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What is Audience in Writing? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:15 Definition of Audience
  • 0:40 Examples of Audience…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Patricia Vineski
In this lesson, you'll learn what an audience in writing is and see how knowing your audience can make your writing clearer and more interesting. Take a look at some examples, and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition of Audience

Whether we're conscious of it or not, we know that we must modify what we say and how we say it according to who our audience is. We might say: 'Look at that silly doggie!' if our audience is our 2-year-old, but we wouldn't say that to our teenager. We might say: 'We're having pork for dinner,' to our spouse, but we wouldn't say that to our boss. Our content, tone and language changes according to what we know about our audience.

In writing, audience is who you are writing for. If you know who you are writing for, you can make good decisions about what information to include, as well as your tone and language in conveying it.

Examples of Audience in Writing

You can describe your audience directly. For example, in an essay to persuade smokers to avoid smoking around their children, you might include a statement like: 'Many smokers are unaware of how much second-hand smoke endangers the health of their children.' This describes the audience of 'smokers' directly.

You can imply your audience without stating it directly. For example, in an essay urging older people to take a stand against age discrimination, you would not include examples of young people who suffer from discrimination. This implies an audience of older people without stating that audience directly.

The level and type of knowledge your audience already has determines how much background you need to provide, which terms will need definition or explanation and whether you'll use a formal or conversational tone. For example, if you are writing about age discrimination in employing older workers, what your audience already knows about the process of employment and the concept of discrimination will determine whether or not you will need to define or explain those terms, what sort of background you will need to give them and whether you will convey that information in a formal or a conversational tone.

Your word choice and tone need to match your audience's expectations. For example, if you are writing for a popular audience, you might have sentences such as: 'The honey badger can be found in Africa. It looks like a weasel-bear hybrid,' and: 'Would you consider cannibalism if you and others of your kind were held prisoner for days or weeks without food? The poor lobster - who usually feeds on fish, worms and plant life - often does.'

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