What is a Topic Sentence?- As a tiny thesis, the purpose of the topic sentence is twofold:To tie the details of the paragraph to your thesis statement.To tie the details of the paragraph together through an argument/narrowed focus.- is generally within the first two sentences of the paragraph (but not always)- A paragraph’s topic sentence must be general enough to express the paragraph’s overall subject. But it should be specific enough that the reader can understand the paragraph’s main subject and point.
- To create this, ask these two questions:
is the point of this paragraph?
does this paragraph connect to the previous one?
- If you cannot answer #1, you definitely cannot do #2.When you DO answer #1, make sure that your answer is represented within the topic sentence. Same for #2’s answer
- Some great explanations and examples here: U of Toronto Writing and Planning TPSs
- A online resource that models/helps TPSs + analysis.
- Quick examples of good and bad TPSs.
- Transition Words and Linking Phrases - this is the handout from class.
What NOT to do
- The narrative topic sentence : This sentence tells a part of a story without relating the event to an idea. For example, "After the play, Jem and Scout walk home," and "Caesar marched his legions into Gaul," lead you into paragraphs that can only summarize what you’ve already read.
- Avoid narrative by thinking about significance; for example, "When Caesar marched his legions into Gaul, he began his career as a military hero to the Roman people."
- The listing topic sentence : "The next thing is when…" This is very similar to the narrative topic sentence, only this one is more vague and is typical of essays that don’t show that the writer understands the relationships between ideas.
- The quote topic sentence : When you use a quote as a topic sentence, you’ve doomed your essay to the quote/explanation pattern of development. Quotes are only to be used as evidence for your ideas about the essay. When you use a quote as a topic sentence, the only thing you can do in your paragraph is explain the quote.