Qualifying Your Statements

A. Students sometimes make false statements in their papers by making their statements too general.

For example:

  • Chinese students want to study in America.

When you make a statement of this kind it means that all Chinese students (100% of them) want to come to American. This is not true—there are certainly a least a few Chinese students who don’t want to!

Use a quantifier:

  • Some Chinese students want to come to America, or many Chinese students want to come to America.

Review the meanings and use of the following quanifiers:

  • All, all of the, most, most of the, many, many of the, some, some of them, a few, few, a few of the, few of the, a little, little, a little of the, little of the

And the following adverbs of frequency:

  • Always, usually, often, sometimes, occasionally, rarely

No quantifier adjective = all (100%)

No adverb of frequency = always

B. You can also qualify your statements by using modals or modal-like expressions.

  • Community colleges are the best place to study English.

Is a very strong statement, and difficult to prove. Your statement will be more convincing if you qualify it:

  • Community colleges may be the best place to study English

or

  • It is possible that community colleges are the best place to study English.

C. It is also possible to qualify a statement simply by making clear that it is your own opinion, and not a statement of fact: Begin with an expression like in my opinion, in my experience, or it seems to me.

When you do this, you should always follow your statement with examples from your own experience to support what you are saying.

D. Sometimes using the article “the” causes you to make an untrue over-generalization, for example in this thesis statement:

  • The three reasons why people do extreme sports are to get an adrenaline rush,  for freedom or the feeling not being controlled, and to fit in with friends.

There are actually other reasons why people might want to do extreme supports, but the writer is going to discuss only three of them. The correct thesis statement is:

  • Three reasons why people do extreme sports are to get an adrenaline rush,  for freedom or the feeling not being controlled, and to fit in with friends.

or

  • Three of the reasons why people do extreme sports are to get an adrenaline rush,  for freedom or the feeling not being controlled, and to fit in with friends.

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