Purpose is the reason an author writes about a topic. An author writes to share the main idea about a topic. An author’s main idea is directly related to the author’s purpose. The three following purposes will drive the main idea: to inform, to entertain, and to persuade.
- To inform – to give information about a subject. Authors with this purpose wish to provide facts that will explain or teach something to readers. Example:
Pain is a normal part of a physical process that lets us know something is wrong.
- To entertain – to amuse and delight; to appeal to the reader’s senses and imagination. Authors with this purpose set out to captivate or interest the audience. Example:
“Yes, I have gained weight. I weighed only 8 pounds when I was born.”
- To persuade – to convince the reader to agree with the author’s point of view on a subject. Authors with this purpose may give facts, but their main goal is to argue or prove a point to readers. Example:
The death penalty is deeply flawed and should be abolished.
Note: An author may have a more specific purpose in mind other than to inform, entertain, or persuade. The following chart shows examples of specific purposes
To figure out the author’s purpose, the reader must consider the main idea, thought pattern, and tone. For example:
Topic Sentence: Spanking must be avoided as a way to discipline due to its long-term negative effects on the child.
Consider what the author is going to write about spanking.
- Is the author going to discuss the disadvantages of spanking?
- Is the author going to argue against spanking as a means of discipline?
- Is the author going to make fun of those who use spanking as a means of discipline?
The tone words “must‟ and “negative” indicate the author’s point of view is against spanking. The phrase “long-term effects” indicates that the details will be organized as a list of effects. We can conclude that the author is going to argue against spanking as a means of discipline.