Finding the Main Idea What is the author trying to tell us?
What is the Main Idea? The main idea is the “big idea” of the whole work, one section, or single paragraph. It is the point the author is trying to get across. The main idea is different from the subject or the topic. The subject is what the writing is about The main idea is the “so what?” about the subject. Example: In an article, the subject is penguins. Well, so what? What about penguins? The article is about how penguins can’t fly. This is the main idea.
Formula for Finding the Main Idea Subject or Topic + What the author says about the subject or topic (supporting details) ______________________ = The Main Idea
Supporting Details What the author says about the subject Reasons, examples, other kinds of evidence that develop and support a main idea. Main Idea Supporting Detail
Tips for Finding the Subject Look at the title or the heading. Look at the first sentence. Look at key words or repeated words or names.
Where is the Main Idea? The main idea can be found in three places: 1. In the beginning, perhaps the first sentence. 2. In the end, maybe the last sentence. 3. Not stated, but inferred) through all the sentences.
Find the Main Idea in the Passage Americans love to send greeting cards. For instance, over 4 million birthday cards are sent out in this country every day. Around Valentine’s Day last year, over 900 million cards were mailed. And close to 3 billion holiday greeting cards were sent out during the Christmas season. What is the subject? What is the main idea? What are some supporting details?
Find the Main Idea in the Passage Sea Otters collect large hard-shelled abalones in their teeth during dives to the sea bottom, then each picks up a stone with its forepaws. Surfacing, the otters roll onto their backs, place the abalones on their bellies, and clasping a stone in both front feet, smash the shells open. Therefore, Sea Otters use these stones as hammers. What is the subject? What is the main idea? What are some supporting details?
Find the Main Idea in the Passage In high school, I tried writing my own novels and short stories. After high school, I married a woman who was a fine poet and who became an editorial assistant at a publishing company. As a private joke for her, I began to write a science fiction novel. When I showed it to her, she suggested I submit it to her boss. I did and it was accepted. What is the main idea? The speaker wrote Science Fiction as a joke for his wife but it ended up being published.
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