Because I value preciseness and organization, I have separated thesis statements and claims. However, many people use these words interchangeably, and they are not wrong. A claim statement is a thesis statement. But in an effort to differentiate different types of thesis statements, I refer to argumentative, debatable thesis statements as claims. Certainly, you will have sub-claims throughout your essay, but your main claim asserts the main position you are arguing.
What Is a Main Claim Statement:
- A claim must be arguable but stated as a fact. It must be debatable with inquiry and evidence; it is not a personal opinion or feeling.
- A claim defines your writing’s goals, direction, and scope.
- A good claim is specific and asserts a focused argument.
How to Write a Claim:
Start with a Question: Many writers find it useful to pose the issue as a question—a question that will be answered through the position they take. Remember you need to skip vague questions that most readers wouldn’t debate or convert them to questions that allow different stances.
Vague Question: Are cell phones bad?
Clearly Debatable: Should I allow my 12 year old to have a cell phone?
Your claim should invite continued debate by taking a strong position that could be argued. So answer your question (this is your position) and give your reasons (not your specific evidence but generic reasons), and you will have a nice, clear main claim.
Claim Statement Examples
Example claim structure for a typical five-paragraph essay
Young teenagers should not have cell phones because they do not need them, it distracts them from what is important, and they learn poor communication skills.
*Note: this claim could be your typical five paragraph essay; however, this particular essay that I wrote contained eight paragraphs. Point 1—they do not need them—was only one paragraph; however, point 2—it distracts them—took two paragraphs as I argued two different ways it distracts them, and point 3—they learn poor communication skills—took three paragraphs as I broke it down into three different types of communication.
Despite what you may have been taught, claims can be multiple sentences long, like the one below.
I Love Ice Cream by Joe Dairyman argues that ice cream is the best food on the planet. The cold temperature is not only refreshing but actually helps alleviate headaches. Despite the inconvenience of it melting and dripping, the smooth texture enables the person to eat with a minimal degree of effort. And unlike other desserts, the amount of flavors is nearly infinite.
Different order claim
You do not have to put your position first and then list your reasons. You can certainly put your reasons first.
“Your college years give you knowledge, improve your soft skills, and connect you with other bright people who can help you get to the top in the future. Thus, even though there are some examples of successful people without a college degree, everyone should attend college and go through this important stage of self-development.” (From a 100 thesis statements)
Types of Claims
While not all claims necessarily fall neatly into these categories, Purdue’s Online Writing Lab categorized the type of claims. I included this in my blog because knowing the types of claims can certainly inspire you to write a more debatable claim.
Claims of fact or definition
Arguing the definition of something or whether it is a settled fact.
“What some people refer to as global warming is actually nothing more than normal, long-term cycles of climate change.”
Claims of cause and effect
Arguing that a particular person or thing caused an issue.
The No Child Left Behind Act has caused more children to be left behind.
Claims about value
Arguing that something is worth a particular value or we should rate it a particular way.
We should be more concerned with whether students are learning and ready for the next grade and less concerned with passing a specific test.
Claims about solutions or policies
Arguing for or against a particular solution or policy
“Instead of drilling for oil in Alaska we should be focusing on ways to reduce oil consumption, such as researching renewable energy sources.”
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