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Audience and Purpose

Effective writing includes audience and purpose. Every single piece of writing you have ever read has been written with two things in mind: audience and purpose. Imagine a mother who leaves a note on the kitchen table for her children, telling them that there's no milk and asking them to buy a pint before she gets home from work. Even a hastily-written note such as this has an audience (the children) and a purpose (to inform and to make a request).

See how well you understand these concepts by trying this English quiz.

  1. You have been asked to write a guide to starting high school / secondary school. Who is your audience?
    Your audience would be pupils who had not yet joined Year 7
  2. What would be the primary purpose of a guide to starting high school?
    You could have a range of purposes beyond the main purpose of providing information: you might also advise, explain and entertain
  3. You have been asked to write a speech promoting your friend, who is running for school council. Who would your audience be?
  4. What would be the primary purpose of the speech?
  5. You have been asked to write a review of the school's musical on its first night of performance, to be published on the school website. Who would be your audience?
    When writing, you should take into account the format in which your work will appear. A website often appeals to a broad range of readers (more broad, for example, than that of the school newsletter). Exam questions always specify the format (i.e. 'Write an article for a young people's magazine')
  6. What would be the purpose of the musical review?
  7. You have been asked to write a letter to the council against a recent decision to close parks at 5pm. Who would be your audience?
  8. What would be your purpose in writing the letter to the council?
    Writing to argue a point is a form of persuasion - your goal is to persuade your audience, with carefully-argued points based on facts, that your argument is better than the opposing argument
  9. You have been asked to write an article for your local community centre's monthly newsletter on the benefits of e-readers to the housebound and the elderly. Who would be your audience?
    Although the article is focussed on benefits to the elderly, the intended audience will be anyone who might know someone who could benefit from an e-reader
  10. What would be the purpose of an article explaining the benefits of e-readers?
    Although you had been asked to 'explain', this would not be a true explanation because of the requirement to focus on the 'benefits'. A true explanation would be an article which explained where to find e-books, how to build a virtual library and use the e-reader, or explained how e-readers work

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