Compare the Difference Between Similar Terms
What is the Difference Between Thesis and Topic Sentence
October 12, 2021 Posted by Sethmini
The key difference between thesis and topic sentence is that a thesis sentence contains the main idea of the paper or essay , whereas a topic sentence contains the main idea of a paragraph .
Both thesis and topic sentences should be specific, focused and clear. In addition, they are not questions or predictions. They are declarative statements and are necessary for the organization of an essay.
1. Overview and Key Difference 2. What is a Thesis Sentence 3. What is a Topic Sentence 4. Thesis vs Topic Sentence in Tabular Form 5. Summary – Thesis vs Topic Sentence
What is a Thesis Sentence?
A thesis sentence is the summary of the main points in a research paper or a thesis . It is a single sentence that is usually in the conclusion of the introductory paragraph. It helps to develop and organize the body of the thesis. It also contains the controlling idea of an essay and maintains its unity. Through this sentence, the opinions and the judgements of the writer too can be identified.
There are two types of thesis sentences: explanatory and argumentative . An explanatory sentence mentions the subject, whereas an argumentative sentence is a claim that the readers may agree or disagree with.
Features of a Good Thesis Sentence
- Provide the direction of the paper
- Have evidence
How to Write a Thesis Sentence
- Understands the topic
- Limit the scope
What is a Topic Sentence?
A topic sentence is a sentence that summarizes the main idea of a paragraph. It is also known as the focus sentence . This is the most important sentence in a paragraph. It can be anywhere in a paragraph, but usually, in academic essays, it is the first sentence.
The topic sentence is the main element in organizing a paragraph because the rest of the paragraph supports this sentence. This develops one main point in an essay. This not only summarizes the content of a paragraph but contains the main idea as well. A topic sentence maintains the coherence of paragraphs and the essay. There are two parts to a topic sentence. They are,
- The topic – subject of a paragraph
- Controlling idea – point of the paragraph. Guides and supports the paragraph. This may reveal the writer’s opinions as well.
Examples of Topic Sentences
- The world is very different now (John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, 1961)
- Grandma’s room I regarded as a dark den of primitive rites and practices. (E.L. Doctorow, World’s Fair. Random House, 1985)
- You discover what it is like to be hungry. (George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London . Victor Gollancz, 1933)
Features of a Topic Sentence
- The first sentence or near the first sentence of a paragraph
- Introduces the paragraph
- Contains new information
- General enough to explore
- Strong (usually without starting from ‘there is’ or ‘there are’)
What is the Difference Between Thesis and Topic Sentence?
The key difference between thesis and topic sentence is that a thesis sentence contains the main idea of the paper or essay, while a topic sentence is a sentence that contains the main idea of a paragraph. Moreover, while a thesis sentence is broad, a topic sentence is narrow.
The following table summarizes the difference between thesis and topic sentence.
Summary – Thesis vs Topic Sentence
A thesis sentence is the summary of the main points in a research paper or a thesis. It occurs at the end of the introductory paragraph as the conclusion. It gives an insight into the essay or thesis. This statement should be based on evidence. A topic sentence, on the other hand, is a sentence that summarizes the main idea of a paragraph. Generally, it is the first sentence in a paragraph and contains the main idea. It maintains the coherence of paragraphs and the essay. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between thesis and topic sentence.
1. “ Thesis Statement .” Wikipedia , Wikimedia Foundation. >2. “ Topic Statement .” Wikipedia , Wikimedia Foundation.
1. “ 4576720 ” (CC0) via Pixabay 2. “ Writing essay ” By Azikahkhan – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
About the Author: Sethmini
Sethmini is a graduate in English with B.A.(Honours) in English and English Language Teaching. She is interested in languages and is an experienced teacher of English. She enjoys writing on topics like art, music, dancing, travel, nature, and food.
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A thesis statement defines the scope and purpose of the paper. It needs to meet three criteria: 1. It must be arguable rather than a statement of fact. It should also say something original about the topic. Bad thesis: Lily Bart experiences the constraints of many social conventions in The House of Mirth . [Of course she does. What does she do with these social conventions, and how does she respond to them? What's your argument about this idea?] Better thesis: Lily Bart seeks to escape from the social conventions of her class in The House of Mirth , but her competing desires for a place in Selden's "republic of the spirit" and in the social world of New York cause her to gamble away her chances for a place in either world. [You could then mention the specific scenes that you will discuss.] 2. It must be limited enough so that the paper develops in some depth. Bad thesis: Lily Bart and Clare Kendry are alike in some ways, but different in many others. [What ways?] Better thesis: Lily Bart and Clare Kendry share a desire to "pass" in their respective social worlds, but their need to take risks and to reject those worlds leads to their destruction. 3. It must be unified so that the paper does not stray from the topic. Bad thesis: Lily Bart gambles with her future, and Lawrence Selden is only a spectator rather than a hero of The House of Mirth . [Note: This is really the beginning of two different thesis statements.] Better thesis: In The House of Mirth, Lawrence Selden is a spectator who prefers to watch and judge Lily than to help her. By failing to assist her on three separate occasions, he is revealed as less a hero of the novel than as the man responsible for Lily's downfall. [Note: Sometimes thesis statements are more than one sentence long.] 4. Statements such as "In this essay I will discuss " or "I will compare two stories in this paper" or "I was interested in Marji's relationship with God, so I thought I would talk about it in this essay" are not thesis statements and are unnecessary, since mentioning the stories in the introduction already tells the reader this. Topic Sentences Good topic sentences can improve an essay's readability and organization. They usually meet the following criteria: 1. First sentence. A topic sentence is usually the first sentence of the paragraph, not the last sentence of the previous paragraph. 2. Link to thesis . Topic sentences use keywords or phrases from the thesis to indicate which part of the thesis will be discussed. 3. Introduce the subject of the paragraph. They tell the reader what concept will be discussed and provide an introduction to the paragraph. 4. Link to the previous paragraph. They link the subject of the present paragraph to that of the previous paragraph. 5. Indicate the progression of the essay. Topic sentences may also signal to the reader where the essay has been and where it is headed through signposting words such as "first," "second," or "finally." Good topic sentences typically DON'T begin with the following. 1. A quotation from a critic or from the piece of fiction you're discussing. The topic sentence should relate to your points and tell the reader what the subject of the paragraph will be. Beginning the paragraph with someone else's words doesn't allow you to provide this information for the reader. 2. A piece of information that tells the reader something more about the plot of the story. When you're writing about a piece of literature, it's easy to fall into the habit of telling the plot of the story and then adding a sentence of analysis, but such an approach leaves the reader wondering what the point of the paragraph is supposed to be; it also doesn't leave you sufficient room to analyze the story fully. These "narrative" topic sentences don't provide enough information about your analysis and the points you're making.
Weak "narrative" topic sentence: Lily Bart next travels to Bellomont, where she meets Lawrence Selden again. Stronger "topic-based" topic sentence: A second example of Lily's gambling on her marriage chances occurs at Bellomont, where she ignores Percy Gryce in favor of Selden. [Note that this tells your reader that it's the second paragraph in a series of paragraph relating to the thesis, which in this case would be a thesis related to Lily's gambling on her marriage chances.]
3. A sentence that explains your response or reaction to the work, or that describes why you're talking about a particular part of it, rather than why the paragraph is important to your analysis.
Weak "reaction" topic sentence: I felt that Lily should have known that Bertha Dorset was her enemy. Stronger "topic-based" topic sentence: Bertha Dorset is first established as Lily's antagonist in the train scene, when she interrupts Lily's conversation with Percy Gryce and reveals that Lily smokes.
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Thesis & Topic Sentences
Your thesis and topic sentences predict for your reader what the essay will be about, so you need to articulate these carefully..
Thesis: Growing up in an Italian-American family has definitely influenced me.
Topic Sent. 1: My family always liked to eat Italian food.
Topic Sent. 2: I come from a close-knit family.
Topic Sent. 3: People tend to stereotype Italians based on films.
Compare the difference in the following outline.
Thesis: Since I am a third-generation American-born man, people are always surprised at my strong ethnic identification as an Italian-American. Topic Sentence 1: One of the most significant influences of my ethnic heritage is the strong family loyalties and our close-knit extended family. Topic Sentence 2: My family has always adhered to its ethnic traditions, with everything from food to holiday celebrations. Topic Sentence 3: Even though I do not have difficulties with language or culture, I still feel the repercussions of the stereotypical Italian-American prejudices that are particularly evident in Hollywood mafia films.
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