Analysing language

Understanding refers to what a writer is saying; analysis refers to how the writer conveys his or her meaning through the use of language techniques.

Analysing language

A woman reading a book to a man seated beside her

Language features

When analysing language you must show that you are aware of how it is written. This means identifying the language features used, and explaining their effect.

The following are some language features you may notice while reading.

Alliteration

This is where consecutive words begin with the same letter and, more importantly, the same sound.

An example is The rifles rapid rattle. The repetition of the 'r' sound echoes the sound of machine guns being fired.

Onomatopoeia

This is where a word makes the sound of the thing it describes.

An example is The ringmaster cracked his whip. This implies the whip making a sharp sound.

Another example is Stuttering rifles rapid rattle. The stuttering imitates the action of a machine-gun being fired.

Simile

A simile is a comparison where one thing is described as something else, using 'like' or 'as'.

An example is He looked as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a cake. This really means he looked obvious and noticeable, he stood out, could not be missed.

A tarantula on a cake

Another example is She was like a snowflake. This implies she was light, delicate, pure, insubstantial, fragile.

Metaphor

This is a comparison where one thing is described in terms of something else.

An example is His house was now his prison. The idea here is someone feels their house is a place where they feel trapped, imprisoned or locked in; a place where they lack freedom.

Another example is James launched himself at his opponent. This makes James sound like a missile, moving quickly and powerfully.

Personification

This is a comparison where something non-human (inanimate) is described in human terms.

An example is Death stalked the battlefield. Death is being portrayed as a figure or person hunting for someone.

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