A typical paragraph has a topic sentence, supporting sentences and a concluding sentence.
a) The topic sentence
The topic sentence is usually the first or second sentence in a paragraph. It introduces a new idea. It presents the topic and explains what the writer will say about the topic. This explanation is called the controlling idea. It tells the reader what to expect in the supporting sentences.
My friend (topic) is an honest person (controlling idea).
My friend (topic) is the funniest person I know (controlling idea).
My friend (topic) has a terribly dangerous job (controlling idea).
A topic sentence must not be a simple fact or a specific detail. The controlling idea must say something about the topic that can be supported, developed, or demonstrated in the supporting sentences. The controlling idea must also not be too general, or the topic will be unclear.
A surprise party is a kind of party. (too general)
There were 14 guests at my surprise birthday party. (too specific)
My classmates gave me an unforgettable surprise party.
The last topic sentence is effective because it introduces the topic and has a controlling idea that can be developed in the supporting sentences. The paragraph will probably tell the story of the party.
b) Supporting sentences
Supporting sentences add information about the topic and the controlling idea. Supporting sentences can include definitions, explanations, and examples.
Young people are too dependent on computers.
Dependency on computers means that young people cannot perform normal tasks and functions of daily life without them.
In the old days, people memorized important information, but today’s youth rely only on their computers, cell phones, and PDAs to do assignments, record numbers and save important information.
As a result, they can find themselves unprepared in an emergency such as an electrical blackout. Once their batteries die, these people will not be able to communicate.
For example, I do all my school work on my computer. When my computer crashed last week, I lost my only draft of an essay that was due the next day. I as result, I got a bad grade.
c) Concluding sentence
The concluding sentence, or final sentence of a paragraph usually reminds the reader pf the topic and controlling idea of the paragraph. The concluding sentence restates the main idea.
Topic sentence: I love the colour red.
Concluding sentence: I like to live life in a strong way, so I think I will always admire the colour red.
In addition to restating the main idea, the concluding sentence may:
– warn the reader
If you do not follow these steps, you may not get the grade you want.
– make a prediction
The automotive industry will change, and soon we will be driving pollution-free cars.
– give an opinion about the topic
Some people might disagree, but I think lamb is the best meal for grilling.