How to Find an Author’s Main Point or Purpose
When reading a passage, it is good to determine the author’s main point or purpose. The main point is what the author is trying to convey, and the purpose is the reason this point is being conveyed. The author will usually state their main point and proceed to explain and reinforce the point with some supporting information.
Author’s Main Point or Purpose
When looking at a passage, it’s good to determine the author’s main point and their purpose. Another term for main point would be main idea. This is what the author is trying to convey. It’s the most important information that the author is trying to convey to the reader.
Then there’s purpose. This is why the author is trying to convey that information. We can say at the main point is the “what” and the purpose is the “why”. The purpose is what the author is hoping to achieve by sharing information with you. Purpose is the “why” behind the “what”. Purpose is the reason you’re sharing the “what”.
An example of this would be that an author’s main point could be that yellow lights should be longer. Their premise for that, or what backs up their belief about that, is that longer yellow lights will save lives through reduced traffic accidents. The purpose here, the reason that the author would share this main point with you and the evidence behind it, is to make you also believe that yellow lights should be longer. That’s just an elementary example of that.
We have a passage right here, and we’re not going to look for the purpose in this main passage. We’re just going to look at the author’s main point. This says, “People need to appreciate public schools. The school year should be increased by two weeks. This would allow for increased instruction in core subject areas. This would also shorten the summer break, which would lessen the amount of time for students to forget what they learned.”
This first sentence here says that people need to appreciate public schools. Could that be a conclusion or our main point? Another word for main point is a conclusion. Then we have premises to back up a main point. It’s basically kind of the evidence, or the reasons behind that main point. Could this be your main point? Yes, but let’s keep moving on and see if that’s really the main point of this passage. The next sentence says that the school year should be increased by two weeks. Could that be a main point? Absolutely.
Remember, a main point needs to have premises, things to back it up, facts, figures, arguments, anything like that to back it up. These next two sentences talk about why it’d be good to increase the school year by two weeks. They don’t talk about why people need to appreciate public schools more. These last few sentences are basically premises backing up this sentence right here, saying that the school year should be increased by two weeks.
The second sentence here is the main point. This first sentence is really a distracter. In kind of a roundabout way, if the school year was increased by two weeks, then maybe people would begin to appreciate public schools more and begin to appreciate all that they’re teaching children. That’s kind of a roundabout way, and these two premises right here relate more directly to this sentence here than they do this first sentence. Premises can be thought of as the foundations, or the building blocks for the main point. Without premises, a main point crumbles, because there’s nothing to back it up. You have to have those premises. That’s a look at author’s main point or purpose.