Expository Essay: The Central Idea What is a central idea?



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Expository Essay: The Central Idea

What is a central idea?

  • A central idea is the main idea of an expository essay.
  • It is often a point you want support in an essay.
  • SO
  • The central idea explains to a reader the main idea of the essay, and the writer’s opinions on that idea.

A central idea is usually one sentence.

  • A central idea is usually one sentence.
  • It is placed in the introductory paragraph of an essay.
  • An expository essay will contain evidence that supports the central idea.

Central ideas avoid the following:

  • the first person (I believe, In my opinion, etc.)
  • unclear language (It seems, etc.)
  • attempting two topics at once (even if they seem related). Pick one and stick with it.
  • just stating a fact - A central idea is something you plan to support with evidence.

A central idea should

  • contain a topic (main idea of what you are writing about)
  • contain an opinion about the topic (what your attitude is toward the topic)

A central idea should not be too general.

  • Too General
  • Krahn Elementary is a fantastic school.
  • Better
  • Highly qualified teachers make Krahn Elementary a fantastic school.

Which sentence is too general to be a good central idea?

  • One reason to live in Spring, Texas is its diversity.
  • Spring, Texas is a great place to live.

Too General

  • Spring, Texas is a great place to live.

A central idea should not be too wordy.

  • Wordy
  • Some problems with Krahn Elementary School are that it needs more playground equipment, an auditorium, and restrooms connected to each classroom.
  • Better
  • Krahn Elementary needs several changes to make it a better school.

Which sentence is too wordy to be a good central idea statement?

Too Wordy

  • Abraham Lincoln was an excellent speaker, the 16th President of the United States, a liberator of slaves, and united the North and South at the end of the American Civil War.

A central idea should not be too general.

  • Too general
  • Krahn Elementary is a good school.
  • Better
  • Daily writing practice has led to improved writing skills for the students at Krahn Elementary.

Which sentence is too general to be a good central idea?

  • A. Music makes people happy.
  • B. Music therapy is useful in relieving stress and other conditions.

Too general

  • Music makes people happy.

Directions: 1) Find the opinion words in the statement. If there are no opinion words, it is not a central idea. 2) Tell if the statement is a good central idea.

  • Although most people believe otherwise, bats are harmless and highly beneficial.

Directions: 1) Find the opinion words in the statement. If there are no opinion words, it is not a central idea. 2) Tell if the statement is a good central idea.

Directions: 1) Find the opinion words in the statement. If there are no opinion words, it is not a central idea. 2) Tell if the statement is a good central idea.

  • Energetic exercise is a good way to help relieve stress.

Directions: 1) Find the opinion words in the statement. If there are no opinion words, it is not a thesis statement. 2) Tell if the statement is a good thesis statement.

  • Spring and Galveston differ in many ways.

Directions: 1) Find the opinion words in the statement. If there are no opinion words, it is not a central idea. 2) Tell if the statement is a good central idea.

  • This paper will consider the advantages and disadvantages of students having nightly homework.

Take out a piece of notebook paper and number from 1 to 10. In each of the following slides tell whether the sentence is a good or bad central idea.

Good or Bad

  • Many people do not like to watch violent horror movies.
  • Today’s movies do not have the emotional impact of the classic horror movies of the 1940’s.

Good or Bad

  • Rap music is the best music ever.
  • Although many people find rap music offensive, it has had a positive impact on today’s youth.

Good or Bad

  • I enjoy white water rafting.
  • The first white water rafting trip can challenge a person both in body and spirit.

Good or Bad

  • Fourth grade students are busy.
  • The life of a typical fourth grade student is challenging due to the need to succeed in a variety of different subjects.

Good or Bad

  • Community service projects include building shelter for the homeless, servicing meals to the hungry, providing transportation for the sick, distributing clothes, and a large number of other helpful activities.
  • Students should help others who are less fortunate.


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