Skip navigation

Snap Language

Getting Smarter through Language

Intermediate Reading Course. Section 1: The Basics

Stated and Implied Main Ideas as Patterns of Information

  Email this page

 Course Navigation

In the lesson about main ideas and supporting details we saw that writers organize their paragraphs around a main idea. We also saw in the lesson about the location of the main idea, that writers often write the main idea sentence somewhere in the paragraph—often but not always!


It is highly recommended you complete The anatomy of a paragraph. It has the basic concepts we will extend in this lesson.

Stated Main Idea

When the writer writes the main idea sentence in the paragraph, it is called a stated main idea. This makes the paragraph very clear to the reader.

Implied Main Idea

Something is “implied” when you can gather contextual information to figure out what it is.

Some things does not need to be stated, or said. By giving you enough information or a good clue, you can infer the meaning. The meaning is implied. If I ask you if you want to go out to eat and you answer, “I had a long, difficult day at work today,” you are implying that you are too tired to go out to eat.

Look at the photo below. Just by looking at the details in the photo, what does it say about the weather?

The photo shows a lot of water on the ground. Drops of water are falling on it. That creates small splashes on the surface of the water on the ground.

The “main idea” in the photo is “It’s raining,” right? But you could figure it out just by looking at the details—or by hearing a description of it.

A paragraph can sometimes be just like this photograph. It does not have a main idea sentence in it, but all you need to do is look at the details to understand the main idea the writer is to communicating. Even though there is no main idea sentence in it, the main idea is implied.

How to Figure Out the Implied Main Idea

Read the paragraph, focusing on understanding the content. See patterns of information in the details and ask yourself:

What is the topic of the paragraph?

What does the writer have to say about the topic?

How do the details come together to elaborate on the main idea?

If you find a sentence that answers and summarizes these questions, that’s the main idea sentence. If there is no such sentence in the paragrpaph, the main idea is implied, so you must come up with it yourself.

Video Activity

Watch Implied main idea and take good study notes.

You can study the page and watch the video in any order.

Examples of Paragraphs with Implied Main Ideas

Example 1

What is the implied main idea in the following paragraph, which you saw in Anatomy of a Paragraph?

1Professor Ecks assigns homework every week. 2You will also take a quiz weekly in his courses. 3You’d better turn in your assignments on time because he accepts no late work. 4However, you will learn a lot because he explains everything very well and keeps you engaged in interesting discussions every class. 6He also takes a genuine interest in his students. 7He always makes time for you and, if needed, he will help you individually.

Professor Ecks

The details elaborate on two characteristics of Professor Ecks’s. He is a demanding instructor (Sentences 1–3) and he is a very good instructor (Sentences 4–7). Summarizing these, you get the implied main idea.

”Professor Ecks is a demanding but excellent instructor.”

”Professor Ecks is a demanding instructor, but he is very good.”

Example 2

What is the implied main idea in the following paragraph?

1Weekly quizzes is one way students will be tested in this course. 2Weekly quizzes will test your understanding of the material taught during the week. 3Quizzes are completed online and are typically due on Saturday. 4Exams is the other way students will be tested. 5Each of three exams will test your understanding of all materials covered up to the date of the exam.

how students are tested in this course

The pattern here is one way students will be tested… and the other way students will be tested. This means there are two ways.

The point of the paragraph is to explain how students will be tested in the course. The details elaborate on these two ways students are tested in the course: quizzes and exams.

”Students are tested in two ways in this course.”

“In this course, students will be tested in two ways.”

Example 3

Lead” in the paragraph below refers to a dangerous metal. What is the implied main idea in the paragraph?

1Depending on the level of exposure, lead can adversely affect the nervous system, kidney function, immune system, and the cardiovascular system. 2It also affects the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. 3Lead causes behavioral and learning problems in young children. 4It also delays children’s development, contributing to learning deficits and lowered intelligence.

lead or, more specifically, lead exposure

Based on the pattern of information, you can see that the writer is listing the many health problems that exposure to lead can cause in both adults and children. The point the writer is making (that is, the implied main idea of the paragraph) is that “Lead exposure causes many health problems in adults and children.”

”Lead exposure causes many health problems in adults and children.”

”Exposure to lead causes many serious health problems to adults and children.”

Up Next: Main Ideas in Storytelling

Go to the next lesson to learn about main ideas in stories.