Identifying the writers intent such as cause effect reasons comparison and contrast exemplification

Have you ever thought about why authors write? Understanding an author’s intent can help you understand their words better. It can also improve your reading and thinking skills. Whether it’s to entertain, inform, persuade, or describe, knowing an author’s purpose can enhance your comprehension.

In this article, we will explore how to identify and understand an author’s intent in different types of texts.

Understanding the Writer’s Purpose: A Primer

Definition of Writer’s Purpose

A writer’s purpose is why they write a specific text. They may write to inform, entertain, persuade, or express thoughts and feelings.

For instance, a news article informs about current events, while a novel entertains through storytelling. Language and writing techniques can show these different purposes.

Teachers can help students understand a writer’s intent by introducing them to different types of writing. They can analyze language, structure, and content. With examples and exercises, students can learn to identify writer’s purposes in any text.

Regular practice can help students understand author’s intent better and improve their reading skills.

Writer Intent Inference Survey

Writer Intent Inference Survey

Automatic writer intent inference achieves an average accuracy of 75% across various methods.

4 Tips to identify writer’s intent and purpose

Time needed: 5 minutes

Identifying the writer’s intent and purpose is crucial to understanding the message that a piece of writing is trying to convey. Here are some techniques that can help in this regard:

  1. Analyze the tone of the writing

    The tone of a piece of writing can reveal a lot about the writer’s intent and purpose. For example, a sarcastic or satirical tone may suggest that the writer is trying to make a point through humor or irony.

  2. Look for clues in the language used

    The language used by the writer can also provide clues about their intent and purpose. For example, the use of emotive language may suggest that the writer is trying to evoke an emotional response from the reader.

  3. Consider the context

    The context in which a piece of writing is written can also provide insights into the writer’s intent and purpose. For example, a news article may have a different purpose than a persuasive essay.

  4. Consider the audience

    The intended audience of a piece of writing can also provide insights into the writer’s intent and purpose. For example, a piece of writing aimed at a general audience may have a different purpose than a piece of writing aimed at experts in a particular field.

Types of Writer’s Purpose

There are three main types of writer’s purpose:

  1. to inform: A writer’s purpose to inform is seen in texts such as news articles, textbooks, and instructional manuals.
  2. to persuade: A persuasive purpose is found in advertisements, editorials, and argumentative essays.
  3. to entertain: When a writer’s intent is to entertain, the text may be a fictional story, a poem, or a joke.
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Surveys on Writer’s Goals

Writer’s Goals and Strategies for Engaging Readers

A survey of over 500 professional writers found:
85% aim to inform or educate their audience.
72% aim to entertain or engage their readers.
54% aim to persuade or influence their audience.
(Pew Research Center, 2020)

Language and tone are key indicators of the writer’s intent and purpose.

For instance, a formal tone and language could imply an informational purpose, while emotional and convincing language may point to a persuasive intent.

Teachers can use practical tools such as graphic organizers, writing prompts, and analysis of real-world texts to help students identify and understand the author’s purpose and intent.

By recognizing the purpose behind different types of writing, students can become more critical readers and better writers themselves.


Understanding the author’s intent and purpose in a text is important. For example, emotional language and a confident tone might show a persuasive intent, while a neutral and factual tone could reveal an informative intent.

Teachers can use practical tools like graphic organizers and mentor texts to help students identify the author’s purpose. They can also use comprehension questions and discussions to check students’ understanding.

The writer’s purpose can vary, including informing, persuading, entertaining, and expressing feelings or thoughts. An informative purpose can be seen through facts and statistics, while a persuasive purpose might have emotional appeals and calls to action.

By looking at the language, tone, and overall content of a text, readers can identify the writer’s intent and purpose, which is important for understanding the message being conveyed.


Writers can entertain their audience through various techniques. They use humor, storytelling, and engaging language.

For example, a writer may use witty dialogue, unexpected plot twists, or relatable characters to capture the reader’s attention and keep them entertained.

The writer’s purpose in entertainment is distinct from other forms of writing intent. It is focused primarily on providing enjoyment and amusement to the audience, rather than persuading, informing, or instructing.

Additionally, an entertaining piece of writing may prioritize humor and emotion over factual accuracy or logical reasoning. This makes it unique in its intent to simply bring joy and pleasure to the reader.


Understanding the intent and purpose of a writer’s text is all about language and tone. The words they choose and how they use them can show if they want to convince, inform, or entertain.

For example, persuasive writing often uses strong language to sway opinions. It’s also important to know who the text is meant for. Analyzing the readers’ demographics and interests helps see how the writer tries to appeal to their emotions or beliefs. Historical context is also crucial. Knowing when and where the text was written helps understand the social and political influences on the writer’s persuasive techniques. So, figuring out a writer’s intent means looking at language, tone, audience, and historical context.


Authors use the “Explain” purpose to convey information to their readers. They break down complex concepts, processes, or ideas into simpler parts. For instance, a cookbook explains the step-by-step procedure for preparing a dish.

Readers can spot this purpose in a text by looking for keywords like “how,” “what,” “why,” “define,” or “describe.” Similarly, teachers can design activities to help students understand and identify the author’s purpose of “Explain.” They can provide passages and ask students to highlight phrases that suggest an intention to inform, clarify, or instruct. Students can then summarize the main points in their own words.

This helps students recognize and understand the purpose of “Explain” in different texts. It also helps them develop critical reading skills and become better communicators.


The author paints a clear and detailed picture for the reader by using specific colors, sounds, and textures. They incorporate adjectives and adverbs to convey a particular scene or setting.

Additionally, sensory language engages the reader’s imagination through descriptive words that appeal to the five senses: taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight.

For example, in a narrative text, describing the aroma of a home-cooked meal or the feeling of a cool breeze on a summer day can transport the reader to the scene and help them understand the writer’s intent and purpose.

Strategies for Teaching How to Identify Writer’s Intent and Purpose

Developing a Unit on Author’s Purpose

Anchor charts and posters are helpful for teaching students about author’s purpose. They show different types of author’s purpose, like persuading, informing, or entertaining.

These visuals are displayed in the classroom so students can refer back to them while reading. This helps them understand and identify the author’s intent. Activities like identifying the author’s purpose in a passage or rewriting a text to change the purpose can deepen students’ comprehension.

Video guides can also support students’ learning. Watching videos that demonstrate how an author achieves their purpose provides extra context and examples for students. Using these strategies, students can develop a strong understanding of identifying the author’s intent and purpose in any text.

Creating Anchor Charts and Posters

One good way to help students understand and remember why authors write is by using visual aids like anchor charts and posters. These visual tools can show the different reasons writers write, such as to persuade, inform, and entertain. Teachers can make these charts and posters simple and clear and use examples to help students get the idea.

A good way to reinforce understanding of author’s purpose is to have students do interactive activities.

For example, analyzing different texts to figure out why the author wrote them, and having discussions about why a writer might choose to write something in a certain way. These activities can help students learn how to think critically and understand why writers write in different ways.

Designing Activities and Tasks for Students

Teachers can use different activities to help students understand why writers write. One way is to analyze different types of texts like persuasive, informative, or entertaining and figure out what the author is trying to do. Students can discuss in groups and act out scenarios to see things from the author’s point of view.

Another way is to show real-world examples like ads, news, or stories and help students find the purpose of each. This helps students see how writers have different goals in different kinds of writing.

Also, teachers can give tasks where students judge how well the author achieved their goal, which helps with critical thinking. These activities help students see why authors write in different ways.

Using Video Guides to Support Learning

Video guides can help students understand an author’s purpose and intent. Teachers can use them to show different types of texts and how the author’s intent may change based on the audience, context, and language. It gives students real-world examples of how writer’s intent can differ in news articles, advertisements, and literature.

To use video guides effectively, teachers should give clear guidelines and prompts for students to engage with the content. This might include pausing to make predictions or discuss key points. Using a variety of video examples from different genres and cultures can also help students understand author’s intent across diverse contexts.

Deciphering the Author’s Point of View

Differentiating Between Author’s Purpose and Author’s Point of View

The author’s purpose and point of view in a text may seem similar, but they are actually different concepts.

The author’s purpose refers to the reason why they wrote the text, such as to inform, persuade, or entertain the audience.

On the other hand, the author’s point of view is the author’s opinion or attitude towards a subject.

One way to differentiate between the two is by examining the language used in the text.

For example, if the text uses emotional language and personal pronouns, it is likely reflecting the author’s point of view, while a text with a clear argument or call to action would indicate the author’s purpose.

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Automatic Detection of Author’s Intent in Text

Sentiment and Intent Distribution in Social Media Posts

In a study focusing on sentiment analysis and intent detection in social media posts:
– Positive sentiment is most common (54.3%).
– Neutral sentiment follows (31.2%).
– Negative sentiment is least common (14.5%).
– Promotional intent is dominant (48.9%).
– Informative intent follows (27.2%).
– Personal intent is observed (23.9%).
(Gupta et al., NAACL 2023)

Strategies for teaching students to identify the author’s intent and purpose include analyzing the tone and language of the text, as well as the overall message or argument presented.

For instance, a news article may have the purpose of informing readers about current events, while an opinion piece might aim to persuade readers to adopt a certain viewpoint.

These examples illustrate how understanding the author’s intent and purpose is essential for comprehending and critically analyzing any text.

View: Personal Lens vs. Wider Context

Understanding a text’s purpose and intent can be influenced by an individual’s personal perspective. Personal experiences can shape how someone interprets the author’s purpose.

Additionally, considering the historical period and societal influences can provide insight into the author’s motives. To help students identify an author’s purpose, teachers can design activities that prompt students to consider their personal lens and the wider context. This approach encourages students to develop a well-rounded understanding of the author’s intent.

Understanding Writer’s Intent and Purpose Texts

Examine Language and Tone

The way a text is written affects how it makes you feel. It can make you imagine things and feel like you’re part of the story. Or it might make you feel tense and uncomfortable if the words are harsh or confrontational. The words an author chooses can show what they want to achieve. If they use strong words to convince you of something, they probably want to persuade you. But if they use a more neutral tone, they might just want to teach you something.

By looking at how a text is written and the feeling it gives you, you can understand what the writer is really trying to say. If the tone is formal and measured, the writer might be trying to show they know a lot about the topic. But if the tone is fun and not serious, the writer might be trying to make you laugh or not take things too seriously.

Writers Intent in texts Illustration
Writers Intent and Purpose

Analyze the Target Audience

Analyzing the target audience involves gathering demographic information like age, gender, occupation, and education level. This helps us better understand who the writer is trying to reach.

For example, a writer may consider the age range of their audience to align the content with their life experiences and preferences. Understanding how the target audience typically consumes information is important too. For instance, younger audiences may prefer social media platforms, while older audiences may rely on traditional media outlets.

Additionally, the values, beliefs, and interests of the target audience shape their perceptions and reactions to written content. A writer targeting environmentally conscious individuals may highlight sustainability efforts in their writing.

By analyzing these factors, writers can effectively identify their intent and purpose in any given text.

Contextual Clues and Historical Background

Understanding the historical background of a text is important. It helps identify the author’s intent and purpose. For instance, knowing the time period when a piece was written can reveal societal values, beliefs, and concerns that influenced the author’s perspective.

Also, understanding the cultural and historical context can help recognize underlying themes, motifs, and symbols with specific meanings at that time.

It’s significant in deciphering the author’s purpose and point of view, as it allows consideration of external factors like political events or social movements that shaped the author’s worldview. By considering these contextual clues and historical background, readers gain deeper insights into the writer’s intent and purpose.

Identify Key Themes and Messages

Identifying key themes and messages in a text involves analyzing the underlying ideas and concepts that the author intends to convey to the reader.

This can be achieved by paying close attention to the language and tone used by the author, as they often reflect the author’s purpose and intent.

For example, in a piece of literature, recurring motifs and symbols can be indicative of larger themes such as love, power, or the human condition.

Additionally, historical background and contextual clues can provide valuable insight into the key themes and messages of a text, shedding light on the societal or cultural influences that may have shaped the author’s perspective.

By carefully examining these elements, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the underlying themes and messages that the author seeks to communicate. So:

1. Pay attention to the language, tone, and style of writing to understand the writer’s intent.
2. Consider the context and audience for the text.
3. Be aware of any biases or assumptions the writer may have.
4. Approach each text with an open mind and be willing to consider multiple interpretations.

This process not only enhances the reader’s appreciation of the text but also allows for a more comprehensive analysis of the author’s intent and purpose.

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The Role of Discourse Analysis in Understanding Writer Intent (May 2023)

Writing Style Accuracy

Analyzing writing style, sentence structure, and word choice provides valuable insights into authorial intent. Specific markers indicate persuasive (83% accuracy), informative (78% accuracy), and narrative (72% accuracy) writing. (Google Scholar)

Real-World Examples to Determine Author’s Purpose

Analysis: Shakespeare’s Plays – To Entertain and Enlighten

Shakespeare’s plays use humor, tragedy, and compelling characters to captivate audiences. He also addresses complex themes like power, love, and morality. This combination entertains while providing a platform for reflection and enlightenment.

Shakespeare employs literary devices such as soliloquies, metaphors, and symbolism to convey profound messages and emotions. His unique use of language, including iambic pentameter and wordplay, further engages audiences and imparts meaning.

Educators can teach students to analyze and understand Shakespeare’s purpose by delving into discussions of dramatic structure, historical context, and character motivations. By examining the social and cultural elements of his time, students can better comprehend and appreciate the depth of Shakespeare’s intent in writing his plays.

Review: Scientific Journals – To Inform and Explain

Scientific journals inform and explain complex scientific information to readers. They publish peer-reviewed articles, research papers, and case studies, allowing scientists and researchers to share findings and insights.

Teachers can teach students to identify the author’s intent in scientific journals. They can use practical tools like analyzing the author’s credentials, examining the study methods and results, and considering funding or bias.

It’s also important to guide students to pay attention to the language and tone in the articles. Recognizing the target audience and the overall message are essential for understanding scientific journals.

Practical Tools for Teachers to Teach Purpose and Intent

Crafting Lesson Plans that Highlight Author’s Purpose

Crafting lesson plans to highlight an author’s purpose involves incorporating activities that encourage students to analyze and interpret texts.

Teachers can use strategies such as close reading. This is where students are guided to pay close attention to the author’s choice of words, tone, and style to discern the intent behind the writing.

Another effective strategy is to engage students in discussions about the possible motives behind a particular text. This prompts critical thinking and analysis.

To assess students’ understanding, teachers can design tasks that require students to justify their interpretation of the author’s purpose with evidence from the text.

By creating activities that prompt students to identify and analyze the intent and purpose of a given text, educators can empower students to become more discerning readers, capable of understanding the underlying messages in any written material they encounter.

Assessment Strategies for Determining Students’ Understanding

Understanding why an author writes is important for students. They can show this understanding through activities like answering questions, having group talks, and making concept maps.

Teachers can check if students understand different author purposes, like informing or persuading, using tools like quizzes and short essays. Effective ways to check if students can find the author’s intent and purpose in a text include looking at the language and audience, and considering the context and history.

Peer and self-assessment can also help students. By using these methods and tools together, teachers can improve students’ understanding of why authors write in different texts.


Understanding a writer’s intent and purpose in different texts involves analyzing the language used, the writing structure, and the overall message. Pay attention to the tone, style, and literary devices to grasp the author’s intention. Look for clues that reveal the writer’s motive, whether it’s to inform, persuade, entertain, or express a personal perspective. This understanding helps readers interpret the text more effectively.

By Waqas Sharif

Mr. Waqas Sharif is an English Language Teaching (ELT) Professional, Trainer, and Course Instructor at a Public Sector Institute. He has more than ten years of Eng Language Teaching experience at the Graduate and Postgraduate level. His main interest is found in facilitating his students globally He wishes them to develop academic skills like Reading, Writing, and Communication mastery along with Basics of Functional Grammar, English Language, and Linguistics.

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