Definition of a Topic Sentence
A topic sentence is a sentence highlighting the subject in a paragraph and outlining the boundaries of the topic. It contains, as a rule, a word, phrase, or part of a sentence that requires distribution and specification in one way or another (giving details, examples, indicating the cause, effect, comparison, opposition, etc.).
Topic Sentence Structure
The topic sentence has two main parts: the topic, and the controlling idea which limits the topic. In the topic sentence there should be no controlling ideas that are unrelated to each other. For example, the three parts of the following controlling idea are not related. It takes three separate paragraphs to fully reveal them:
Indie films are characterized by experimental techniques, low production costs, and provocative themes.
Here is how it would be better:
Independent films are characterized by experimental techniques.
How to Write a Good Topic Sentence
Any essay has a structure consisting of paragraphs. The sentences in a paragraph are united by one topic. For the writer and reader, it is important that this topic is indicated. Usually in the paragraph, there is a topic sentence that highlights the subject and outlines the boundaries of the topic in the paragraph.
If there is no topic sentence, it means that the topic of the previous paragraph continues to develop in the current paragraph. The main idea of the paragraph is then contained in a sentence, which is called the conceptual sentence. The sentences within the paragraph must be arranged in such a way that the conceptual sentence is positionally highlighted and underlined. The beginning and end of the paragraph are the perfect places to emphasize the main idea.
A paragraph may begin with a topic sentence and end with a conceptual one. However, most often we find paragraphs that use either a topic or conceptual sentence. Please note that in the introduction of an essay, you write a paragraph that begins with a topic sentence. In the main body and in the conclusion, write paragraphs with conceptual sentences.
Ways to present a topic or thought in paragraphs can be represented by the following most common techniques:
- Giving examples confirming the idea expressed in the topic sentence
- Comparing and contrasting
- Explanation of the thesis reflected in the topic or conceptual sentence
- Causal justification of the content of the topic sentence
- Definition of concepts introduced by the topic sentence
- Analogy – the distribution of the topic by pointing to the analog
- Selection from the events, phenomena, persons, actions, signs, etc., indicated in the topic sentence of the paragraph, with its subsequent detailing
- Formulation of a conclusion from the content of the topic sentence
- Question-answer method of presenting the topic sentence in a paragraph
- Complement of the thought reflected in the topic sentence of the paragraph
- Forcing, strengthening the topic of the paragraph
- Confirmation of the main idea of the paragraph
- The assumption that is not contrary to the meaning of the topic or conceptual sentence
- A reference to the condition of the realization or truth of the statement (negation) made in the topic sentence of the paragraph
There are 3 important things to keep in mind about a topic sentence.
- A topic sentence is usually a complete sentence. This means that it contains at least one subject and one predicate.
- A topic sentence contains both the topic and the controlling idea. It names the topic and limits this topic to one aspect, which can be fully disclosed within a single paragraph.
- The topic sentence is the most general statement in the paragraph, because only the main idea is expressed in it. It does not give any details. The topic sentence is like a menu item in a restaurant. When you order food, you want to know more about such an item as, for example, simply “salad.” You want to know in general what type of salad this is, such as a potato, green, or fruit salad, but you don’t need to know all the ingredients. Likewise, the reader wants to know in general what to expect from a paragraph, but he or she does not want to know all the details from the very first sentence.
Topic Sentences Examples
You will understand better how to write a topic sentence with the following examples:
- Air pollution is caused by the presence in the atmosphere of toxic substances, mainly produced by human activities.
- Effective leaders praise the work of their managers, the staff, the board, and local branches.
- The “greenhouse effect” is the warming that happens when certain gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap heat.
- If you are a dog owner, you probably already know just how awesome dogs are.
- Teenage pregnancy is pregnancy in a woman 19 years of age or younger.