THE TOPIC SENTENCE

If the thesis is contained in one sentence, that sentence is called the topic sentence because it contains the idea or topic that is developed and explained in the rest of the paragraph. This sentence may be found in any position in a paragraph: at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end. Whenever possible, however, the topic sentence should be placed at the beginning of a paragraph. In that position, it is a very helpful guide to both writer and reader. The writer can more easily see what information to exclude. The reader knows immediately what the paragraph is going to be about and is, therefore, more prepared to understand it than if the topic sentence is placed at the end of the paragraph.

EXERCISES

Find the topic sentence and decide if it is better at the beginning than in the middle or at the end. 1. During the past dramatic changes have taken place inside the Earth. Indeed, it is probable that if these changes had not taken place, life would not have originated, and we would not be here today. Furthermore, changes are still going on inside the Earth. These show themselves in the occurrence of earthquakes, the activity of volcanoes, and in the movements of mountain ranges. 2. The planet we live on is not just a ball of inactive material speeding through space. During the past, dramatic changes have taken place inside Earth. Indeed, it is probable that if these changes had not taken place, life would not have originated, and we would not be here today. Furthermore, changes are still going on inside the Earth. These show themselves in the occurrence of earthquakes, the activity of volcanoes, and in the movements of mountain ranges. 3. In the student cafeteria, the students serve themselves. When they have finished, they take their dirty dishes back to a special table. In this way the cost of employing cafeteria staff is reduced because there is no need for waiters. The same numbers of students eat in the cafeteria each day. As a result, the manager can calculate the exact amount of food to buy, and very little is wasted. Finally, the cafeteria makes no profit, which reduces the cost of meals by at least ten per cent. On account of these three factors the Student Union Cafeteria should be able to provide meals at a lower coast than restaurant in town. 4. Do you have problems heating your house? Do you spend the whole winter shivering? We have the answer to your problems. Let us supply you with one of our tame dragons, a guaranteed housetrained animal that eats very little and supplies enough heat all winter for a three-bedroom house. In autumn, it can also be very useful clearing the garden of unwanted brushwood. No picnic or outdoor barbecue is complete without one. Donít wait; buy one today! (2000-05-11. A.G. 3.1 stenographer.)
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