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In this post we are going to learn about topic sentences. We will cover what they are, why they are important and what happens if you don’t use them. In English, writing good topic sentences will help you structure your paragraphs well and write clearly and logically, which is the basis of good academic writing.

What is a topic sentence? It is a sentence at the beginning of a paragraph that introduces the topic of the paragraph.

Why are topic sentences necessary? They help the reader understand the topic of the paragraph. They prepare the reader for the information that is coming in the paragraph.

What does a typical topic sentence look like? It is direct, clear and usually not too long. Compare the following sentences and decide which is the better topic sentence:

1. It can be argued that university education should be affordable for everyone in society.

2. Not everyone can afford to pay for the costs of university, which include tuition, accommodation and living costs, so it is necessary for new systems to be developed in order to change this situation, especially the cost of tuition.

Hopefully, you chose number 1! It is shorter, clear and makes the reader understand the main idea in the paragraph.

What comes after a topic sentence? Details which expand on the information in the topic sentence. They could be reasons, explanations, results, opposing ideas or other types of details.

Now, go back and read the mini paragraph at the beginning of the post. Do you know what a topic sentence is now? Can you see how it is different from the other two sentences in the paragraph?

What happens if I don’t use topic sentences in my paragraphs? The reader may find it difficult to follow your ideas easily. Also, your writing may not move from one point to another smoothly or clearly because you have not communicated your basic message in the topic sentence. If your writing becomes confused at the paragraph level, you are more likely to get a lower grade in assessments. So, make sure your topic sentences communicate your message clearly.

Happy writing 🙂

Fiona

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