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The Neophyte – Gustav Dore

INTRODUCTION Emm…did anyone else do their homework?

Don’t get left behind! Using this booklet can seriously improve the health of your close reading skills! Close Reading skills can be improved by practice; however there is something that many pupils do not realise: there are techniques that you can learn! Your NABs and exam ask similar types of questions and recognising those questions can give you a real advantage.

Each section begins with a part called Learning Intentions – this is to let you see what you are going to be learning. Use it as a checklist as you go along and during your revision to help remind you of what you should know!


TRY THIS! Olny srmat poelpe can. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearer at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, maens it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Every time you see these wise monkeys you will be sure to find some good advice. The aim of the booklet is to improve your skills so committing to memory some of the advice will really help!

Just as the human mind does not read individual letters, you do not need to know all of the words in a passage to work out the meaning as a whole. This also raises something fundamental about Close Reading skills – have you thought about the way you read? If you are a fast reader there is a good chance you are careless, skipping not only letters but words. You may need to modify the way you read to improve your Close Reading skills – as teachers we know that many pupils who do not know the answer to something can suddenly know what to do when the passage is read aloud to them (a phenomenon with all ability ranges). Why is this? They did not read carefully – it had nothing to do with their comprehension and everything to do with sloppy reading!


Learning Objectives for Contextual Questions To identify contextual clues surrounding unknown words within a text. To categorise unknown words (verb, noun, singular plural etc) To identify the meaning of unknown words and explain the connection between the word and the passage. To use the following set formulae to successfully answer contextual questions within close reading papers: state meaning, quote clue, explain connection.

Exercise 2 Look at this passage:

“Ben quickly entered the didot and cleaned the various misturaes he had been using to repair the wuipit. He had often thought that this job was extremely yullning. However, he had to admit that this time things seemed to be a bit easier. When he finished, he put on his redick and went back to the study to relax. He took out his favourite pipe and settled into the beautiful new pogtry. What pogtry. Only 300 yagmas! Questions 1. Identify unknown words in the first sentence. 2. What types of words are these? (Nouns, Adjectives, prepositions‌) 3. Along with this identification, what else would help us to arrive at a meaning for these unknown words. Focus on the first sentence, picking out other clue words which help to identify the meaning of the unknown words.


Example- “misturaes,”the clue word is “repair”, which suggests that this is some sort of tool used to mend or fix something that is broken. You should not use words from the text in your explanation. As is the case with many formats to answering Close Reading questions, use this formula:

State meaning + Explain how surrounding sentences helped you to arrive at the meaning

Show how the context of the passage helps you to arrive at the meaning for the following words: 1. Yullning 2. Redick 3. Pogtry 4. Schnappy 5. Yagmas Now let’s use English to do the same thing!


Exercise 3 For the following extracts 1. State the meaning of the words in italics 2. Show how you arrived at this meaning Extract 1 She was five years old, due to start school in three months time. It was a torrid, but beautiful day and she was playing between the film of shimmering heat. It was the kind of heat that could wear a mere mortal down his bare bones. I saw her lying on her stomach in the grass, picking daisies and making daisy chains with laborious pleasure. The sun burned on her pale red hair and made her skin look very white, but she continued with a dogmatic determination. (based on “Harry” by Rosemary Timperley)

Extract 2 The Good natured young man hurried away, and Philip full of petulant rage, attempted to keep his childish temper in check, as he flooded her with a final steam of advice and injunctions- where to stop, how to learn Italian, when to use mosquito nets, what pictures to look at. (Based on an extract from “Where Angels Fear to Tread.”)

Extract 3 5

Only hunger brought him in at noon, but then, sandwich in hand, he was back searching, his face both fearful and pleased, excited and depressed, a furious charge and counter-charge evaporating his sweat as he traversed the room. Extract 4 I seem finally to be learning what you were always trying to teach me, that my own country is exotic and even as perilous as Algeria. It is impossible to survive it without a good mind and a fully functioning gun.

Extract 5 Harry Waldsworth’s job entails using complex technology and Microsystems to collate and disseminate information for investment bankers at Goldman Sachs. Much of the information is specialises and it requires a certain level of intellect just to understand it, let alone decode it. He is highly intelligent, motivated and was close to being selected for MI5. He also has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Learning Objectives for Understanding Questions


To identify the difference between fact, opinion, debatable, non-debatable, subjective and objective topics. To translate words of a similar meaning to create the same meaning. (In your own words) To identify Link questions and know how to answer them KNo

Good writers, particularly journalists, are skilled at manipulating opinion. Be careful that you know the difference between fact and opinion – it isn’t always really obvious. FACT OR OPINION? Using one sentence, write down what you believe to be the difference between a fact and an opinion.

Fact: Opinion:

Look at the following statements: F O 1. Brazil is almost definitely going to win the World Cup. 2. Tony Blair was Prime Minister. 3. Acupuncture relieves arthritis.


4. Girls outperform boys at school. Quickly, agree with a partner which of the above statements are facts and which are opinions.

SUBJECTIVE OR OBJECTIVE? There are also two types of opinion: Subjective:

A subjective opinion relies upon an individual’s knowledge of a subject and what they believe to be right or wrong.


An objective opinion looks at a subject from several different points of view, without bias.

Look at the statements below. Decide which are subjective and which are objective: Based opinions of several prominent doctors in the field, Dr Clause came to the conclusion that the disease must be cancer. I feel that there is not enough opportunity for pupils to participate in sport during their high school years. This is an opinion that is shared by many. It could be argued that tax should be raised to provide better facilities for society. Others would counter this argument by stating that the same money could be spent improving services for the individual in a private system. (Dr Stanfield, Tax Expert)

Do not quote a subjective comment as evidence, present it as an opinion and be aware of a different viewpoint. Look to see who is making the comment and think about where their loyalties might lie! Trust no-one, in writing!

How Do You Answer “In Your Own Words” Questions?


These questions test that a candidate has a varied enough vocabulary to use different words to convey the same meaning. Example The boys jumped across the river at its narrowest point. Could be translated to The young men traversed the stream at the easiest place to cross.

1. Using your own words explain what “in your own words� questions test? 2. Now think of a third way of saying this without repeating any previously used words. 3. Look at the following extracts and translate the meaning into your own words: The jockey had won several races on the same horse.

Children should be seen, but not heard.

The fire swept through the building inflicting massive damage to both life and materials.

Elocution is vital to the defense of the English language from Americanisms

Circumlocution is a device used by politicians to avoid the truth.

Brevity would lead to a better experience, especially when the subject is irksome.


UNDERSTANDING QUESTIONS In close reading we have to: Identify the answer from the text + translate it into our own words

Look at the following examples and answer the question in your own words. Remember, if you see (U) at the end of the question, you will be expected to use your own words and not those of the passage. Extract 1 The boy’s behaviour was clearly effusive. Like a volcano he bubbled and finally exploded in a torrent of expletives. There was no sign of remorse as his tantrum seemed to climax. By this time he had gone too far and a Depute had to be called in order to save the victims from his tirade. 1. What was the boy’s attitude and how was this demonstrated? U (2) 2. Suggest what might have happened had the Depute not been called? U (2)

Extract 2 The government must crack down on reckless motorists by encouraging the spread of roadside cameras, boosting the number of traffic police and ensuring speed limits are enforced more strictly, a report from MPs urged yesterday. 1. What three things must police do in order to crack down on reckless motorists? U (2)


Extract 3 NASA is to launch an audacious deep-space mission to save the ailing Hubble telescope, the giant orbiting camera that has provided scientists with stunning images of far-off planets and the dawn of time. The space agency yesterday reversed a decision made after the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster to abandon the $1.5 bn (about £768m) structure to a premature and fiery end on re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere within the next few years.( Guardian 1/11/06) 1. What kind of mission is NASA launching? U (1) 2. What advantages has the Hubble telescope given to Scientists? U (2) 3. What was the fate of the 2003 Columbia shuttle? U (1)

Extract 4 Four years ago, ministers gave the go-ahead to a scheme whose scope was breathtakingly ambitious. They wanted to transform the NHS into a high-tech, computerized service, connecting more than 30,000 Gps to nearly 300 hospitals. A key part of it was the plan to put the medical records of 50 million patients on a single database. 1. What was the aim of ministers four years prior to the current situation? U (2) 2. What was the most important aspect of this plan? U (1)

Extract 5 The public pronouncements of George Bush have long been the subject of bafflement on the part of his listeners. But yesterday the president scaled new heights of ambiguity when he made the cryptic observation that he does not read the Guardian “often”. Appearing at a press conference in Vietnam alongside the Australian prime minister, John Howard, Mr Bush was asked about a recent report suggesting that he wanted to send 20,000 additional troops to Iraq. “Where was that report?” Mr Bush asked. “In The Guardian newspaper,” the reporter said. “Guardian newspaper? Well, I don’t read that paper often,” the president replied. At first glance, the statement appears to confirm suspicions that the president has not looked for guidance during his time in office to the Guardian’s leader columns and opinion pages, which have occasionally suggested alternative approaches to foreign policy. But Washington insiders practiced at analysing the president’s rhetoric will seize


on Mr Bush’s use of the word “often” as a tacit acknowledgement that he does in fact consult the newspaper from time to time. (The Guardian, November 16, 2006) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

What is it about George Bush that has always puzzled listeners? U (2) What has the president done lately that has flabbergasted listeners? U (2) At first glance, what does the president’s statement suggest? U (2) Why might the president have avoided columns in The Guardian? U (2) Ultimately what has shocked the author? U (2)

Link Questions Just as with the links in a chain, the link sentence must connect to the topic discussed in the previous paragraph AND the topic to be discussed in the paragraph to come. Without the link sentence, the piece of writing has no flow or progression. These questions are usually worth two marks: 1st mark = naming the previous topic AND quoting the part of the link sentence which relates back to it. 2nd mark = naming the topic about to be discussed AND quoting the part of the link sentence which relates forward to it.

Example: Her mother left her at the age of five. As a result, she was forced to fend for and pay for herself: ensuring she had enough to eat; clothes to wear and shelter from the elements. Despite her harsh childhood, Emma’s ancestry linked her to wealth and social standing. Her grandmother was Lady of the local clan, with a grand manse and estate to her family name, which was renowned throughout the country.

Question: Show how the sentence underlined acts as a link within this piece of writing. Ans: ‘Despite her harsh childhood,’ links to the previous paragraph where the author looks as the poverty Emma experienced, following the untimely death of her mother. She was responsible for herself and had to find her own food, clothe herself and find her own lodgings. (1 Mark) ‘ancestry linked her to wealth and social standing.’ acts as a link forward, allowing the author to mention the fact that, two generations previously, her


family had owned a large home with a great deal of land. They were very well known and admired in their area – a family at the head of other families in the area. (1 Mark)

More often than not, the link sentence is found at the beginning of a paragraph, with the first half linking backwards to the previous topic and the second half linking forward to the topic to come.

Read the following extracts. Using the formula shown above, show how the underlined sentence acts as a link within the passage.

Extract One: 1. The company said it had studied more than 50 other potential sites for a reservoir, from Cricklade in the West to Bicester in the North. It chose Abingdon from a shortlist of six because it was remarkably flat, the geology was right –clay – it was close to the Thames and near to the railway line which will be needed to bring in construction materials. Perhaps, more importantly than all the beneficial elements of this choice, it was not heavily populated. Only around 20 households stand to lose their homes. But the nearby villages of Steventon, Drayton and East Hanney will suffer years of disruption. Homes will have to be rebuilt and families will need to be re-housed. Also, buildings and businesses vital to the local area, such as libraries, schools and supermarkets, will need to be relocated.

2. The couple separated acrimoniously last year after 20 years. Friends said Yorke was mild mannered, a keen sportsman and ‘the last person to do something like this’, and neighbours all spoke highly of him. Despite this outward appearance of calm and normality, privately he was tortured by the break-up of his family. Spiraling into depression, he became obsessed with guns and carried out target practice in his back garden, leading up to the shooting of his wife.


3. Mr MacDonald, from Edinburgh, wore full tartan regalia as he was installed in a ceremony in Fort William, the clan’s heartland. He claimed the title after he was recognised by the Court of the Lord Lyon, which deals with heraldic matters, and the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Despite what appears to be a high level of acceptance of Mr MacDonald’s position, some of his critics say he has no right to the title. They note that he comes from an illegitimate side of the family and argue that his ancestor Alexander was born out of wedlock in 1832.

4. ‘First-time buyers are continuing to find ways of getting a toehold on the property ladder, showing just how popular home-ownership is to many young people,’ CML director general Michael Coogan said. Despite this, higher income multiples, coupled with higher interest payments as a proportion of income, suggest that they are stretching themselves to do so. The research follows fears of a rise in home repossessions among young people. The Citizens Advice Bureau said that 770,000 people had missed a mortgage payment this year, and that many of them were young first-time buyers.

5. Almost half of adults are expected to continue using credit cards when they retire, raising fears of a debt crisis among pensioners. Forty-five percent of people are expecting to continue to use cards when they retire, according to research by the insurance group AXA, despite evidence that today’s pensioners are increasingly suffering from debt problems. The majority of pensioners struggle to maintain their lifestyle on such a small budget, having to cut back in essential areas such as grocery shopping and heating bills. Despite the problems of surviving on a basic weekly state pension, people are still dreaming of a golden retirement, AXA says. About 28million adults


expect to take at least one holiday a year after they retire, with 27million also hoping to escape on weekend breaks or day trips. A large portion of their weekly budget would also be spent on indispensable items, such as cigarettes and the National Lottery.

6. Large numbers of pigs are to be released into the New Forest to forage for an exceptionally bountiful harvest of acorns, which are poisonous to ponies and cattle that roam the ancient woodland. Each year ‘commoners’, as local landowners are known, are allowed to let pigs roam freely for a 60-day period, known as Pannage. The animals feast on green acorns, which are harmful to the New Forest ponies and cattle that graze the area. Due to the colder, wetter, windier weather normally associated with Hampshire, the amounts of acorns produced by a single oak tree are minimal. Therefore, usually no more than 200 pigs are required to deal with this problem of nature. However, despite the low acorn count and pig requirement due to poor weather conditions of previous years, a call has gone out to local farmers to provide as many pigs as possible because this year’s crop is so heavy, probably as a result of the hot, dry weather. Soaring summer temperatures and fewer frosty spells have initiated a change to the production of acorns in Hampshire. It is estimated that three times the usual number of pigs will be necessary to deal with the 50,000 acorns expected to be produced by each single mature oak in the forest. As the forest covers an area of 70,000 acres, there is an abundance of oak trees.


Learning Objectives for Questions on Tone To identify differing tones through an analysis of purpose 1. What is Tone? The most simplistic definition of tone is “the voice the author is using through the narrative of the writing.” We must look at the purpose of the writing and ask ourselves “What voice is the author using and why?” Discursive writing may use emotive language, humour or sarcasm to put a point across strongly. Other discursive pieces may just present the facts in an objective, formal fashion. In magazines the author may try to be the reader’s best friend and will utilise colloquial language (chatty, friendly, slang). The purpose of the writing is key to the tone that the author it attempting to achieve.

2. How many examples of these tones do you recognise?


a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. i.

Ironic Sarcastic Emotive Colloquial Persuasive Sardonic Humorous Flippant Effusive

j. Satirical k. Tongue- in -cheek

3. Pick two examples of the tones above. Now try to write about a subject using these tones. Be aware of the types of words that you choose to create this tone. 4. Look at the following Examples answer the following questions: a. What is the purpose of the writing? (What type of writing is it?) b. What tone is achieved? c. What words, structures/ and or techniques led you to this conclusion?

Purpose + Language - Tone What voice is the author using?

Example 1 Starter-guided-independent-plenary-dung. “One of these things,” to quote the old Sesame Street song, “does not belong here, one of these things is not the same.” The first four are the sequence the Department of Education and skills recommends teachers follow for more or less every lesson; the fifth might profitably be employed as a collective noun for the other four in sequence. The phrase “four part lesson plan “is controversial. Many feel it goes together with good teaching like a horse and gherkin, and is yet another symptom of modern education’s inexorable path towards its own antithesis. (Philip Beadle, The Guardian, Tuesday October 24th 2006)

Example 2 When you earn a gazillion squid a week and bathe in guineas, it can be hard to remember the value of money. Hence footballers are forever buying spangly cars or fox furs for the missus as if they cost little more than a quarter of sherbet lemons. When Chelsea won the premiership two years ago, for example, John Terry spent £200,000 on watches for his teammates. Joe Cole recently bid £100,000 in a charity auction for chance to go into a recording studio with rap mogul P Diddy. (The Guardian 01.11.06)


Example 3 Ten years ago Noel Gallagher was a style icon. That isn’t intended as a provocative statement: you might not have liked the look, but at least it belonged to him. Sideburns hugged his face like as neat little helmet while unzipped parkas billowed open and bandy legs splayed outwards in raggy jeans. His eyebrows were famously wild, the coiffure equivalent of the profanities that peppered his quotes or the finger signs of which he was so fond. The look said Manchester, it said rock n roll, and, above all, it said that he was his own man.

Example 4 Fireworks. The worst thing since the invention of landmines? Don’t let your children near them, they might have some fun. Rules, rules and more rules. Who needs them? So what if they involve a little bit of fire and an explosion. More people are killed by cars. We too often bow to the dictates of a nanny state and wrap our children up in flammable cotton wool.

Example 5 A minor culture war seems to have broken out in Lanberis, the Welsh town that serves as a gateway to the mountainous wonders of Snowdonia. A car park attendant at the town’s Royal Victoria Hotel, known only as Pete, was reportedly caught offering a 50% discount to Welsh speakers: if you asked how much it was to park in the local tongue (“Faint mae’n gostio i barcio yma?”), it was £2, whereas those who inquired in English paid double.(The Guardian 01.11.06)

Example 6


Let’s say, for the purpose of this work, that the King, Herbert Hugold has just taken power and placed his second wife, Cynthia Pollock-Shoelds, on the throne. He has done this despite the mysterious death of his first wife Sylvia, and the fact that his second wife is a divorcee. This behaviour is not popular with the people of his kingdom as they believe that these circumstances are directly related to the strange behaviour of their animals and the three year drought they have been suffering. Sylvia, a very controversial member of the Royal family is now worshipped as a Goddess.

Example 7 Once we’d played the way we did against Argentina there was always going to be a backlash. Some emotive things have been said, but not least by Rob Andrew and Will Carling. The latter apparently compared me to an old Morris Minor trying to get up a hill while the former has been extensively quoted on the subject of leadership. The media duly interpreted that England needed to find a World Cup captain as a direct swipe at me. And let’s be clear about two things. I’ve never backed away from a challenge before and I’m certainly not going to start now. I also want to be the World Cup captain in France next year. No ifs, no buts. I love doing this job and I want to continue doing it. I appreciate that being captain means being responsible for what happens on the field. I’m not looking to shirk that. We are fully aware that what happened last week against Argentina was below par. There’s a lot of anger about what happened and we are desperate to put that right. (Martin Corrie, England Rugby Captain, The Guardian, November 18, 2006)


Learning Objectives for Sentence Structure Questions Identify different types of sentences. Identify the feature of structuring used by the author. Identify the different kinds of punctuation used to separate or connect sentences. State what the use of this feature or punctuation achieves in the piece of writing.

Sentence structure questions are not asking WHAT the sentence means. They are asking HOW the sentence is put together and the EFFECT it achieves. •

Avoid vague waffle in your answers: ‘This feature of structure is effective.’ ‘This feature of structure is used for emphasis.’

Do be specific: ‘This feature of structure is effective because…’ ‘The author uses this feature of structure to emphasise that...’

Sentence – a group of words, beginning with a capital letter and ending with a full-stop, which contains a verb and makes complete sense.


Identify sentence type.

Example sentence.

Typical use/effect created.


Michael is playing tennis.

Used in narrative/factual writing.


Was it my fault?

Used in reflective/emotive writing.

Rhetorical Question.

Do I look stupid?

No answer expected. Makes a strong statement, such as anger.


Vote for a winning candidate and put your cross in the last box.


It couldn’t be true!

Minor Sentence

She crouched down, listening for a sound. Complete silence.

Non - sentence

She crouched down, listening for a sound. Nothing.

Used in instructions and persuasive writing. Convey volume and strong emotion such as amazement, shock. • • • •

Words make complete sense in context. More concise. Creates: impact, sense of urgency, tension. Found in informal writing.

1. Write brief paragraphs, incorporating one of the sentence types mentioned above. 2. Now ask your partner to identify the sentence type and, where appropriate, the effect created.

Punctuation You can’t write about sentence structure without knowing how punctuation works! Over the page is a short glossary of some punctuation that you will need to know about – it is NOT comprehensive!


Inverted commas (“) To highlight the spoken word. “Did you intend for this to happen?” asked the Prime Minister. To identify quotations. The cabinet minister responded immediately by saying, “It was not my intention and I am extremely sorry for the outcome.” To emphasise or pick out a word or phrase within a sentence, for example in instances where foreign words are used or when the author does not necessarily agree with the text. The cabinet minister gave an “immediate” response. To identify the title of a film, novel etc. “The Matrix” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

Colon (:) To introduce a quotation. To introduce a list. To introduce an explanation on a point. To expand the detail on a previous statement. Semi-colon (;) Used to separate items within a list. Used to separate two linked statements. Used to separate two opposing statements. Single dash (-) Highlight the untimely break-off to a sentence, usually spoken. “But I –.” The girl stood shocked as the teacher shouted at her. “I don’t want to hear your excuses!” To add an extra piece of information on a point. In walked Jamie Millar – the new boy in the year. 22

Parenthesis (two dashes, two brackets, two commas) To separate a piece of information from within a sentence, which is not vital to the understanding of that sentence. The sentence will continue to make sense if the parenthesis is removed. Jamie Millar walked in – the new boy in the year – and sat next to Jason.

As well as helping you to identify the sentence types present within a passage, you will be asked to comment on the use of punctuation with regards to how these sentences are structured. Be specific and answer in your own words – do not simply repeat what it says in the passage. Example: Jamie Millar walked in – the new boy in the year – and sat next to Jason Black. He was really fit. This was a disaster – Jason was the biggest geek in the whole school. He looked a sight: his orange curly hair; his big thick glasses; his snotty, crusty nose. They were never going to get on. “Miss, should I loan Jamie a –” “I’ve got one.” Jamie glared at Jason as he pulled a pen out of his denim jacket pocket. 1. Name the different forms of punctuation used within this sample paragraph and comment on the purpose/effect of each.     

Parenthesis with dashes used to add extra information about the boy Jamie Millar, informing the reader that he has only just joined the school. Single dash used to inform the reader that this pairing would not work because Jason was not popular in the school. He was a completely opposite character compared to Jamie. Colon used to introduce a list of all the awful appearance factors relating to Jason. Semi-colon used to separate all the terrible elements of Jason’s appearance, such as his chunky spectacles and his dirty, runny nose. Dash used to show that Jamie’s question to the teacher was rudely cut off by Jason’s remark, showing that Jason didn’t want Jamie’s help.

NOW IT IS YOUR TURN! 1. Read the following extracts. 2. Name the various forms of punctuation used. 3. Comment on their effect/purpose. Remember to be specific.


1. Mr Sheridan said that the latest tabloid claim – that it had a tape of him confessing to visiting an erotic club – was “garbage and lies”, another example of a politicallymotivated attack. He said his voice must have been “spliced” into a fake tape. 2. Inventor James Dyson unveiled his latest device yesterday – a high-speed hand dryer for public toilets. The vacuum-cleaner king said, “The Dyson Airblade is faster and more hygienic than standard dryers.” 3. After angry scenes in which other asylum seekers and supporters shouted at officials, it emerged the parents of the family to be detained, Ali and Fatima Uzun, were not at home – they had joined the protest. It is understood that immigration officials abandoned the attempt to detain the family after interviewing Gokhana, 17, the eldest of three children staying at the address in Scotstoun. Amal Azzudin, a 16-year-old Somalian refugee – one of the “Glasgow Girls” who helped persuade the First Minister to intervene on asylum policy – said there had been emotional scenes when police and immigration officers arrived.

4. Sitting on the famous Prime Ministerial stripey sofa, he was asked about the No 10 building. Mr Blair revealed that he dubbed it “the tardis” because it was so much bigger on the inside than it appeared on the outside (nothing to do then with the irritating Dalek next door). One amusing incident came when the PM was asked by 14-year-old Rima to name the most important person who had visited No10 while he had been in charge. He hesitated and replied: “Well , it would have to be one of the, I mean, all the Presidents and Prime Ministers, of whom I suppose the best known would be Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton I s’pose and George Bush. At this point, Mr Blair broke off, turned his head for support and asked an unseen aide: “Has George Bush actually been here?” Quickly, he added: “Yeah, no, he’s been here, yeah.” Dubya had obviously made a big impression. Of course, the programme was for the kids so Mr Blair, as he often does when in full populist mode, started dropping his Rs and Ts and sliding into Thames English with “yeah”, “coz”, and “s’pose”.

5. David Cameron reiterated his view that only English MPs should be allowed a say on laws that apply solely south of the border, in an attempt to resolve the West Lothian question. He told BBC Radio Scotland: “We do need to deal with the issue of the West Lothian question and I think ensuring that English MPs have the final say on issues that only affect England is a fair approach.” David Mundell, Shadow Scottish Secretary, later told the conference that the interests of the UK were best served by making a resounding success of devolution and localism.


6. Normally, Shalidar would spend days planning a hit, but now he did not have that luxury. He knew the layout of his next vicitm’s residence intimately – a three level manse on the outskirts of the town – otherwise he would have been forced to abandon the kill. As it was, the risk involved was considerable: the constantly roaming constables; the tall iron spiked gates; the wolf-hounds patrolling the expansive gardens. But these could not be helped. His current employer, Commander Vammus, knew too much about his recent activities. If the General leaned on him, Shalidar knew the Commander would bleat. Vammus had done nothing wrong, but to Shalidar, he was redundant – a dangerous source of information to be disposed of before General Surabar had a chance to reach him. This ‘easy target’ was going to be very difficult to hit.

The next section gives you some information about different aspects of STRUCTURE.

Paragraphing A new paragraph is taken with a: • Change of time • Change of subject • Change of place • Change in speaker In addition to this, paragraphing may also be used to create a specific effect in a piece of writing: •

Single sentence paragraphs- place emphasis on the topic discussed.

Look at this example: It represents the heights of human endeavour; and now it has plumbed the depths of human tragedy. Concorde is the cathedral of our age. The architects of the medieval cathedrals explored the limits of the available technology to create buildings we wonder at today. The designers of Concorde pushed the limits of their available technology to create an aircraft of extraordinary sensuous beauty and power. (NAB D8vh12/001-Tragic Beauty) The sentence on its own is also a paragraph, the isolation of which creates a sense of importance and drama relating to Concorde.

Inversion 25

Normally, the subject is stated before the detailed information on the subject is given (the predicate). Example:

‘The baby rocked back and forth.’

However, a delay in identifying the subject can alter the focus of emphasis in the sentence. Example: (reverse order)

‘Back and forth the baby rocked.’

 When you think of inversion, think of the character YODA from Star Wars: ‘Your father, he is.’ ‘Win this war, we will.’ Yoda places emphasis on key words – Darth Vader, the antagonist, is Luke Skywalker’s father, the protagonist.

Repetition -

repeated word patterns in order to focus emphasis and/or to elicit a specific response from the reader.


items are placed in a specific order in the sentence, most important detailed last.


Anti-climax -

building up to an event that does not happen.



placing opposites together in order to create a contrast, therefore making a point memorable.

Long/short -

different sentence lengths in order to change the speed, movement and/or tension of a passage.

Now it is time to put into practice what you have learned Identify the sentence structure feature from the passage, quote and comment on the effect it creates.


Consider: atmosphere, mood, tone, characterisation, emotions and movement. 1.

‘Out went the lights. This couldn’t be happening – her husband should have been at home with her by now. She was alone. Shadows danced across the half set dinner table; shadows danced across the cold pine floors; shadows danced across the bare walls. She could hear soft scratching noises coming from the front door, growing in volume as the would-be intruder appeared to become more frustrated and aggressive in his actions. She would have to get help. Have to get in touch with someone. Have to get to the phone. The bedroom. As she heard the lock and door jam break under pressure, she dashed for the half open door, bolted for the staircase, skidded in her sock soled feet across the polished floor, heart racing, gasping for breath as she took the stairs two at a time. Too late. He was inside. Crouched behind the dresser she lay. Steps coming up the stairs. Steps across the hall. Steps outside the door. Slowly, the door creaked open as she looked up into the face of her fear. ‘Bloody awful day at work! Didn’t I say that that lock needed fixed? Why are you in the dark? What’s wrong?’’


Context: A young boy is going to a fancy dress party, held by the Scouts. He wants to make sure his costume is suitable. His dad – a rough, working class man – refuses to help him choose a costume, so his sister dresses him as a girl. The boy is surprised to feel more at home in the girl outfit than in his own body. His family’s reaction, and his own, scares him. ‘I stood up quickly and kicked off the shoes and ripped at the blouse, then the illfeeling rose up inside me again as if I’d jumped off a roundabout. Then the world lurched and spun and all I knew was that I had to run, run because the stone had been lifted, run from the giant’s shadow on the lino pretending to be wood in the dinette that wasn’t the same thing as a dining room, run into the hallway where they stood at the top of the stairs, my mother with her hand flying up to her mouth letting out a whoop, my father forgetting to slouch because of what he saw with his eyes looking blue and amazed, run past them to the bathroom and the sink where I could let it all come up, hearing my father’s rumbling laughter and my mother’s whoops behind me and my sister’s squeaking giggles like balloons, balloons with faces painted on them at the party, faces of frogmen and astronauts and cowboys and pirates at the party, cakes and lemonade and sweets and games of musical chairs and blind-man’s-buff and…I felt the cool hand on my burning forehead and I knew that I would never go now.’


London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimneypots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown


snowflakes--gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another's umbrellas in a general infection of ill temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest. Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. 4. There was a minute's pause perhaps. The Psychologist seemed about to speak to me, but changed his mind. Then the Time Traveller put forth his finger towards the lever. `No,' he said suddenly. `Lend me your hand.' And turning to the Psychologist, he took that individual's hand in his own and told him to put out his forefinger. So that it was the Psychologist himself who sent forth the model Time Machine on its interminable voyage. We all saw the lever turn. I am absolutely certain there was no trickery. There was a breath of wind, and the lamp flame jumped. One of the candles on the mantel was blown out, and the little machine Suddenly swung round, became indistinct, was seen as a ghost for a second perhaps, as an eddy of faintly glittering brass and ivory; and it was gone--vanished! Save for the lamp the table was bare.

Learning objectives for questions on contrast, opposites and contradictions To understand the meaning and effect of the term Paradox. To understand the meaning and effect of the term Oxymoron.


To understand the meaning and effect of the term Juxtaposition.

PARADOX Is an apparently true statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction. Although the statement may seem nonsensical at first, the meaning is often deep when analysed. Are the following paradoxical statements? Explain the true meaning of any paradoxes you identify: 1.

The child is the father of the man.


Can an all-powerful being create something that is greater than itself?


According to Malthusian theory some of the harsher outcomes of human nature are essential to the survival of the human race. Without death and famine the population would grow out of control. Therefore, we must suffer war before there can be peace.


The Infinite Circle. Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) made the following interesting point regarding the shape of an infinite circle. The curvature of a circle's circumference decreases as the size of the circle increases. For example, the curvature of the earth's surface is so negligible that it appears flat. The limit of decrease in curvature is a straight line. An infinite circle is therefore... a straight line!


The chicken came before the egg.

Oxymoron Is a condensed form of paradox, where two opposites are placed side by side to emphasise the effect of a contrast. This kind of technique is common to the works of William Shakespeare. Explain the possible meaning of the following phrases: 1. Loving hate 2. A Fine Mess 3. Agree to disagree


4. Alone together 5. Tax return 6. Calm storm 7. Colourless kaleidoscope 8. Baby giant 9. Genuine-imitation leather 10. Icy hot 11. Low Altitude 12. Minor crisis 13. Negative gain 14. Obviously Concealed

Juxtaposition Put simply, juxtaposition means placing side by side. In a sense oxymoron and paradox are forms of juxtaposition as they place two ideas or words side by side in order to create a contrast. The story of two characters could be placed next to each other in different chapters of the same novel. In this way the author could be asking us to contrast the choices, lifestyles, backgrounds personalities, to name but a few, of these two characters. In the novel “Stone Cold” by Robert Swindells the plot is narrated by two characters in alternating chapters. This allows the reader to fully understand the events occurring in the lives of both characters simultaneously. The lives of the characters are therefore juxtaposed. How does the following extract show how juxtaposition can be used? The boat tossed on the colossal waves raging around them, at the mercy of the cruel elements. Nets whipped at their father’s ruddy cheeks, as the boys’ white knuckles clung to the railing. Why had her family not returned yet? What was taking them so long? She folded another chequered teatowel and tossed it onto the growing ironing pile. The gale screamed around them, piercing their eardrums like stabbing knives. Silence. The swells faded to faint ripples and the battered boat gently came to rest. They were in the calm of the storm. Five thirty. Five thirty-five. Her thoughts drifted down dark alleyways. She reached for the phone. The boys stood, stunned into silence and immobility, as their father ran to their side. The boat drifted. All was unnervingly peaceful.



To identify the literary techniques used to create imagery in figures of speech: metaphor, simile and personification.

To comment on and analyse the purpose and effect of metaphors, similes and personification.

To explain and analyse the figurative and literal meanings of metaphors, similes and personification.

LITERAL AND FIGURATIVE LANGAUGE The word literal means the actual thing or words that are used in their ordinary meaning. Figurative means something suggested by figures of speech, where words are used in an imaginative way. Figurative language is often used by writers to help readers to visualise the subject more clearly.

METAPHOR A metaphor compares one thing imaginatively to another, or to something that it literally cannot be; it does not use like or as to make this comparison. 1. She bravely entered the supermarket and set about finding the long list of items on her list. She knew that bringing the baby meant this would be a challenge; but she had no option but to bring him. She thought that maybe this time it would be different, but before long the baby was an octopus, grabbing at all the cans on the supermarket shelves. Question: Show how the writer uses a comparison to suggest that the mother found looking after her baby hard work. 2. It was obvious that he was inebriated from the moment she saw him. She pushed him in the front door and ignored his protests. Somehow she managed to get him upstairs. He was eager to help but his legs were rubber. It took all her strength and determination to drag him up and put him to bed. 31

Question: Pick out the figure of speech from this example and explain how it effectively describes the physical state of the drunken man. 3. We had been dreading the maths exam for weeks. The questions seemed like they would never end and I started to sweat and shake. I could not focus and started to panic. The fluorescent light in the hall was the sun beating down on us. Question: Show how the writer uses imagery to suggest that the pupils found being in the exam hall extremely stressful.

4. I was exhausted when I got home. It had been a horrendous journey home after a long, hard day. I got straight into my large, comfortable bed; the pillow was a cloud when I put my head upon it. I slowly drifted into a peaceful sleep and did not waken until the morning. Question: Identify the figure of speech used by the author and explain how it uses a comparison to show how pleased the writer was to get into bed.

5. The winds were ocean waves, thrashing against the tree limbs. The gales remained thereafter, only ceasing when the sun went down. Their waves clashed brilliantly with the water beneath, bringing foam and dying leaves to the shore. Question: Show how the writer uses comparisons and imagery to effectively describe the storm at sea. 6. The teacher descended upon the exams, sank his talons into their pages, ripped the answers to shreds, and then, perching in his chair, began to digest. Question: How does the writer effectively use imagery to describe the teacher beginning to mark the exam papers?


SIMILE A simile is a figure of speech that involves a direct comparison using “like” or “as”. 1. Paul swaggered into the gym and collected his weight-lifting gear. He positioned himself carefully and confidently reached for the heaviest weights. As he tensed the muscles on his brawny arms it was clear that they were as strong as iron bars. Question: Show how the writer uses a comparison to describe the strength of the weightlifter. 2. My favourite place in Scotland is Rudh Dubh. It is a tiny cottage beside the sea. Beside the cottage is a turquoise bench. If you sit on the bench you can see hundreds of rocks as black as soot and the sea is crystal clear like glass window. I can see grassy mountains. Mummy says they are islands-one of them is called Muck. Question: Pick out the figure of speech used by the author and explain its effect. 3. What do you think of me? I have a rough coat like Africa. I am crafty with dark spots like the bush-tufted plains of Africa. (“Hyena”, Edwin Morgan) Question: Explain how the poet uses imagery and comparisons to describe the Hyena’s coat. 4. He advanced upon my mother and shook her by the hand and as he did so he gave me a flashing grin like a shark might give to a small fish just before he gobbles it up. One of his front teeth was edged all the way round with gold, and his hair was slicked down with so much hair-cream that it glistened like butter. (“Boy”, Roald Dahl) Question: What comparisons does the author use to effectively describe the terrifying headmaster? 33

5. The teacher entered the room and she muttered under her breath: “This class is like a three-ring circus!” At least ten pupils were out of their seats; chairs were lying on the floor, two boys were fighting in the corner, paper was being thrown around and everyone was shrieking. Question: Show how the author uses a comparison to demonstrate the teacher’s opinion of the class’ behaviour.

6. It was John’s first date with Amanda and he was as nervous as a cat with a long tail in a room full of rocking chairs. He knew that he had to impress her to secure a second date, but he knew that he would ruin it somehow.

Question: Pick out the figure of speech from the passage above and explain why it effectively describes how nervous John was.

PERSONIFICATION Personification is a figure of speech that gives the qualities of a person to an object, or an idea. It is a comparison which the author uses to show something in an entirely new light or to communicate a certain feeling or attitude towards it.

1. We wondered aimlessly around the forest searching for an exit. We had been lost for hours; it was getting dark and eerie. We felt surrounded as the wind whispered to the oppressive trees. Question:

A common personification of death

Show how the author has used personification to create the eerie sound of the wind whispering to the trees. 2. Ted sighed as he lowered his colossal backside heavily on the comfortable armchair. The chair beneath him visibly groaned under the strain of his bloated body. 34

Question: Identify the literary technique employed by the author to emphasise the strain of the heavy man “felt� by the chair. 3. Jamie crunched through the leaves and jumped the huge puddles in his shiny new red Wellingtons. He smiled to himself as he watched the multicoloured leaves dance in the wind. Question: Pick out the example of personification from the extract above and explain the effect that it has. 4. The midday sun beat down on their sweating bodies. They still had miles to walk and their water bottles were empty. They found it difficult to talk and indeed to breathe, as the oppressive heat ripped the breath from their lungs. Question: Show how the writer uses imagery and a dramatic comparison to show the effects of the heat. 5. The sunflowers arranged themselves at the window and counted the steps of the sun, and they both took root in the carpet where the topaz tortoises run. (William Blake) Questions: Show how the poet has used imagery to suggest the movements and behaviour of the sunflowers.

6. The weather had worsened and the girls knew that they had to get home before they lost their way. It was getting cold and the girls began to run as the dense fog crept in on their little feet. Questions: Pick out an example of personification from the extract and show how it suggests that the girls were sacred of the weather and desperate to find their way home.


In order to fully answer figure of speech and imagery questions: 1. Identify the figure of speech used and its effect. 2. Explain the metaphoric meaning. 3. Explain the figurative meaning



To identify the literary techniques that are used to create sound effects in language: alliteration, onomatopoeia, assonance, pun

To comment on and analyse the effect that alliteration, onomatopoeia, assonance and pun have on the text and the reader.

ALLITERATION Alliteration is the repetition of letter sounds occurring at the beginning of two or more words in a sentence. It is used to create melody, establish mood, to call attention to important words or to point out similarities. It can be used to aid memory, especially when used by branded companies e.g. “coca-cola” or for newspaper headlines. It helps to think about the sound of the letter – is it soft or hard sounding, is it a long or short sound. Look at the meaning, think about the writer’s tone and the effect you think they are trying to create.

1. Female Fisticuffs are down to flies. When you tell someone they fight like a girl, it is no longer the insult it used to be. Rather than flailing arms or a wave of a menacing handbag, females are more likely to give you a nasty head butt or a shove. At least, that’s the case among those lab favourites, fruit flies, which are said to exhibit similar behaviour to humans. Question:


Show how the author has used alliteration in the first sentence to draw the readers’ attention to it. 2. Small steps to solving crisis. So there were some climate change talks last week in Nairobi, Kenya- but how many of us really know what they were about? We asked two key campaigners from the Stockholm Environment Institutes’ Oxford office who were at the UN talks to summarise what went on. Question: Pick out the literary technique used by the author and explain its effect on the extract. 3. Sun, sea and sensitivity. New companies are springing up to help us enjoy environmentally friendly trips. “Help us save water. If you would like your towels washed, please place them in the bath.” We have all seen notes similar to this while on holiday but is a hotel washing towels only every other day enough of an environmental policy? Question: Identify the device employed by the author and explain how it effectively introduces the extract.

4. The deep churned. Something had happened down in the dim, foggy-green depths. (Paul Annixter, “Battle in the Depths”) Question: Show how the author uses alliteration to help you to visualise the dark, depths of the sea. 5. Poisoning plots of the past. Other mysterious cases of alleged poisoning include: Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov who was stabbed in London with a poison-tipped umbrella in 1978 and died three days later and In 1981, Wolfgang Welsch, an East German defector who helped others to flee to the west, was fed a poisoned hamburger. Question: The writer has begun with a striking sentence. How has he achieved this and what effect does this have on the extract as a whole?


6. Urbanites feel forced into splashing the cash. Nearly three-quarters of young professionals feel pressured into spending thousands of pounds on a lifestyle they cannot afford, simply because it is expected of them. Question: The writer is reporting that many young professionals feel under pressure to spend more money than they can afford. What impact does the author’s use of alliteration have on the passage?

ONOMATOPOEIA Onomatopoeia is where words are used to imitate the sounds they represent. The word is taken from a Greek word, which means “name making”.

1. I was starving and the smell of frying food made my mouth water. I watched longingly as the sizzling, succulent sausages squirted in the pan. Question: Show how the author has used onomatopoeia to accurately describe the sausages cooking.

2. The lights flicked on and the stage curtains opened with a swoosh and a creak. The claps and cheers of the audience signalled that the show must begin. Question: Show how the writer has used sound effects to portray the beginning of the theatre production.

3. We sit indoors listening to the splash and whoosh of the heavy rain, waiting patiently for the snap and crackle of the lightening. As soon as we hear this we count until we hear the boom and bang of the rolling thunder.


Question: Identify the literary device employed by the author and explain how it imitates the weather sounds.

4. James was angry that his mother had forced him to help with the dishes. All his friends were allowed out straight after dinner, while he was stuck indoors. He made his displeasure obvious as clattered and clanged the dishes in the sink. Question: Show how the writer has used sound effects to demonstrate James’ anger through the way in which he washed the dishes.

5. The murmuring of innumerable bees buzzed past us, as we trudged along the country road. Several of the girls shrieked as the realised that we had disturbed the hive. Question: Show how the writer has used onomatopoeia to imitate both the noise of the bees and the girls’ reaction.

6. Her ski trousers stretched and crunched as she pulled them up. She squelched her feet and thick socks into her ski boots and zipped up her thermal, waterproof jacket. Question: Identify the author’s use of sound effects in the above extract and explain why these are effective.

ASSONANCE Assonance is the repetition or pattern of similar sounds, especially vowel sounds. It reinforces the meaning of words and can be used to create mood and tone.


1. The sun did not finally set until after 10pm, the sky was dark and very clear. For the first time that month every dazzling star was visible and the huge June moon loomed over the horizon. Question: Pick out the example assonance and explain the effect it has on creating mood in the example above.

2. Poetry is old, ancient, goes back far. It is among the oldest of living things. So old it is that no man knows how and why the first poems came about. Question: Explain what effect the repetition of “o” sounds has on the above examples.

3. Gain without the pain. It’s a cruel world. You’ve dragged your tired body to the gym on a cold November night and you could be causing more harm than good. Bad backs and strained muscles are often the result of poorly executed exercise. To ensure those good intentions don’t go to waste, take some advice from out experts and avoid these exercise sins. Question: Why has the author chosen to use sound effects at the beginning of his report?

4. The sound of rumbling thunder echoed throughout the valley. Adults and children, a like, run for shelter to escape the heavy rains. Question: Identify the author’s use of assonance and explain the effect of the repeated vowel sounds in this example.

5. When I get shocked at the hospital by the doctor when I’m not cooperating when I’m rocking the table while he’s operating. (EMINEM, Without Me) Question: Examine the effect of the use of sounds effects in the extract taken from a rap song. 6.

on either side of the river lie long fields of barley and of rye (Tennyson, The Lady of Shallot)


Question: Identify the poetic technique employed by Tennyson and explain the effect it has on this extract from the poem.

PUN A pun is a phrase or sentence in which the several meanings of one word are alluded to in and attempt, with varying levels and measures of success, to elicit humour.

1. It’s Tourettes, I swear. Despite its toll on his life, Pete from Big Brother 7 can still laugh at the Tourettes, that he has suffered from all his life, and his uncontrollable urges to shout and swear. Question: Explain why the author’s use of a pun makes this short article about a celebrity Tourette’s sufferer comical.

2. Margery walked outside with her peg bag and huge basket of washing. She immediately noticed her neighbour, Cathy, she smiled and shouted: “meet me at the clothes line. That’s where I hang out!” Question: Examine the literary device employed by the author and explain why this has a comical effect. 3. “It’s my favourite book! I keep reading “The Lord of the Rings” over and over. I guess its just force of hobbit.” Toby joked to the rest of the chess club. Question: Show how the writer has used a pun to demonstrate Toby’s familiarity with the novel “The Lord of the Rings”. 4. Tiger Lily is a fashionable, boutique hotel. Each room is individually designed and decorated by a stylist. The trendy crowds that visit Edinburgh to stay there do so because it is the inn thing to do. Question:


Pick out the example of a pun from the example and explain how it could be interpreted as ambiguous. 5. The general medical council, with the Government, are looking for new ways to tackle the obesity problem in the UK. It is now thought that obesity causes more deaths than smoking. Further data is required for results to be conclusive, but there is a growing body of obesity research. Question: The writer is reporting on research into the obesity problem in the UK. How does he create a double meaning in the last sentence? 6. The best TV ads but they are all junk. Not only do we love eating junk food we also love the adverts, which sell it to us, according to a new poll. Commercials for instant mashed potato, chocolate bars and ice cream were all voted into the top 20 TV food adverts. Question: Explain how the writer uses a pun to create an effective opening sentence to this passage.

CLICHE A cliché is an overused and worn out phrase. It is the enemy of originality. It can often be a figure of speech, such as a simile or a metaphor that is heard and used regularly. LEARNING OBJECTIVES  To identify the term cliché and its purpose.  To comment on and analyse the purpose of cliché through exchanging examples for original ideas.



Identify the clichés used in examples 1- 6 and exchange them for a more original figure of speech or phrase.

1. He had been studying for weeks and was sure that he was well prepared. He walked confidently into the assembly hall and sat down at his desk. Throughout the exam James was as cool as a cucumber and was able to answer every question asked. 2. I was shaking with sweat as I headed towards the Headmaster’s office. It had taken a great deal of courage to admit my guilt to myself and I knew it was time to face the music and confess all. 3. She was devastated when her boyfriend was sent to work in London. She didn’t think she would be able to cope with only seeing him every few weeks. She was therefore delighted when he left his job after two months because he missed her so much; he admitted that absence makes the heart grow fonder. 4.

Julie had been searching for hours, but she realised that it was impossible; she had no idea where exactly she had dropped her mobile phone. She had been all over town that morning and it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.


Her first-born son could do no wrong. Even when he was excluded from school for setting fire to it, she stood by him. He truly was the apple of her eye.


6. Explaining to my mother that I had no desire to be an academic and study law, but instead wanted to be a rock star was far more easily said than done.

EUPHEMISM A euphemism is an expression that is intended by the speaker to be less offensive, disturbing or troubling to the listener than the word or phrase it replaces. It can often be a metaphor where the literal meaning has been dropped.


To identify the term and purpose of euphemisms. To understand and analyse the purpose and effect euphemisms have on a piece of writing and the reader.

1. Mable passed away peacefully in the night in her sleep. She had a wonderful life and leaves behind a large and loving family. She has now gone to eternal rest. Question: Identify the author’s use of euphemism in the above example and explain why it is appropriate here.

2. The Government have announced that the war has produced many casualties and that sadly there were many soldiers missing in action. Question: 44

Identify the literary device employed in this example and explain the reason for its use.

3. Deborah asked the host politely where the ladies room was. She explained to the rest of the guests at dinner party that she desperately needed to powder her nose.


Question: What is the writer implying about Deborah, when she asks to go to the toilet, through his use of two euphemisms?

4. Janice explained to her family that, due to not being able to get another job, she had to accept the job as the school’s sanitation officer. Question: Why has the author used a euphemism to describe Janice’s new job?

5. The police interviewed the witness for several hours. They had found it difficult to extract much evidence from him. They came to the conclusion that he was being economical with the truth. Question: Pick out the literary technique and explain what is being implied by the police officers.

6. Her friends decided that it was in her best interest to leave the party early. She had wanted to stay for longer, but after her outburst and subsequent tears it was decided that she was far too tired and emotional to stay.


Question: Identify the example of euphemism in the above example and explain the effect it has.

HYPERBOLE Hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration used to heighten effect. It is not used to mislead the reader, but to emphasise a point. They can often have a humorous or facetious effect.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES  To identify the term hyperbole and the reasons for its use in language.  To understand and analyse the purpose and effect of hyperbole.

1. The class could tell by the colour of their teacher’s face that she was not pleased. They looked vacant, as she bellowed at them: “I’ve told you a million times to get your books out as soon as you sit down at your desks!” Question: How does the author effectively demonstrate that the teacher is displeased with the pupils because they have failed to get out their books?

2. He walked into the canteen and pushed to the front of the queue. His mouth watered as he looked longingly at the food in front of him. As he decided what to order he declared: “I am so hungry that I could eat a horse.” Question: Identify the example of hyperbole and explain its purpose in the above extract. 3. She beamed as she glanced up from her pay slip: “Lets hit the shops now, it’s payday and I‘m loaded – I’ve got tons of money!”


Question: What is suggested by the authors’ use of hyperbole in the above extract? 4. My friend Jenny is so forgetful that sometimes I have to remind her what her own name is. She would forget her head if it wasn’t attached to her body and sometimes she forgets where she lives. Question: What literary technique has the author used to stress how forgetful Jenny is? 5. My English teacher is so old they’ve already nailed the coffin shut. She gets discount at the nursing home and her wrinkles weigh more than she does. She knew Shakespeare personally and when we looked up the word “ancient”, there was a full definition with her name and a picture. The author has used hyperbole to emphasise how old his teacher is. Examine how the use of this technique clearly demonstrates the pupil’s opinion of his English teacher. 6. My sister wears so much make up that she broke a chisel last night trying to get it off. By the time she has put it all on, it is time to take it off again. We haven’t seen her real face for years and she could pass as a clown at the circus. Question: Identify the technique used by the author when describing his sister and explain the effect it has.

LITOTES Litotes is the opposite of hyperbole. It is a figure of speech that either strengthens or weakens the emphasis of a claim by denying its opposite. It can be used as a sign of modesty or when a writer is being humble. It can be used as an understatement, actually meaning “very much” or to express ambivalence, for example “not bad”.


LEARNING OBJECTIVES  To identify the use of litotes in the English language  To analyse and understand the purpose and effect of litotes on the writing and the reader.  To identify the authors’ intended meaning.

TASK Read the six examples of litotes in the table below. Complete the table by noting down the authors’ intended meanings. LITOTES 1. The sports commentator agreed that running a marathon in under two hours is no small accomplishment.

MEANING The author means that running a marathon in under two hours is a huge accomplishment.

2. There endless attractions for tourists and residents alike. From the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Time Square and the shows on Broadway. Most would agree that New York is no ordinary City.

3. The chef could not hide his disappointment when the food critic merely described the restaurant’s food as “not bad”.

4. The lifeguard smiled modestly when he received his bravery award. He explained that saving the young child’s life was no big deal and that he was just doing his job.


5. It isn’t very serious. I have this tiny little tumour on the brain. (The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger)

Materials produced by: S Bowen, L Collins and N Collins. Forrester High School. Additional material, layout and design: S. Munro – Holy Rood High School

RESOURCES Newspaper Articles:


The Scotland on Sunday, 19/ 11/2006 The Metro, 20/11/2006 The News of the World, 29/10/2006 Websites:


english close reading  

a guide to help you study for your close reading tests

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