All sentences that come after this main sentence must be related to it in some way. A subject phrase, like a thesis statement, makes an assertion of some kind. The topic sentence must be the uniting power in the paragraph, just as the thesis statement is the unifying force in the essay. Other phrases or clauses can help illustrate or support the topic sentence, but they cannot replace it.
For example, let's say that our topic sentence is "The president can fire the FBI director." Then we could have several supporting sentences to explain why this is so: "The president has the power to remove officials at any level of government," or "The president can set policy by signing laws and issuing executive orders." But none of these sentences would be as strong as the topic sentence; they would all lose something if they weren't linked to it in some way.
Similarly, a topic sentence can be a key word in the context of the rest of the paragraph. For example, let's say that we want to discuss how rich people get richer while others get poorer.
The subject sentence is the opening sentence of a paragraph that expresses the primary issue to be covered. The topic sentence is always about the facts presented in the essay's thesis statement. It might be a claim, an allegation, or a fact that has to be explained. The topic sentence should not contain any information not included in the thesis statement.
For example, if the thesis statement is "Americans have a love affair with money," then the topic sentence could be "In _Love Story_, Love is seen as a luxury product that Americans cannot afford." This makes sure that the reader knows exactly what kind of essay this will be before they read further.
A good topic sentence should make its point quickly and easily without boring the reader with unnecessary details. It should also attract your reader with its clarity and precision. A great topic sentence can make up part of a better thesis statement by itself.
Here are some examples of bad topic sentences: "Fiction is a form of storytelling that uses words to _explain why something happened_. History is another form of storytelling that uses words to _describe what happened_. Both fiction and history require a writer to choose what story to tell and how to tell it properly."
Even though these sentences explain what kind of writing we are talking about, they are very vague and lack clarity. They do not grab our attention because they say too much or not enough.
A subject sentence should highlight a paragraph's core theme, letting the reader know what the paragraph will be about. The topic sentence should convey a concept that will unite the rest of the paragraph while also tying it back to the paper's primary point. For example, in the sentence "Patton displayed great leadership skills," the word "great" makes this sentence's theme clear -- Patton was a leader who had great leadership skills. This sentence would be a good topic sentence because it ties back to the main idea of the essay and gives you a chance to show how these skills manifested themselves.
A subject sentence serves numerous key functions in a paragraph. Finally, a topic sentence can provide guidance to the reader on how to think about the content within the paragraph.
In other words, the topic sentence tells the reader what they should expect to learn in the paragraph and gives them a starting point for understanding the text. This allows the reader to more easily understand the main idea being conveyed in the paragraph while still maintaining their interest throughout the piece.
Subject sentences are often used in academic papers as well. In academic essays, the topic sentence usually comes right after the abstract and indicates the central idea of the essay. While not all academic essays use a topic sentence, those that do use this structure to help readers understand the main idea of the paper.
Using proper subject matter in your writing will help readers follow along and understand what you're saying. And using the correct word choice and structure will also help readers understand your message better.
The topic sentence links to the thesis, or major idea, of the essay (for more information on thesis statements, see Chapter 9, "Writing Essays: From Start to Finish") and directs the reader by indicating what the paragraph is about. The rest of the paragraph's sentences should all be related to the topic sentence. They should build upon it rather than replace it, giving the reader further reason to continue reading.
A good topic sentence should not only give a quick overview of the paragraph but also capture the main idea. It should be concise yet comprehensive. It should make the reader want to know more. It should make the essay more interesting and engaging to read.
Consider these examples of bad topic sentences: "In conclusion, today's youth needs role models." Or, even worse, "Role models are important for youth development." Both sentences begin with the word "however," which means that they are introducing something that will follow in the sentence. But since they are the only sentences in their paragraphs, this something needs to be huge! Otherwise, the readers won't need to read any farther. This is why cold opening topics are so dangerous - they grab your attention right away but may cause you to lose track of what you were going to say next!