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The sentences:

Some of the foundation work for a more just, sustainable future has a very high profile, ringing resonantly in the fine speeches of the world leaders, advocated passionately by the massed groups of environmental and development organizations, amplified with increasing authority by the world's media. Despite the media's tendency to leap from one fashionable cause to the next (from world hunger to AIDS to the environment), it would be narrow-minded to deny their part in increasing environmental awareness. It is easier to be "green" today than ever before.
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Now, what is the topic sentence?

IMO, it's "Some of the foundation work for a more just, sustainable future has a very high profile," (and the conclusion is "It is easier to be "green" today than ever before"). But the problem is, it's not really A COMPLETE SENTENCE: it's part of a complete sentence, followed by participles.

Is it OK to teach my students that part of a sentence can be also called "topic sentence"?
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Comments  
Wow, that's a really long sentence. I personally think that it's WAY TOO LONG and loses the reader about halfway through it.

I'm not officially an English teacher, but I would think that for something to be a topic "sentence" it would need to end with a period. Otherwise, it's a clause. That's a tough one, though, Taka.
Yes, that's way too long. Plus, the participle-part is too specific. And a topic sentence would need to end with a period. That's why I'm puzzled...
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Taka, the topic sentence does not have to come at the beginning of a paragraph. In this case, the closest thing to a topic sentence is:

'It is easier to be "green" today than ever before.'

I agree with you that it sounds rather 'conclusion-like', and I think that is because it is cast rather dramatically. It would be better placed at the beginning of the paragraph, and a new concluding sentence (though please mark that each individual paragraph of an essay does not need a conclusion-- it needs only a general thesis with details or examples or elucidation)-- something like:

'As a result many previously uncommitted organizations are now jumping on the bandwagon.'
Yes, initially I thought it might be the topic sentence. But it also looks like a restatement of "Some of the foundation work for a more just, sustainable future has a very high profile."

What do you think?
As I tried to say, 'It is easier to be "green" today than ever before' is the topic sentence. 'Some of the foundation work for a more just, sustainable future has a very high profile' is just elucidation of the general topic of 'being green today'. The topic sentence need not be the first sentence.

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OK.

One more question. Do topic sentences ALWAYS have to end with a period?
By definition, yes. It would not be a sentence otherwise. The general paragraph form, as you know, is : (1) topic sentence-- a general statement or opinion; (2) paragraph body-- sentence(s) supplying specific details or explanations to support (1). As I said before, paragraph layout is often varied, and (1) may well appear at the end, while any conclusion may be postponed until after several paragraphs or until the end of the composition.

Practically speaking, I can imagine that in short paragraphs, the topic could appear in a clause. After all, the whole paragraph may be only a single sentence. For example, the topic of this paragraph could be taken to be the clause 'the topic could appear in a clause', although if asked to select the 'topic sentence', I would be obliged to choose 'Practically speaking...in a clause'.
Thank you, Mister Micawber. I got it, except this part:

For example, the topic of this paragraph could be taken to be the clause 'the topic could appear in a clause', although if asked to select the 'topic sentence', I would be obliged to choose 'Practically speaking...in a clause'.
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Did you mean to say:

For example, the topic of this paragraph could be taken to be the clause, if asked to select the 'topic sentence': 'the topic could appear in a clause.' I would be obliged to choose-practically speaking' in a clause.'

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