How to determine the subject of a text

Determination the subject of a text

Determination the subject of a text

1. What is the subject of a text?

The theme of a text is a phrase capable of expressing its full meaning, that is,  a very brief presentation of its main idea, around which the rest of the secondary ideas are distributed.

2. What is NOT the subject of a text?

The subject of a text is not the summary of the text. We call a summary of the expository text capable of informing the main idea and the secondary ideas of a given text, linked through discourse connectors.

3. Methods to determine the subject of a text

To determine the theme of a text there are two methods mainly:

1. The first can be stated as follows: the subject of a text is the summary of the summary. Consequently, the details of the summary must be dispensed with to remain only with the fundamental, that is, with the main idea. Thus, the questions that will lead us on the way to the enunciation of the subject of the text may be:

  • What is this text mainly about?
  • What has the author intended to communicate?
  • What is the essential idea of ​​what is said here?

2. The second is the new information method . And it is that the theme of a text should focus on the new information that a text provides and not on the information already known by the reader, or taken for granted.

4. Writing the subject of a text

The determination of the subject of a text is done by writing an objective, neutral and informative phrase. It is definitely an expository text.

In good logic, you should not write a shocking or surprising phrase. Impact and surprise tend to suffer from subjectivity, but opinion and emotion are prohibited in this case. A help for this is that you imagine that you are putting the title of an encyclopedia article or the epigraph of a textbook.

5. “The theory of the 3 c” (clarity, conciseness and concreteness)

The phrase that synthesizes the theme of a text must faithfully follow “the theory of the 3 c”, to bring together the qualities of conciseness, clarity and concreteness. The subject of a text, then:

  1. It must be concise: it must be a short sentence.
  2. It must be clear: it  must be understood by any person of medium-low cultural level who does not know the text of which the subject is enunciated.
  3. It must be concrete: it must be able to convey the spirit of the entire text without leaving any of its parts.

With all this, to determine the theme of a text means to inform in a clear way, with a single phrase, stated in a general way, the central idea that encompasses a whole text. For this it is necessary to have several statements and possibilities to finally stay, after a thorough work, with only one of them.

To say, for example, that the subject of a text such as a poem is “love,” is neither valuable nor successful. It fulfills clarity and conciseness, but it lacks the concreteness. By not specifying anything, and enunciating the subject in a way too general, there are many texts whose theme could be that. The fundamental thing, then, is that it is necessary to be very precise, so that the subject of the text is able to differentiate it from that text from all the others that might seem like it.

6. Most frequent mistakes

a) The subject is stated with a striking, persuasive or poetic intention.

b) The theme only focuses on one or several secondary ideas and forgets the main one.

c) The writing of the subject is so general that it is not able to differentiate the text from other similar texts.

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