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Rams Write: Topic Sentences

Here you'll find a student-generated guide to writing and composition.

Introduction

A topic sentence introduces the main idea of a paragraph. Each topic sentence must be general enough to express the paragraph’s overall subject, but also specific enough that the reader knows where the paragraph is going. It can be helpful to think of topic sentences as mini thesis statements.

Thesis Statements LibGuide

Example

Example 1

Incorrect: Organic vegetables are healthy.

Correct:  Because the pesticide levels in organic vegetables are monitored so often, they are healthier compared to non-organic vegetables.

Explanation: This topic sentence tells you that organic vegetables and non-organic vegetables are being compared. It also argues that organic vegetables are healthier than non-organic vegetables.

 

Topic Sentence Checklist Graphic: 1) Is your main idea clear? 2) Can your topic sentence direct the others in your paragraph? 3) Can you address your main idea in one paragraph? 4) Does it provide a transition from the previous paragraph? 5) Is your topic sentence thorough yet precise, and brief?

"A topic sentence has several important functions: it substantiates or supports an essay's thesis statement, it unifies the content of a paragraph and directs the order of the sentences, and it advises the reader of the subject to be discussed and how the paragraph will discuss it" (Writing Tutorial Services).

 

 

Example

Example 2

Incorrect: Chickens that live in cages aren't healthy.

Correct: Farmers worldwide prefer cage-free chickens for their health benefits. 

Explanation: 

a.) “Topic sentences also establish their relevance right away, making clear why the points they're making are important to the essay's main ideas. They argue rather than report” (Harvard).

This topic sentence argues that cage-free chickens are healthier than chickens living in small cages packed together. It also states the main point of what the paragraph will be about, providing organization of the writing and supporting the thesis statement.

b.) “Topic sentences at the beginning of a paragraph frequently combine with a transition from the previous paragraph” (Harvard).

The essay topic might be about cage-free animals vs. caged animals and their different living conditions throughout various farms worldwide. This topic sentence relates to previous paragraphs, and connects back to the thesis statement.

Example

Example 3

IncorrectFrench fries are fattening. 

Correct: French fries are not only fattening, but they also cause weight gain and other health problems, unlike other types of fast foods.

Explanation: The incorrect example is a factual statement. This fixed topic sentence conveys the main idea of the paragraph and its argument that French fries cause more health problems than other fast foods.

Meme

Meme - Topic Sentence

Meme Generator 

“Topic sentences also serve as a reminder of what your specific argument should be. This will help you stay focused on a singular idea and present a sustained argument” (Matrix Education).

This guide was created by

Fall 2018

Miranda Guzman, Framingham State U, Class of 2022 

Leni Muth, Framingham State U, Class of 2022

Jamiyae Mattress, Framingham State U, Class of 2022

Ashley Ward, Framingham State U, Class of 2022

 

Spring 2019

Ahsad Harvey, Framingham State U, Class of 2022

Edwin Guerrero, Framingham State U, Class of 2022

Works Cited

Abrams, Elizabeth. "Topic Sentences and Signposting." Writing Center at Harvard University, writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/topic-sentences-and-signposting.

Allison Tsao. "How to Write a Topic Sentence." YouTube, 12 April, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49jRtuh4rUk&feature=emb_title

Condliffe, Patrick. "How to Write a Topic Sentence." Matrix Educationwww.matrix.edu.au/how-to-write-a-topic-sentence/.

Mastering the Fundamentals of College Reading and Writing. "Writing Topic Sentences." YouTube. 1, July 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmnUwvZAMjQ&feature=emb_title

Meme Generatorimgflip.com/memegenerator.

Writing Tutorial Services. "Paragraphs And Topic Sentences." Writing Tutorial Services, Indiana University, wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/paragraphs-and-topic-sentences.html