The Main Idea of the Text: How to Define the Essential

November 1, 2022

Last Updated on November 1, 2022


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What is the main theme and idea of the text?

The main idea of the text is what the author wants to convey to the reader. Thought is sometimes hidden in a work, and to understand it, people need to read a whole story.

In high school, in the classroom, teachers often give the task to determine the idea of the text with the goal to learn a certain subject, however, determining the main idea is, first of all, a skill, which needs to be trained first. 

To understand what feelings the author put into their work, you need to familiarize yourself with the biography of the author. To fully understand the text, however, you should also read thematic critical articles. 

To make the text look harmonious and draw the reader in, authors often use various means of expression or figurative language. Of course, the uniqueness of the text attracts the reader the most.

The correct construction of the text and sentences is the key to the successful formation of the topic and thought. The theme of the text is what the writer wants to say or express with his work.

What do you need to learn to determine the main idea of the text? 

There are some simple tips for newbies in this business:

  • The first and most important thing is to read the text thoughtfully and carefully, paying attention to the names of the characters, dates, places, and key phrases. You can write out the main information and quotes, this is useful for memorizing the work.
  • You also need to pay attention to epigraphs and headings, as they carry a semantic load.
  • Ask yourself, what does the author focus on? Follow the description for details. Sometimes a writer can express incomprehensible thoughts about ordinary things, but this is only initially.
  • After each chapter, retell what you read, in the same way, an analysis takes place in your head. It is very useful to talk about work with friends who also read it, as the truth is born in disputes, which means you should argue about what was written.
  • To approach the analysis of work seriously, you need to understand the style, speech patterns, and language of the author.
  • In any text, there will be repetitions. You need to memorize or write them out, as the most important things are often hidden in the details.

How to learn to define the essential

To correctly identify the essential idea of the work, one should remember the following aspects that are important to be guided by when reading any text:

  1. Follow the flow of the story, the development of events, and logic.
  2. Pay attention to headings (they can be metaphorical or associative) and keywords that alternate with synonyms throughout the text.
  3. As you read, analyze what is important to the author, and what points he emphasizes more.
  4. Having determined the main idea or position of the author, find in the text what evidence he cites, which explains his point of view.
  5. After reading the work, try to quote from the text or formulate your conclusion of the story.
  6. Remember: to understand what the main idea of the text is, the observance of the above evaluation criteria, as well as a combination of synthesis and analysis of both the entire text and its details, will help.
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How to determine the main idea of the text

To define the main idea means to understand what or who the text is about. Any textual analysis, including the definition of a topic, must begin with reading it.

Below are several tips on how to do it:

  • Title. Very often it reflects the theme and content of the entire text, especially if it is an informational, journalistic, or scientific article. As for literary texts, their titles, at first glance, are very far from both the topic and the idea, and only after thoughtful reading and deep analysis can this connection be established.
  • Subtitles. They usually separate text fragments devoted to micro topics from each other. When subtitles are available, it’s usually much easier to identify the topic.
  • Key (supporting) words and their synonyms. Any topic has in its arsenal a certain set of words that are specific to it. These can be various terms, for example, medical, construction, musical, and so on. By keywords, it is easy to determine the topic of informational, journalistic, or scientific articles, but as for literary texts, this is not always possible. In such cases, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the content.
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