|A paragraph is a group of sentences about one main idea. Paragraphs usually have two types of sentences:
- a topic sentence, which contains the main idea, and
Rules for Finding the Topic Sentence and the Main Idea
1. The topic sentence is usually first, but could be in any position in the paragraph.
2. A topic sentence is usually more "general" than the other sentences, that is, it talks about many things and looks at the big picture. Sometimes it refers to more that one thing. Plurals and the words "many", "numerous", or "several" often signal a topic sentence.
3. Supporting or detail sentences are usually more "specific" than the topic sentence, i.e., they usually talk about one single or small part or side of an idea. Also, the words "for example", "i.e.", "that is", "first", "second", "third", etc., and "finally" often signal a detail.
4. Most of the detail sentences support, give examples, prove, talk about, or point toward the topic in some way.
How can you be sure that you have a topic sentence? Try this trick:
- Restate the sentence into a question. If the other sentences seem to "answer" the question, then your sentence is the topic sentence!
Directions: Find the main ideas of the following paragraphs. As a homework, read a book and write the main ideas from at least ten paragraphs.