How To Make A Good Topic Sentence For An Essay

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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.

Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.

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Examples of Topic Sentences

By YourDictionary

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). 

1.1: Topic Sentences

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

Summary:
Part 1, Lesson 1 addresses organization. This page deals with topic sentences.

Lesson 1: Organization

This lesson addresses organization. Questions about organization make up 15 percent of the questions in Part I of the GED Language Arts, Writing test. Studying this resource will also help you think about organization in relation to the GED Essay. It will also improve your writing skills in general. Topics included in this resource are as follows: topic sentences, relevance of ideas, order of ideas, and transitions.

Topic Sentences

Every paragraph should include a topic sentence that identifies the main idea of the paragraph. A topic sentence also states the point the writer wishes to make about that subject. Generally, the topic sentence appears at the beginning of the paragraph. It is often the paragraph’s very first sentence. A paragraph’s topic sentence must be general enough to express the paragraph’s overall subject. But it should be specific enough that the reader can understand the paragraph’s main subject and point.

On the GED, you may be asked to choose a better topic sentence for a paragraph. Sometimes, a topic sentence may be entirely missing from a paragraph, and you will be asked to choose one for it. When choosing a topic sentence, remember these guidelines:

  • The topic sentence should identify the main idea and point of the paragraph. To choose an appropriate topic sentence, read the paragraph and think about its main idea and point.
  • The supporting details in the paragraph (the sentences other than the topic sentence) will develop or explain the topic sentence. Read all the supporting details in the paragraph and think about the ideas they discuss.
  • The topic sentence should not be too general or too specific. When considering the options, look for a topic sentence that is general enough to show the paragraph’s main idea instead of just one of its details. The answer should be specific enough that the reader understands the main idea of the paragraph.

Topic Sentence Exercise

Write a topic sentence for the following paragraph.

During the 1990s, I really enjoyed watching Friends on television every Thursday night. I really wanted Rachel’s haircut—I think every girl wanted Rachel’s haircut back then! Rachel’s haircut went really well with the Guess Jeans that were so popular in the 1990s. I remember all the advertisements for Guess and Calvin Klein Jeans that were in each month’s Sassy magazine. I don’t think Sassy magazine exists anymore, but it was one of the most popular magazines for young women in the 1990s.

Click here for exercise answers.

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