Main Ideas and Supporting Sentences Answer Key

Answer Key for Main Ideas and Supporting Sentences activity.

Practice I: Read the paragraphs, and then identify each sentence as a main idea, a major detail, or a minor detail.

Paragraph 1:

Single parents have to overcome many obstacles to return to school. If their children are very young, finding quality babysitting can be difficult. Many babysitters are unreliable, and that can mean that the parent has to miss many classes, which can hurt their grades. It is also hard to find enough time to study. Children require a lot of attention, and that can interfere with a parent being able to complete their homework. Finally, raising children is expensive. Many single parents discover that they can't meet the costs of both raising children and paying for tuition, books, and fees.

Sentence #1: main idea

Sentence #2: major detail

Sentence #3: minor detail

Sentence #4: major detail

Sentence #5: minor detail

Sentence #6: major detail

Sentence #7: minor detail 


Paragraph 2: 

My grandmother turned 70 last year and celebrated by going skydiving. She said she always wanted to skydive and figured it was now or never. Many people think that when you get older you can no longer do fun things, but this is not true. The senior center in town offers dance lessons and also takes groups to the art museum. The classes are always full because so many people want to try new things. Towns are even developing senior living communities around activities such as golf and tennis. Those communities are very popular because people like to live with others who share their interests.

Sentence #1: major detail

Sentence #2: minor detail

Sentence #3: main idea (Note that in this example, the main idea is not the first sentence in the paragraph)

Sentence #4: major detail

Sentence #5: minor detail

Sentence #6: major detail

Sentence #7: minor detail


Practice II: Below you will find several main idea sentences. Write your own supporting sentences by using major and minor details.


The following are examples of appropriate responses. Keep in mind that there are many possible details to support these main ideas. In these examples, the major details explain something about the main idea, and the minor details offer examples to illustrate the major details.

1. It is not a good idea to watch a lot of television.

Major: People who watch a lot of television tend to be more sedentary.

Minor: If you're inside watching tv, it means you're not outside getting exercise.

Major: Some researchers even say that watching television can make people violent.

Minor: With so many violent shows on tv these days, people who watch a lot of television come to think that violence is normal or even okay.


2. Coaches have good reasons to be firm with the players on their team.

Major: Many players are young, and young people sometimes lack patience and diligence.

Minor: Players may not want to run laps, which isn't a lot of fun, but players whose coaches force them to run laps have better physical fitness.

Major: Young players also need to learn the value of teamwork.

Minor: Lots of players want to be the star of the team, but the coach has to do what's best for the whole team.


3. Many people believe it is a bad idea to pay children to do household chores.

Major: They argue that everyone in a family needs to contribute to the household.

Minor: If parents pay children to take out the trash or mow the lawn, children will only want to do chores when they get a reward, rather than to help out the family. 

Major: While some may say that paying children to do chores teaches them to be enterprising, it's not a good idea for children to work too much.

Minor: Children also learn important values from playing sports, learning an instrument, or exploring their creative sides.


4. There are several steps I can take to be successful in college.

Major: Most important is developing good study habits.

Minor: I am going to set aside time every night to study and create a schedule for completing my homework for each class.

Major: There are many resources on campus that can help me succeed.

Minor: In addition to talking with my professors in office hours, I plan to visit the writing center to improve my papers.

Last modified: Monday, October 21, 2019, 6:54 PM