The New Way to Teach Author’s Purpose

An Introduction to “Text Function”

“Function” is the unifying idea to pull together these three concepts you already teach:

  • Author’s Purpose
  • Intended Audience
  • Key Context


The function of a text can be defined as its role and purpose in the world. 

To understand “function” as a unifying concept we must look at the factors that shape the function of a text.

1. What is The Author’s Purpose

An author always has a purpose or aim in mind before they begin writing.

In fact, many authors have multiple purposes.

A writer’s goal usually falls into one of three categories – persuade, inform, entertain. However, I find these three categories too limiting and simplistic for secondary students. I like to expand the word we use for author’s purpose.

Some words for Author’s Purpose

  • Explore/Study/Analyze: To look at something in a careful way to learn more about it and examine the relationship between the parts.
  • Inform: To give information to someone.
  • Interpret: To explain the meaning of something, to understand something. 
  • Explain: To making something clear or easy to understand. To tell or show the reason or cause for something.
  • Argue a point/Take a position: To present an opinion about an issue or topic in an effort to convince others that your viewpoint is correct.
  • Evaluate: To judge the value or worth of something.
  • Solve A Problem: To find a way to deal with and or end a problem.
  • Entertain: To provide amusement or entertainment for someone.

Author’s Purpose Questions

  • What is the author attempting to do by writing this text?
  • Why did the author write this text?

2. What is The Context?

All authors and the texts they create exist in a particular time and place in history.


Context is the historical, social, political, social, economic, and cultural circumstances that surround an author and text.

Context Questions

  • Who or what has influenced the author? 
  • What was happening in the world at the time the author was writing?
  • What political influences would there have been?
  • What aspects of the author’s life have influenced their work? 
  • What was happening in history when this text was written? 
  • What was society like at the time the text was written?
  • What aspects of society or culture have influenced the text?

3. Who is the Intended Audience?

The audience is who the author expects to read the text. When the writer knows who their primary audience is, they select specific language and details to speak directly to that audience.