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Theme vs. Thesis: Key Differences and How to Write each

  • by Judy Jeni
  • January 18, 2024

Differences Between Thesis And Theme

Many students confuse between these two terms, a theme and a thesis. In practice, they are two distinct aspects.

By reading the content in this write-up, you will appreciate the difference between the two items. A theme is a central message in a text, whereas a thesis is an argument about a text.

Theme vs. Thesis

While it is possible to write items based on a theme or a project based on a thesis, the two are different. While their focus may seem similar, they are different.

A theme is a focus topic that a writer bases his argument on. It is the direction that guides the points that a writer argues. On the other hand, a thesis is a stand that a writer seeks to prove in his or her writing.

In a theme, a writer bases points on a concept, but in a thesis, the writer writes to prove a specific assertion.

A theme and a thesis are two different items that we can elaborate through the following points:  

outlining differences

  • A theme is the crucial idea of the piece of literature or any art you are writing about.
  • It is the recurrent idea in your work before you identify other elements such as characters, conflict, setting, and plot.
  • A thesis is a statement that you will try to prove by backing it with necessary facts. It is a position that the author takes to maintain a particular argument.

Differences between a Theme and a Thesis

  • A theme is the general topic of your essay, whereas a thesis is the precise statements that the author tries to prove.
  • A theme could be more general as the writer cannot necessarily state it expressly. On the other hand, a thesis is a direct message at the beginning of the paragraph that indicates what the entire paper will be talking about.
  • A theme is the motif of the piece or an underlying idea, whereas the thesis is the argument in favor of something that you believe you are presenting to your audience.

How to Write a Theme Based Essay

A theme-based essay writes about something based on a theme that you can derive from a novel, song, or short story. Before you begin to write such an essay, you should identify the underlying theme in your literature work.

Steps When Writing a Theme Based Essay

1. identify the character.

The odd one out

One should locate the characters that you will discuss in the essay. Such should relate to the identified theme in your essay.

For instance, if you locate ‘violence’ in the novel ‘The Shadow of Death,’ it is reasonable to talk about the characters that promote violence in the novel.

2. Maintain the Chosen Theme

As indicated above, suppose violence is the main theme in the novel, then you should maintain the same thing by writing about violence.  Such could include incidences of violence, including blood baths and more.

The point is you should endeavor to remain as close to the theme of violence by highlighting incidences and situations from the novel, drama, or story.

3. Avoid Mixing the Theme with the Key Subject

A theme is not a plot but an idea that binds up the story. It is the message that the author wants to convey to the audience or the readers. It is, therefore, wrong to try to write on the plot or story. Stick to the idea only.

Let your thoughts remain organized and well-knitted in the essay body. In the same vein, the body should relate to the central theme as you refer to the characters and incidents in the source matter.

How to Write a Thesis

One can use the following steps to come up with a strong thesis statement:

Start with a Question

start thesis with question

One should come up with a question in case the assignment did not offer the question.

After that, you should state your topic, which is the essential idea of the paper.

This thesis statement is usually a phrase or a few words that summarize the main subject of your paper.

The thesis statement makes the topic to be as precise as possible.

Write an Initial Answer

After performing initial research, it is now time to formulate a tentative answer. At this point, it could be just simple, or you can craft it to guide the process of writing and researching.

In case you are writing an argumentative essay, your answer should take a position on the matter. This is different from a thesis statement. Check more about thesis statements to know the idea of the two.

Develop the Answer

This section should prove why you believe it is your answer and convince the reader to agree with your position.

The more you write about the topic, the more you develop more details for your response. The final essay should summarize your overall arguments.

One should know what they are trying to prove in a topic. While you are expressing your opinion, it is vital to state one major idea. Also, you should name the topic and state something specific about it.

Furthermore, you should take a position and back it up with facts and reasons as an author. It is vital to support your reasons with evidence and logical facts.

Include Opposing Viewpoint

The correct thesis statement should acknowledge that there is another side of the argument. It is excellent to include your opposing viewpoints in your opinion. It is also essential to capture another person’s view who may have a different opinion about your topic.

Judy Jeni

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.


Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Identifying Thesis Statements, Claims, and Evidence

Thesis statements, claims, and evidence, introduction.

The three important parts of an argumentative essay are:

  • A thesis statement is a sentence, usually in the first paragraph of an article, that expresses the article’s main point. It is not a fact; it’s a statement that you could disagree with.  Therefore, the author has to convince you that the statement is correct.
  • Claims are statements that support the thesis statement, but like the thesis statement,  are not facts.  Because a claim is not a fact, it requires supporting evidence.
  • Evidence is factual information that shows a claim is true.  Usually, writers have to conduct their own research to find evidence that supports their ideas.  The evidence may include statistical (numerical) information, the opinions of experts, studies, personal experience, scholarly articles, or reports.

Each paragraph in the article is numbered at the beginning of the first sentence.

Paragraphs 1-7

Identifying the Thesis Statement. Paragraph 2 ends with this thesis statement:  “People’s prior convictions should not be held against them in their pursuit of higher learning.”  It is a thesis statement for three reasons:

  • It is the article’s main argument.
  • It is not a fact. Someone could think that peoples’ prior convictions should affect their access to higher education.
  • It requires evidence to show that it is true.

Finding Claims.  A claim is statement that supports a thesis statement.  Like a thesis, it is not a fact so it needs to be supported by evidence.

You have already identified the article’s thesis statement: “People’s prior convictions should not be held against them in their pursuit of higher learning.”

Like the thesis, a claim be an idea that the author believes to be true, but others may not agree.  For this reason, a claim needs support.

  • Question 1.  Can you find a claim in paragraph 3? Look for a statement that might be true, but needs to be supported by evidence.

Finding Evidence. 

Paragraphs 5-7 offer one type of evidence to support the claim you identified in the last question.  Reread paragraphs 5-7.

  • Question 2.  Which word best describes the kind of evidence included in those paragraphs:  A report, a study, personal experience of the author, statistics, or the opinion of an expert?

Paragraphs 8-10

Finding Claims

Paragraph 8 makes two claims:

  • “The United States needs to have more of this transformative power of education.”
  • “The country [the United States] incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other nation in the world.”

Finding Evidence

Paragraphs 8 and 9 include these statistics as evidence:

  • “The U.S. accounts for less than 5 percent of the world population but nearly 25 percent of the incarcerated population around the globe.”
  • “Roughly 2.2 million people in the United States are essentially locked away in cages. About 1 in 5 of those people are locked up for drug offenses.”

Question 3. Does this evidence support claim 1 from paragraph 8 (about the transformative power of education) or claim 2 (about the U.S.’s high incarceration rate)?

Question 4. Which word best describes this kind of evidence:  A report, a study, personal experience of the author, statistics, or the opinion of an expert?

Paragraphs 11-13

Remember that in paragraph 2, Andrisse writes that:

  • “People’s prior convictions should not be held against them in their pursuit of higher learning.” (Thesis statement)
  • “More must be done to remove the various barriers that exist between formerly incarcerated individuals such as myself and higher education.” (Claim)

Now, review paragraphs 11-13 (Early life of crime). In these paragraphs, Andrisse shares more of his personal story.

Question 5. Do you think his personal story is evidence for statement 1 above, statement 2, both, or neither one?

Question 6. Is yes, which one(s)?

Question 7. Do you think his personal story is good evidence?  Does it persuade you to agree with him?

Paragraphs 14-16

Listed below are some claims that Andrisse makes in paragraph 14.  Below each claim, please write the supporting evidence from paragraphs 15 and 16.  If you can’t find any evidence,  write “none.”

Claim:  The more education a person has, the higher their income.

Claim: Similarly, the more education a person has, the less likely they are to return to prison.

Paragraphs 17-19

Evaluating Evidence

In these paragraphs, Andrisse returns to his personal story. He explains how his father’s illness inspired him to become a doctor and shares that he was accepted to only one of six biomedical graduate programs.

Do you think that this part of Andrisse’s story serves as evidence (support) for any claims that you’ve identified so far?   Or does it support his general thesis that “people’s prior convictions should not be held against them in pursuit of higher learning?” Please explain your answer.

Paragraphs 20-23

Andrisse uses his personal experience to repeat a claim he makes in paragraph 3, that “more must be done to remove the various barriers that exist between formerly incarcerated individuals such as myself and higher education.”

To support this statement, he has to show that barriers exist.  One barrier he identifies is the cost of college. He then explains the advantages of offering Pell grants to incarcerated people.

What evidence in paragraphs 21-23 support his claim about the success of Pell grants?

Paragraphs  24-28 (Remove questions about drug crimes from federal aid forms)

In this section, Andrisse argues that federal aid forms should not ask students about prior drug convictions.  To support that claim, he includes a statistic about students who had to answer a similar question on their college application.

What statistic does he include?

In paragraph 25, he assumes that if a question about drug convictions discourages students from applying to college, it will probably also discourage them from applying for federal aid.

What do you think about this assumption?   Do you think it’s reasonable or do you think Andrisse needs stronger evidence to show that federal aid forms should not ask students about prior drug convictions?

Supporting English Language Learners in First-Year College Composition Copyright © by Breana Bayraktar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Theme vs. Thesis Statement vs. Topic Statement

by Kinglove | Writing

Related article: What is a thesis?

A thesis statement is a statement that says what you are going to argue or prove, not what you’re going to attempt to do. It’s not your plan but your argument.

Identifying a thesis

“The first thing to remember is that a thesis is the  point the author is trying to prove .  That means that a topic, which can be expressed in a phrase, like “alcoholism” or “effect of corruption on poverty,” is  not  a thesis.  A thesis can only be expressed by a complete, declarative sentence (not a question, either). So, be sure to write out a complete sentence when identifying the source’s thesis.

Often, all you need to identify the thesis of an article is the abstract —the brief summary, usually just a short paragraph, provided with the listing of many articles in most databases. This explains the main idea of the article and states what point it is trying to prove.

However, an abstract is not always provided. In those cases, you may need to read the first few paragraphs to get the gist of the article. This is typically where the author will lay out the argument and, again, state the point that they are trying to prove. In more difficult cases, it may be necessary to read the conclusion as well since this is often where they sum up the argument one last time. Sometimes, it’s clearer in the conclusion than in the introduction.

With books, the thesis may be stated on the back, on the jacket flap, in the preface or introduction, or early on in the first chapter. On the back and on the jacket look for phrases like “the author argues that…” In the preface, introduction or first chapter, look for “I argue…” or similar phrases.

Keep in mind:   Reference works do not have theses.  Remember the definition of a thesis: a point that an essay is trying to prove. Reference works don’t try to prove a point. They simply report information. Usually it’s the more in-depth general interest works, and especially the scholarly sources, that have theses. So those are the ones you’ll want to focus on.” From Shoreline community college.

Merriam Webster’s dictionary:

Definition of thesis:

“a: a proposition to be proved or one advanced without proof:   HYPOTHESIS

“ 5.3 Turn Your Working Hypothesis into a Claim We described the early stages of research as finding a question and imagining a tentative answer. We called that answer your working hypothesis. Now as we discuss building an argument to support that hypothesis, we change our terminology one last time. When you think you can back up your hypothesis with good reasons and evidence, you’ll present that hypothesis as your argument’s claim . A claim is an assertion (which could be one sentence or several) that demands support. Your main claim is the assertion supported by your whole research argument. Some call this assertion your thesis. ” From the Turabian Manual, 9th Edition

Thesis Statements vs. Topic Statements

“ Thesis Statements Every paper must argue an idea and every paper must clearly state that idea in a thesis statement. A thesis statement is different from a topic statement.  A topic statement merely states what the paper is about.  A thesis statement states the argument of that paper. Be sure that you can easily identify your thesis and that the key points of your argument relate directly back to your thesis.

Topic statements: This paper will discuss Harry Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. The purpose of this paper is to delve into the mindset behind Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. This paper will explore how Harry Truman came to the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.

Thesis statements: Harry Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima was motivated by racism. The US confrontation with the Soviets was the key factor in Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. This paper will demonstrate that in his decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima, Truman was unduly influenced by hawks in his cabinet.” Source: University of Mary Washington.

The theme is the central idea of a piece. It is an implicit  or  recurrent   idea in the work.

“ To identify the central idea or theme, one must also look at the other elements of fiction (plot, characters, setting, conflict, etc.) to explain how the author has tied all of these together. In order to understand the central idea or theme of the story ask yourself the following questions:

  • How is the central idea or theme expressed through the characters, setting, point of view, tone, language, or conflict?
  • In what way does the resolution of the external conflict indicate the central idea or theme? How does the resolution of the internal conflict express the story’s theme?
  • Are symbols, metaphors, or similes used to portray the central idea or theme?
  • What are the repeated images, words, or expressions in the story?
  • How does the title make sense in terms of the story? Is it significant?
  • What the story reveals about society, people in general, the roles of men and women, the time period in which the story takes place?
  • Does the central idea make sense in light of the story and the title?

Remember, there is no one way to express the central idea of a story (but some statements are definitely better than others). The best stories have multiple levels of meaning and require MORE THAN ONE READING before the central idea becomes clear. ” http://www.austincc.edu/bvillarr/theme.htm

What is the difference between a thesis statement and a theme?

“Theme is the main idea of the piece of literature, art, film, etc.– whatever it is you are being asked to write about. It is the “lesson” that is being taught. For example, “greed” in an incomplete theme, but “greed is the root of all evil” would be a valid theme of a work.

The thesis is the actual statement in your paper that expresses what the idea behind your essay is. It is what YOUR paper is about, which in turn, is a statement that also conveys what the work being discussed is about. Therefore, a “thesis” normally contains a “theme”. An example might be: In “The Pardoner’s Tale”, Chaucer expresses through both the actions of the Pardoner as well as through the actions of the characters in his tale, the notion that greed is the root of all evil. ” Source: From Yahoo Answers

“There are some very strong parallels between both themes and thesis statements.  I think you will find there will be much in the way of responses to how each will be different.  For my bet, I would like to think of themes as something that can be found in writing that expresses the intent of what the author is trying to show.  Themes can be found in literature and other forms of writing where an idea is explored in a complex and intricate manner.  Examples of themes can be courage, the quest for justice, the collision between equally desirable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action, or the notion of identity formation. These themes are proven from a base that is not purely evidential and argumentative, which differentiates them from a thesis statement.  For example, when Homer explores the theme of equally desirable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action, he does not do so in a strictly linear and evidential manner.  Rather, he shows us a character who must endure such a theme and how it plays out is built within the development of the character.  Hektor’s character evolution is how we, as the reader, see Homer’s theme develop.

In contrast to this, a thesis statement is something that is built through evidence, analysis, and persuasion.  It seems to me to be more linear and directed than a theme.  For instance, a thesis statement can be analytical, which analyzes an idea and deconstructs it through a paper.  A thesis statement could also be persuasive, and it hopes to do so through evidence and analysis.  The websites below give examples of thesis statements.  I think I differentiate both concepts as a thesis statement trying to prove something, while a theme seeks to explore it.” Source: https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-difference-between-thesis-statement-theme-110021

Thesis Statements

Related posts:

  • Modify Table of Contents (Use Style for Table of Contents) to Format Your Table of Content
  • What is a thesis?

what is the difference between thesis and thematic statement

Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.


If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

what is the difference between thesis and thematic statement

Writing Process and Structure

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Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper



Developing Strategic Transitions


Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

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How To Write A Thematic Statement with Examples

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Jim Peterson has over 20 years experience on speech writing. He wrote over 300 free speech topic ideas and how-to guides for any kind of public speaking and speech writing assignments at My Speech Class.

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The English language is not as straightforward as it seems. Penning a quality essay or story requires in-depth knowledge of English grammar and sentence structure rulings.

A single paragraph may contain multiple different sentence types. An argumentative essay’s introductory paragraph, for example, may have many simple sentences, a thesis statement, and a thematic statement.

Thesis statements are present within almost every essay. Thematic statements, on the other hand, are less popular because not many people know about them. Regardless, they are an essential part of English writing, and learning about these statements will help you produce better essays. Thematic statements are most commonly employed within stories, though you can also find them in some formal texts.

This article will cover everything you need to know about thematic statements – what are they, where are they used, and how they differ from thesis statements. We’ll also explore the guidelines for penning a quality thematic statement, accompanied by multiple examples.

So, without further delay, let’s dive in!

In this article:

What is a Thematic Statement?

What’s the purpose of having a theme, where to use thematic statements: popular examples, how are thematic statements different from thesis statements, theme vs. topic, how to write a thematic statement, what to avoid when writing a thematic statement, good vs. evil, power and corruption, coming of age, thematic statement examples for love, thematic statement examples for identity, thematic statement examples for fear, thematic statement examples for death, thematic statement examples for trust.

Thematic statements are unique sentences employed by writers to convey the most prominent message of their story or article. They summarize the essence of the story into a short, precise statement.

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Every thematic statement must contain a single root keyword. This keyword is called the ‘theme’ or a ‘thematic idea.’ Unlike thematic statements, thematic ideas are not complete sentences but only words.

Thematic statements grow from thematic ideas.

Some writers prefer to pen two thematic statements instead of one. This tactic is most common within more extensive texts that discuss multiple ideas. Still, the idea is to summarize the central message that the text aims to deliver to readers. Hence, thematic statements shouldn’t be too long. An entire paragraph of writing cannot qualify as a thematic statement.

Thematic statements do not target a specific audience. Expert writers know that thematic statements lose their purpose when directed at the reader. Hence, thematic statements should never sound personal. Words like “I” and “you” have no place within thematic statements because they narrow the thematic idea’s scope. You essentially direct an idea towards a specific audience by personalizing a statement. Hence, the audience’s perception of the statement’s message becomes relevant. Unfortunately, having the audience’s perception as a point of interest weakens the statement’s impact.

Let’s go over a simple example to understand this idea better:

Suppose the proposed thematic statement is “If you love sincerely, you will find joy.”

There are many problems with this statement. Firstly, it is a personal statement directed at an audience. A quality thematic statement must be impersonal. It should address not a person or audience but rather a single idea or message.

Another thing wrong with this sentence is its use of “if.” Writing “if” immediately transforms the text into a conditional statement that’s paired with a promise. Here, the statement mentioned above promises joy to those who love sincerely.

Unfortunately, promises are often broken and are seldom guaranteed. Therefore, it’s best to avoid making promises within thematic statements. Including the word “if” and closing the statement off with a promise only serves to weaken the sentence’s impact. Plus, it lengthens the statement. Remember, thematic statements should be concise and to the point. It should seek to deliver a single message in simple words.

A better thematic statement would be, “Sincere love results in joy.” This statement is direct and discusses one idea only. It does not make promises and is not an “if” statement. It is powerful and stated as a fact or lesson, allowing the reader to successfully understand the essay’s central idea.

A theme is often used to summarize the focus or main idea that the author is trying to convey. Well-developed works of literature often have a multitude of themes that can be determined or understood at face value as well as on a much deeper level. Sometimes, the author wants you to read between the lines and form your own conclusion.

For readers, understanding the theme gives you a much more in-depth understanding of the storyline as well as added clarity. Understanding the themes of a literary piece will also inspire a greater appreciation of the literature’s deeper meanings and innuendos.

Themes allow authors to express their opinions and comment on humanistic traits or societal pressures without having to be too obvious about it.

Learning to understand themes allows the reader the opportunity to think about the plot on a much deeper level, form their own opinions and align their opinions with those of the authors. A greater understanding of themes will also inspire deeper thinking and promote self-reflection in the reader.

Determining themes requires reading between the lines, having a greater understanding of emotion and reactiveness and critical thinking to decipher the message that the author is attempting to convey.

Thematic statements are often found within the following literary works:

  • Short, five-paragraph essays that are at least 500 words long
  • Social science research essays, particularly on topics like sociology or psychology
  • Marriage toasts, funeral speeches , and other emotionally-charged pieces of text, centered around a single theme (like love or death)
  • Stories, including personal narratives and autobiographical essays
  • Rhetorical analysis essays that explore a published author’s linguistic articulation. The use of thematic statements can help perfectly capture the author’s message without beating around the bush

As discussed previously, thematic statements aim to deliver a single idea through a simple yet impactful sentence. This “single idea” is the central message of a complete body of text (like a story or essay).

Thematic statements are interchangeable with thesis statements when employed within thematic essays. However, this is the exception, not the rule. In most literary works, thematic statements are different from thesis statements. Both statements may be interrelated yet express their ideas through differing sentence structures. Unlike their thematic counterparts, we structure thesis statements as arguments containing multiple points of interest.

For example, suppose you are writing an essay on climate change. Climate change is the essay’s primary theme or thematic idea. Hence, your thematic statement will stem from it. Your thesis statement will also refer to climate change. However, it may also talk about other ideas relevant to climate change. These ideas will vary depending on what stance your essay takes on the matter of climate change, of course.

Here’s what a thematic statement for an essay on climate change may look like:

“Climate change is harmful to the environment.”

A thesis statement concerning the same topic may look like this:

“Climate change is harmful to the environment because it is raising sea levels, causing global warming, and depleting Earth’s flora and fauna.” This statement is arguable, not factual. It can be debated and proven or disproven using evidence.

On the other hand, thematic statements are simple factual sentences and undebatable facts. For example, the theme for a story like Romeo and Juliet is love. The thematic statement developed from this theme could be “love comes with a high price.” By connecting the theme, or thematic idea , to a lesson, we can successfully portray a complete message to the reader. This message encapsulates the core idea running through the entire story.

A story’s theme and the topic may share common ground, but they are not the same. Themes are single words that capture the story or essay’s essence. For example, we know that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet explores the theme of love. It also explores the theme of rivalry.

However, anyone who has read Romeo and Juliet knows that the topic is not love or rivalry. Instead, we can say the topic is “two young people belonging to rival families find love, only to suffer at its hands.” Notice how topics are complete sentences, whereas themes are standalone words.

A topic sentence may cite the story’s primary themes but goes a step further by exploring the plot, too. Topic statements are a tool to help better illustrate how a specific theme plays out within a story or essay. Hence, we see that theme and topic are not the same. However, they most certainly are interconnected.

Thematic statements come from thematic ideas. Therefore, before you start penning a thematic statement, you must first identify your essay’s central theme or main idea. You can do so by referring to your essay’s title.

Suppose your thematic idea is love. Now that you’ve got your theme down move on to uncovering the theme assertion.

“Theme assertion” refers to the text’s central message. What lesson can we learn from reading a specific literary work, and how does this lesson relate to the thematic idea?

The thematic assertion is decided by the story or essay’s original author. A reader can only spot it. We can do so by exploring the author’s thoughts. For example, within Romeo and Juliet, we see Shakespeare imply that love (theme) has unintended negative consequences (assertion).

Combining the theme and assertion can yield a complete thematic statement. But if you’d like to take things further, you can always add a ‘qualifying clause.’

Qualifying clauses are optional. You can add them after a thematic assertion to further define the thematic statement.

Let’s take the example of Romeo and Juliet again:

Love (theme) has unintended negative consequences (assertion) that cannot be denied (qualifying clause).

Notice how the qualifying clause adds to the overall thematic statement. However, if you wrote the qualifying clause on its own, it would not make any sense as a standalone sentence. Yet, when meshed with a theme and assertion, it can help create a well-rounded statement.

Here’s a quick summary of other ways to identify themes:

  • Pay attention to the plot: Write down the main elements of the work like, plot, the tone of the story, language style, characters traits. Were there any conflicts? What was the most important moment of the story? What was the main character’s goal? What was the author’s resolution for the conflict? How did the story end?
  • Identify the literary subject: If you had to tell someone about the book, how would you describe it to them?
  • Who is the protagonist: Plainly put, who is the hero or the ‘good guy’? How did the character develop and grow throughout the plot? What was the character’s effect on all the other people around him? How did he/she impact the other characters? How does this character relate to the others?

Assess the author’s point of view: What was the author’s view on the characters and how they made choices? What message could the author be trying to send us? This message is the theme. Find clues in quotes from the main characters, language use, the final resolution of the main conflict.

Thematic statements aren’t overly complicated. However, being human, there is always room for error.

Keep an eye out for the following mistakes when penning thematic statements:

  • Remember to mention the story or essay’s central theme within the thematic statement.
  • Avoid summarizing the literary work – that’s what topic sentences are for!
  • Stay away from absolute terms like “always.”
  • Overgeneralization is unnecessary and distracts from the main idea.
  • Do not say, “this story’s theme is….” Instead, weave the thematic idea’s keyword (“love”) into the thematic statement.
  • Avoid metaphors, complicated idioms, and flowery language.
  • Don’t beat about the bush.
  • Stay away from cliché statements and trendy slogans or chants.
  • Qualifying clauses are not compulsory. Only use them if you feel they’ll improve your writing without complicating it.

You can successfully pen a striking thematic statement by avoiding these common writing mistakes.

Examples of Themes

There are many great literary theme examples of love that have developed through the ages, one of the most famous ones being, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet of course. Theme: A tragic tale of forbidden love with terrible consequences.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is yet another classic example that explores the type of love that grows slowly where there was once dislike and misunderstanding.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte explores love in a completely different light, highlighting the way its intensity and power disrupt and even destroy lives.

The book thief by Marcus Zusak is narrated by death itself, exploring his role in taking lives in setting Germany in World War 2.

The Fault in Our Stars features teenagers who come to terms with the grave reality of death while coming to terms with their terminal illness.

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien displays the battle of good versus evil quite clearly in its tale of hobbits, elves and men teaming up to defeat the power hungry Sauron and his armies of dark creatures.

The Stand by Stephen King features the light versus dark dichotomy. Staging a battle between good and evil through the characters of Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet book

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the tragic tale of a character seeking power for his own sake, and dealing with the consequences of his own self minded ambition.

Animal Farm by George Orwell is another iconic classic exploration of power and corruption, an allegorical story about a group of animals who rise up against their human masters with increasingly sinister results.

Lord of the flies by William Golding focuses on a group of young boys stuck on a deserted island, chronicling their attempts to survive and govern themselves.

Room by Emma Donoghue tells a different story of survival as that of a woman who has been held captive for seven years and her five-year-old son who doesn’t know a normal life outside of the room that they are held captive in.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger follows a sixteen-year-old boy dealing with teenage angst and rebellion in the 1950s.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is the story of a teenager named Charlie navigating all the challenges that come with the time between adolescence and adulthood.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is noted as one of the most famous explorations of prejudice and racism. A white lawyer Atticus Finch is appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of rape. 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly explores prejudice and fear of the unknown throughout the story of Dr. Frankenstein and the ‘monster’ he created.

Examples of Thematic Statements

Now that we’ve gone over the guidelines associated with writing a thematic statement, let’s explore some theme sentence examples:

  • Love can heighten our sense of courage.
  • Loving ourselves can heal our emotional scars, even if it takes time.
  • Love is more powerful than infatuation.
  • Accepting our true selves can help us lead happier lives.
  • Our identity is crafted from personal experiences.
  • Believing in ourselves can help us achieve the impossible.
  • Fear is a state of mind.
  • We can overcome fear through strong faith.
  • Fear is an inevitable emotion.
  • All humans experience fear.
  • We should embrace death as an inevitable fact of life.
  • Nobody can evade death.
  • Seeing their loved ones die makes people sad.
  • Healthy relationships are built on trust.
  • To achieve success, we must trust our gut instinct.
  • Not everyone deserves to be trusted.
  • We should choose who to trust with care.

Pay attention to how each statement covers only a single idea relating to one theme. This is a trademark rule with thematic statements. It helps them remain simple, unwinding, and direct.

Learning about thematic statements is an essential part of every writer’s journey. Storybook authors, in particular, should be well-aware of thematic statements and their undeniable importance.

A quality thematic statement can make your story much easier to understand. That’s because a thematic statement stems from the story’s central or thematic idea and captures the story’s true essence. Hence, thematic statements are incomplete without discussing the literary work’s primary theme.

Thematic statements should not be confused with thesis statements. Both are important in their own right, yet neither one can replace the other. Thematic statements are factual, whereas thesis statements explore arguments that can be disproven with relevant evidence.

Thesis statements seldom exist within stories. Instead, they are a characteristic of formal essays, particularly argumentative ones. However, to truly understand the essence of a story , one must first learn to understand the nature of thematic statements.

A story or essay’s theme is also strikingly different from its topic. Thematic ideas (themes) are typically single words. On the other hand, topics are illustrated through multiple words. As a result, we often see topic sentences and single-worded themes.

The best thematic statements reference a single theme. After identifying the story’s theme, these statements build upon a lesson or message relating to said theme. This thematic idea keyword (for example, love or death) must appear within the thematic statement.

Thematic statements must also contain a thematic assertion. A thematic assertion is essentially an explanation, lesson, or central message the story conveys.

A single thematic idea and assertion are enough to create a complete thematic statement. However, some people prefer adding an optional qualifying clause, too. After adding the clause, you’re left with a comprehensive, well-rounded thematic statement.

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Novel Factory

Thematic Statement: Love and friendship always triumph over evil

Themes: Love, friendship, family, belonging, social inequality

Topic (premise) : A boy wizard joins a magical school and has to battle the greatest wizard who ever lived.

The Hunger Games

Thematic Statement: Survival is not enough without control over your own destiny

Themes: Control, power, loyalty, social inequality, love

Topic (premise): A girl is forced to take part in a televised fight to the death.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Thematic Statement: Sexist attitudes have consequences

Themes: Gender roles, power, rebellion, the place of an individual in society, the power of language

Topic (premise): After fertility in the human race crashes, women’s rights are revoked and they are forced to live as no more than breeding vessels.

Why Use a Thematic Statement?

In Story , Robert McKee calls a thematic statement the “central” or “ controlling story idea ,” the idea that guides you in writing your entire novel. It shapes the strategic choices you make as you write.

If used skillfully, a thematic statement will make the story feel deeper, and touch readers on an emotional level. It may even change how they view the world and how they behave.

One of the main themes in the Godfather, for example, is that as power shifts, it changes people.

This thematic statement is illustrated first by how Don Corleone changes from a nearly omnipotent crime boss to a devoted grandfather, and later, how reluctant Michael resigns himself to his position and becomes more ruthless.

Without this consistent, underlying theme, the Godfather stories would not be nearly as powerful or as memorable.

Do’s and Don’ts For Writing a Thematic Statement

Some authors might start writing with a thematic statement already in mind, but that’s probably rare.

It’s more likely that you will have a more general idea of themes you might want to explore.

But most writers start with something more solid, like an idea for a character and the conflicts they will face.

It’s natural to write your first draft without putting too much thought into themes or the Thematic Statement.

Then, when you read through your first draft, you’ll see concepts emerge, and at that point, you might want to decide what your Thematic Statement is – or what you would like it to be.

Then you can refine it by following the dos and don’ts here:

Do: Base it on Universal Themes

Starting with themes that touch us all, such as love, loyalty and freedom, is likely to lead you to a thematic statement that resonates with your readers.

If your Thematic Statement applies to quite specific themes or groups of people, it may not resonate with so many people.

For example

  • Eating shellfish will lead to poor health
  • The fabulously wealthy are often misunderstood
  • Taking away people’s guns is akin to taking away their freedom

Don’t: Turn it Into a Moral Directive

A Thematic Statement is an assertion, or observation – it is not advice. It should not be telling people how to behave.

So avoid things like:

  • Always tell the truth
  • Live for today because tomorrow might never come
  • You should be kind to old people

Do: Use Consequences to Illustrate Your Thematic Statement

A skilled writer will never use a character as their mouthpiece, and have them outright state the thematic statement.

But through the choices the character faces, the decisions they make and the consequences they endure – the assertion of the thematic statement should be driven home.

For example, taking this Thematic Statement:

Survival is not enough without control over your own destiny

Katniss repeatedly chooses the things that are important to her over her own safety and survival: from volunteering for a death match in order to protect her sister, to choosing to eat poison berries rather than murder her friend.

Don’t: Refer to the Specifics of Your Story

A Thematic Statement should be something that could be transplanted and applied to another novel.

  • Harry learns the importance of friendship and loyalty
  • A girl in a dystopian future chooses death over obedience

Keep it universal.

Do: Analyse Thematic Statements of Other Works

One of the best ways to learn anything is to study the greats. So take some of your favourite books or movies and try to work out what Thematic Statement the writer had in mind.

See if you can find evidence in the behaviour of the characters and the results of their actions, which support your analysis.

Here’s a good guide to working out the Thematic Statement of a novel:

  • Pick the main topic addressed in the story
  • Pinpoint the author’s view on the topic
  • Format that perspective using a theme statement template

Don’t: Use Trite Cliches

The best Thematic Statements are unique and interesting philosophical ideas.

Using cliches such as ‘crime never pays’ or ‘love conquers all’ as the guiding controlling story idea, will likely result in a story that is just as cliche.

Do: Be Consistent

Once you have your Thematic Statement, make sure everything in your novel supports it.

This could include the behaviour of your main characters and sub characters, how the settings are conveyed, and the events that take place.

A good way to tell whether you’ve got a Thematic Statement or something else, is to put ‘The Author believes’ in front of it.

So this is okay:

  • The author believes that love and friendship always triumph over evil

But these don’t make sense:

  • The author believes Harry learns the importance of friendship and loyalty
  • The author believes always tell the truth

It’s not foolproof, but it’s a handy rule of thumb.

9 Thematic Statement Examples

Here are some more examples of thematic statements:

  • Humans are not fixed personalities but a set of constantly changing contradictions
  • Valuing wealth over family will lead to misery
  • Isolation leads to madness
  • No matter people’s culture we are all the same at heart
  • True love is built over time and shared experience
  • The family we choose can be more loyal than those we are born with
  • Love taken to extremes can become dangerous
  • Having a true friend can help you survive the worst atrocities
  • Only by releasing judgement of others can we find inner peace

More examples of Thematic Statements can be found here .

Use a Thematic Statement to Write a More Compelling Story

Thematic Statement

If you can get to grips with Thematic Statements and learn how to apply them effectively in your writing, then you have a very powerful tool for ensuring your stories resonate with readers and stay with them long after they’ve finished reading.

But at the end of the day, they are art, not mathematics, so if the statement that helps you write doesn’t exactly follow the rules above — don’t get too hung up on the details. If it works for you, then it works.

And not all novels need to express a unique, thought provoking philosophy. When it comes to genre novels in particular, they may express Thematic Statements that are common and often repeated. They can still be perfectly effective novels that readers enjoy.

So take a look at your own stories and see if you can identify the Thematic Statement.

Are there tweaks you can make to the story to make it even more consistent and powerful?

Or if you don’t have a Thematic Statement, could working to one make your novel more compelling?

And don’t forget to take a closer look at some of your favourite stories and try to work out what key message the author is trying to express.

Happy writing!

And then, as your next step, check out the novel writing roadmap .

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what is the difference between thesis and thematic statement

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Q. What is the difference between a thesis statement and a hypothesis statement?


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Answered By: APUS Librarians Last Updated: Apr 15, 2022     Views: 128483

Both the hypothesis statement and the thesis statement answer a research question. 

  • A hypothesis is a statement that can be proved or disproved. It is typically used in quantitative research and predicts the relationship between variables.  
  • A thesis statement is a short, direct sentence that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay or research paper. It is seen in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research. A thesis statement is developed, supported, and explained in the body of the essay or research report by means of examples and evidence.

Every research study should contain a concise and well-written thesis statement. If the intent of the study is to prove/disprove something, that research report will also contain a hypothesis statement.

NOTE: In some disciplines, the hypothesis is referred to as a thesis statement! This is not accurate but within those disciplines it is understood that "a short, direct sentence that summarizes the main point" will be included.

For more information, see The Research Question and Hypothesis (PDF file from the English Language Support, Department of Student Services, Ryerson University).

How do I write a good thesis statement?

How do I write a good hypothesis statement?

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  • How to Do Thematic Analysis | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

How to Do Thematic Analysis | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Published on September 6, 2019 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on June 22, 2023.

Thematic analysis is a method of analyzing qualitative data . It is usually applied to a set of texts, such as an interview or transcripts . The researcher closely examines the data to identify common themes – topics, ideas and patterns of meaning that come up repeatedly.

There are various approaches to conducting thematic analysis, but the most common form follows a six-step process: familiarization, coding, generating themes, reviewing themes, defining and naming themes, and writing up. Following this process can also help you avoid confirmation bias when formulating your analysis.

This process was originally developed for psychology research by Virginia Braun and Victoria Clarke . However, thematic analysis is a flexible method that can be adapted to many different kinds of research.

Table of contents

When to use thematic analysis, different approaches to thematic analysis, step 1: familiarization, step 2: coding, step 3: generating themes, step 4: reviewing themes, step 5: defining and naming themes, step 6: writing up, other interesting articles.

Thematic analysis is a good approach to research where you’re trying to find out something about people’s views, opinions, knowledge, experiences or values from a set of qualitative data – for example, interview transcripts , social media profiles, or survey responses .

Some types of research questions you might use thematic analysis to answer:

  • How do patients perceive doctors in a hospital setting?
  • What are young women’s experiences on dating sites?
  • What are non-experts’ ideas and opinions about climate change?
  • How is gender constructed in high school history teaching?

To answer any of these questions, you would collect data from a group of relevant participants and then analyze it. Thematic analysis allows you a lot of flexibility in interpreting the data, and allows you to approach large data sets more easily by sorting them into broad themes.

However, it also involves the risk of missing nuances in the data. Thematic analysis is often quite subjective and relies on the researcher’s judgement, so you have to reflect carefully on your own choices and interpretations.

Pay close attention to the data to ensure that you’re not picking up on things that are not there – or obscuring things that are.

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what is the difference between thesis and thematic statement

Once you’ve decided to use thematic analysis, there are different approaches to consider.

There’s the distinction between inductive and deductive approaches:

  • An inductive approach involves allowing the data to determine your themes.
  • A deductive approach involves coming to the data with some preconceived themes you expect to find reflected there, based on theory or existing knowledge.

Ask yourself: Does my theoretical framework give me a strong idea of what kind of themes I expect to find in the data (deductive), or am I planning to develop my own framework based on what I find (inductive)?

There’s also the distinction between a semantic and a latent approach:

  • A semantic approach involves analyzing the explicit content of the data.
  • A latent approach involves reading into the subtext and assumptions underlying the data.

Ask yourself: Am I interested in people’s stated opinions (semantic) or in what their statements reveal about their assumptions and social context (latent)?

After you’ve decided thematic analysis is the right method for analyzing your data, and you’ve thought about the approach you’re going to take, you can follow the six steps developed by Braun and Clarke .

The first step is to get to know our data. It’s important to get a thorough overview of all the data we collected before we start analyzing individual items.

This might involve transcribing audio , reading through the text and taking initial notes, and generally looking through the data to get familiar with it.

Next up, we need to code the data. Coding means highlighting sections of our text – usually phrases or sentences – and coming up with shorthand labels or “codes” to describe their content.

Let’s take a short example text. Say we’re researching perceptions of climate change among conservative voters aged 50 and up, and we have collected data through a series of interviews. An extract from one interview looks like this:

Coding qualitative data
Interview extract Codes
Personally, I’m not sure. I think the climate is changing, sure, but I don’t know why or how. People say you should trust the experts, but who’s to say they don’t have their own reasons for pushing this narrative? I’m not saying they’re wrong, I’m just saying there’s reasons not to 100% trust them. The facts keep changing – it used to be called global warming.

In this extract, we’ve highlighted various phrases in different colors corresponding to different codes. Each code describes the idea or feeling expressed in that part of the text.

At this stage, we want to be thorough: we go through the transcript of every interview and highlight everything that jumps out as relevant or potentially interesting. As well as highlighting all the phrases and sentences that match these codes, we can keep adding new codes as we go through the text.

After we’ve been through the text, we collate together all the data into groups identified by code. These codes allow us to gain a a condensed overview of the main points and common meanings that recur throughout the data.

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Next, we look over the codes we’ve created, identify patterns among them, and start coming up with themes.

Themes are generally broader than codes. Most of the time, you’ll combine several codes into a single theme. In our example, we might start combining codes into themes like this:

Turning codes into themes
Codes Theme
Distrust of experts

At this stage, we might decide that some of our codes are too vague or not relevant enough (for example, because they don’t appear very often in the data), so they can be discarded.

Other codes might become themes in their own right. In our example, we decided that the code “uncertainty” made sense as a theme, with some other codes incorporated into it.

Again, what we decide will vary according to what we’re trying to find out. We want to create potential themes that tell us something helpful about the data for our purposes.

Now we have to make sure that our themes are useful and accurate representations of the data. Here, we return to the data set and compare our themes against it. Are we missing anything? Are these themes really present in the data? What can we change to make our themes work better?

If we encounter problems with our themes, we might split them up, combine them, discard them or create new ones: whatever makes them more useful and accurate.

For example, we might decide upon looking through the data that “changing terminology” fits better under the “uncertainty” theme than under “distrust of experts,” since the data labelled with this code involves confusion, not necessarily distrust.

Now that you have a final list of themes, it’s time to name and define each of them.

Defining themes involves formulating exactly what we mean by each theme and figuring out how it helps us understand the data.

Naming themes involves coming up with a succinct and easily understandable name for each theme.

For example, we might look at “distrust of experts” and determine exactly who we mean by “experts” in this theme. We might decide that a better name for the theme is “distrust of authority” or “conspiracy thinking”.

Finally, we’ll write up our analysis of the data. Like all academic texts, writing up a thematic analysis requires an introduction to establish our research question, aims and approach.

We should also include a methodology section, describing how we collected the data (e.g. through semi-structured interviews or open-ended survey questions ) and explaining how we conducted the thematic analysis itself.

The results or findings section usually addresses each theme in turn. We describe how often the themes come up and what they mean, including examples from the data as evidence. Finally, our conclusion explains the main takeaways and shows how the analysis has answered our research question.

In our example, we might argue that conspiracy thinking about climate change is widespread among older conservative voters, point out the uncertainty with which many voters view the issue, and discuss the role of misinformation in respondents’ perceptions.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Measures of central tendency
  • Chi square tests
  • Confidence interval
  • Quartiles & Quantiles
  • Cluster sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Discourse analysis
  • Cohort study
  • Peer review
  • Ethnography

Research bias

  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Conformity bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Availability heuristic
  • Attrition bias
  • Social desirability bias

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Thesis vs Theme - What's the difference?

In lang=en terms the difference between thesis and theme, as nouns the difference between thesis and theme, as a verb theme is, derived terms, related terms, external links.

Thematic Statement Generator for Students

Get your perfect thematic statement done in 3 steps:

  • Choose the type of essay.
  • Add all the information required.
  • Click “Generate” & relax.

Fits argumentative essays

Result for thesis statement

Even though packaged vegetarian meals offer little to no nutritional value, a well-balanced vegetarian diet lowers the risk for some diseases because it implies eating vegetables and whole grains, it provides health-protective vitamins, and it ensures that you ingest enough fiber.

Whereas packaged vegetarian meals offer little to no nutritional value, a well-balanced vegetarian diet lowers the risk for some diseases given that it implies eating vegetables and whole grains, it provides health-protective vitamins, and it ensures that you ingest enough fiber.

  • 🖱️ How to Use It
  • 🍬 The Tool’s Benefits
  • 🔤 Thesis Statement 101
  • 🆚 Thematic Vs. Thesis Statement
  • 🙅 Mistakes to Avoid

🔗 References

🖱️ thematic statement generator tutorial.

Do you know what element can make your essay stand out? A thesis statement! Simply put, a thesis statement is a compressed claim of your paper. If your writing is about a very specific topic, a thematic statement can take the role of the thesis statement. This sentence should be a short, simple, yet powerful message.

To help you with that, we designed a thematic statement generator. It only takes four steps to get your perfect thematic statement done:

  • Choose the type of essay you’re writing (analytical, argumentative, informative, etc.)
  • Write down the key ideas on the topic you’ve come up with.
  • Mention all the evidence and arguments you have in your writing.
  • Get your thematic statement done in a few moments.

🍬 What Are the Benefits of a Thematic Statement Maker?

Our thematic statement maker can benefit your writing in numerous ways. Consider these advantages:

  • The tool is free, without hidden payments. You simply need to fill in the basic information about your essay and receive your thematic statement.
  • Our generator is designed especially for students. Your thematic statement will fit all the academic writing requirements.
  • The tool creates 100% original thematic statements. You don’t have to worry about the amount of plagiarism ; our thematic statement generator makes everything unique.
  • We save your time. You don’t have to fill in the registration form or wait several days for your thematic statement. Your thesis will be ready immediately!
  • Our generator suits all types of essays. We’ll help you develop a thematic thesis matching your informative, analytical, or argumentative essay!
  • The tool works even with the most complex topics. It doesn’t matter how controversial or challenging your essay is; we’ll make the most suitable thesis.

🔤 All You Need to Know about Thesis Statements

A thesis statement is a sentence in the introduction of your paper that contains the main idea you discuss and tells the readers what to expect from the writing. In other words, a thesis statement should be a road map for the readers, guiding them through different parts of your essay.

A thesis statement is vital for all types of papers, including:

  • Informative essays
  • Argumentative essays
  • Analytical essays
  • Comparative essays

A thesis also builds the foundation for research papers, case studies , and many other forms of academic writing.

The perfect thesis statement should be:

Short & sweet You should present your point of view unambiguously in 1-2 sentences.
Debatable Your thesis statement should explain your opinion to the readers, not just state a well-known fact.
Reasonable You need to support all the claims in your thesis statement with the help of arguments and evidence.

🆚️ Thematic Statement Vs. Thesis Statement

When you work on an essay, it is crucial to distinguish the theme and thesis.

A theme is the central idea of your writing. Your scholarly paper or literary piece may contain some minor themes, but they are usually united by the dominant one. A theme is usually an abstract idea you’re exploring in your essay. For example, your central theme would be greed themes or selfishness if you’re writing an essay on corruption.

To make your ideas in the essay more concrete, you need to support your theme with a thesis. As was mentioned before, a thesis statement sums up your entire writing to the key idea. However, within thematic essays, it is possible to say that thematic statements are interchangeable with thesis statements.

📝 Thematic Statement Example

To understand how our thematic statement maker works, consider the following example:

Title Possible thematic statements

🙅 Thesis Statement Checker: Mistakes to Avoid

Generating a thematic statement can be challenging, and students often repeat the same mistakes. Here’s what you need to avoid if you want your writing to shine.

  • Don’t try to write a thematic statement from scratch. Take your time to read enough information on the topic so that you can polish your thoughts.
  • Avoid too general facts in your thematic statement. Remember that you need to catch readers’ attention, so it’s better to come up with something less obvious.
  • Don’t include any advice in your thematic statement. It should be more like an observation without telling readers what they should and shouldn’t do.
  • Don’t forget to use evidence and arguments that support your thematic statement. You must demonstrate that your thematic statement has some foundation from the beginning.
  • Avoid being too specific in your thematic statement. Keep your thematic statement universal so that every reader can understand the topic.
  • Don’t plagiarize . The thematic statement aims to illustrate your proficiency in the topic. Instead of copying others’ work, you can make your contribution to the discussion.

Thank you for reading this article! Note that you can use our hook creator if you need to create a catchy hook for your essay quickly.

❓ Thematic Statement FAQ

❓ what is a thematic statement.

A thematic statement is a sentence (or two) that expresses the theme of your writing and contains its key ideas. It should guide the readers through the paper and be supported with examples and arguments. A thematic statement is essential to various academic writings since it catches readers’ attention.

❓ How long should a thematic statement be?

It’s better to keep your thematic sentence precise but powerful. Usually, one or two sentences are more than enough. You should include your thematic sentence in the introductory paragraph of your essay so that readers will get a general understanding of the work.

❓ What is the difference between a thesis statement and a thematic statement?

The theme is the central idea you want readers to remember from your writing. Often themes are abstract and need to be supported with a thesis statement. A thesis statement consists of the main points you make in your essay, supported by arguments. For thematic papers, thematic statement and thesis are interchangeable.

❓ How to write a thematic thesis statement?

Before writing a thematic thesis statement, it’s important to do profound research on the topic. Brainstorm the ideas you want to explore in your essay. When writing a thematic statement, remember that it should be connected with other parts of your paper. Stay objective but avoid too general facts.

  • Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements
  • 20 Powerful Thematic Statement Examples
  • Theme Statement Defined: How to Write a Theme Statement
  • How thesis statement generators help students
  • Top Benefits of using the thesis statement generator online


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  1. Theme vs. Thesis: Key Differences and How to Write each

    A thesis is a statement that you will try to prove by backing it with necessary facts. It is a position that the author takes to maintain a particular argument. Differences between a Theme and a Thesis. A theme is the general topic of your essay, whereas a thesis is the precise statements that the author tries to prove.

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    A thesis statement: tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself.

  3. What Is a Thesis?

    Revised on April 16, 2024. A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

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  5. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Step 2: Write your initial answer. After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process. The internet has had more of a positive than a negative effect on education.

  6. Identifying Thesis Statements, Claims, and Evidence

    Finding Claims. A claim is statement that supports a thesis statement. Like a thesis, it is not a fact so it needs to be supported by evidence. You have already identified the article's thesis statement: "People's prior convictions should not be held against them in their pursuit of higher learning." Like the thesis, a claim be an idea ...

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    What is the difference between a thesis statement and a theme? "Theme is the main idea of the piece of literature, art, film, etc.- whatever it is you are being asked to write about. ... and persuasion. It seems to me to be more linear and directed than a theme. For instance, a thesis statement can be analytical, which analyzes an idea and ...

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    thesis is what one decides to say about the "topic.". The thesis is a specific argument that will be involved in every paragraph of the paper whether one is introducing it, defending it, or reinforcing it. It is the sole reason for the paper's existence and should be one written as a well-constructed sentence that acts as a map for how ...

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    A thesis statement . . . Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic. Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper. Is focused and specific enough to be "proven" within the boundaries of your paper. Is generally located near the end ...

  10. What is a Thematic Statement? Definition & Examples

    As discussed previously, thematic statements aim to deliver a single idea through a simple yet impactful sentence. This "single idea" is the central message of a complete body of text (like a story or essay). Thematic statements are interchangeable with thesis statements when employed within thematic essays.

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    A thesis statement provides the foundation for your entire research paper or essay. This statement is the central assertion that you want to express in your essay. A successful thesis statement is one that is made up of one or two sentences clearly laying out your central idea and expressing an informed, reasoned answer to your research question.

  14. What is a Thematic Statement (and How to Write One)

    The difference between a Thematic Statement and a theme is that while a Thematic Statement is specific and contains a value judgement or opinion, themes tend to be more general, and may be explored from various angles. So while the examples listed above are Thematic Statements, they are all incarnations of the theme 'love'. ...

  15. What is the difference between a thesis statement and a hypothesis

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  17. How to Do Thematic Analysis

    Different approaches to thematic analysis. Once you've decided to use thematic analysis, there are different approaches to consider. There's the distinction between inductive and deductive approaches:. An inductive approach involves allowing the data to determine your themes.; A deductive approach involves coming to the data with some preconceived themes you expect to find reflected there ...

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  20. Thematic Statement Generator for Argumentative, Compare & Contrast

    The tool is free, without hidden payments. You simply need to fill in the basic information about your essay and receive your thematic statement. Our generator is designed especially for students. Your thematic statement will fit all the academic writing requirements. The tool creates 100% original thematic statements.

  21. PDF Thesis vs Preview Statement

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