The Paragraph: Main Idea and Supporting Details
In this portion of the course, you will learn how to identify patterns of information
to determine the main idea and supporting details in a paragraph. You will also learn the difference
between the topic and the topic sentence—or the main idea sentence. Finally, you will
learn how to use the supporting details to identify the stated main idea or the implied main idea.
Patterns in the Paragraph
Writers organize their paragraphs so that the reader has a mental picture of
how the information is presented. If you can use patterns of informaiton
in the paragraph—and in the passage as a whole, for that matter—you
will be able to understand how the informaiton is organized and what the Writer
wanted you learn or conclude from the passage.
Video: What counts as reading?
Location of the Main Idea and Implied Main Ideas
Writers commonly add a main idea sentence to
their paragraphs because the paragraph is organized around that sentence.
Identifying the main idea and the main idea sentence is an important step
to understanding a passage.
However, writers do not always write a main idea sentence in their paragraph,
especially if the main idea is fairly clear. You should not “waste time” looking
for a main idea sentence that may not be there. The main idea is there, but you
will not find a sentence stating it. The important thing to do is to understand
the paragraph, and the main idea sentence, if it’s there, will be easy to spot.
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