<< Back to Lessons Index

7th Grade Language Arts / Lesson 3: Reading Skills: Main Idea

Main Idea

The main idea of a paragraph or story is the central idea of it.  It is often given in the first of last lines of test.

Sometimes an author will state the main idea directly by saying: "The purpose of this paragraph is to...."

Another way the author may convey the main idea is to end a paragraph by saying:  "Therefore, the issue is...."

Most paragraphs are not that explicit.  An author may want to encourage you to read further by stating the main idea indirectly.  In some cases, you may even have to guess the main idea of a paragraph or story!

Main Idea

One of the best ways to figure out the main idea of a paragraph is to think about the phrases and sentences as "details" for some larger idea.

Is it possible to have a paragraph without having a main idea?  The answer is "yes!"  Some paragraphs are used to set a mood or to describe something without conveying a central idea.