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What ’ s the Main Idea?. Understanding Paragraph Structure. Sometimes you might have to identify the topi c of a paragraph. The topic is the main idea of the paragraph. Each paragraph has one (1) main idea.

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what s the main idea

What’s the Main Idea?

Understanding Paragraph Structure

sometimes you might have to identify the topi c of a paragraph

Sometimes you might have to identify the topic of a paragraph.

The topic is the main idea of the paragraph.

Each paragraph has one (1) main idea.

to find the main idea you should be able to answer a very important question
To find the main idea, you should be able to answer a very important question:

Who or what is this paragraph about?

Let’s read a paragraph now and decide what it’s about.

slide4

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses. Among the most common pets are dogs. Dogs help people in many ways. First, they’re great companions. Many children love the family dog and have a loyal friend to play with every day. Older people also enjoy the company of their pet dogs. Dogs also serve humans as work animals, by corralling sheep, killing rats, and guarding homes and farms. Finally, dogs assist disabled people in various ways, such as leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and warning epileptics of impending seizures.

Pets are often an important part of people’s lives. Different types of animals can be pets, ranging from reptiles to horses. One of the most common pets is a dog. Dogs serve a variety of purposes for humankind. One way dogs serve humans is they are great just for companionship. Many an only child has bonded with his/her “Fido,” thus having a willing and loyal friend to play with on a daily basis. Additionally, dogs have served humans as work animals, corralling sheep, conquering rats, and guarding the homestead. Finally, dogs also assist people, for example, by leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and alerting epileptics of impending seizures.

slide6

Your answer should have been…..

dogs

Let’s look at the paragraph again and see why.

slide7

Let’s look at the first sentence in the paragraph.

“Pets play an important role in many people’s lives.”

Now ask yourself:

Is this what that whole paragraph is about?

Is the writer telling me that pets are important?

NO!

Therefore, this is not the main idea.

slide8

Let’s look at the next sentence.

“Different types of animals can be pets, ranging from reptiles to horses.”

Is the whole paragraph about different kinds of pets?

No.

Therefore, this is not the main idea.

slide9

Look at the next sentence.

“However, among the most common pets are dogs.”

Is the whole paragraph about how dogs are the most common pets?

No

No.

Therefore, this is not the main idea.

slide10

Let’s look at the next sentence.

“Dogs help people in many ways.”

Does the paragraph tell us about the different ways dogs help people?

YES!

slide11

The paragraph tells us about many ways that dogs can help people, so that’s the main idea!

Now we need to find the topic sentence, which tells us the main idea of the paragraph.

let s look at the first few sentences to see if we can find the topic sentence
Let’s look at the first few sentences to see if we can find the topic sentence.
  • Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses.

Is one of those the topic sentence?

No.

slide13

That was just the introduction. It didn’t tell us about the main idea yet. But let’s keep reading.

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses. Among the most common pets are dogs. Dogs help people in many ways.

Aha!

slide14

What’s the topic sentence?

Dogs help people in many ways.

slide15

You probably noticed that the rest of the paragraph gave us specific information about ways that dogs help people.

Those sentences are called major supporting details because they support (or prove) the main idea.

Now let’s look at those supporting details.

slide16

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses. Among the most common pets are dogs. Dogs help people in many ways. First, they’re great companions. Many children love the family dog and have a loyal friend to play with every day. Older people also enjoy the company of their pet dogs. Dogs also serve humans as work animals, by corralling sheep, killing rats, and guarding homes and farms. Finally, dogs assist disabled people in various ways, such as leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and warning epileptics of impending seizures.

slide17

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses. Among the most common pets are dogs. Dogs help people in many ways. First, they’re great companions. Many children love the family dog and have a loyal friend to play with every day. Older people also enjoy the company of their pet dogs. Dogs also serve humans as work animals, by corralling sheep, killing rats, and guarding homes and farms. Finally, dogs assist disabled people in various ways, such as leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and warning epileptics of impending seizures.

slide18

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses. Among the most common pets are dogs. Dogs help people in many ways. First, they’re great companions. Many children love the family dog and have a loyal friend to play with every day. Older people also enjoy the company of their pet dogs. Dogs also serve humans as work animals, by corralling sheep, killing rats, and guarding homes and farms. Finally, dogs assist disabled people in various ways, such as leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and warning epileptics of impending seizures.

slide19

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses. Among the most common pets are dogs. Dogs help people in many ways. First, they’re great companions. Many children love the family dog and have a loyal friend to play with every day. Older people also enjoy the company of their pet dogs. Dogs also serve humans as work animals, by corralling sheep, killing rats, and guarding homes and farms. Finally, dogs assist disabled people in various ways, such as leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and warning epileptics of impending seizures.

slide20

Let’s look at this again.

Major supporting detail #1:

First, they’re great companions.

Finally, dogs assist disabled people in various ways

Major supporting detail #2:

Dogs also serve humans as work animals

Major supporting detail #3::

slide21

But there’s more than just the topic sentence and those three major supporting details.

We don’t just want to be told that dogs are good companions. We want to know WHY they’re good companions. We want examples!

That extra information is found in the minor supporting details.

Let’s look at the paragraph again.

slide22

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses. However, among the most common pets are dogs. Dogs help people in many ways. First, they’re great companions. Many children love the family dog and have a loyal friend to play with every day. Older people also enjoy the company of their pet dogs. Dogs have also served humans as work animals, by by corralling sheep, killing rats, and guarding homes and farms. Finally, dogs assist disabled people in various ways, such as leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and warning epileptics of impending seizures.

slide23

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses. Among the most common pets are dogs. Dogs help people in many ways. First, they’re great companions.Many children love the family dog and have a loyal friend to play with every day. Older people also enjoy the company of their pet dogs. Dogs also serve humans as work animals, by corralling sheep, killing rats, and guarding homes and farms. Finally, dogs assist disabled people in various ways, such as leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and warning epileptics of impending seizures.

slide24

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses. Among the most common pets are dogs. Dogs help people in many ways. First, they’re great companions.Many children love the family dog and have a loyal friend to play with every day. Older people also enjoy the company of their pet dogs. Dogs also serve humans as work animals, by corralling sheep, killing rats, and guarding homes and farms. Finally, dogs assist disabled people in various ways, such as leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and warning epileptics of impending seizures.

slide25

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives. Many kinds of animals are used as pets, from reptiles to horses. Among the most common pets are dogs. Dogs help people in many ways. First, they’re great companions.Many children love the family dog and have a loyal friend to play with every day. Older people also enjoy the company of their pet dogs. Dogs also serve humans as work animals, by corralling sheep, killing rats, and guarding homes and farms. Finally, dogs assist disabled people in various ways, such as leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and warning epileptics of impending seizures.

slide26

Let’s look at the first major supporting detail.

First, they’re great companions.

How do we know they’re great companions?

We have two examples to support that statement:

  • Many children love the family dog and have a loyal friend to play with every day.
  • Older people also enjoy the company of their pet dogs.

These minor supporting details give us examples of HOW dogs are great companions.

here s an outline of what a paragraph looks like
Here’s an outline of what a paragraph looks like

The Topic Sentence

Major supporting detail #2

Major supporting detail #1

Minor supporting details

Minor supporting details

Major supporting detail #3

Minor supporting details

so remember what to look for in a paragraph
So remember what to look for in a paragraph!
  • The main idea (one word, if possible)
  • The topic sentence (not always the first!)
  • The major supporting details
  • The minor supporting details

PAYING ATTENTION TO THIS WILL HELP YOUR READING

AND YOUR WRITING!

now it s time to write
Now it’s time to write.

Pets play an important part of many people’s lives.

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