A. Topic sentence
The topic sentence is the most important sentence in a paragraph because it contains the main idea of the paragraph. The topic sentence is usually the first sentence in the paragraph. It tells the topic sentence has two parts: the topic and the controlling idea. The topic is the subject of your paragraph.
e.g. Cigarette smoking is harmful for heart and lungs.
Topic: cigarette smoking
Exercise 1: Circle the topics in these sentences.
Fast food is harmful for health.
Bread is the poor man’s food.
Air pollution has several reasons.
Hawaii is famous for its touristic attractions.
The controlling idea limits and controls your topic. Generally, the topic comes first and the controlling idea comes second but sometimes the controlling idea comes first. Also, a topic can have more than one controlling idea. You can write two or three paragraphs if there is more than one controlling idea in a topic sentence. e.g. Traditions have important roles in some regions of Turkey. TopicControlling idea
There are several causes of violence in the family.
Exercise 2: Underline the controlling idea in these topic sentences. Bread is an important part of our diet.
Potatoes are easy to grow.
French fries are popular all over the World.
Television has bad effects on small children.
Dormitory life is very difficult for university students.
Topic sentences are opinions. A simple fact cannot be a topic sentence. A person writes in order to persuade his/her readers. Everybody accepts facts and it is useless to write something about them. Paragraphs can give information about a subject, discuss or compare to different opinions. People agree or disagree only on opinions.
Potatoes are good for you in three ways.
There are four basic methods of eating French fries.
Potato-eaters fall into three groups.
A, B, and C are topic sentences. They are not facts because someone may say that potatoes are good for you in five ways. When we say “three ways” we must mention these ways in our paragraph. Exercise 3: Put a checkmark (✔) in the blank if the sentence is a topic sentence Bread is made from flour.
Drinking too much coffee is dangerous for you in several ways. Mobile phones are dangerous for our health.
Potato is a root vegetable.
Smoking is the murderer among us.
Potatoes contain many nutrients.
Heart is the house of sorrow, happiness and love.
There are four seasons in a year.
Topic Sentences with the Same Topic but Different Controlling Ideas Writing is a unique ability because everybody can write different paragraphs about the same topic. Topic may be the same but controlling ideas are different from each other. The following examples have the same topic but their controlling ideas are different: Brazil (Topic) is a fun place to be during festivals.(Controlling Idea) Brazil (Topic) has great entertainment.(Controlling Idea)
Brazil (Topic) is the world’s famous food center.(Controlling Idea)
Rules for Finding the Topic Sentence
The topic sentence is usually first, but could be in any position in the paragraph. A topic is usually more “general” than the other sentences, that is, it talks about many thing and looks the big picture. Sometimes it refers to more than one thing. Plurals and the words “many”, “numerous”, or “several” often signal a topic sentence. Detail sentences are usually more “specific” than the topic, that is, 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. Most of the details 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 sentences? Try this trick: Switch the sentence around into a question. If the other sentences seem to “answer” the question, then you...