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如何获取文章的中心思想

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阅读的首要目的是看懂文章的主旨大意,阅读测试自然也以此作为检验学生阅读能力的主要标准,辨别文章的中心思想也就成了一种很重要的阅读技巧,这一技巧同样在提高阅读能力和阅读速度中起着至关重要的作用。但如何获取文章的中心思想呢?本文就以段落(构成篇章的基本组成单位)为例,来探讨一下如何获取文章的中心思想。

一、如何获取段落的中心思想

要了解段落的中心思想,可以问自己如下几个问题:

1.What is the topic?(Whom or what is the paragraph about?)
2.What does the author want me to know about the topic?
3. What general statement expresses what the author wants me to know about the topic?(The main idea is found in the topic sentence.)

[例1]
People have different tastes in food.Some feel that they haven't eaten a meal unless they have had steak or other red meat.Some prefer chicken or fish and eat one or the other at every meal.Others prefer vegetables and fruits or grains and would enjoy a meal of clam chowder, spaghetti,eggplant,and fresh fruit.Others could live on what are called fast foods:a hamburger or hot dog,French fries,and a soft drink.

1.The topic is:Tastes in Food.
2.The author wants you to know that peoplehave different tastes in food.
3. The first sentence is the one that expresses what the author wants you to know about the topic.This is the topic sentence expressing the main idea of the paragraph.

不难看出,获取段落大意的最主要途径是判断主题句。主题句常常是一个完整的句子,它简洁明了,具有概括性,而段落中的其他句子则是对该主题句所表述的主题思想进行解释、支撑或扩展。
二、主题句在段落中的位置

1.位于段首的主题句
在有主题句的段落中,大多数情况下主题句是位于段首的,或第一句,或第二句。用演绎法撰写的段落常遵照这种先概述后分述的写作程序,它常能给人清晰明了之感,使人马上就可以明白选文所讲的是什么,即文之主题。(见上[例1])

2.位于收段的主题句

位于收段的主题句也叫结尾句,这种段落的写作程序是表述细节的句子在前,概述性的句子在后。通常用归纳法撰写的段落大多如此。

[例2]

In 1959,Brazil lost the World Cup of soccer to Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro.The entire country was overcome by sadness;some people even died from it.Brazilians reacted very strongly to the defeatin the championship soccer game.

Some people had heart attacks,and others beat their heads against cement post.Brazilians are very emotional about soccer.

[分析]

本段描述了巴西人对足球比赛失利的反应,如:整个国家沮丧;有人甚至因球赛失利而死;有的人患了心脏病;有的人以头撞击水泥柱等。最后的概括是“巴西人对足球的感情是很脆弱的”。

3.位于段中的主题句

出现在段中的主题句有两种情况,或先提出问题,然后给予回答(主题句),再给予解释;或先引入主题,然后点出主题思想(主题句),最后给予解释。

[例3]

Californians and New Englanders are both American.They speak the same language and abide by the same federal laws.But they are very different in their ways of life.Mobility─ both physical and psychological─has made a great impression on the culture of Californians. Lack of mobility is the mark of the customs and morality of New Englanders.

[分析]

本段前两句讲的是加州人和新英格兰人的共同之处,而第三句却点出了其不同之处。紧接着短文就其不同之处从mobility(易动性)方面作了比较。显然,第三句属主题句。

4.前后呼应的主题句

有的段落前后有两个主题句。两个主题句述说的是同一内容,但用词不尽一致,这样不但强调了主题思想,而且显得灵活多变。这两个句子并非简单的重复,后一个主题句或者对主题作最后的评述,或者把主题要点作一概括,或使之引申留给读者去思考。

[例4]
Synonyms,words that have the same basic meaning,do not always have the same emotional meaning.For example,the words“stingy?and“frugal?both mean“careful with money”.However,to call a person stingy is an insult,while the word frugal has much more positive connotation.Similarly,a person wants to be slender but not skinny,and aggressive,but not pushy. Therefore,you should be careful in choosing words because many so-called synonyms are not really synonymous at all.

[分析]

段首的主题句是“同义词,即基本意义相同的词,并不总具有相同的情感意义”。段中举了同义词stingy和frugal,slender和 skinny, aggressive和pushy的差异。段尾的主题句再次点题,提醒人们在使用同义词时要特别留心。即“在挑选词汇时要谨慎,因为许多所谓的同义词并不 是真正的同义。”
三、隐含(implied)的主题句

有时一个段落没有主题句,段落是由一个隐含的中心思想凝聚在一起的。对这类段落要采取提纲挈领法,把从细节中提挈出来的要点归纳起来,就形成了段落的中心思想。

[例5]

We visited the seals frolicking in the water. Then we paid a visit to the colorful birds in the big new birdhouse.After that we stopped for a coke and a hot dog.Before going home,we spent a lot of time watching the funny monkeys.

[分析]

1.What is the topic?Activities at the zoo.
2.What does the author want me to know about the topic?There are a variety of activities at the zoo.
3. What general statement expresses what the author wants me to know about the topic? There is no general statement telling me this but I have inferred it.

以上主要介绍如何获取段落的中心思想。由于段落和文章在结构上极其相似,所以,确定文章的主题思想首先要找出文章中与段落主题句对应的部分,即引言段。引 言段多位于文章的开头部分。一般来讲,引言段中有一个表现主题且具有概括性的句子,即破题句(thesis statement)。破题句多为引言段的最后一句话。找到它,该选文的主旨便一目了然了。

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