Supporting Sentences

Supporting Sentences

Whether you are writing a stand-alone paragraph, an essay, a book report, or a speech, you will need supporting sentences to flesh out your ideas.

Once you have decided on your topic sentence or thesis – or should I say “working” topic sentence or thesis – you will need to support it.

Recall that the topic sentence acts as a kind of umbrella for everything that follows in a paragraph. For an essay, the thesis is the primary argument and should be supported by each topic sentence in all body paragraphs. In a sense, the thesis is the granddaddy of topic sentences.

Before you begin writing any academic paragraph (the rules are far more relaxed for fiction), plot out your main points ahead of time. In this way, you can be reasonably certain that the ideas will unify the paragraph.

Each paragraph is a unit within itself. It should have a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and a conclusion. As you develop the ideas you plotted for the paragraph, add some meat to the bones, so to speak.

Don’t simply list!

I see this a lot. Students will write that the reasons for their argument are a, b, c, d, and e. The paragraph either ends at this point or the student repeats the list a few times before stopping. Neither of these is adequate.

Instead, take each of your points and develop it with details and explanations. Expand upon the basic idea so that your reader has a full understanding of your thoughts and how they connect to the topic sentence; and, by necessity in an essay, to the thesis. Ideally, everything should thread together to attain unity and coherence.

Many times, students feel that they don’t have anything to say, but you will surprise yourself if you just start writing with a purpose.


Take time.

If you have not created space and time for learning, you have some work to do. Writing well is something you need to practise and dedicate yourself to. That means turning off all unnecessary devices or apps within the device you are using and zeroing in only on task.

To add quality volume to your writing, think of examples that will clarify your point and explain clearly how it relates.

Use quotations when appropriate to provide external support and explanation.

Statistics can often not only clarify but also lend authority to a point.

Occasionally, even an anecdote will provide substantial and meaningful volume.

Often, students think that they should not write down a particular point because “the teacher already knows.” That may or may not be true, but it has nothing to do with your assignment. In most cases, anyone should be able to read your paper and gain insight into the topic. The fact that the teacher has read the play or novel should not stop you from explaining how your point fits into the context.

Your job is to prove your topic sentence to the audience.

Imagine that you are explaining your point of view to a friend. This can help you find pathways to a clearer, more thorough exposition.

Remember at the beginning I mentioned a “working” topic sentence or thesis. That means that you might need to adjust your topic sentence or thesis as you progress, and that’s fine (as long as your teacher has not stipulated one). You don’t want to be changing all the time, but an adjustment once you have teased out all of your supports can be useful. 

Above all, don’t be afraid to start writing or reluctant to follow the steps. They will make your life easier and improve the quality of your writing!

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