I am writing a two-sided essay, and my teacher told me to underline the topic sentence in every paragraph. But I have a problem. First, take a look at the essay structure:

[1] Hook, small context, thesis (P is bad, Q is good).
[2] It is true that P has these benefits. Firstly, A...
[3] Secondly, B...
[4] However, despite A and B, Q is better. Firstly, C....
[5] Secondly, D....
[6] To conclude, [restatement of thesis, P is bad, Q is good] + my final thoughts

A topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph and it is the most important sentence in a paragraph. But for the first paragraph [1], is the hook the topic sentence? I don't really think so. Secondly, for [4], the main idea is C, not the turning point. But I have to put the however sentence to show that it is the turning point. Should I underline the first sentence, the second sentence, or both? This is also similar to [2]. Lastly, is there a topic sentence to the concluding paragraph?

P.S. I don't know if I posted in the right stack exchange site with more than 150 different sites. If this isn't the correct site, would you kindly tell me the best site to post this question on? Thanks :)

  • Topic sentences are usually but not always the first sentence in a paragraph. Except for purposes of answering your teacher who insists that they are always first.
    – Mary
    Aug 21, 2020 at 3:17
  • If your teacher says to always underline the first sentence, then that's what you should do. You shouldn't be asking about underlining the second sentence. If you think the second sentence is better to start the paragraph with, then move it into the place of the first sentence. Aug 21, 2020 at 4:47
  • @Mary "Topic sentences are usually but not always the first sentence in a paragraph" Is this true? If so, this would solve the problem for [2] and [4]!
    – user46525
    Aug 21, 2020 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


The main tension here is in this statement:

A topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph AND it is the most important sentence in a paragraph

Is this your definition, or are these the guidelines your teacher has given you? If this is from the teacher, then there is a specific format he or she is mandating you follow, and you'll need to restructure your essay to follow it.

If it's your definition, or if it's possible you may have misunderstood your teacher, then maybe you just need to alter it, and drop the first requirement. Other possibly helpful definitions of "topic sentence" are as the "best description" of the paragraph, or as a summary of the main idea of the paragraph.

Given that, I would say your instincts are basically good. The thesis would be the topic sentence in the introductory paragraph, both for the paragraph and the entire essay. In the other paragraphs, the thesis might be at the beginning, but might potentially be elsewhere.

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