Before writing an essay for a level test or your homework, it’s important to think about not just your main idea (topic) but also what you want to say about your idea. In English writing, we have a sentence at the beginning of a paragraph called a topic sentence. Topic sentences contain two elements: 1) a topic and 2) what you want to say about the topic.
This sentence allows your reader to know what to expect and to better understand your ideas. Most importantly, the topic sentence should be interesting and get the attention of your reader. If you have a boring topic sentence, no one will want to read more.
Here are some topic sentences of essays students have written about their mothers:
“When I think of superheroes, the first person that I think of is my mother.”
“No matter how difficult things were, my mother always took care of us.”
“My mother could make anyone laugh, even my angry brother.”
All of these topic sentences are interesting, and they make the reader want to read more. The sentences below are examples of dull or boring topic sentences:
“My mother is beautiful.”
“My mother is so special.”
“I love my mother.”
Finally, the topic sentence should relate to all the sentences after it in the paragraph. Everything you write after the topic sentence should support the topic sentence. I recommend practicing writing topic sentences to help you learn English quickly.
Here are three topic sentences from a movie review:
1) The Last Samurai features actors from Japan and the U.S.
2) The Last Samurai is a good movie, but not a great one.
3) The Last Samurai is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.
Which topic sentence should go at the start of the following paragraph?
_______________________________________________________________________. It’s a drama that mixes entertainment with a message about honor and loyalty. As entertainment, it’s terrific, but the message doesn’t really come through.
What answer did you choose?
If you chose #2, you are correct! The writer likes some parts of the movie, but not others. #1 is an okay topic sentence, but it doesn’t relate to anything else in the paragraph. There are parts of the movie that the writer does not like, so #3 would be incorrect as well.
Topic sentences are tricky, but once you master them, both your writing and your test scores will improve!
By Jamey Sadownick
Sources: World Pass Advanced, Heinle