Topic sentence – meaning and examples

Topic sentence – meaning and examples

Introduction

A good paragraph consists of the following: topic sentence, developmental sentence, coherence, cohesion and thematic unity.

A paragraph is a combination of sentences that deals with a single theme and forms a distinct section of a piece of writing. A topic sentence is the foundation of a program. It points out the major idea, fact or opinion of the paragraph and attaches to this main idea.

Meaning of topic sentence

A topic sentence is a sentence that states conspicuously the aspect of the topic that is being discussed in a paragraph. It can be presented in form of a question, statement or problem.

It can be found in the beginning, middle or end of a paragraph based on the intention of the writer. Starting a sentence with a topic sentence prepares the reader for what he or she expects in the paragraph. After the topic sentence, all other sentences give an explanation of the topic sentence.

It also helps the writer to link all the sentences to the topic sentence. When the topic sentence is in the middle, all other sentences are referred to as the topic sentence. When it occurs at the end, all preceding sentences will logically build-up to it. In the final position, the topic sentence serves as a conclusion to what has been said.

(a) Example of topic sentence at the beginning of a paragraph

Paragraph 1

The tactic was completely successful. Two changes were made in the attacking formation both on the left and right wings. In less than fifteen minutes to regulation time, two quick goals were scored by the newly introduced players.

(From Use of English by Wale Adegbite, Segun Adekoya and Adeyemi Adegoju)
The topic sentence in this paragraph is ” The tactic was completely successful “.

Paragraph 2

The vast majority of people, wherever they live and whatever their occupation come in contact with animals in one way or another and have to deal with them. It is obvious that the hunter has to know the ways of his quarry, the farmer must be aware of the habits of his farmyard animals and of creatures that damage his crops; the fisherman must know when and where to find his fish and how to outwit them.

Even the modern city dweller meets animals. He may want to ward off the roaches in his kitchen or he may keep a dog or a bird and grow familiar with the way his pet behaves.

All over the world, among primitive tribes as well as in the modern society, there are those who delight in the observation of animals, and there is a growing awareness of the fact that sharing our world with our fellow creatures is like travelling together – we enjoy being surrounded by other beings who, like ourselves, are deeply absorbed in the adventure of living.

There is a growing sense of marvel and affinity.
(From Niko Tinbergen (ed). ‘An infant science’ in Animal Behaviour Time-life Books.)
The topic sentence in this paragraph is ” The vast majority of people, wherever they live and whatever their occupation come in contact with animals in one way or another and have to deal with them.”

(b) Example of Topic Sentence at the end of a paragraph

Paragraph 1
The changes were made in the attacking formation both on the left and right wings. In less than fifteen minutes to regulation time, two quick goals were scored by the newly introduced players. The tactic was completely successful.
The topic sentence in this paragraph is “The tactic was completely successful.”

Paragraph 2

In the year 1830, a French official unearthed, in the valley of the Somme, strange implements of flint now recognized as weapons with which the men of the Old Stone Age made war.

With these modest tools of death, it seems, Neanderthal men from what is now Germany, and Cro-Magnon men from what is now France, fought fifty thousand years ago for the mastery of the continent, and after a day of lusty battle, left perhaps a score of the dead on the field.

Twenty years ago modern Germans and modern Frenchmen fought again in that same valley for that same price, with magnificent tools of death that killed ten thousand men in a day. One art alone has made indisputable progress in history and that is the art of war.

(Adapted from Will Durant: ‘why Men Fight’)
The topic sentence is One art alone has made indisputable progress in history and that is the art of war.
Conclusively, readers should pay attention to topic sentences while reading a paragraph.

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