesis statement
Other writers are not so direct. Discussing a similar topic, these writers might use this statement:
The important problems facing South American countries today require immediate attention.
With the thesis statement above, the reader already knows that what comes next is a discussion of problems in South America. The specific information is not given, but the general topic is clear. In this case, the reader must continue reading to find the supporting ideas of the argument.
Both types of thesis statements are acceptable. It depends on the writer’s style and preference which one to use.
*Adapted from Folse, K. (2010). Great writing 4: Great Essays.