By: Jerson Valdez
Many students know what a thesis is and how to make one, but how many students are familiar with supporting claims? What is a claim? How do you develop a great claim? How do you incorporate one into your essay? How do claims tie into theses? These are things that students should know when writing an argument paper. Below, we will go over these and other aspects of writing a claim.
To start, claims are the arguments made within each paragraph of your paper that support your thesis and are supported by concrete evidence.
The Features of a Good Claim
Good claims are specific: “Parties are enjoyable because of the variety of activities and the large number of people available to interact with” as opposed to something short and broad such as, “Parties are rad.”
Claims must be arguable; they can’t just be opinions. Answering the “so what?” question is important. An arguable claim such as “Orange is the New Black is superior to other drama television shows because of its unique perspective on criminals’ lives and its critique of the criminal justice system” answers that “so what?” question because it’s supportable by evidence, unlike the claim “Orange is the New Black is cool.” Simple opinion statements such as this often have “because I said so” as their only justification.
Additionally, we should avoid fallacies when justifying a claim, such as justifying a claim by stating it’s a popular opinion. For example, “College should be free because everyone thinks so.” Whether it’s a popular opinion, your opinion, or someone else’s opinion, a claim needs to be arguable and capable of shaping the audience’s attitude, which is a major reason for writing an argument anyway. Justifying an argument by saying it’s moral should also be avoided. What is moral varies from person to person. Because of this, a reader with different morals might not take you seriously or might question your credibility. Similarly, never justify a claim by saying “it’s a tradition.” Traditions are subject to change.
Claims support your thesis. If a claim doesn’t address a part of your greater argument, it’ll seem out of place with the rest of the paper. If you already have a thesis, consider everything you need to argue in order to support it. This list can form the basis for your claims. But don’t think you can’t work from the opposite direction; you can synthesize your claims to produce a complete thesis too.
Additional Details to Consider
Create your claims before beginning your paper. Laying your claims out in front of you without any evidence or other context can help you organize the paper. When doing this, you should consider how to order your claims. What claims are similar or related? Transitioning between paragraphs can be easier when the ideas from the paragraphs you’re transitioning to or from are similar or related. The structure of your thesis can also inform how you order your claims.
Play a matching game with your evidence and claims. Choose the evidence you want to use for your first claim, second claim, and so on.
A typical structure for a paragraph will contain these components:
You can also consider counter arguments to your claim. Being able to counter any arguments against your claims can make your argument more powerful.
Remember the differences between a thesis and a claim. While a thesis is a comprehensive argument about your stance on the issue at hand, claims are sub-arguments that, while they relate to the thesis, are supported by specific evidence within the paragraph.
With everything here taken into consideration, you are now ready to put what you’ve learned to practice. With these tools, you are one step closer to writing that stunning argument paper you’ve always wanted to.