Write What Statement

You have chosen a possible subject. It consists of—

  • Two variables
  • One New variable
  • One Old or New variable

Now it’s time to write a What Statement


What Statements tell the reader or listener exactly what the subject is. That’s why at least one of the variables must be New. New variables are those that readers probably know little about and are likely to be interested in. Notice the difference:



Abraham Lincoln

Susan Butcher, most famous female musher

Donald Trump

Eulid Kipoge, 1st person to run a sub-two hour marathon

Opray Winfrey

Florence Baker, victim of white slavery; famous explorer of east Africa

Julius Caesar

Billy Mills, Native American; only American to win 10,000-meter race

My father*

Percy Fawcett, explorer who tried to find South America’s hidden city

Abraham Lincoln
Opray Winfrey

Your father is “Old” because he is New to readers but unlikely to be interesting to them.

The Rules of What Statements

What Statements must—

  • Be a sentence.
  • Have two variables
  • Have one variable, or a relationship between two Old variables, that is New

The What Statement Flowchart

Check your potential What Statement against the following flowchart:

1. Is it WS a sentence?


Go to step 2



2. Are there two variables?


Go to step 3



3. Is at least one variable, or the relationship of two Old variables, New information?



WS is complete

Check for wordiness, grammar, and spelling


Re-examine your New ideas. Replace and rewrite

Placement of the Variables

The New and the Old variables (or two New variables) can go in either position in the Barbell of Communication:

Wilma Rudolph from becoming America’s first great female Sprinter

Wilma Rudolph

Task 5.8.1 – Tandem, Small Group, or Class

  1. Draw a barbell
  2. Place the person you chose in the previous lessons in one of the ends
  3. Place the “Old” variable you chose in the previous lessons in the other end. (This variable may be New.)
  4. Put a verb or verb phrase on the bar.
  5. Check the result against the What Statement’s rules and flowchart