Definition and Examples of Topic
A topic is the main organizing principle of a discussion, either verbal or written. Topics offer us an occasion for speaking or writing and a focus which governs what we say.— Writing@CSUOpens in new window
- Topic is a grammatical term associated with sentences and refers to what a sentence is about, and to which the rest of the sentence is related as a comment.
The topic can be one word, or a phrase, usually followed by a comma or a pause. The rest of the sentence is called a comment, that is, information about the topic.
- To Kunming, I suggest you take the train.(In this example, To Kunming, is the topic, while the rest the sentence is comment. The same applies in the next sentence —Meat is the topic, while “I don’t eat”, is the comment.
- Meat, I don’t eat.
In English, the topic is usually the first noun or phrase in the sentence. Because the subject often appears at the beginning of the sentence, the subject and the topic are often the same word.
Careful, just as you cannot assume that the first word in a sentence is the subject, you cannot assume that the subject is always the topic.
- subject and topic ⇒ same
- Gretchen gave me some ice. Here, Gretchen is the topic because it is what the sentence is about; it is also the subject because Gretchen performs the action of the verb gave.
- subject and topic ⇒ different
- Dumplings, we love; tofu, I avoid. In this example, Dumplings ⇒ topic, we ⇒ subject; tofu ⇒ topic, I ⇒ subject.
In the latter example, Dumplings is the topic because that is what the sentence is about and we is the subject because it performs the action of the verb love. Tofu is another topic and I is the subject because it performs the actions of the verb avoid.