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- How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose
How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose
Published on July 21, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 29, 2022.
Every paragraph in your paper needs a topic sentence . The topic sentence expresses what the paragraph is about. It should include two key things:
- The topic of the paragraph
- The central point of the paragraph.
After the topic sentence, you expand on the point with evidence and examples.
To build a well-structured argument, you can also use your topic sentences to transition smoothly between paragraphs and show the connections between your points.
Table of contents
Writing strong topic sentences, topic sentences as transitions between paragraphs, topic sentences that introduce more than one paragraph, where does the topic sentence go, frequently asked questions about topic sentences.
Topic sentences aren’t the first or the last thing you write—you’ll develop them throughout the writing process. To make sure every topic sentence and paragraph serves your argument, follow these steps.
Step 1: Write a thesis statement
The first step to developing your topic sentences is to make sure you have a strong thesis statement . The thesis statement sums up the purpose and argument of the whole paper.
Thesis statement example
Food is an increasingly urgent environmental issue, and to reduce humans’ impact on the planet, it is necessary to change global patterns of food production and consumption.
Step 2: Make an essay outline and draft topic sentences
Next, you should make an outline of your essay’s structure , planning what you want to say in each paragraph and what evidence you’ll use.
At this stage, you can draft a topic sentence that sums up the main point you want to make in each paragraph. The topic sentences should be more specific than the thesis statement, but always clearly related to it.
Topic sentence example
Research has consistently shown that the meat industry has a significant environmental impact .
Step 3: Expand with evidence
The rest of the paragraph should flow logically from the topic sentence, expanding on the point with evidence, examples, or argumentation. This helps keep your paragraphs focused: everything you write should relate to the central idea expressed in the topic sentence.
In our example, you might mention specific research studies and statistics that support your point about the overall impact of the meat industry.
Step 4: Refine your topic sentences
Topic sentences usually start out as simple statements. But it’s important to revise them as you write, making sure they match the content of each paragraph.
A good topic sentence is specific enough to give a clear sense of what to expect from the paragraph, but general enough that it doesn’t give everything away. You can think of it like a signpost: it should tell the reader which direction your argument is going in.
To make your writing stronger and ensure the connections between your paragraphs are clear and logical, you can also use topic sentences to create smooth transitions.
As you write each topic sentence, ask yourself: how does this point relate to what you wrote in the preceding paragraph? It’s often helpful to use transition words in your topic sentences to show the connections between your ideas.
Emphasize and expand
If the paragraph goes into more detail or gives another example to make the same point, the topic sentence can use words that imply emphasis or similarity (for example, furthermore , indeed , in fact , also ).
Indeed , cattle farming alone is responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions.
Summarize and anticipate
If the paragraph turns to a different aspect of the same subject, the topic sentence can briefly sum up the previous paragraph and anticipate the new information that will appear in this one.
While beef clearly has the most dramatic footprint, other animal products also have serious impacts in terms of emissions, water and land use.
Compare and contrast
If the paragraph makes a comparison or introduces contrasting information, the topic sentence can use words that highlight difference or conflict (for example, in contrast , however , yet , on the other hand ).
However , the environmental costs of dietary choices are not always clear-cut; in some cases, small-scale livestock farming is more sustainable than plant-based food production.
You can also imply contrast or complicate your argument by formulating the topic sentence as a question.
Is veganism the only solution, or are there more sustainable ways of producing meat and dairy?
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Sometimes you can use a topic sentence to introduce several paragraphs at once.
All of the examples above address the environmental impact of meat-eating versus veganism. Together, they make up one coherent part of a larger argument, so the first paragraph could use a topic sentence to introduce the whole section.
In countries with high levels of meat consumption, a move towards plant-based diets is the most obvious route to making food more sustainable. Research has consistently shown that the meat industry has significant environmental impacts.
The topic sentence usually goes at the very start of a paragraph, but sometimes it can come later to indicate a change of direction in the paragraph’s argument.
Given this evidence of the meat industry’s impact on the planet, veganism seems like the only environmentally responsible option for consumers. However, the environmental costs of dietary choices are not always clear-cut; in some cases, small-scale livestock farming is more sustainable than plant-based food production.
In this example, the first sentence summarizes the main point that has been made so far. Then the topic sentence indicates that this paragraph will address evidence that complicates or contradicts that point.
In more advanced or creative forms of academic writing , you can play with the placement of topic sentences to build suspense and give your arguments more force. But if in doubt, to keep your research paper clear and focused, the easiest method is to place the topic sentence at the start of the paragraph.
View topic sentences in an example essay
A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.
Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.
In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.
The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .
However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.
Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :
- Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
- However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
- It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.
Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.
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McCombes, S. (2022, November 29). How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose. Scribbr. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-paper/topic-sentences/
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Reading Worksheets, Spelling, Grammar, Comprehension, Lesson Plans
Topic Sentences Worksheets
Topic sentences are a vital part of paragraph writing. They state the central focus of the paragraph and provide cohesion for the paragraph. It’s important for students to learn to write clear and concise topic sentences. The worksheets below are aimed to help your student become a master at recognizing and writing topic sentences. They are free for you to use at home or in the classroom. To view a worksheet or download a printable PDF, simply click on the title. Check out all of our writing worksheets !
Identify the Topic Sentence
The topic sentence in a paragraph states the main idea of the paragraph. While it is usually at the beginning of the paragraph, it also can be in the middle or end of it. Students underline the topic sentence in each activity.
Paragraphs and Topic Sentences: Informational
This worksheet includes a list of informational topics. Students write a paragraph on each topic and underline their topic sentence.
Paragraphs and Topic Sentences: Opinions
This activity includes a list of opinion topics. Students write a paragraph on each topic and underline their topic sentence.
Topic Sentence: What’s the Topic?
Students read the topic sentences provided and write what they think the topic is for each.
Write the Topic Sentence
In this activity, students write a sentence for each of the topic sentences provided.
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Practice Composing Effective Topic Sentences
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Commonly appearing at (or near) the beginning of a paragraph, a topic sentence expresses the main idea of a paragraph. What usually follows a topic sentence are a number of supporting sentences that develop the main idea with specific details . This exercise offers practice in creating topic sentences that will attract the interest of your readers.
Each passage below is lacking a topic sentence but contains a series of sentences with specific examples of a single character trait:
- a frightful imagination
- a love of reading
Your job is to complete each paragraph by creating an imaginative topic sentence that both identifies the particular character trait and creates enough interest to keep us reading. The possibilities, of course, are limitless. Nonetheless, when you're done, you may want to compare the topic sentences you have created with the ones originally composed by the student authors.
For example, recently I began taking my two-year-old dog to obedience school. After four weeks of lessons and practice, she has learned to follow only three commands--sit, stand, and lie down--and even those she often gets confused. Frustrating (and costly) as this is, I continue to work with her every day. After dog school, my grandmother and I sometimes go grocery shopping. Inching along those aisles, elbowed by hundreds of fellow customers, backtracking to pick up forgotten items, and standing in the endless line at the checkout, I could easily grow frustrated and cranky. But through years of trying times, I have learned to keep my temper in check. Finally, after putting away the groceries, I might go out to a movie with my fiance, to whom I have been engaged for three years. Layoffs, extra jobs, and problems at home have forced us to postpone our wedding date several times. Still, my patience has enabled me to cancel and reschedule our wedding plans again and again without fuss, fights, or tears.
2. A Frightful Imagination
For instance, when I was in kindergarten, I dreamed that my sister killed people with a television antenna and disposed of their bodies in the woods across the street from my house. For three weeks after that dream, I stayed with my grandparents until they finally convinced me that my sister was harmless. Not long afterward, my grandfather died, and that sparked new fears. I was so terrified that his ghost would visit me that I put two brooms across the doorway of my bedroom at night. Fortunately, my little trick worked. He never came back. More recently, I was terribly frightened after staying up late one night to watch The Ring . I lay awake until dawn clutching my cell phone, ready to ring 911 the moment that spooky little girl stepped out of my TV. Just thinking about it now gives me goosebumps.
3. Love of Reading
When I was a young girl, I would make a tent out of my blankets and read Nancy Drew mysteries late into the night. I still read cereal boxes at the breakfast table, newspapers while I am stopped at red lights, and gossip magazines while waiting in line at the supermarket. In fact, I'm a very talented reader. For example, I've mastered the art of talking on the phone while simultaneously reading Dean Koontz or Stephen King. But what I read doesn't matter all that much. In a pinch, I'll read junk mail, an old warranty, a furniture tag ("DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW"), or even, if I'm extremely desperate, a chapter or two in a textbook.
Example Topic Sentences
- My life may be a box full of frustrations, but learning how to overcome them has given me the gift of patience.
- My family is convinced that I inherited my imagination from Edgar Allan Poe.
- I envy you terribly because at this very moment you're doing what I have always loved doing more than anything else: you're reading .
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Quiz: Choose The Topic Sentence From The Paragraph
What do you understand by topic sentences? Can you identify them in a paragraph? Would you be able to pass the quiz? A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the central idea of the paragraph in which it appears. Take the online quiz and choose the topic sentences from the given paragraphs. All the questions in this quiz are given in an easy MCQ format, and you are expected to pick the correct option. Can you answer them all correctly? Let's see! Make sure to answer all the questions properly. All the very best!
The way a bird flies often shows what it is doing
When it is flying to warmer places for winter, it flies straight
When it is catching insects, it moves about in many directions
None of the above
Heavy rain stops many of our activities.
Games, sports, picnics and other outdoor activities are interrupted by rain.
Heavy rain also prevents fishermen from going out to sea.
Malaysians spend more than $50 million a year to buy imported fruits.
Much of this money can be kept in the country if Malaysians consume more local fruits of which there are more than twenty varieties.
Except for durians, mangoes and rambutans, Malaysians generally like imported fruits.
Psychology has become one of the most popular and important subjects nowadays.
The subject deals with our day-to-day lives problem.
Psychology assists us in understanding the behavior of individuals all around us.
Happiness differs from person to person.
Different people have different perceptions and conceptions of being happy.
There is no one hard and fast definition for the term happiness.
The topic of Happiness is of the utmost importance.
Kindness towards nature, animals and other people can transform the world and make it a beautiful place to live.
Kindness is an essential and universal quality that is based on the concepts of altruism and prosocial behavior.
However, kindness towards yourself is also crucial in the journey of personal growth and achievement.
Time is the only thing that cannot be taken back until it has gone.
Even after knowing this fact, a large number of people waste time.
They finish their assignments and essential tasks at the last moment.
There are countless examples from nature and in the material world, which reflect that small things have their own charm.
The word ‘small’ conveys that something is minor or not of much importance.
But ‘small’ can also be a ‘thing of beauty.’
Education is an essential tool that imparts knowledge to improve one’s life.
The process of Education comprises various steps depending upon the quality of Education.
Education is a key process that plays a significant role in molding the ethics and culture of society.
The success of communication depends on the understanding of the parties involved in it.
Every human activity needs some kind of communication.
Communication plays a vital role in our business, personal, and social life.
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6 Exercises for Teaching Topic Sentences
A topic sentence is the most important sentence in a paragraph. It tells the reader what the paragraph is about. If you don’t know how to write a topic sentence, your paragraph will probably be confusing. A well-written topic sentence can make your paragraph more interesting.
1 Introduction to topic sentences quiz
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2 Sentence starters for topic sentences
3 understanding topic sentences, 4 writing topic sentences for essays and paragraphs (with possible answers).
In this worksheet students practice writing topic sentences by looking at the pictures, thinking about what kind of essay each picture might inspire, and writing an appropriate topic sentence.
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The topic sentence will have: a famous quote a controlling idea a topic both a topic and a controlling idea 2. In a topic sentence, the topic tells readers what the facts are that support...
Every paragraph in your paper needs a topic sentence. The topic sentence expresses what the paragraph is about. It should include two key things: The topic of the paragraph The central point of the paragraph. After the topic sentence, you expand on the point with evidence and examples.
Can you pass a quiz? For a formal definition, a topic sentence is the very first one of a paragraph that provides an overview of the sentences to follow whereas, supporting sentences are the ones that come after the topic sentence to help form the main idea.
Topic sentences are a vital part of paragraph writing. They state the central focus of the paragraph and provide cohesion for the paragraph. It's important for students to learn to write clear and concise topic sentences. The worksheets below are aimed to help your student become a master at recognizing and writing topic sentences.
You will need to work with topic sentences in order to do well on the quiz. Quiz & Worksheet Goals These materials help you see what you know about: The makeup of a paragraph What purpose a...
Which sentence is most likely the topic sentence of the paragraph? No one likes to eat with a dirty knife, fork, or spoon. It is important to completely wash all utensils before using them. Using clean, soapy water is best. Clean utensils won't transmit germs and bacteria. They also are more pleasant to eat with.
Which question would be most helpful when writing a topic sentence? answer choices What is the most interesting detail about this topic? How do I want this paragraph to end? What is the main thing I want to say about the topic? How does this sentence give evidence to support the main idea? Question 7 900 seconds Q.
Topic Sentence Quiz Multiple Choice Topic Sentence Assessment ID: 2939671 Language: English School subject: Writing Grade/level: 4th Age: 9-11 Main content: Topic Sentences Other contents: Add to my workbooks (15) Download file pdf Embed in my website or blog Add to Google Classroom Add to Microsoft Teams Share through Whatsapp
The topic sentence is found in the middle of the paragraph after the details. Most of the time it is the first sentence of the paragraph. At the end of the introduction paragraph. Question 2 30 seconds Q. What are the sentences called that tell more about the topic sentence? answer choices conclusion main idea of the paragraph
Compound Sentence Quiz Questions With Answers. A compound sentence is made up of two simple sentences joined by a comma and a connecting word such as or, but, and, etc. Take this compound sentence quiz to really get down to brass tacks and test your actual knowledge.
Which is the topic sentence? (1) Beaches are fun in summer and in winter. (2) In summer, you can swim and do many other water sports. (3) If you don't like water sports, you can play beach games or relax on the warm sand. (4) In winter, beaches are less crowded, so they are good places for solitary walks. (5) Also, on a clear winter night ...
Commonly appearing at (or near) the beginning of a paragraph, a topic sentence expresses the main idea of a paragraph. What usually follows a topic sentence are a number of supporting sentences that develop the main idea with specific details. This exercise offers practice in creating topic sentences that will attract the interest of your readers.
Which is the best topic sentence? answer choices Winter is a good season. Winter weather is cold, and it snows. The best season for kids is winter. Question 7 30 seconds Q. General topic: Soccer Which is the best topic sentence? answer choices Soccer is popular for many reasons. You need a leather ball to play soccer. Soccer is a nice game.
The topic sentence is found in the middle of the paragraph after the details. Most of the time it is the first sentence of the paragraph. Question 3 180 seconds Q. Topic sentences clearly state one idea the paragraph will present. answer choices True False Question 4 180 seconds Q. Which topic sentence is too broad?
A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the central idea of the paragraph in which it appears. Take the online quiz and choose the topic sentences from the given paragraphs. All the questions in this quiz are given in an easy MCQ format, and you are expected to pick the correct option. Can you answer them all correctly? Let's see!
Short Quiz. Name: Tap on the correct answers. You may look back at the article. A group of sentences about one main idea is a... topic detail paragraph. Paragraphs usually contain... a topic sentence one or more detail sentences both a topic and one or more detail sentences. The topic sentence contains the ... main idea the details an example.
Question 1 120 seconds Q. Instruction: Choose the topic sentence in the paragraph Maize is the most important cereal in the world after wheat and rice. It is the most important crop in the United States, occupying double the area of any other crop.
Topic Sentence: a. Mount Everest, the towering mountain located between the two countries of Tibet and Nepal, is Earth's highest point above sea level. b. The mountain's challenging and awe-inspiring height is one reason why so many people have been obsessed by the desire to climb it and died trying. c.
A topic sentence is the most important sentence in a paragraph. It tells the reader what the paragraph is about. If you don't know how to write a topic sentence, your paragraph will probably be confusing. A well-written topic sentence can make your paragraph more interesting. 1 Introduction to topic sentences quiz