Why should body paragraphs have topic sentences?
This is the first of three lessons about Topic Sentences. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Introduce the concept and purpose of a topic sentence
– Discuss the importance of topic sentences in the body sections of academic essays
– Explain the benefits of topic sentences in signposting the argument structure of the essay
One of the most commonly discussed body-paragraph elements is the topic sentence. Students will be told time and again by their tutors that they must form clear, logical and concise topic sentences if they wish to write effective essays. However, it doesn’t seem to matter how many times a tutor reminds their students, when it comes to the final submissions, there will always be numerous poorly constructed topic sentences damaging an essay’s coherence and cohesion.
To rectify this issue, we’ve provided a short three-lesson course on topic sentences that aims to demystify this essay element (Lesson 1), providing twelve tips for effective topic-sentence construction (Lesson 2) as well as numerous examples of effective language structures for the seven types of academic topic sentence (Lesson 3).
What is a topic sentence?
A topic sentence is a body-paragraph element that’s used to remind the reader of the essay thesis and inform the reader of that body paragraph’s main idea (the primary claim or argument being discussed):
Every body paragraph should possess a topic sentence, and every topic sentence should possess a topic (i.e., the thesis of the essay) and one or two main ideas (also known as controlling ideas):
In more advanced forms of writing, however, such as creative and academic writing, a writer may wish to alter their topic-sentence placement within the paragraph to create suspense, to emphasise a certain argument or to indicate a change of direction in that argument. For the sake of writing simple, formulaic and clear body paragraphs though, students are at first advised to place their topic sentences at the very beginning of the paragraph.
Why are topic sentences important?
There are a number of reasons that topic sentences are considered by most to be the most important sentences in an essay. This is because topic sentences:
- help the writer remain focussed on the exploration of their main ideas
- inform the reader about the main ideas being discussed in the paragraph
- remind the reader of the essay’s thesis, as outlined in the thesis statement
- offer transition devices for moving between ideas and body paragraphs
- offer tools for skim-reading an essay to gauge its overall structure
- organise and summarise the content of the paragraph
- set the tone of the paragraph
How do topic sentences help guide the reader?
Topic sentences offer a very useful tool for both the writer and the reader in that they help signpost the essay and guide its argument structure. When written successfully, these sentences should form a clear connection between the topic in the introductory thesis statement and the main ideas being explored in the supporting details of the body paragraph.
For the twelve best tips about writing effective topic sentences, continue studying with Lesson 2 of this short course – and remember to unlock our helpful worksheets.
Lesson 2 explores the topic: How can I write effective academic topic sentences? Our Lesson 2 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
Lesson 3 explores the topic: What are examples of the 7 types of topic sentence? Our Lesson 3 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
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