Example Of Main Idea Essay

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Parts of an Essay






Introduction Paragraph


What is an introduction paragraph?
The introduction paragraph is the first paragraph of your essay.

What does it do?
It introduces the main idea of your essay. A good opening paragraph captures the interest of your reader and tells why your topic is important.

How do I write one?

1.    Write the thesis statement. The main idea of the essay is stated in a single sentence called the thesis statement. You must limit your entire essay to the topic you have introduced in your thesis statement.

2.    Provide some background information about your topic. You can use interesting facts, quotations, or definitions of important terms you will use later in the essay.

Example:

Hockey has been a part of life in Canada for over 120 years. It has evolved into an extremely popular sport watched and played by millions of Canadians. The game has gone through several changes since hockey was first played in Canada.


Supporting Paragraphs


What are supporting paragraphs?
Supporting paragraphs make up the main body of your essay.

What do they do?
They develop the main idea of your essay.

How do I write them?

1.    List the points that develop the main idea of your essay.
2.    Place each supporting point in its own paragraph.
3.    Develop each supporting point with facts, details, and examples.

To connect your supporting paragraphs, you should use special transition words. Transition words link your paragraphs together and make your essay easier to read. Use them at the beginning and end of your paragraphs.


Examples of transition words that can help you to link your paragraphs together:


For listing different points


For counter examples

  • However
  • Even though
  • On the other hand
  • Nevertheless

For additional ideas

  • Another
  • In addition to
  • Related to
  • Furthermore
  • Also

To show cause and effect

  • Therefore
  • Thus
  • As a result of
  • Consequently

Like all good paragraphs, each supporting paragraph should have a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and a summary sentence.

Summary Paragraph


What is a summary paragraph?
The summary paragraph comes at the end of your essay after you have finished developing your ideas. The summary paragraph is often called a "conclusion."

What does it do?
It summarizes or restates the main idea of the essay. You want to leave the reader with a sense that your essay is complete.

How do I write one?

1.    Restate the strongest points of your essay that support your main idea.
2.    Conclude your essay by restating the main idea in different words.
3.    Give your personal opinion or suggest a plan for action.

Example:

Overall, the changes that occurred in hockey have helped to improve the game. Hockey is faster and more exciting as a result of changes in the past 120 years. For these reasons, modern hockey is a better game than hockey in the 1890s.



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Finding the Main Idea

How Can I Locate the Main Idea?

Once you can find the topic, you are ready to find the main idea. The main idea is the point of the paragraph. It is the most important thought about the topic.

To figure out the main idea, ask yourself this question: What is being said about the person, thing, or idea (the topic)?

The author can locate the main idea in different places within a paragraph. The main idea is usually a sentence, and it is usually the first sentence. The writer then uses the rest of the paragraph to support the main idea.

Let’s use the paragraph below as an example. First find the topic, then look for the main idea.

Summer is a wonderful time to spend at West Beach. It is a beach with light- colored, soft sand. The coastline goes on for a long way and many people enjoy walking along it. Children like to play in the surf and walk along the rocks that are visible at low tide. This is a fun beach for people of all ages. 

In this paragraph:    

  • the topic is West Beach
  • the main idea (what the writer is saying about the topic) is that summer is a wonderful time at West Beach

Here is another example:

The movie Apollo 13 was a blockbuster for the summer of 1995.It is an exciting story about space exploration. In the movie, the astronauts get in trouble while they are trying to return to Earth. People in the audience are on the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens. What makes it evenmore exciting is that it is a true story.

In this paragraph:  

  • the topic is the movie Apollo 13
  • the main idea is in the first sentence: Apollo 13 was a blockbuster for the summer of 1995

While the main idea is usually in the first sentence, the next most common placement is in the last sentence of a paragraph. The author gives supporting information first and then makes the point in the last sentence.

Here’s a paragraph we can use as an example. Try to locate the topic and the main idea.

Most teenagers and young adults do not know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. It is a big decision. There are a number of things you can do to narrow the choices. For example you can take an interest test, do some research on your own about a career, try volunteer work in the field in which you are interested, or “job-shadow”, in which you spend a day with a person who is working in a field that interests you. These are just a few helpful ideas as you begin to choose a career. 

In this paragraph:

  • the topic is jobs or career choices
  • the main idea is a few ideas to help the reader choose a career

Finally, an author might put the main idea in the middle of a paragraph. The author will spend a few sentences introducing the topic, present the main idea, then spend the rest of the paragraph supporting it. This can make the main idea more difficult to find.

See if you can find the topic and main idea in the paragraph below.

The United States seems to be in love with the idea of going out to eat. Because of this, a real variety of restaurants has come about specializing in all kinds of foods. McDonald’s is the king of a subgroup of restaurants called fast-food restaurants. Chances are, no matter where you live, there is a McDonald’s restaurant near you. There are even McDonald’s in the Soviet Union. Now McDonald’s is trying something new. It is called McDonald’s Express and there is a test site in Peabody, Massachusetts. It is part of a Mobil gas station. This allows you to fill up with gas and fill up on food at the same time. What will they think of next?

In this paragraph:

  • the topic is McDonald’s 
  • the main idea is in the middle of the paragraph, in the third sentence: McDonald’s is the king of fast food

Excerpted from:

Study Skills: A Landmark School Student Guide
(out of print)
by Diane Vener,
© 2002 Landmark School, Inc.

Let us know what you think! Email outreach@landmarkschool.org to share your thoughts and strategies.

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