How to Identify the Topic & Controlling Idea in a Sentence

For a body paragraph in an essay, a controlling idea is a word or a phrase in the topic sentence of the paragraph that indicates what the paragraph is about. For an essay, the controlling idea would be the overall argument or point that you’re trying to make. At an essay level, a thesis statement would usually contain this main idea.

  • They want to be surrounded by the people they care about and who care about them.
  • “Music” is a huge subject, on which thousands of volumes have been written.
  • Each part of the paragraph plays an important role in communicating your meaning to your reader.

And Gladwell’s use of the words “spread” and “viruses” in this sentence is in no way accidental. These are absolutely great stories…even though the controlling idea/theme for all three isn’t earth shaking. You do them because you actually enjoy cleaning her socks. Because you love her and desire to make her life a small bit easier. And you don’t give her crazy thanks for the boots of yours she bought out of her “rainy day” fund to replace your holey ones with the double-knotted laces. Those are just everyday acts of love that you do for her and she does for you that you both come to rely on. She can count on you and you can count on her.

Your Answer

This is really a question about writing rather than about English grammar. I would say that vineyards and wineries were similar enough to count as the same ‘controlling idea’. Skillful writers use topic sentences to both introduce their paragraph and to transition from the previous paragraph. Topic sentences as transitions help the essay feel smoother and more cohesive to the reader. Your thesis statement is the most important part of your writing; without it your paper doesn’t have a main point or stance. A thesis statement states the purpose and topic of your writing and the controlling idea indicates the direction and often the writing strategy you will adopt.

You will often use a persuasive topic sentence when writing for school, such as in literary essays. Write a topic sentence for the following paragraph. During the 1990s, I really enjoyed watching Friends on television every Thursday night. I really wanted Rachel’s haircut—I think every girl wanted Rachel’s haircut back then! Rachel’s haircut went really well with the Guess Jeans that were so popular in the 1990s. I remember all the advertisements for Guess and Calvin Klein Jeans that were in each month’s Sassy magazine.


The process may also improve your own expository and academic writing as you come to understand and see modeled how to write a topic sentence in your own papers or essays. Before you can begin to determine what the composition of a particular paragraph will be, you must consider what is the most important idea that you are trying to convey to your reader. This is the “controlling idea,” or the thesis statement from which you compose the remainder of the paragraph. In other words, your paragraphs should remind your reader that there is a recurrent relationship between your controlling idea and the information in each paragraph.

what is controlling idea

It is still only suggesting a topic, yet again. A topic sentence needs to contain the topic of your paragraph and a controlling idea. Sometimes the topic sentence is at the end of the paragraph, especially when the paragraph is a narrative or a mysterious story. Placing it at the end creates suspense or sometimes works to tell the point of the story. As you can see, the controlling idea expresses a specific opinion, viewpoint, or focus. It goes beyond simply stating the topic of the essay and provides insight into what the essay will be about.

Controlling Idea: Claims

The point of an essay or research paper is called thethesis. Because the main characters witness extreme sacrifices, they both seem to undergo internal and external conflicts. Likewise, graduating from high school is important for many different reasons.

what is controlling idea

For an essay the controlling idea would be the overall argument or point that you’re trying to make. The following topic sentences have controlling ideas.

The Most Dangerous Game Vs High Noon Essay

Someone may think that Montana or Tennessee has more beautiful mountains. ” what is controlling idea can help identify the controlling idea of an opinion-based topic sentence.

Remember that the Big Idea Nonfiction book requires a blatant statement of the controlling idea/theme. In fiction, controlling ideas are beneath the surface. A controlling idea/theme must describe the climactic value charge of the entire Story, either positively or negatively. The controlling idea itself may provide specific limitation. In either case, this limited scope, then, serves to unify the paragraph, since any discussion must be within the parameters of the controlling idea. I want to tell my readers that home education is important, so I’ll tell them about its benefits.

Topic Sentence

Do not think of developing paragraphs in terms of their length. Length and appearance do not determine whether a part in your paper is a paragraph. It is the unity and coherence of ideas represented in a sentence or among sentences that constitutes a good paragraph.

what is controlling idea

The topic is “pollution in ABC Town is the worst in the world” and the controlling idea is “many reasons.” It is important to distinguish between a topic and a controlling idea.

VI So remember

The word gives you no idea whatsoever of the actual topic of the essay – “what about music? You will often be asked to state the controlling idea of an essay you have read, and to state the controlling idea of your own essays. Let’s start with the kinds of answers that are NOT appropriate.

what is controlling idea

Like Love Story and The Firm with their familiar controlling idea/themes, Big Idea Nonfiction can be straightforward narrative from start to finish and still satisfy. Don’t be alarmed when fiction controlling idea/themes reveal themselves as cliché. There is no need to flagellate yourself because you are exploring a reiteration of a desperately needed statement of truth.

Writing the Perfect Controlling Idea for Film and TV: The ULTIMATE Guide

A controlling idea is a topic sentence in a paragraph. It may also be referred to as a thesis statement. You can see this structure in paragraphs whether they are narrating, describing, comparing, contrasting, or analyzing structure of expository essay information. Each part of the paragraph plays an important role in communicating your meaning to your reader. Notice how the writer provided three reasons to back up the phrase “several reasons” in the controlling idea.

As we create our story our controlling idea should guide every sentence we write. The topic of this sentence is a laboratory report. In this sentence, the controlling idea specifically states the limitation-four sections. Thus, the reader can predict that the writer will list and describe the four sections in order.