When we write a written work it is necessary to make it very clear what is the idea we are talking about. This idea or topic can be subdivided into smaller ideas that we are going to include throughout the text, being formulated in the form of sentences. These phrases are the topic sentences. What is a topic sentence in a paragraph?
Next we are going to see what these topic sentences are , how they should be formulated, how they can be used throughout the paragraphs that make up our expository text and, also, we will see some examples of all kinds.
What are topic sentences?
Thematic sentences are phrases that tell us what each paragraph of a work is about, that is, its main idea . The length of these sentences should not be too long, prioritizing the clarity and organization of the information appropriately. These types of sentences summarize the main idea of a paragraph and make it possible that it is not necessary to read everything to extract the central concept. For instance.
“It was a tense day. Both the bosses and the unions did not agree with the new working conditions and both faced the exit from the labor ministry ”.
The inclusion of a topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph is usually a common resource in all types of text, but it is even more so in expository texts, such as academic texts (eg, scientific articles, doctoral theses … .) and the media (eg newspapers). In fact, this is what causes many newspaper readers to read only the first sentence of each paragraph , quickly learning what the news is about.
Aspects to take into account when writing them
Although at first it may seem simple and even intuitive, making a correct topic sentence requires taking into account several aspects:
1. Position in the paragraph
As we mentioned, the thematic sentence of a paragraph is that phrase that indicates the main idea of it. It should be a clear and concise statement, which should be easy for us to recognize and be in a position in the paragraph that is quick and easy for us to grasp .
Although the position of the topic sentence may vary in the paragraph, it is recommended in an academic writing that this sentence is at the beginning of it. Thus the reader, who as a general rule reads the first sentence of each paragraph when doing a quick reading, can grasp what is the main idea of each paragraph and, also, of the text as a whole before starting to read it in depth. This allows you to mentalize yourself to understand the text more thoroughly. What is a topic sentence in a paragraph?
“The war brought hard times for the Paraguayan people. Some experts affirm that before the conflict the country’s potential was very promising but that the war paralyzed everything, ruining the nation ”.
2. Accuracy of the idea
Regardless of where the topic sentence is located, your idea needs to be presented with precision and clarity . The sentence must be formulated clearly and specifically, without ambiguity.
“The development of the vaccine is complete. Several of the companies that have been experimenting against the new virus have stated that they have already reached the end of their research, considering that the vaccine is more than 95% effective ”.
3. Lexical, grammatical and normative adequacy
When writing a topic sentence, it is necessary to choose adequate, precise and appropriate terms for the level, register and tone of the work . If the text is an academic document, it will be necessary to use specific terminology, used in its correct meaning and avoiding terms that are too general, colloquial or imprecise.
We must not forget about the grammatical correctness when formulating the topic sentence. As their name indicates, they are sentences and, like all sentences, they must have a main verb and an adequate structure that allows their understanding. However, you should avoid inserting a topic sentence by starting it with imprecise verbs such as: there is, has, finds, is .
How to write these types of sentences?
The first thing we must do to be able to write the topic sentences is to be clear about the general idea of our work and what small ideas make it up. This idea, which may well be the statement of a thesis or the problem that the investigation of a scientific article tries to answer, summarizes the purpose and argument of all the work. For this reason, as we are writing an academic work, it is necessary to make an outline of its structure .
Having an adequate outline of what our written work is going to be, we can distribute the ideas that make up the main theme in different paragraphs. These paragraphs will be placed in an order that allows the reader to expand their initial knowledge of the subject in question and, when they finish reading, they will have been able to understand the whole general idea that we are trying to convey. What is a topic sentence in a paragraph?
Topic sentences as transitions between paragraphs
The topic sentence does not have to always be a simple sentence that summarizes the idea of the paragraph, but a tool to give strength to our work.
To make our writing more cohesive, we can use topic sentences to create smooth transitions between paragraphs , which should be the answer to the following question: how is this point related to what we have written in the previous paragraph? Based on our response, our transition phrase will meet the following goals.
1. Emphasize and expand
The topic sentence introduces us to a paragraph that goes into more detail or adds new information on the same point. In this case, the thematic phrase uses words that imply emphasis or similarity : in addition, in fact, also, also, equally, even …
“Likewise, the distribution of the vaccine has already been duly organized. Populations at highest risk will be vaccinated first, including the elderly, healthcare workers and patients with respiratory problems. Then they will proceed to vaccinate teachers and workers of essential food services. Finally, the rest of the population will be vaccinated ”.
2. Summarize and anticipate
In case the next paragraph refers to a different aspect of the same topic, the topic sentence can summarize the previous paragraph briefly . In addition, this sentence anticipates the new information that will appear in the one we have just started.
“While it is true that the vaccine seems safe, the opinion of society is skeptical. They fear that taking into account that there has been little time to investigate it thoroughly, it is still not certain what its short and long-term side effects are, in addition to that it is also feared that a new strain of the virus will emerge more deadly and resistant to current drugs ”. What is a topic sentence in a paragraph?
3. Compare and contrast
If contrast information is compared and entered in the following paragraph , the topic sentence contains words that highlight the difference: for example, in contrast, however, on the other hand, instead, on the contrary …
However, some experts are skeptical of the new vaccine. Several professionals in medical research take the side of the skeptical population who, making it clear that they are moving away from anti-vaccine positions, cannot help but fear that the vaccine was, in fact, a last minute fix. ”
You can also start a contrast and comparison paragraph by formulating the topic sentence in the form of a question.
“Really to what extent will the pandemic be solved thanks to the vaccine? Although this is seen as a dose of hope and as a synonym for a return to the “old” normality, there are not a few who argue that the necessary structure is not yet in place to vaccinate the entire population and, taking into account that they are not going to being few who are not going to do it, they are antivacunistas or simply cautious, the virus will continue in our society long after the first vaccination campaign ”.
Examples of topic sentences
Next we are going to put about 5 examples of thematic sentences of all kinds , both academic and more mundane, to finish seeing this idea. What is a topic sentence in a paragraph?
“The holidays in Ibiza were splendid. I was able to spend a week going to the beach every day, visiting Formentera and discovering the most bucolic places in the Ibizan countryside ”.
“The message from the president of the community was conciliatory, but not very credible. Despite reaffirming that the street was a safe place, incidents with British tourists increasingly increased mistrust towards the regional executive who seemed to prioritize the safety of foreigners before that of the natives of the islands ”.
“The working dinner with the Arab emir was a disaster. Whoever had to order the catering forgot to tell them that nothing with pork should be included and only told them to put traditional foods from Spain. It was quite an unpleasant surprise for the Muslim guest to see a suckling pig with an apple in its mouth being uncovered right in front of him. The Spanish executive was red with shame ”.
“Dressing appropriately for a job interview is essential. We must avoid wearing clothes that are too formal since we can transmit coldness and discomfort to the interviewee, but it is not appropriate to wear a tracksuit, since it will interpret that we are not taking the job offer as something serious. ”
“My week couldn’t be worse. Although I started it relatively well, there was a moment when it took me more than two days to write a report, causing the rest that I had to write to be late as well. I see myself working until 2 am tonight ”. What is a topic sentence in a paragraph?