Topic Sentences – Location, Location, Location!

Topic Sentences – Location, Location, Location!

At the beginning.

In blogs, videos, and my courses, I have often mentioned that the topic sentence of a sunrise-1756274_640paragraph should be at the beginning of the paragraph – often the first sentence.

While this is true in many cases, it does not HAVE to be the first sentence of a paragraph.  When writing essays for grade school or secondary school, teachers generally expect the topic sentence of body paragraphs to come at the beginning. The concluding paragraph has a restated or modified thesis statement at the beginning, and this serves as its topic sentence. Of course, the introductory paragraph is a bit of an exception.  It often starts with a “grabber” and/or focus statement, and the thesis statement (serving as the overarching topic sentence) comes at the end of the paragraph.

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For most stand-alone paragraph writing exercises in school, the expectation is for a topic sentence at or near the very beginning of the paragraph as well.


Having said all that, topic sentences can come at any point within a paragraph – even in academic writing at times.

At the end.

You can place the central idea at the end after several supporting sentences that have end-812226_640made the case for your argument or point of view. This can be especially useful in argument paragraphs because it leads the reader to your conclusion drawing them in with your amazing proofs and supports.

You knew you were amazing, right?  Of course.

Placing the topic sentence at the end of your paragraph can be effective in expository paragraphs as well. Leaving the central idea until the end can have a dramatic effect that attracts the reader to keep reading.

Of course, even if your topic sentence or central idea is withheld until the end of the paragraph, you still need to ensure that you have unity and coherence.  All the supports that come before the topic sentence need to be relevant and transition from one to another in order for the whole package to have the desired impact on the reader.  Remember that you have to “lead” them to your central idea and convince them with your message.

Nowhere – and everywhere.

Even more bizarre!

Some paragraphs don’t have the central idea explicitly stated at all! nowhere

This is often the case with narrative writing (relating a sequence of events) and sometimes descriptive writing.  This is especially true in fiction writing where many academic rules are “stretched” or broken.  You can imply the central idea with descriptions, action, dialogue, and so on. This is not to say that you never use topic sentences in fiction, but one topic sentence might serve several paragraphs rather than just one.  The continuity is important and, frankly, trying to generate a new topic sentence in the midst of a “flow” of description does not always make sense.

There you have it.  Topic sentences are not as stable as you thought.  They can move around from place to place.  Sometimes there are a couple of introductory sentences before a topic sentence as well.  Generally, I wouldn’t say the topic sentence comes in the middle of a paragraph, but it can be within it.

Still, for most academic writing, I recommend sticking to having the topic sentence at the beginning of most paragraphs.  It will serve you well.

When writing fiction, you have more freedom – but keep in mind that you still need to help the reader find your central idea using whatever techniques you choose.

Do you want to write more?  Do you want to improve your writing? Contact me, and I will set up a personal program for you. reading-86070_1920


This week’s video: Topic Sentences

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Frustrating Punctuation? Here is the solution.

Punctuation Made Easy!

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Does punctuation sometimes drive you crazy?

Maybe, maybe not; however, a lot of people have difficulty knowing when to use a comma versus a semicolon.

What is a colon, anyway? (No, I’m not talking about the one in your body. Yuck.)

How do you use quotation marks correctly?  Wait! What!  There are double quotation marks and single quotation marks?  Nice way to make things even more difficult.

Writing well includes the proper use of punctuation.  I have read many stories and articles, including essays, speeches, and book reports, that have many great ideas and some excellent development; however, I have to re-read many of the sentences because they are not punctuated properly.

Any teacher, professor, or – for that matter – reader will tell you that he or she prefers to read a sentence only once before moving on.  Nobody wants to have to “decipher” what you meant to write.

If you want to start raising the grade TODAY, then learn to punctuate your sentences correctly, particularly when writing longer articles because they are the most challenging to read when they are not punctuated well.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, keep it simple!  Complicating matters does not help the reader, the teacher, the professor, the editor, or you.

Of course, as you become a better writer, you will use more complex writing, but you will do so with the tools to make it easy to read and to comprehend, regardless of its complexity.  Like any professional, you make it look easy when you really know how to do it.  One of those tools is knowing how to use punctuation.

So, don’t let punctuation drive you crazy any longer. normal_crazy_mean_dog

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  • End Punctuation – 3 lessons
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This week’s video:    The Punctuation Made Easy course.

Remember, I would love to be your coach.  Check out the website or get in touch for further options and learning experiences.



The Simple Sentence

The Simple Sentence

What is it?

Technically, it is a complete sentence that has only one independent clause.

In other words, it has only one subject-verb combination.

It makes only one statement.

Note: The term “simple” doesn’t mean “easy.”  It is the technical term for having a sentence with one independent clause.

Note:  An independent clause contains at least one subject and one verb (predicate) and can stand (be understood) on its own.

Not always as simple as it seems!funny-2029437_640

The simple sentence should not be disrespected.  It is the clearest and most direct way to convey your thought.

There is a lot to be said for clarity.  In fact, many writers and students would benefit from making their writing more concise and more to the point.

A simple sentence can contain more than one subject and/or more than one verb.  In other words, it can have compound subjects and verbs.

A simple sentence can also have many modifiers.

So you see, “simple sentence” doesn’t have to mean boring or without variety.

(Having said this, you should still use a mixture of simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences in your writing.)

Basic simple sentences

Butterflies fly. (subject – butterflies  & verb – fly)

Damien cried.  (subject – Damien & verb – cried)

Simple sentences with a compound subject

Kyla and Carmen drove to the city.

The boys and girls sang a song.

Simple sentences with a compound predicate

Elias washed and polished the floor.

The ponies ran and jumped the fence.

Simple sentences with a compound subject and compound predicate

Ron and Gay live and work in Guelph.

The car and the truck raced and crashed.

Simple sentences with modifiersfile000532975511

Beyond the darkness, we could see a spotlight, shining like a beacon.

After the torrential rainstorm, the streets and pathways were flooded with water and detritus.

The changes in policy caused many clients to avoid or reduce purchasing from the shop.

Simple but awesome!

You can see that simple sentences don’t need to be too tedious. There are many modifiers, subjects, and verbs that you can add to create more interesting sentences even while still using the one basic structure.

When writing, try to use many sentence structures because this adds interest and makes the text easier to read.  It is never pleasant to read a longer piece of writing in which all sentences are simple or all sentences are compound-complex.  Using the same structure over and over and over and over and over and over – Okay, you get my point!

Experiment with writing simple sentences of your own or including them within your other writing tasks.

Some good, crisp simple sentences can add a lot of impact to your writing.  Don’t ignore simple sentences.  They are just as useful as all the other structures.  They should be an important part of your writing toolbox.

Do you want to improve?

For courses and lessons to improve your writing check out the website.

Reading, Writing, Math, and Online courses.

There are online courses that you can do on your own, or I can create a personalized set of lessons for you.  In this way, we can address any difficulties you are having directly.

Having your own personal coach can make a world of difference in your progress. reading-button


For more tips, check out this week’s video.  Simple Sentences