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What Is a Theme in a Sentence?

    The Basics

    • A theme sentence serves two purposes: to hook the reader and provide a clear statement of what will be presented in the paper. The theme sentence should immediately answer the reader’s questions, “Why should I read this essay?” and “What will I learn?” A good first draft of a theme sentence may begin with the phrase, “I intend to show” or “This paper will explain.” Overall, the theme sentence should be succinct, using the fewest and most powerful words possible. Do not use descriptive words like “great,” “beautiful,” “most” or “successful.” Instead, explain why you think something should be considered great or why a particular method or business is successful.

    First Draft

    • A theme sentence written before you begin the construction of the body of your paper does not have to be perfect. It only needs to help you focus your thoughts on the type of information you want to present. The theme sentence does not even need to be a sentence. It may be a rambling paragraph or a numbered list. Revisiting the theme sentence after the completion of your first draft will help you refine your statement. The second version of your theme sentence should reflect facts or arguments within the paper. After the body of the paper is completed, polish the theme sentence to give the most concise and accurate representation of your papers intent or argument.


    • Convention states that a theme sentence should appear at the end of your introductory paragraph. For a simple five-paragraph essay or even a 10-page paper this is a reasonable request. However, for longer works that require more than a single paragraph to adequately introduce a topic, your thesis statement may appear somewhere in the middle of the third page. Unless otherwise instructed, a theme sentence should fall at a conversational point shortly before the presentation of your first point.

    Be Specific

    • Though not necessary, it may help both you and your reader to know the exact points you intend to present rather than just the general argument. Instead of simply saying, “College students perform better when they sleep regularly,” you may want to state, “College students attend class more often, achieve higher test scores and matriculate faster when they sleep regularly.” The first theme sentence sounds like a discussion of college students sleep habits. The second theme sentence tells the reader exactly how the students perform when well rested and what you will be presenting in specific.

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