The Topic Sentence Problem

For students I usually advise them to put the topic sentence in the first one or two sentences of the paragraph okay so let’s talk about what the topic sentence is all right the topic sentence presents the main idea of the paragraph and it controls the focus in the direction of the paragraph okay so everything else in the paragraph all of the other sentences stem from the main idea that is put in in the topic sentence so that’s why it’s really important to be able to have a strong one okay so I can not really overestimate the importance of a strong topic sentence which brings me to kind of my first question for you guys okay and I’m I’m actually going to remove myself from the screen for a moment so that you can take 30 seconds to maybe a minute and just look at these four sentences.

And decide which of them do you think would make a strong topic sentence for a paragraph okay as you look through it again feel free to toss your answer into the chat and and then we will discuss it together okay so I’m going to remove myself from the screen take 30 seconds to a minute look at each one and and decide which of these do you think would make a strong topic sentence for a paragraph okay go ahead you you all right I love that music happy music okay so really the only the only thing I wanted you guys to do is is look at the four sentences and decide which do you think makes a proper strong topic sentence okay so let’s look at them together number one it says Canada shares a border with the United States okay in this case let me let me go over here Canada shares a border with the United States now this is kind of not a strong topic sentence now let me tell you why this is a very common mistake that students make.

Writing a topic sentence like this the problem with this topic sentence is that it is too narrow okay so when I say it’s too narrow it means it is really too specific now in this case Canada shares a border with the United States that is a fact okay so a key thing to remember when it comes to topic sentences in paragraph writing is a topic sentence should never be a fact because the main idea of the topic sentence it the topic sentence has to contain something that you’re supporting sentences will develop okay now if you have a fact as the main idea there’s really nothing there for the supporting sentences to add to it so that’s why you can’t have it too narrow no facts at the topic sentence as I said here it needs an idea some some kind of feeling some kind of opinion or something like that that you can expand on and develop.