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 point the writer wants to make about the subject.
Formula for Finding the Main Idea Subject or Topic + What the author says about the subject or topic ______________________ = The Main Idea
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 implied (or inferred) through all the sentences.
Find the Main Idea in the Passage In 1873 over 100,000 children are at work in factories of New York and the neighboring districts. Of these the envelope factories employ about eight thousand children, one-quarter of whom are under fifteen years of age. The average earnings of the little workers are three dollars per week. What is the main idea? In 1873 100,000 children worked in factories.
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 main idea? Sea Otters can use stones as hammers.
Find the Main Idea in the Passage Dolores hoped to be a Spanish dancer when she grew up. She studied music and dance. She sang in a church choir and was active in Girl Scouts. But as a teenager, she began to notice that “I was treated badly because I was poor, Mexican American, and a girl.” She became “very angry against discrimination” but concluded that the experience “prepared me for later life.” What is the main idea? Dolores was discriminated against, but it prepared her for life.
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.