9.2 Crafting an argument through stylistic choices like word choice and description

4 min readjanuary 21, 2023



AP English Language ✍🏽

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Welcome to the second (and last) guide of Unit 9! Here, we’ll focus on how to construct your thesis to best reflect the complexity of your argument. We’ll be using two familiar tools to do so: strategic word choice and description. These are familiar because they’ve been discussed in past study guides. However, I want to distinguish this study guide by stating that here, they will be used specifically in the context of thesis writing.
Continue to learn how to write better theses for your essays!

Importance of the Thesis

First, let’s discuss the purpose and importance of a thesis. You’ve likely written a thesis already, so use this as a refresher.
Your thesis essentially sets up your essay. Like a lighthouse that guides a ship to safety when it’s dark and stormy, a thesis helps guide the reader through the essay, providing a clear direction. A strong and well-defined thesis will help ensure that the reader understands the main point of the essay and can easily follow the arguments presented within it. A strong thesis also gives the essay a sense of unity, as it unifies the various ideas and evidence used to support the essay's argument. 
This is why it’s crucial to think about all the possible choices you could make before writing your thesis on the final version of your essay. Now that you've been refreshed on what a thesis is supposed to do, let's move on to learning how to refine your thesis writing process.

Strategic Word Choice During Thesis Writing

Most obviously, complex diction can elevate the level of your thesis. It can mean the difference between a middle school level and AP level argument. For example, compare this thesis
"The USPS is seen as a useless business, but it’s actually useful."
With this one
:Although the USPS is often seen as an outdated and unneeded service in modern times, its importance as a reliable and accessible mail service should not be overlooked. "
It’s obvious which one has greater depth and quality. The second thesis is far more specific, using adjectives like “reliable” and “accessible.” Creating a more specific thesis (AKA “qualifying” it) is a great way to protect it from any potential counterarguments.
Word choice can also generalize your argument, if that’s what you’re aiming for. When used to generalize an argument, diction can be used to emphasize broad concepts, like commonalities between different groups or situations. For example, an argument that seeks to demonstrate the importance of education could use diction to draw attention to the fact that education is “one key to success,” regardless of age, background, or location. This type of language helps to broaden the argument, and emphasize the universality of its importance.
Similarly, if one were making an argument about the dangers of pollution, they could use words like “widespread”, “prevalent”, or “pervasive,” to demonstrate the far-reaching effects of this problem. By using language that generalizes the argument, it is easier to make a convincing point that applies to many different people and situations.

Strategic Description During Thesis Writing

Similarly to word choice, description of varying lengths can be used to elaborate or generalize your argument. If you’d like to make a bold, confident claim, using a longer description can help to engage readers and make your thesis more memorable. On the other hand, if you feel like your claim is relatively straightforward and uncontroversial, using a shorter description can move the reader along your essay and imply that a greater explanation is upcoming. 
For instance, if you’re writing an essay on the effects of climate change, you could use a longer description to emphasize the severity of the issue: 
“Climate change is an urgent, global crisis that requires immediate, comprehensive action from the international community.”
Alternatively, if you’re writing about the benefits of solar energy, you could opt for a simpler description: 
“Solar energy is a beneficial, sustainable alternative to traditional energy sources.” 
Both of these descriptions are straightforward and to the point, but the first conveys a greater sense of urgency and importance because the reader perceives the length as a measure of the importance the writer has placed on the topic.
Note that a more detailed thesis does not always equate to greater quality! A thesis with more words, without conciseness can actually detract from your overall essay quality instead of adding to it. Make sure that if you’re going to include a detailed description within your thesis, that it’s relevant and clearly supports your stance.


In this guide, we discussed the importance of the thesis and how to use strategic word choice and description to make your thesis more complex and effective. Word choice can be used to qualify or generalize your argument, while description can be used to make your argument more memorable and engaging. Be sure to carefully consider how you use both of these tools before you write your final thesis for your essay! Feel free to draft more than one version of your thesis on scrap paper or a new document and continually edit it before committing to the final version.
This guide and Unit 9 conclude our journey of AP Lang study materials! I hope this helped. Each tidbit of knowledge you’ve learned in the study guides brings you a step closer to high quality, AP-level writing, and maybe even a 5 on the AP Lang exam. Good luck!
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🤔Exam Skills
🥇Unit 1 – Claims, Reasoning, & Evidence
🗂️Unit 2 – Organizing Information for a Specific Audience
👀Unit 3 – Perspectives & How Arguments Relate
🔚Unit 4 – How writers develop arguments, intros, & conclusions
🎀Unit 5 – How a writer brings all parts of an argument together
👥Unit 6 – Position, Perspective, & Bias
🥊Unit 7 – Successful & Unsuccessful Arguments
😎Unit 8 – Stylistic Choices
😈Unit 9 – Developing a Complex Argument
📚Study Tools

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