Lesson Eight

What are

supporting sentences?


Supporting sentences provide examples for the topic sentence. If a writer claims, for instance, that "Early childhood education programs provide cognitive benefits well beyond preschool," the second, third, and fourth sentences will include information supporting the main idea in the topic sentence. Supporting sentences might look like the ones you see in green:

   (1) Early childhood education programs such as Head Start provide cognitive benefits well beyond preschool.  (2) Recent studies that compare student test scores show that children who are exposed to structured learning activities outside the home environment are better able to adapt to formalized instruction in grades kindergarten through third grade than children who remain at home. (3) This is particularly true among children from low-income families and children whose parents have a limited proficiency in English. (4) Children living in states that do not provide early childhood programs, on the other hand, lag behind their peers. (5) State and local governments must continue to bridge the achievement gap so that students may reach their full potential at an early age.

Leading into the next topic sentence if this is an essay…

 Standardized test scores prove that academic preparedness contributes to a child’s success in elementary school.

Supporting sentences are much more specific than the topic sentence. If you make an outline before writing your paragraph, these are items A, B, and C and they almost always follow the topic sentence, which is the first sentence of the paragraph; however, it’s possible to begin a paragraph with a supporting sentence. For students who do not have a lot of experience in writing paragraphs, I recommend that the supporting sentences come after the topic sentence.


In the next lesson, you’ll see what a concluding sentence looks like in a paragraph.

Next: Lesson Nine