English Language Techniques

This chapter is about English Language Techniques.

Imperative (verb)

Command word


Applying human characteristics to an object.


Applying human characteristics to an animal (the opposite is objectification).

Technical language/jargon

This is subject-specific lexis, used to demonstrate a high level of intelligence or knowledge. May be used to intentionally overwhelm reader or impress well-educated audience.


This is where something is stated to be something else.

Inclusive Pronouns

These, such as ‘you’ and ‘we’, link the reader and audience together. They create feelings of warmth and empathy and subtly coerce the reader into feeling they agree with the author’s viewpoint or are at risk from the dangers the author points out.


This is where something is stated to be “like” something else – a form of comparison.


This is similar to a simile – something is compared to something else IN ORDER to prove a point about the first thing. E.g. ‘Not implementing electoral reform would be like handcuffing people and confiscating their ballots before they entered the polling station


Spell this correctly if you are writing it in an exam! – This involves creating sounds such as ‘creak’; ‘slurp’; ‘squelch’, in which the words have a similar phonic pronunciation to the actual sound. It adds realism and may help create better imagery in a situation hence making events more credible.


This is a past story or even an ‘urban legend’ that someone uses to demonstrate an occurrence; it can also be used to create an emotive reaction. For example describing a tragic story about a family in a house fire is far more emotive than an objective statistic than the numbers per year dying in fires.

Pathetic fallacy/ambivalence

Pathetic fallacy is where a writer tries to make the surroundings reflect moods and feelings in the situation. This can be important to consider in Q3 where you are asked to describe and explain the feelings of the writer. Furthermore the ambivalence of a scene (the lightness of it, surrounding sounds and senses) are important in reflecting mood.


This is where a group of words all begin with the same SOUND. E.g. An aspiring artist amalgamated all anchovies for aesthetics – amazing! This is effective in adding to a point. For higher marks (Band 3-4) consider the sounds, vowels/consonants and word lengths used – is it short or long? Are the sounds harsh or soft? What TONE is the author attempting to create?


This is where certain vowel sounds are repeated. It is similar to alliteration.


1st person = I/we (subjective).
2nd person = you (see direct address).
3rd person = he/she/it.

Direct Address

This is the 2nd person and involves the reader being directly spoken to by the audience. It tends to be quite affrontive and aggressive, thus it is often reserved for persuasive or argumentative pieces only.


This is a word which adds description or modifies a noun. They are capable of creating vivid imagery which the noun or pronoun on its own could not achieve.


Excessive exaggeration to emphasize a point. Hyperbole can be used to accompany subversion of expectation, and frequently relates to the JUXTAPOSITION of two ideas.


Significant contrast between two ideas.

Rhetorical questions

Questions asked by a writer to their audience, that do not need to be answered – rather, they cause the reader to question a viewpoint or consider an idea they had not previously. This results in more conformation to the viewpoint. Use these SPARINGLY and appropriately in your writing – they can make the writing dull and degrading!


Clearly, this is where something is made funny. Often linked to juxtaposition, subversion of expectations, idioms and hyperbole. Humour is important because it allows a light-hearted tone to be adopted. BLACK humour can be dark and show the nasty side of a situation. Humour can also mock and


This is a phrase which has a meaning which can no longer can be inferred from the original words – e.g. “Pulling [one’s] leg” – this does not take the literal meaning. Can create familiarity or humour – often linked to word plays or pun.


Where a word or phrase is said more than once to emphasize a point. It is vital in order to advance a particular point-of-view but can be seen as hollow and irritable if used excessively.


This is where excessive, mocking, even nasty humour is applied to a person or situation in order to show it in a negative light. Important to be used in writing, and can show a very superior or angry tone in writing, expressed eloquently.


Where general aspects of society are criticized by the writing. Not a language technique as such, but if you can identify the techniques that create the satire, extrapolate this to the satire and explain how this affects the reader, this is a high-level skill.

Dramatic verbs

These emphasize the verb used in a more active way. For example ‘sprinted’; ‘pounded’; ‘leapt’; ‘galloped’ – instead of ‘ran’. These again, add imagery and visuality towards a situation.

Word plays/pun

This involves humour being created due to the linguistics of English. This again creates a light-hearted tone, may hook a reader into an article, subvert our expectations, or mock or make sarcasm of a person or scenario.

Rule of three

Do not over-analyse as there is very little to say about this use of language. It simply adds to the strength created by a point.

Emotive/figurative language/senses

This is a key area to analyse – where description, similes and metaphors combine to produce a very engaging piece of writing. It is added to by the five senses. Analysing the CONNOTATIONS of particular words in achieving an effect will accrue the highest marks.