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Tone and Purpose. The Indirect Ways That Writers Communicate. Understanding the Author’s Purpose. In many textbooks, the writer’s purpose is fairly clear. However, sometimes a writer will express an opinion indirectly.

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tone and purpose

Tone and Purpose

The Indirect Ways That Writers Communicate

understanding the author s purpose

Understanding the Author’s Purpose

In many textbooks, the writer’s purpose is fairly clear.

However, sometimes a writer will express an opinion indirectly.

Writers use tone, style and other features of language to achieve the results they want.

understanding tone

Understanding Tone

  • Refers to the author’s attitude toward his/her subject.
  • Think of how you interpret the tone of a speaker’s voice
  • Pay attention to word choice, types and length of sentences, description
  • Tone is important in determining the author’s purpose.











style and intended audience

Style and Intended Audience

Style may be defined as the characteristics that make a writer unique.

Depending upon whom the writer is addressing, he will change the level of language, method of presentation, and word choice.


Express attitudes, feelings & opinions




  • Authors use language in special ways to help the reader understand and create a picture of a situation.
  • Create Descriptions
  • Making comparisons
  • Using symbols
word choice
Connotative Meanings

Opposite of Denotation

Implied Meaning

A Word’s Nuance—ideas associated with the word’s usage

May be Favorable or Unfavorable

Denotative Meanings

Literal Meaning

found in the dictionary

Factual, exact

No added meanings

Word Choice
connotation positive vs negative
Crowd, mob, gang, audience, class, congregation

Slim, skinny, slender, slight, wiry, scrawny

Intelligent, brainy, nerdy, smart, gifted

Particular, picky, fussy, meticulous, precise, exacting

Request, demand, command, appeal, plead, claim, ask

Gaudy, showy, flashy, tawdry, glitzy, jazzy

Glance, stare, look, glimpse, peek, peer, examine, gaze, scan

Take, snatch, grasp, filch, pocket, steal

Connotationpositive vs. negative
figurative language
Figurative Language
  • Describes something that makes sense on an imaginative level but not on a factual or literal level.
  • Example:
    • Sam eats like a horse.
    • The wilted plants begged for water.
making comparisons
Making Comparisons
  • Similes and metaphors
  • Compare one object or living thing with another
  • Questions to ask yourself
    • What two things is the author comparing?
    • Why did the author choose that comparison? What do they have in common?
figurative language comparison
Figurative Language-Comparison
  • The purpose of figurative language is to paint a word picture—to help the reader visualize how something looks, feels, or smells
    • The red sun was pasted in the sky like a wafer.
    • I will speak daggers to her, but use none.
    • Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
using symbols
Using Symbols
  • Symbols can be either pictures or objects that stand for ideas, people, concepts, or anything else the author decides.
  • Symbols are a communication shortcut—make ideas more understandable by connecting them with things the reader can see.
  • Common symbols: U.S. Flag (loyalty to country), Statue of Liberty (freedom), dove (peace), “golden arches” (McDonald’s), scales (law/justice)
typical stem items
Typical Stem Items
  • Conclusions, generalizations, summary, comparisons, cause-effect, time relationships, author’s tone
    • Which of the following conclusions about X is supported by the passage?
    • Which word would the author most likely use to describe his subject?
    • The author implies that X and Y differ in what ways?
    • The author’s opinion about X is that …?
typical stem items13
Typical Stem Items
  • Application of one or more ideas
    • Based on the author’s description of X, how would a teacher using this plan arrange the student’s activities?
    • Based on the examples provided in the passage, how could the government best deter illegal immigration?
typical stem items14
Typical Stem Items
  • Figurative language
    • By the phrase, “a breath of fresh air” in lines 6-7, the author means that …
    • The use of the phrase “alien from another planet” to describe the sister is an example of what type of figurative language?
    • By saying “the room was like a sauna,” the author is indicating that …
review recall
  • What are inferences and why are they important for reading?
  • What do you do with inferences once you have made them?
  • Explain why the conclusions you draw about a reading selection can be tentative—why you can change you mind about how you understand them.
  • What are some things that might influence a change in how you understand a reading selection?