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Topic Sentences

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Topic Sentences

Topic Sentences state each paragraph’s central point or claim. Your topic sentences should tell your readers exactly what each paragraph is about. Each paragraph should only address ONE main point or claim.

Additionally, each paragraph should also conclude with a Finalizing Sentence that reiterates your paragraph’s main point.


In general there are three types of Topic Sentences that you can use:

1)      Straightforward TS

2)      Writing Against the Grain TS

          3)      Transitional TS 


1. Straightforward TS: Directly states one central point or claim. 

  • Parents should not censor How to Eat Fried Worms because it teaches children that the act of cheating will always backfire on them.


  • The magic that the characters perform in Harry Potter promotes young readers to use their imaginations.


  • When children read this story, they can learn about the harms of peer pressure.   


2. Writing Against the Grain TS: In this type of topic sentence, the first half of the sentence states what your audience might think about the subject (public opinion), and the second half states your central point or claim. 

  • Parents should not ban a book in order to shelter their children from real life issues; instead, they should take an active role in their children’s reading by discussing the concerns that the book raises about peer pressure.


  • Even though censors want to ban How to Eat Fried Worms because they feel it promotes gambling, it actually models for children that friendship is more valuable than keeping grudges.


  • Although Blubber helps parents and teachers face the reality that bullying frequently occurs in middle school, this book will not teach children how to cope with the consequences of intimidation because it perpetuates the cycle of destructive behavior.


3. Transitional TS: In this type of topic sentence, the first half of the sentence states your main point or claim from the previous paragraph, and the second half states YOUR point or claim for this new paragraph.

  • In addition to problems of obesity, America's youth also suffers from increasing amounts of psychological stress. (Transition from obesity to psychological stress.)


  • Besidesviolating the right to privacy, the microchip alsoputs children at danger in the event of information-hacking. (Transition from privacy to information-hacking.)


  • Not only does Blubber illustrate the importance of having the courage to standup to the class bully, it also demonstrates how every negative action has an equally damaging consequence.


Finalizing Sentence: The last sentence of each paragraph reiterates your main point.


Pulling It All Together: Sample Model Paragraph  

As a result of non-enforced drunk driving laws, DWI’s have increased significantly over the past two years.  Drunk driving accounts for the majority of motor vehicle fatalities that occur every year in the US. In 2005, of the 30,000 people who died in car accidents, 16,885 of these deaths were alcohol-related, while in 2006 nearly 20,000 deaths were alcohol-related (US Census). National Safety and Transportation Agency statistics report that someone dies every 31 minutes in an alcohol-related motor vehicle crash kill, and someone is injured every two minutes. Despite recent attempts to reduce drunk driving through DWI awareness programs, the government needs to implement harsher penalties in addressing this growing problem.


Exercises: Review the sample paragraphs below and add a topic sentence and a finalizing sentence. Add transitional phrases and repeat key words as needed to link ideas in each paragraph.


Sample paragraph 1: Our house in Cuba was extremely tiny only measuring about 25 by 25. We cooked our food on an old stove that was given to my mom from my great grandma. My sister and I even had to share a twin mattress for awhile. I used to get in bed first and try to sleep with my back to the wall so my sister wouldn’t kick me in the night with her skinny legs.


Sample paragraph 2: Underage binge drinking causes 1,700 deaths each year, 60,000 injuries, nearly 700,000 assaults, 100,000 of which are sexual assaults (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, 223). Furthermore in a national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2005, 100,000 college students, most of whom were under the legal drinking age of 21, reported being too drunk to know if they consented to having sexual intercourse while intoxicated (33). Many teenagers are also heavily influenced by peer pressure, and not able to decide for themselves when they’ve had too much too drink.


Click on the links below for more information on the writing process:

Thesis Statements

Transition Words

How to Use Quotations and Paraphrasing


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