2TOPIC SENTENCEEvery paragraph needs a topic sentence. The topic sentence is usually the first sentence of the paragraph. It gives the reader an idea of what the paragraph is going to be about. The supporting sentences need to be about the idea presented in the topic sentence. In a paragraph, every sentence should "belong".
3Here is an example of a proper paragraph with supporting sentences: I had a wonderful summer. First, I started sleeping in every day. I would then go swimming with my friends. I stayed up late watching TV a lot, and I went to camp for a week. I wished my summer would never end! What is the topic sentence? (Ask yourself what the paragraph is about.)"I had a wonderful summer" is the topic sentence. Everything else supports that idea. The final sentence is the concluding sentence. It sums up what the author wants to communicate in the paragraph. "I wished my summer would never end!".
4Another example:Regardless of what some people may think, the desert is a beautiful place. The blossoming wildflowers in the spring are a joy to see. Spectacular sunsets delight the eye. Sometimes I go swimming. The occasional quail or roadrunner dart across the sandy roads. It is a unique experience.
5A topic sentence is a sentence whose main idea or claim controls the rest of the paragraph; the body of a paragraph explains, develops or supports with evidence the topic sentence's main idea or claim.The topic sentence is usually the first sentence of a paragraph, but not necessarily. It may come, for example, after a transition sentence; it may even come at the end of a paragraph.
6Not all paragraphs need a topic sentence Not all paragraphs need a topic sentence. For example, paragraphs that describe, narrate, or detail the steps in an experiment do not usually need topic sentences.Topic sentences are useful, however, in paragraphs that analyze and argue. Topic sentences are particularly useful for writers who have difficulty developing focused, unified paragraphs.
7Topic sentences are also useful to readers because they advise the reader of the subject to be discussed and how the paragraph will discuss it.A topic sentences unifies the content of a paragraph and directs the order of the sentences. Readers generally look to the first few sentences in a paragraph to determine the subject and perspective of the paragraph. That’s why it’s often best to put the topic sentence at the very beginning of the paragraph.
8Find the topic sentence: All insects have three main body parts: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. The head has a pair of antennae, and a pair of compound eyes. The thorax is the middle region of the body, and it bears the legs and wings. The abdomen contains many body organs, such as the heart, respiratory system, digestive system and reproductive system. Even though there are many different sizes, shapes, and colors of insects, they all have the same body.
9In some cases, however, it’s more effective to place another sentence before the topic sentence—for example, a sentence linking the current paragraph to the previous one, or one providing background information.
10Topic Sentences = Topic + Controlling Idea Topic sentences should always contain both (1) a topic and (2) a controlling idea.1. People can avoid burglaries by taking certain precautions. (The precautions for…)2. There are several advantages to growing up in a small town. (The advantages of…)3. Most US universities require a 550 point TOEFL score for a number of reasons. (The reasons for…)4. Air pollution in Mexico City is the worst in the world for a number of reasons. (The causes of…) or (The effects of…)
11An effective topic sentence is interesting, accurate, and limited. A topic sentence functions like a mini-thesis for each paragraph. The more pointed and lively your topic sentence is, the more interesting it will be to your readers.For example, the following sentence, "Exercise is good for you" is dull and vague, but it's a start. Zero in on specifics, and your topic sentence mightbecome "Hiking is an excellent exercise because it strengthens muscles, offers a chance to enjoynature, and relieves stress."Make sure that your topic sentences are not broad statements or simple facts.
12The following pairs of sentences illustrate broad and vague topic sentences and a clear, focused revised version.Keep in mind that a good topic sentence:a) supports the thesis of the essay by stating a single main point in the discussionb) announces what the paragraph will be about in specific terms, andc) controls the subject matter of the paragraph.
13Unfocused: Too many people treat animals badly in experiments Unfocused: Too many people treat animals badly in experiments. [What people? Badly how? What kinds of experiments?]Focused: The cosmetic industry often harms animals in unnecessary experiments designed to test their products.
14Unfocused: Grades are unfair. [All grades? Unfair how?] Focused: Course grades based solely on one term paper don't accurately measure a student's knowledge of the subject.
15Unfocused: Getting the right job is important and can lead to rewarding experiences. [Note both vague language and a double focus - "important" and "can lead to rewarding experiences."]Focused: Getting the right job can lead to an improved sense of self-esteem.
16Now rewrite the following topic sentences so that they are clear and focused rather than fuzzy or broad.My personality has changed a lot in the last year.The evening with her parents was an unforgettable experience.
17When looking at topic sentences in your own essay, remember that you first must determine how each topic sentence relates to the thesis of the essay as a whole. Then, after rewriting your topic sentences to be more specific, make sure you check the rest of the paragraph for adherence to that more specific subject. All examples and details in the entire paragraph must directly support the topic sentence.