Natural Therapies Institute

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Topic Sentence Versus Thesis Statement: What Are the Differences?


The topic sentences and thesis statements are two very important but distinct parts of a well-written essay, term paper, research paper or just about any other academic writing. There are some students that still have trouble know the difference between the two, however, and as a result their papers can suffer tremendously. Here are the differences between these two types of statements:

Thesis Statement: An essay should have a specific main point as its focal point. A thesis statement is a one sentence summary of an essay’s main point. It presents the essay’s subject and main point about the subject.

For example: Boxing, once the nation’s biggest sport, has lost its popularity because of corruption within the sport. In this case, “boxing” is the subject and the main point or argument is that it’s “lost its popularity because of corruption”.

A thesis should define the scope and purpose of an essay and meet the following criteria:

  1. A thesis needs to be arguable rather than a simple statement of fact and should say something about specific about the topic.
  2. A thesis should be specific and limited enough so that essay develops in some depth.
  3. A thesis needs to be unified so that the paper doesn’t stray too far off topic.

Thesis statements should never contain comments like “I will compare” or “In this essay I will discuss”. These are not strong thesis statements and entirely unnecessary since.

Topic Sentence: A body paragraph should have a specific supporting point to your thesis. A topic sentence is one sentence summary of a paragraph’s main point and should directly relate to and support the essay’s thesis statement.

For example: Unregulated investments towards some of boxing’s big ticket fighters opened the door for corruption. In this case, the writer is making a point about how early corruption in the sport was caused by the lack of a watch system guarding against questionable investments.

A topic sentence should be the first sentence of a paragraph and let the reader know what will be discussed in that paragraph. A topic sentence will meet the following criteria:

  1. A topic sentence should state clearly what part of the argument will be discussed by using a keyword or phrase from your thesis.
  2. A topic sentence will link the subject of the present paragraph to that of the previous paragraph.
  3. A topic sentence will signal to the reader where the essay has been and where it is headed.