Identifying main idea (Topic sentence)

English language learning: Grammar, Composition, Vocabulary & Pronunciation

 

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Whenever you are writing composition you usually have one idea and you expand it into an organized essay. Usually right at the beginning you point out what your essay is about and what you are going to say. It means you usually begin with topic sentence. Topic or focus sentence is a sentence carrying the main idea of an essay, article or paragraph. The main idea is usually at the beginning of paragraph, as said earlier, because it is at the beginning that you determine what you are going to say and the rest is the argument that you build upon it. Therefore the topic sentence highlights the topic of your writing and the rest is supporting ideas and their organization. It may be, that you don’t find the topic sentence at the beginning, but such instances are not many and you perhaps may find them in narrative essays.

Now let’s go do some exercise.

Read the following paragraph and try to find out the topic sentence.

Students face many problems to get prepared for examination. It is for the greater reason that exams mostly uphold some stereotypical and fixed ideas to assess students’ abilities. They are rather made to be in compliance with something quite unhealthy activity. Questions are not based on standard nor students are credited on the vital principle to see how far they can have ingenuity and novelty of expression and how far they can show their inventive talent. Credits are given on memorization and cramming even where it is entirely unnecessary and rather counter-productive.

Now you have read the above passage and here is our question. Which sentence do you think is the topic or focus sentence and why? Just try to guess it or you may read the passage again. Proceed when you have pointed out.

Few things to be considered

There are few things that should be considered about the above passage. Ask yourself;

     What the passage is about?
     Which sentence encompasses the theme of the passage?

Try to identify the topic and don’t confuse it with arguments. You might have worked out since it is not difficult. If you have read the passage, you might have got that the living idea is students’ problems in examination and the rest is arguments built upon that idea so the first sentence is the topic sentence. Now go to the second example.

Yesterday I was surfing on internet as usual. I was looking for any good file explorer for my Nokia E52. I typed on the Google’s search bar and was having a quick look over the results. This is what I am used to but an idea suddenly hit upon my mind that how much Google made skimming easier for us all. Our required keywords are bold and that helps us do in seconds which otherwise may be done in minutes.

Now which is the topic sentence in this paragraph? It is of course not the first one. Ask yourself;

     What is the theme of the passage?
     Which sentence caries the major idea?

If you have worked out now you would have known that it is the second last sentence which carries the major idea of the passage. Passage actually talks about Google’s facilitation of skimming for the users. This is how it is not a rule that the topic sentence may be at the start, however usually it is, but in narrative essays things may be different. You might have read, and many a times it happens, that writer is explaining anything but before defining he gives examples and related situations and the definition follows that. Since the crux of paragraph is definition which contains topic sentence. So it is advisable that despite going for certain preconceived ideas you must read and decide for yourself.

 



 

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