Authors Purpose

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Determine an Author’s Purpose

An author's purpose is his or her reason for writing. Asking two important questions about anything you read will help you understand the author's purpose:

• Why did the author write this?
• What does the author expect me to learn or do?

The topic and main idea may contain clues that will help you answer these questions and determine an author's purpose. If the selection you are reading has a title, it too may provide clues. You can learn to recognize three common purposes: to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. Facts and examples presented objectively are clues that the author's purpose is to inform. Details that influence or convince you to think, feel, or act a certain way suggest that the author's purpose is to persuade. Descriptive details that give you emotional and intellectual pleasure may indicate that the author's purpose is to entertain. The type of material may also suggest an author's purpose. Textbooks and professional journals are written to inform. Newspaper editorials and articles from special interest magazines are often written to persuade. Essays, fiction, and some personal interest stories in periodicals are written to entertain. An author may have more than one purpose, but one purpose will dominate. For example, an author who wants to persuade readers to try a new diet may also need to inform them about its benefits and risks.

The following exercises will help you determine an author's purpose, first in sentences, then in paragraphs, and finally in longer selections.

D: Purpose Exercise D.1

Read the following sentences. Then circle the author's purpose. In addition, be prepared to explain your answer if asked to do so.

1. Aranika Sorenstam was only the second woman in history to play in a major PGA tournament. a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

2. Women should do a monthly breast self-examination because early detection of cancer increases the chances for a cure. a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

3. When asked how she stayed so slim, the fashion model replied, „It's simple: no food, no drink, no exercise." a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

4. Did you know that most tomatoes are picked green before they are sold to grocery stores?

a. inform
b. persuade
d. entertain

5. The sky was the color of slate, and as the wind began to pick up we knew that a storm was corning. a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

6. Everyone knows that well-lighted streets are a deterrent to crime; therefore, the city must install streetlights in our neighborhoods. a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

7. The bodies of fireflies contain phosphorus, a chemical that causes them to glow in the dark. a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain
Section D-Determine an Author's Purpose43

D: Purpose Exercise D.2

Read each topic and its source. Circle whether the purpose is to inform, persuade, or entertain. Then be prepared to explain your answer if asked to do so.

1. A section in a biology textbook on the Krebs cycle
a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

2. An editorial urging you to vote "no" on an upcoming referendum a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

3. A letter from your insurance company explaining new benefits for policyholders a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

4. A magazine ad from the California Growers Association asserting that eating avocados is good for you a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

5. A review in your local newspaper calling a new film the worst movie of the year" a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

6. "Those Winter Sundays" from a collection of poems by Robert Hayden a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain

7. A journal article about ways to improve reading comprehension a. inform
b. persuade
c. entertain
44. Part 2-Essential Skills
D: Purpose Exercise D.3

Read each paragraph. Circle...
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