GCSE English Literature Language Terms

Terms you should remember and use. Try to use  at least 2-5 of these to guarantee an A*. Not all of them will be covered, but I did the ones that I could think of from the top of my head

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Adjectives: describe nouns, e.g. great, harsh, excruciating. Used to add more detail to the noun, and to build up images in the reader's mind.

Adverbs: describe verbs (the action) and often end in -ly, e.g. carefully, quietly, quickly. used to add more detail to a description of an action.

Alliteration: repetition of a sound at the beginning of words, e.g. 'river rushing rapidly'. Used to stress certain words of phrases.

Ambiguity: a sentence of word which has more than one possible meaning. used to express more than one meaning at once, and to make the reader think

Assonance: rhyme of the internal vowel sound, e.g. 'fresh' and 'wet', 'sad' and 'black'. Used to slow the reader down and emphasise certain words.

Colloquial language: informal language, used in everyday conversation. Could use local dialect and phrases. Used to indicate relationships between characters and to create an informal tone.

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Connotation: the meaning that is suggested by the use of a particular word, e.g. red could indicate danger. Used to make a point in a subtle way.

Contrast: a strong difference between two things. Used to highlight differences.

Exclamations: show anger, shock, horror, surprise and joy. e.g. 'I won!'. Used to convey emotions.

Imagery: words that are so descriptive they allow the reader to form an image in their minds. Used to involve the reader in the moment being described.

Irony/ sarcasm: the use of words to imply the opposite of their meaning. Used to mock people or issues

Juxtaposition: the positioning of two contrasting words, phrases or ideas next or near to each other. Used to highlight contrast.

Metaphor: an image created by referring to something else, e.g 'the army of ants'. Used to give additional information to the reader to create a effect or to emphasise.

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Onomatopoeia: a word that sounds like what it describes, e.g. splash, boom, click. Used to appeal to the reader's sense of hearing.

Oxymoron: two contradictory terms placed together, e.g. 'bitter sweet', 'cruel kindness'. Used to make each term stand out and to highlight contrast.

Personification: making a object or animal sound human, giving it human qualities, e.g. 'the fingers of the tree grabbed at her hair'. Used to help the reader to identify with what is being personified and helps to create a specific image.

Questions [interrogatives]: show that the writer wants the reader to consider a question, or that they themselves are considering a question. Used to show a range of things about a character, such as inquisitiveness, upset and confusion.

Pathetic fallacy: when the surroundings reflect the mood of the character. Used to create mood and atmosphere in the writing.

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Repetition: when words, phrases, sentences or structures are repeated. Used to stress certain words or key points in the writing.

Rhetorical questions: questions that do not require an answer, e.g. 'do you think that is funny?'. Used to make the reader think about the question they they have been asked.

Rhythm: the beat of the writing, fast or slow, regular or irregular. Used to create atmosphere and to add to the overall effect.

Simile: a comparison of one thing to another that includes the word 'as' or 'like', e.g. 'the man was as cold as ice', 'the paion was like a searing heat'. Used to give additional information to the reader to create a particular effect or to emphasise a point. 

Standard English: the conventional use of words and grammar in the English language

Superlatives: words which express the best or worst of something. They often end in -est, e.g. 'lowest', 'happiest'. To emphasise a point.

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Symbols and symbolism: a symbol is an object that represents something else - often an abstract idea, e.g. a dove for peace. Used to create a stronger, more vivid image or to communicate an idea indirectly.

Tone: the overall attitude of the writing, e.g. formal, informal,  dejected (sad), playful, angry, bitter, ironic. Used to allow the emotions of the poet, or the persona in the writing to be expressed.

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This was really helpfull thanks 

Mariyah Jackson


wow you really crammed it down to the basics-thanks :)

Reivi Kiizhu


You're quite welcome! I hope they were useful for the exam. ^-^

Rehannah Oozeerally


very useful :)



thanks :)

Nico Mark Nucum


Such a simple, but useful source......thank you



Thanks, this was very helpful 

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