Chapter 6-2-2: Supporting Ideas

In a CEGEP body paragraph, the topic sentence is followed by two (2) supporting ideas. Why two? Most people are not convinced by only one argument to defend a claim. People want to hear at least two points--and sometimes even more.

The purpose of a supporting idea is to reinforce the validity of the paragraph's topic sentence. In other words, each supporting idea tells the reader why the topic sentence is logical and makes sense. After the reader has read a supporting idea, he or she should make one of the following statements:

  • While I do not agree with your claim, I do understand how you arrive at that conclusion. Your arguments are valid, logical, coherent, and convincing.

  • I would tend to agree with your claim. In fact, I might consider using some of your arguments in the future because they are valid, logical, coherent, and convincing.

  • Before reading your essay I did not agree with your claim; however, your arguments were so valid, logical, coherent, and convincing that I’ve changed my opinion.

If the reader does not make one of these statements, there is a problem with the supporting idea(s).

A supporting idea is composed of three elements:

  • the “mini-claim”;

  • the “proof”; and

  • the “clarification."

Remember, these three elements will be repeated twice since there are two supporting ideas per paragraph. Readers should be advised that the second supporting idea is about to begin via connector or transitions terms.

Let’s examine these three components more closely:

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