Business English Lesson – The Paragraph Topic Sentence

The topic sentence for a paragraph can be very important when writing because it tells the reader what they can expect to read about in your paragraph. This lesson will also look at limiters or controlling ideas for the paragraph topic sentence with the aim of limiting the topic. 

The topic sentence lets the reader know what the paragraph will be about, much like the introduction to a book or an essay. You will say what the topic is, but also have a topic limiter or “controlling idea” that will limit the paragraph to an aspect of the topic, which is that part of the topic that you will talk about. This is the limiter, or what others call a controlling idea. In short, a limiter limits your writing to a certain part of the topic. 

For example, if you want to write a description of the city you live in, you can have the topic sentence for your paragraph set as “I am going to describe London”. How much can you write about London using this topic sentence? You can write much more than one paragraph using this topic because it has no limit. If you use a limiter or controlling idea you can shorten the amount you need to write. For example, “I am going to describe London’s subway system”. Again, this will be a big topic, but you will be able to write about this with fewer words than the first topic sentence. Try to use a topic sentence that tells the reader what your topic is as well as what part of the topic you will write about. 

To decide if your topic limiter does the job, ask yourself – “Can I write about this in one paragraph or do I need to write more than one?”. This will tell you if you have limited the topic enough. You don’t want to limit the topic too much. If you limit it too much you may just need to write the topic sentence. For example “I like ice cream”. You are done. “I like ice cream for a few reasons” has limited the topic to the reasons you like ice cream and the reader now expects you to write the reasons why you like ice cream. 

This was a short lesson about the paragraph topic sentence, so I hope that you are now able to write better topic sentences for paragraphs. 


See our Business English course videos at 

You can find the the Business English Writing Course description at

To find out more please complete our Business English course

Information Form