What is the Main Idea in a Paragraph? Here’s How to Determine It

What is the Main Idea in a Paragraph – Reading in the form of books, novels, articles, and news always has the main idea of ​​a paragraph. When reading a book or analyzing a book, readers can see the important content of each paragraph.

According to the Big Indonesian Dictionary (KBBI), extensive reading is needed to reach reading. Extensive reading is a person’s ability to be able to capture the contents of each paragraph. This reading process helps improve the skills of reading aspects.

These readings contain the main idea of ​​each paragraph, a summary of the contents of the reading, to finding facts and opinions. This reading process is necessary so that the reader can understand the essence and intent of a piece of writing.


What is Main Idea? Definition of Main Idea

The main idea of ​​a paragraph is the core of the conversation or the main problem in a reading. The main idea is a general sentence, then it can be explained through a more specific explanatory sentence, so that the reading is more coherent.

The main idea is the main sentence that contains the basic thoughts and ideas explained in other sentences. The main idea is also called the main idea, topic sentence, theme, subject matter, and main idea. In one paragraph, there is at least one main sentence which is the main idea. The main idea becomes the main core of a reading, then the next sentence provides information development.

Nurhaena (2010: 123) in Introduction to Indonesian argues that the main idea is the idea that underlies the preparation of a paragraph in the reading. The main idea is then developed again with more detailed sentences which are called supporting ideas or explanatory ideas. With the main ideas and explanatory ideas, the paragraphs in the reading can be arranged as a whole.

Furthermore, he clarifies that the main idea of ​​a paragraph is the soul of each paragraph or the core of friends discussed in a reading paragraph. Another term used to refer to the main idea is the main idea or main idea that underlies a reading paragraph.

In a paragraph there will only be one main idea, which is in the main sentence in the paragraph. The main idea is usually located at the beginning or end of the paragraph, but some are located in the middle of the paragraph.

Learning Indonesian recognizes terms, such as main thoughts, main ideas, and main sentences. The term contains the same meaning, which refers to the topic sentence. Hayon (2003: 64) in Main Reading Material I states that the main idea is in the main sentence, sometimes the main idea is clearly visible or explicit, but it is also implied, either in whole or in part.

The main idea of ​​a paragraph according to Nurhadi (2004:73) in Contextual Learning and Its Application in Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) is the main idea that forms the basis of essay development. Characteristics of sentences that contain the main idea can be seen from the keywords that accompany it.

Nurhadi (2004: 144) also stated that the main idea (main idea) is a statement made by the author as a general expression (formulation) of the topic. This element plays a significant role in a paragraph. Every other sentence in the paragraph must refer, either directly or indirectly, to the statement. This is because this statement formulates a topic, sometimes this element is also known as a topic sentence .

Djago (2008:14) further states that the topic sentence is the embodiment of the main idea sentence of the paragraph in a general or abstract form. Opinions about the main idea can be concluded that the main idea can be interpreted or defined as a main idea or thought that forms the basis or foundation in the development of a reading paragraph.

How to Determine the Main Idea of ​​a Paragraph

How to determine the main idea in a paragraph is determined from the supporting ideas of a passage. If someone reads carefully, there are ways to determine the main idea, namely:

  • Read the title and the entire reading paragraph quickly and thoroughly. Pay attention to the title and reading, then formulate the main ideas;
  • Pay close attention to the first sentence to the end;
  • Read sentence by sentence, until you finally find the main idea of ​​the paragraph;
  • After finding the main idea, then quickly read the next paragraph. Read the subtitles section, then connect with the main idea;
  • Make a formula according to the main idea;
  • Attention to the main idea in the form of a general statement that covers a wide range. The supporting ideas are narrower in scope, namely in the form of special statements;
  • Make notes for the main idea of ​​each paragraph. These notes will make it easier to understand paragraphs coherently and logically. Usually, the main idea of ​​the statement is general-specific (deductive) and specific-general (inductive).
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The difference between Main Sentences and Explanatory Sentences

The main sentence contains the main idea, main thought, or topic sentence. This sentence has characteristics that can be distinguished from the explanatory sentence.

Main Sentence Features

  • Complete sentences that can stand alone;
  • Contains potential problems that can be detailed and described;
  • Has a meaning that is quite clear without being connected with other sentences;
  • Can be formed without conjunctions;
  • The main sentence contains the main idea of ​​a topic or event.

Characteristics of Explanatory Sentences

  • Explanatory sentences of more than one sentence;
  • Fill in the explanatory ideas in the form of brief descriptions, examples, illustrations, and quotations;
  • The explanatory sentence is a special statement and narrow in scope;
  • This sentence clarifies the main idea of ​​the paragraph.

Marchella Praserda Katika in her research entitled The Ability to Determine Main Ideas Using Inquiry Learning Models for Class VIII Students of SMP Negeri 1 Bone-Bone, North Luwu Regency explained that the main idea has several characteristics.

The following are the characteristics of the main idea:

1. The existence of main ideas is not complicated

The existence of the main idea in a paragraph should not be convoluted. That is, the meaning of the main idea should not be narrow, but also not too broad. This is so that the reader can easily catch the main idea. In addition, this main idea will also help readers to easily understand it.

2. Main Idea Stated Clearly

Apart from being simple, a main idea must also be clearly written or described by the author. This is related to the location. In addition, the theme to be conveyed or the essence of the idea must also be stated clearly.

3. Is General

A main idea must contain something that is general in nature. This will later be pursed again. That is, a main idea can then be explained and elaborated again. The description will be more specific in the following sentences.

4. Have Supporting Sentences

A main idea does not necessarily stand alone in a paragraph. The main idea must have a supporting sentence or a clear idea. These supporting sentences are useful for providing further explanation regarding the previous main idea, so that the paragraph will be coherent and easy to understand.

5. Main Idea function

The existence of a main idea in a paragraph also has a function, for example to make it easier for the reader to find out the main idea or subject matter in a paragraph that is read. This is useful so that the essence of something conveyed in the paragraph can be conveyed. Through identifying the main idea, the reader can find out the main idea of ​​a paragraph that is read.


Example of the main idea of ​​a paragraph

Quoted from a book entitled Definitely Top Success in the 2016 SD/MI Exams , the following is an example of questions about the main ideas of paragraphs.

Turning Used Goods into Works

Recycling is the activity of reprocessing unused items into new works. Used items that can be recycled include drink bottles, newspapers, and rags. Recycling is done to prevent many items from being wasted.

There are many benefits of recycling used goods, one of which can increase income. We can sell recycled handicrafts. In addition, recycling used goods can be a useful activity for children. Used items that children can recycle, such as old newspapers. The way to recycle used newspapers is quite easy, namely by soaking the torn newsprint in a bucket filled with water for a day and a night. Then, the newspaper is blended and mixed with glue. The results of recycled newspapers can be formed into various creations.

Leftover fabrics or patchwork can be made into dolls in a multi-purpose storage area. Various ways of making dolls from patchwork can be found on the internet. You won’t have any trouble making items out of the patchwork.

Sentence Analysis

  • The main sentence in the first paragraph: Recycling is the activity of reprocessing unused items into new works;
  • The main sentence in the second paragraph: There are many benefits from recycling used goods, one of which can increase income;
  • Main sentence in third paragraph: Leftover fabrics or rags can be made into dolls or multipurpose storage containers.
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After you can understand an example of analyzing the main idea in a paragraph, in the following, another example of questions regarding the main idea that you can use to practice will be given.

Problem 1

The focus of the driver in a moving vehicle is to look ahead through the windshield, not the rearview mirror. Focusing on the rearview mirror will affect the vehicle’s speed and it is not impossible to result in an accident. The use of the rearview mirror is only occasional and each time it is only used for an instant, not for a long time.

Source: Kompas, 9 July 2007

The main idea of ​​the paragraph above is…..

A. The driver’s main task is to look at the windshield
B. The use of rearview mirrors is sufficient from time to time
C. The effect of mirrors on vehicle speed and accidents
D. The driver must look ahead

Answer key: A

Problem 2

The Jakarta – Merak Toll Road Section is Uncomfortable

As a user of the Jakarta – Merak, Banten toll road, especially the Cikupa-Cilegon section, I really feel uncomfortable. Every day there are sections of the road that are repaired, then half of the roads are closed. As a result, traffic jams and long lines. For those who go with high punctuality, don’t expect to be on time.

For the Cilegon-Cikupa direction, there are currently seven location points where the road sections are being repaired. The repair length varies between 1 and 2 kilometers, namely at Kilometer 74, Kilometer 65, Kilometer 56, Kilometer 51, Kilometer 49, Kilometer 44 and Kilometer 31.

Toll roads really need to be repaired so that toll users can be comfortable, safe, without obstacles. However, the problem seems to be that the repair never ends. In the last two years there have been toll roads that have been repaired. Sometimes those that were repaired were about 100 meters, but roads that were closed were more than 0.5 kilometers. The funny thing is, the road that had been repaired a few months later cracked again.

Is it possible for toll road repairs to be arranged in such a way so that traffic jams do not occur at multiple points at the same time? As a toll road user who has paid a high price, of course we hope that by using the toll road, the trip will be smooth.

Source: Definitely Top Success in 2014 SD/MI Exams

The main idea of ​​the second paragraph in the text is…..

A. Number of damaged roads
B. Direction of repaired roads
C. Location of damaged roads
D. Length of roads repaired

Answer key: C

Problem 4

Fuel oil has a variety of uses. Motorcycles use pertalite fuel. Diesel-engined vehicles use diesel fuel. Airplanes use avtur as fuel. Housewives use kerosene as fuel for oil stoves.

The main idea of ​​the paragraph is…..

A. Use of fuel oil
B. Various types of vehicles
C. Household fuel
D. Benefits of pertalite and kerosene

Answer key: A

Problem 5

Traffic accidents on the highway are caused by various things. Many road users do not obey traffic rules. For example speeding, violating traffic signs, and wanting to win alone. In addition, many vehicles are not equipped with mirrors. If all road users obey the rules, traffic accidents can be reduced.

The main idea of ​​the paragraph is…..

A. Road traffic compliance
B. Road traffic awareness
C. Causes of road accidents
D. Reducing road accidents

Answer key: C

That is a brief explanation of the meaning and how to determine the main idea in a paragraph. Sinaumed’s can also visit sinaumedia’s book collection at www.sinaumedia.com to obtain additional references on Indonesian writing skills. The following are recommendations for sinaumedia books that Sinaumed’s can read to study them in full. Happy reading.

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