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Old Monday, September 29, 2014
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Thumbs up The Art of Essay Writing

TOPIC SENTENCE

The topic sentence is a prescriptive grammatical term to describe the sentence in an expository paragraph which summaries the main idea of that paragraph. Also known as a focus sentence or mini-thesis, it encapsulates or organizes an entire paragraph. Its use is considered standard because it increases reading accessibility. Structurally, a good topic sentence has following qualities.
1. Topic and Controlling Idea
2. First Sentence
3. Link to Thesis
4. Link to the Previous Paragraph

1. TOPIC AND CONTROLLING IDEA
A topic sentence has two major parts;
(i) Topic: It introduces the subject of the paragraph.
(ii) Controlling Idea: It gives direction to the paragraph.
EXAMPLES
(i) Topic Sentence: To be an effective CEO requires certain characteristics.
The topic is "To be an effective CEO" and the controlling idea is "certain characteristics".
(ii) Topic Sentence: Cooking requires a number of different skills.
The topic is "Cooking" and the controlling idea is "a number of different skills".
(iii) Topic Sentence: Remodeling a kitchen successfully requires research and a good eye.
The topic is "Remodeling a kitchen" and the controlling idea is "requires research and a good eye".
(iv) Topic Sentence: There are many reasons why pollution in ABC Town is the worst in the world.
The topic is "pollution in ABC Town is the worst in the world" and the controlling idea is "many reasons".
(v) Topic Sentence: There are many possible contributing factors to global warming.
The topic is "global warming" and the controlling idea is "many possible contributing factors".
(vi) Topic Sentence: Fortune hunters encounter many difficulties when exploring a shipwreck.
The topic is "exploring a shipwreck" and the controlling idea is "many difficulties".
(vii) Topic Sentence: Crime in poverty-stricken areas occurs as a result of systemic discrimination.
The topic is "Crime in poverty-stricken areas" and the controlling idea is "systemic discrimination".
(viii) Topic Sentence: Teen pregnancy may be prevented by improved education.
The topic is "teen pregnancy may be prevented" and the controlling idea is "improving education".
(ix) Topic Sentence: Having a first child is difficult because of the significant adjustments in your life.
The topic is "having a first child" and the controlling idea is "significant adjustments in your life".
(x) Topic Sentence: It is important to be ready before buying a house.
The topic is "before buying a house" and the controlling idea is "important to be ready".

2. FIRST SENTENCE
Although a topic sentence may appear anywhere in a body paragraph, in an academic essay it often appears at the beginning. It is usually the first sentence in a body paragraph.
EXAMPLES
(i) There are three reasons why Canada is one of the best countries in the world. First, Canada has excellent health care system. All Canadians have access to medical services at a reasonable price. Second, Canada has a high standard of education. Students are taught by well-trained teachers and are encouraged to continue studying at University. Finally, Canada's cities are clean and efficiently managed. Canadian cities have many parks and lots of space for people to live. As a result, Canada is a desirable place to live.
(ii) Almost every wedding tradition has a symbolic meaning that originated centuries ago. For example, couples have been exchanging rings to symbolize unending love for over a thousand years. Most often, the rings are worn on the third finger of the left hand, which was thought to contain a vein that ran directly to the heart. The rings in ancient times were sometimes made of braided grass, rope, or leather, giving rise to the expression "tying the knot". Another tradition, the bridal veil, began when marriages were arranged by the families and the groom was not allowed to see his choice until the wedding. The tossing of rice at newlyweds has long signified fertility blessings, and the sweet smell of the bride's bouquet was present to drive away evil spirits, who were also diverted by the surrounding bridal attendants. Weddings may vary enormously today, but many couples still include ancient traditions to signify their new life together.

3. LINK TO THESIS
Topic sentences are directly or indirectly related to the thesis. These use keywords or phrases from the thesis to indicate which part of the thesis will be discussed.
EXAMPLES
(i) Thesis: Dogs make the best pets because they are loyal, friendly and smart.
Topic Sentences
(a) Dog's loyalty to humans stems from their packed behaviour, affectionate nature and the shared past of the two species.
(b) Dogs have been man's best friends for 30,000 years for many reasons.
(c) Dogs' ability to learn, think and solve problems make them smart.
(ii) Thesis: The writing process consists of four main stages: gather, organize, write, revise.
Topic Sentences
(a) The gathering stage consists of researching, brainstorming, and analyzing.
(b) Organization requires logical thinking and persuasive arrangement of various ideas.
(c) The writing stage requires you to sit down, follow the outline and construct your essay.
(d) Revision involves going over and over what you've written to make it better.
(iii) Thesis: Because it builds muscles, increases circulation, and burns harmful fatty tissue, weight lifting is a sport that benefits the entire body.
Topic Sentences
(a) Weight lifters use three main strategies to maximize muscle hypertropy; strength training, specialized nutrition and adequate rest.
(b) Weight lifting boosts blood circulation by increasing metabolism, vascularity and rate of oxygen that is delivered to cells.
(c) Weight lifting is better at burning fats because some are burnt during the activity and some are burnt later in muscle building.

4. LINK TO THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH
Topic sentences link the subject of the present paragraph to that of the previous paragraph. This link can be established with conjunctive adverbs, transitional phrases, pronouns and synonyms etc.
EXAMPLES
(i) P1: The author's work includes many examples of symbolism.
P2: In addition to the symbolism, multiple themes are present.
(ii) P1: In the book, many loud sounds prevented the characters from sleeping.
P2: As a result of their lack of sleep, the characters were unable to start their journey the next day.
(iii) P1: On Sandy Hook, the light house is located in the north region.
P2: Further north, at the tip of the hook, there is the Coast Guard Station.
(iv) P1: Overall, Management Systems International has logged increased sales in every sector, leading to a significant rise in third-quarter profits.
P2: These impressive profits are largely due to the corporation's expanded international influence.
(v) P1: Fearing for the loss of more Danish lands, Christian IV signed the Treaty of Lubeck, effectively ending the Danish phase of the 30 Years War.
P2: Shortly after Danish forces withdrew, the Swedish intervention began.
(vi) P1: Amy Tan became a famous author after her novel, The Joy Luck Club, skyrocketed up the bestseller list.
P2: Though her fiction is well know, her work with the satirical garage band the Rock Bottom Remainders receives far less publicity.
(vii) P1: Law for them is a vehicle of service to God and neighbour, not simply a gate-way to financial and social success.
P2: Often this wish to serve is coupled with an intuitive sense that one has the right kind of talents, attributes, and live experiences to become a lawyer.
(viii) P1: When the men in my family joined the military, they did not think about how they would feel about their decision years later.
P2: Those who served during times of war have experience lasting effects of engaging in combat.
(ix) P1: Even the most careful drivers cannot always avoid the dangers of bad weather, the most sensible drivers try to avoid the bad weather.
P2: Weather is not the only hazard on the road.
(x) P1: It was eventually determined that the chimpanzee would never be able to master the human language but by observing him, scientists were able to gain a better understanding of how chimpanzees communicate with each other.
P2: Bonobo chimpanzees, on the other hand, have proven to be quite good at acquiring some form of language.

EXERCISE
Q.1. Point out the topic and controlling idea in the following topic sentences.
(i) People can avoid burglaries by taking certain precautions.
(ii) There are several advantages to growing up in a small town.
(iii) Most universities require a 550 point TOEFL score for a number of reasons.
(iv) Air pollution in Mexico City is the worst in the world for a number of reasons.
(v) Fixing a flat tire on a bicycle is easy if you follow these steps.
(vi) There are several enjoyable ways to travel between the US and Queretaro.
(vii) Animals in danger of becoming extinct come from a wide range of countries.
(viii) Effective leadership requires specific qualities that anyone can develop.
(ix) Scientists have leaned to supplement the sense of sight in numerous ways.
(x) In order to fully explore the wreck of the Titanic, scientists must address several problems.
Q.2. Add topic sentences to the following paragraphs.
(a) Famous inventor Thomas Edison, for instance, did so poorly in his first years of school that his teachers warned his parents that he'd never be a success at anything. Similarly, Henry Ford, the father of the auto industry, had trouble in school with both reading and writing. But perhaps the best example is Albert Einstein, whose parents and teachers suspected that he was retarded because he responded to questions so slowly and in a stuttering voice. Einstein's high school record was poor an everything but math, and he failed his college entrance exams the first time. Even out of school the man had trouble holding a job -- until he announced the theory of relativity.
(b) In front of the tiny pupil of the eye they put, on Mount Palomar, a great monocle 200 inches in diameter, and with it see 2000 times farther into the depths of space. Or they look through a small pair of lenses arranged as a microscope into a drop of water or blood, and magnify by as much as 2000 diameters the living creatures there, many of which are among man's most dangerous enemies. Or, if we want to see distant happenings on earth, they use some of the previously wasted electromagnetic waves to carry television images whey they re-create as light by whipping tiny crystals on a screen with electrons in a vacuum. Or they can bring happenings of long ago and far away as colored motion pictures, by arranging silver atoms and color-absorbing molecules to force light waves into the patterns of original reality. Or if we want to see into the centre of a steel casting or the chest of an injured child, they sent the information on a bean of penetrating short-wave X-rays, and then convert it back into images we can see on a screen or photograph. Thus almost every type of electromagnetic radiation yet discovered has been used to extend our sense of sight in some way.
Q.3. Write topic sentences for each of the following topics.
(i) Impact of Science on Society
(ii) Role of Democracy in a Developing Country
(iii) Role of Press in the Third World
(iv) Role of Banking in the Development of Pakistan
(v) Role of Agriculture in Our Country
(vi) Role of Sports in Character Building
(vii) The Social Role of a Writer
(viii) The Pleasures of Reading
(ix) The Influence of Western Literature
(x) Purpose of Life on Earth
Q.4. Make topic sentences from the following thesis statements.
(i) Unreasonable hours, poor staffing, and inadequate space make the library reserve facility difficult to use.
(ii) Not everyone can become an astronaut. To qualify, a person must have intelligence, determination, and training.
(iii) Apartment living is preferable to dorm living because it is cheaper, quieter, and more luxurious.
(iv) Avocados make excellent plants for children. They are inexpensive to buy, easy to root, quick to sprout, and fun to grow.
(v) Hemingway's stories helped create a new prose style by employing extensive dialogue, shorter sentences, and strong Anglo-Saxon words.
(vi) Diwali is an important festival for Indian because they celebrate, remember traditional legends, and enjoy time with their families.
(vii) Because of injuries, short- and long-term neurological damage, and ring deaths, the rules of professional boxing should be changed.
(viii) The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers.
(ix) The character of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet serves as a foil to young Juliet, delights us with her warmth and earthy wit, and helps realize the tragic catastrophe.
(x) When compiling a business proposal, one has to consider questions of capital, consumer demand and competition.
Q.5. Link the second sentence with the first one.
(i) P1: As the Mediterranean region is close to the tropics, the temperature is always high with the result that the seas are never frozen.
P2: Certain vegetation has developed.
(ii) P1: These relationships show that the establishment of traditional gender roles is influenced by the type of toys children play with when they are younger.
P2: Children's peer groups and social experiences also influence whether they associate with traditional gender roles.
(iii) P1: It seems we no longer know how to enjoy each other's company; we need strangers inside a television screen to entertain us and bring us together.
P2: Not all the effects of television are negative.
(iv) P1: The company has completely upgraded their computer systems.
P2: The efficiency of the company has improved tremendously.
(v) P1: Brown's analysis provides useful insights into the existing power relations between the army and the government at that time.
P2: The power relations embedded in the social structure may be more important in explaining the causes of the riot.
(vi) P1: As a solid, coal is not easily used as a transportation fuel.
P2: Transportation fuels and other chemicals may be derived form coal through liquefaction.
(vii) Thus the pattern established by Dickens in the first chapter is consistent throughout the rest of the first volume.
P2: Volume Two offers a new approach to the narrative.
(viii) P1: Whatever Lear's faults, it cannot be denied that he loves his daughters.
P2: Love counts for little in the realm of Regan and Goneril.
(ix) P1: The evidence thus suggests that there is no other option.
P2: There may still be a solution. If you disregard.
(x) P1: Poverty occurs when requirements for basic living are not met.
P2: Two types of ----- can be seen in the world today, absolute and relative.

Notes Prepared By: Prof. Shahbaz Asghar
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