A topic sentence is the most important sentence in a paragraph. Sometimes referred to as a focus sentence, the topic sentence helps organize the paragraph by summarizing the information in the paragraph. In formal writing, the topic sentence is usually the first sentence in a paragraph (although it doesn't have to be).
Purpose of the Topic Sentence
A topic sentence essentially tells readers what the rest of the paragraph is about. All sentences after it have to give more information about that sentence, prove it by offering facts about it, or describe it in more detail. For example, if the topic sentence concerns the types of endangered species that live in the ocean, then every sentence after that needs to expound on that subject.
Topic sentences also need to relate back to the thesis of the essay. The thesis statement is like a road map that will tell the reader or listener where you are going with this information or how you are treating it.
Topic Sentences and Controlling Ideas
Every topic sentence will have a topic and a controlling idea. The controlling idea shows the direction the paragraph will take.
Here are some examples:
- Topic Sentence: There are many reasons why pollution in ABC Town is the worst in the world.
- The topic is “pollution in ABC Town is the worst in the world” and the controlling idea is “many reasons.”
- Topic Sentence: To be an effective CEO requires certain characteristics.
- The topic is “To be an effective CEO” and the controlling idea is "certain characteristics."
- Topic Sentence: There are many possible contributing factors to global warming.
- The topic is "global warming" and the controlling idea is "contributing factors."
- Topic Sentence: Fortune hunters encounter many difficulties when exploring a shipwreck.
- The topic is “exploring a shipwreck” and the controlling idea is “many difficulties.”
- Topic Sentence: Dogs make wonderful pets because they help you to live longer.
- The topic is "dogs make wonderful pets" and the controlling idea is "because they help you to live longer."
- Topic Sentence: Crime in poverty-stricken areas occurs as a result of a systemic discrimination.
- The topic is "crime in poverty stricken areas" and the controlling idea is "systemic discrimination."
- Topic Sentence: Teen pregnancy may be prevented by improved education.
- The topic is "teen pregnancy may be prevented" and the controlling idea is "improved education."
- Topic Sentence: Cooking requires a number of different skills.
- The topic is "cooking" and the controlling idea is "many different skills."
- Topic Sentence: It is important to be ready before buying a house.
- The topic is "buying a house" and the controlling idea is it's "important to be ready."
- Topic Sentence: Graduating from high school is important for many different reasons.
- The topic is "graduating from high school" and the controlling idea is "many different reasons."
- Topic Sentence: Having a first child is difficult because of the significant adjustments in your life.
- The topic is "having a first child" and the controlling idea is "significant adjustments in your life."
- Topic Sentence: Remodeling a kitchen successfully requires research and a good eye.
- The topic is "remodeling a kitchen" and the controlling idea is "requires research and a good eye."
A carefully thought out topic sentence has two functions. First, it helps you, the author, to stay focused. Second, a clearly stated topic and controlling idea will give readers the tools they need to clearly understand what you have to say.
Remember that topic sentences set the tone for the paragraph and should relate back to the thesis or the main idea of the paper.
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Examples of Topic Sentences
By YourDictionaryA topic sentence is the most important sentence in a paragraph. Sometimes referred to as a focus sentence, the topic sentence helps organize the paragraph by summarizing the information in the paragraph. In formal writing, the topic sentence is usually the first sentence in a paragraph (although it doesn't have to be).
Hi! My name is Tom. I’m 16 and I live in Warsaw which is the capital of Poland. Actually I come from another city - Wroclaw, where I lived for eleven years, but five years ago, my dad decided to change his job, and we all moved to Warsaw. I have a sister – Maja. She is 18 and she had been to USA two years ago and now she studies law at the University of Warsaw. My dad works for a German company. My mom used to teatch at the University and now, she works as a computer analitist.
I’m interested in computer science, music, sport and fantasy literature. Computers first appered in my life when I was seven. Then I had got my first computer. It was Commodore 64 and I remember myself thinking, that it was the best thing in the world. I was playing it whenever I could. Then I had got my first PC. At first, I was just playing computer games, but some time later, I noticed that I could do a lot more things with the computer, for example programming. Now, I can already programue in Pascal, C++ and HTML. I have my own site on the internet and I have done many programues. I hope that in the future I will get a job as a computer scientist.
My favorite music band is QUEEN. I think it is the best group on the earth. Together with my sister, we are devoted Queen fans. We have all their albums, many video tapes, books, posters, gadgets and interviews. I love them, but I also like other groups like The Doors, The Baeatles, The Rolling Stones, some Polish rock groups and many others. Apart from that I’m really fascinated by Scottisch bagpipe songs, and one of my favorite albums is the „Braveheart” soundtrack.
I have always been good at sports. I like playing soccer, running and swimming (also SCUBA diving and diving). I have played in many sport tournaments (football cups, handball cups, races) in which together with my team, I have won many trophys. My favorite intelectual game is chess, but I have never played it professionaly.
I love fantasy literature. I read fantasy books and magazines, watch fantasy films and play role playing games in which fantasy world is used as background. Once every two weeks, I meet with my friends and we play „Middle Earth”. I’m the master of the game and they are players. We play about five hours sesion.
It’s a lot of fun. „Middle Earth” is a game based on Tolkien’s books. I chose it, becouse I love everything that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote. He is my favorite writer, but I like other writers as well, for example Piers Anthony or Robert Jordan.
My dream is to study computer science and to go to Japan. I love everything associated with this country. and I hope that in the future, I will learn Japanise. I want to go to Japan and stay there for a long time. I want to get a job there as a computer scientist. Now, I try to learn Japanise by myself. I already know some words and about sixty letters of their alfabeth. My parents promised me that if I learn German and English well, they will find me a Japanise teatcher.
I hate spiders. When I see a spider (especialy when it’s a big one) I feel so very small and the spider seems so huge. I don’t feel scarred when I see a mouse, snake or any other animal and when I come across a spider I think: „Why is it not a mouse? Why do I always find spiders and not mise for example”. This is terrible.
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