Word Choice, Tone, Conclusions

National 5
Word choice
Word choice questions can be answered once you understand
connotation and denotation.
Denotation: the actual object being
referred to. A pen, a PowerPoint, the sea,
the stars.
Connotation: the associations we have
with the word. A home suggests warmth
and safety. A serpent suggests
sneakiness and danger.
When asked to comment on word choice, you are being
asked to explore the connotations of the word(s).
Answer in two parts:
• Explain the connotations (quote the words and explain)
• Link the explanation to the sentence
• I drifted away from my parents.
• Comment on the use of drifted in this sentence.
• Drifted suggests /has connotations of something that
happens gradually, casually as if his parents became less
relevant to him over time.
• My brother tackled the bullies like a dragon slayer.
• What impression of the brother is given in this sentence
through word choice?
• The term dragon-slayer suggests/ has connotations of
ancient knights bravely throwing themselves in to battle.
His brother sounds very heroic as he takes on the bullies.
Your turn.
Comment on the effect of the word choice in the following
• How does word choice in the sentence below, suggest the
sadness of the writer?
• I mourn the end of summer and the arrival of autumn.
• How does the word choice in lines 1 to 5 below, reflect the
mood of the tourists?
• The miserable town began to dampen his spirits – often quite
literally! Not a day went by without at least a few hours of
drizzle, the sort of rain that seeped into the bones, making it
hard to even consider doing anything, leaving the
holidaymakers huddled round fireplaces staring blankly at the
board games they really didn’t want to play.
• How does the writer’s word choice add to her argument about
war in the 20th century?
• The 20th century won itself a ghastly reputation in many areas,
from genocide to the creation of ever more horrific
• How does the writer convey the negative aspects of ants
through word choice in the paragraph below?
• As well as being resourceful, ants are also capable of being
highly destructive. Most ants are carnivorous. Many prey upon
termites, raiding the great mounds and doing battle with the
soldiers. If they win, they devour the defenceless workers and
The tone created by a writer is conveyed by the words he/she
To create a happy tone, use cheerful words such as sunny, bright,
To create a sad tone, use miserable words such as drizzle, dull,
Other popular tones in writing are worth learning:
• Angry
• Sarcastic(saying the opposite of what you mean to be hurtful.
Great essay, Craig. Oh no, you didn’t hand one in!)
• Tongue-in-cheek ( not taking him/herself seriously)
• Ironic (saying the opposite of the truth but not to be unkind)
• Frustrated
• Amused
• Shocked
In the following examples comment on the tone used?
• Father: “We are going on a vacation.”
Son: “That’s great!!!”
• the tone of son’s response is very cheerful.
Father: “We can’t go on vacation this summer.”
Son: “Ok. Great! That’s what I expected.”
“You will get fabulous marks like in the prelims with all this work
you’re not doing.”
“Can some tell me what the hell is going on here?”
Questions on conclusions ask
you to comment on how
effective a conclusion is…
Remember that the job of a conclusion is to:
• Refer back to something that was said in the opening
• Sum up the key points of the passage
• Make a dramatic closing statement
• Your task in this question is to find one or all of these examples
and refer to them.
• The writer refers again to the smokers outside hospitals, which is
the point he made in the opening paragraph.
• The writer sums up the key points which were the dangers of
• The writer builds to a climax in the final sentence which makes a
dramatic ending to the passage.

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