Author's Purpose Author's intent + Main idea = author's purpose

Author's Intent

Why did the author write the piece?

To tell

To Show

To entertain

To share

To persuade

To encourage

To demonstrate

To develop

What to look for

If it's a story or poem, the author's intent will be:

  • To tell
  • To entertain (with a scary story or funny story)
  • To share
  • To teach (fable/moral)
  • To show

If it's an Article (Non-fiction) the author's intent will be:

  • To teach
  • To show
  • To inform
  • To give facts
  • To make it clear
  • To persuade/convince
  • To explain
  • To demonstrate
  • To give an account of (biographies)
  • To develop (a setting, an idea, a character)
  • To encourage

Author's Purpose = author's intent + main idea

Let's Practice

1. In naval aviation, the AWACS (Airborne Early Warning Command and Control System) plane, or Hawkeye, serves as an air traffic controller, monitoring the airspace around a carrier fleet. It is responsible for surveillance of enemy aircraft and ships as well as directing helicopters to survivors and guarding against air collisions. In addition to servicing the Navy, Hawkeye planes have been used in rescue operations of civilians during hurricane evacuations.

AWACS plane

What is the author's intent? What is the main idea? What is the author's purpose?

2. The pilots of the Hawkeye aircraft are the unsung heroes of naval operations. The first in and the last out, these men receive none of the glory bestowed on the Top Guns of F-18 fame. Thanks to Hollywood, fighter pilots have been glorified, but the pilots of the AWACS planes work quietly and diligently, and they deserve praise for their contributions


What is the author's intent? What is the main idea? What is the author's purpose?

3. Alonzo winked at his mother's shocked gaze and with a grin quipped, "Sausage and pepperoni pizza for breakfast makes perfect sense. Allow me to demonstrate. You have your tomato. Tomato is technically a fruit. You have your cheese. Cheese is a dairy product. You have your crust—necessary carbs for quick energy in the morning. And don't forget the sausage and pepperoni—my protein. If you think about it, it's just like bacon and eggs, toast, and orange juice." Still grinning, he added, "Really it is. Well, almost. Why are you looking at me that way?"

Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza

What is the author's intent? What is the main idea? What is the author's purpose?

4. Tobacco companies have been in litigation, facing charges that their marketing practices in the past have targeted teenagers. Also, evidence indicates that companies adjusted levels of nicotine in their cigarettes to increase the probability that smokers would become addicted to the product to ensure higher sales in the future.

Tobacco marketing targeting teens

What is the author's intent? What is the main idea? What is the author's purpose?

5. Tobacco companies should be forced to pay lucrative settlements to anyone who has become addicted or adversely affected by the use of their products. Anyone who has a loved one who has succumbed to the temptation to use cigarettes can attest to the way the product can swallow souls as well as consumers' wallets. The clinical evidence of the devastation created by secondhand smoke is compelling enough for legislators to consider legal action against the powerful corporations. Unfortunately, tobacco companies have traditionally provided strong financial support for many political candidates. Write your congressional representative and express your outrage


What is the author's intent? What is the main idea? What is the author's purpose?

6. Do you want to add years to your life and feel better too? Here are a few tips. First, to decrease your chances of a heart attack, eat a handful of nuts each day. Also, to ease the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, be sure to include some citrus, such as orange juice, in your diet. Finally, exercise on a regular basis. Include weight-bearing activities such as walking and jogging. Also, try yoga for flexibility and stress relief.

Family Exercising

What is the author's intent? What is the main idea? What is the author's purpose?

7. Circadian rhythms have fascinated scientists for many years. Recognizing that the eye nerves translate information to the brain about the time of day, scientists observe that we adapt to the conditions around us. Also, these researchers have recently discovered that not everyone is alike. For example, teenagers are nocturnal. That is, they are more active at night but do not function as well early in the morning.

Teenager Sleeping

What is the author's intent? What is the main idea? What is the author's purpose?

8. Because researchers studying circadian rhythms have discovered that most teenagers are really nocturnal, school administrators should take this into account when organizing a school day. For example, traditionally teenagers must arise in the predawn hours and arrive at school before sunrise. Groggy and unfocused, they find it difficult to concentrate and be alert before lunch. After lunch, which for many students in overcrowded high schools begins at 10:30 a.m., they are finally able to pay attention. Armed with this information, the school board should be innovative and rearrange the schedule, which would curb truancy in grades 8 through 12.

Teenagers in school

What is the author's intent? What is the main idea? What is the author's purpose?

9. Game night at our house was hilarious when we played Cranium with two teams of three. Imagine Abram, the savvy surfer, doing an impression of Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday." Or Dave, the macho bodybuilder, swinging his hips and singing a medley of Madonna's songs. But the most memorable was George's Cranium Doodle hint for the architectural term "flying buttress." It was, well, side-splittingly outrageous!

Game Night

What is the author's intent? What is the main idea? What is the author's purpose?

10. One of the creators of Cranium, Richard Tait, a former Microsoft executive, said he wanted to invent a game that allowed people to leave the board feeling good. He wanted a game that involved chance as well as skill, one in which people could have fun together and not feel so competitive. One of today's hottestselling games, Cranium can be played by four people or several teams. While some moves on the game board may require that a team member know the name of the largest mammal on earth (the blue whale), other moves may ask participants to hum songs, pantomime people, or spell words backward. At the end, though, all the teams feel good because they have had so much fun. Every household should purchase Cranium. You will discover it is better than TV. Also, it will stimulate your brain and encourage people to have fun together

Cranium Game

What is the author's intent? What is the main idea? What is the author's purpose?

What's the difference between theme and author's purpose?

The main difference between theme and main idea is:

Theme is a lesson or a moral whereas the main idea tells us what the story is about.

so...if we know that author's intent + main idea = author's purpose, how is theme different from author's purpose?

Theme is universal -

Author's Purpose is Specific

Theme is the life lesson that the author wants you to learn.

Author's purpose is the specific thing the author wants you to know, learn or experience.

Theme is not directly stated in the text.

Sometimes the main idea is stated, but you still have to determine the author's intent.

How are theme and author's purpose alike?

Both are things that the author wants you to learn from the text.

Make a venn diagram and compare/contrast Author's purpose to theme

Created By
Chari Kauffman


Created with images by Amevans2000 - "Authors" • Vlad & Marina Butsky - "Image 14649." • Vlad & Marina Butsky - "Image 11963." • Vlad & Marina Butsky - "Image 21502." • Vlad & Marina Butsky - "Image 13109." • Vlad & Marina Butsky - "Image 14348."

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