5. Ensuring Paragraph Unity: Topic Sentences

Version A

Which of the following is a topic sentence that can be supported with reasons, details, examples, and explanations?

One way to make sure you have a unified paragraph is to write a clear topic sentence that states the subject of the paragraph and the point you want to make about it.

Read the following passage and identify the topic sentence. (Hint: It’s not always the first sentence.)

It is not always a bad thing to “miss the boat.” Many influential people missed the Titanic, which began and ended its doomed voyage in 1912. For example, J. Pierpont Morgan, the famous banker and founder of General Electric and U.S. Steel, had arranged a personal suite and his own private promenade deck on the ship. It sailed without him, though, because Morgan decided to continue his vacation in France instead of returning to the United States. As a result, the “Napoleon of Wall Street” avoided a watery death. Another famous person who missed the boat was Alfred Vanderbilt, who was an heir to the Vanderbilt shipping and railroad empire. Vanderbilt cancelled his voyage on the Titanic at the last minute to lengthen his European vacation. Unlike J. P. Morgan though, Vanderbilt seems to have been fated to be lost at sea; three years after missing one sinking ship, he died on another—the Lusitania. Coincidentally, the famous inventor Guglielmo Marconi also missed the Titanic, and he was aboard the Lusitania when it went down, but he survived.
Source: Daugherty, Greg. “Seven Famous People Who Missed the Titanic.” Smithsonian, 1 Mar. 2012, www.smithsonianmag.com/history/seven-famous-people-who-missed-the-titanic-101902418/.

The topic sentence is:

Version B
Which of the following is a topic sentence that can be supported with reasons, details, examples, and explanations?

One way to make sure you have a unified paragraph is to write a clear topic sentence that states the subject of the paragraph and the point you want to make about it.

Read the following passage and identify the topic sentence. (Hint: It’s not always the first sentence.)

Many Americans believe in equality between the genders. However, the data suggest that equality has not been achieved. It has not been achieved in the workplace, where, according to the Department of Labor statistics, a women makes 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Also, the median annual earning for full-time, year-round women workers in 2010 was $36,931 compared to men’s $47,715. In addition to the workplace, women also have less of a voice in government. Women constitute about 51% of the population, but they hold only 17% of the seats in Congress, which suggests that equality has not yet been achieved in this sphere either.
Source: Shannon, Victoria. “Equal Rights for Women? Survey Says: Yes, but . . . .” The New York Times, 1 July 2010, www.nytimes.com/2010/07/01/world/01iht-poll.html?_r=0.

The topic sentence is:

Version C
Which of the following is a topic sentence that can be supported with reasons, details, examples, and explanations?

One way to make sure you have a unified paragraph is to write a clear topic sentence that states the subject of the paragraph and the point you want to make about it.

Read the following passage and identify the topic sentence. (Hint: It’s not always the first sentence.)

Many people think of music as a source of entertainment, while others feel it’s just a tune playing in the background. Active listening of anything from a Mozart symphony to a Beatles song has an enormous, positive effect on the brain. Engagement with music can improve memory and focus, especially in children, by stimulating the brain. It also engages parts of the brain that control our emotions. When you listen to music, the brain releases dopamine, prolactin, and serotonin, which are chemicals that boost your mood. As a result, people tend to feel an increase in energy and a decrease in stress levels. Finally, tuning out and turning on your tunes can shift your brain waves from beta to more relaxed alpha and theta states.
Source: Chan, Amanda L. “Music and Health: 11 Ways Playing and Listening to Music Help Both Body and Mind.” The Huffington Post, 15 June 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/music-and-health-11-ways-body-mind_n_1413241.html.

The topic sentence is:

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