Character Katniss from the Hunger Games book standing in front of a setting sun representing simile.Example of a simile from The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

When talking about language there are a number of things to look for:

  • the literary devices an author uses, like similes and metaphors
  • the emotive language - language designed to make the reader feel a certain way
  • the connotations of particular word choices
  • the types of words used in the text, eg dialect words, long and complicated words or short and straightforward words
  • the types of sentences used, eg long or short, simple or complicated

Find out about the characters by looking closely at the words they use in dialogue. If they use long, difficult words, it might show how clever a character is (or thinks they are!).

Language also tells us a lot about the underlying ideas of a text. Words have two sets of meanings:

  • denotations - their dictionary meaning
  • connotations - the ideas they link to

For example, the word 'desk' literally denotes a table, but it has connotations of work and study.

Words can reveal a theme, such as death, or love, or create a particular mood in a scene. For instance, specific words and phrases might be used to create tension.