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Main Idea and How to Find the Main Idea in a Text

Grade 5
Aug 4, 2023

Main Idea

The most important point or central thought that tells the reader what the text is about.

The main idea can be stated directly by the writer. It is expressed as a topic sentence in paragraphs.

The main idea can be stated indirectly by the writer called an implied main idea in paragraphs. 

The rest of the details are given to support the main idea.

Find the main idea in the text

  • Find a topic.
  • Think about a question, “What does the author want me to know about the topic?”
  • Read the first and last sentences of the paragraph, or first and last paragraphs if more than one paragraph.
  • Look for the topic sentence.
  • Notice an idea or thought that is being repeated in different ways in the text.
  • In case the main idea is implied, read all the specific statements and not just the opening and closing paragraphs.
  • Summarize all specific statements in one single sentence to find the implied main idea.
  • Lastly, check if the main idea supports the examples, reasons, and facts included in the text.
  • Words like but, however, in contrast, nevertheless if, open the second sentence, indicate that the first sentence is not the main idea and the second sentence could be the main idea.

Example: Passage 1


What is motion? Consider a ball that you notice one morning in the middle of a lawn. Later in the afternoon, you notice that the ball is at the edge of the lawn, against a fence, and you wonder if the wind or some person moved the ball. You do not know if the wind blew it at a steady rate, if many gusts of wind moved it, or even if some children kicked it all over the yard. All you know for sure is that the ball has been moved because it is in a different position after some time passed. These are the two important aspects of motion: (1) a change of position and (2) the passage of time.

Topic – Motion

Repeated sentences – Moved, position and time.

Paragraph describes a ball being moved over time.

Main idea –There are two important aspects of motion –a change of position and the passage of time.

Main Idea


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