The Top Bun

One of the hardest elements for many students is idea of a topic sentence.

But in many ways, they are pretty easy if you think of the topic sentence like the top bun of a hamburger.

The top bun cannot be ten feet wide. It has to limit itself to the width of the ingredients inside.

In the same way, the topic sentence or the thesis statement has to be limited, and basically tell you what's going to be in the burger. If I write, "I love New York," that's a bad topic sentence because it's huge. It doesn't give any sense of the size of the paragraph or essay or what it will include.

But if I just add, "for three reasons," now I know what's going to be in the paragraph or essay -- the three reasons.

Basically, you're making the bun fit the burger.

Technically, the "topic" of the paragraph or essay would be would be "I love to visit New York." The "controlling idea" would be "for three reasons."

The controlling idea limits the essay to those three reasons. While a "direct" thesis statement tells you the three reasons, if you just write any statement and add "for three reasons," you have an acceptable topic sentence.

I like ice cream for three reasons.
Houses are better than apartments for three reasons.
My favorite book is The Cat in the Hat for three reasons.

While there are slight modifications depending on the essay type, this tendency is true for all academic writing.

Now, let's move on to the first reason, or the lettuce.

Created by Linguistic Solutions
A division of Raver-Lampman & Associates

EssayMaps Homepage