Analysing non fiction

Analysing language in non-fiction

Analysing language in non-fiction

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Analysing language in non-fiction

In a nutshell

The language used in non-fiction texts is often not too dissimilar from the language used in fiction texts, and many of the same literary devices (sometimes called "techniques" or "features") can be found. A good analysis should tell you how language is used to create a specific effect. In this summary, you will learn about non-fiction language and how to analyse it.

Literary devices checklist

English; Analysing non fiction; KS4 Year 10; Analysing language in non-fiction



Repetition of the same sound at the beginning of successive words.
Repetition of vowel sounds within successive words.
Emotive language
Language that draws out an emotional response from the reader.
Exaggeration not meant to be taken literally.
Visually descriptive language to create an impression.
A statement where the words convey the opposite meaning to what is really meant.
An ironic understatement, exaggeration in reverse. 
A figure of speech that makes a direct comparison between two things.
A sound put into word form.
Rhetorical question
A question that makes a point and is not expected to be answered.
Rule of three
A pattern of three words (e.g. adjectives) used to emphasise an idea.
Repetition of consonants with a hissing quality, e.g. the "S" sound.
A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two likenesses using the words "as" or "like".

Structuring your answer

Once you're familiar with the devices, it's time to put them to use. It's not enough to simply state that a sentence contains one of these devices. You must think about the effect on the reader. Why did the author use the device? What is the reader supposed to feel through use of this device? 

To help you keep this in mind, there is a handy acrostic to help you when it comes to structuring your answer – Point, Evidence, Explanation, Link to the question. You don't have to use this structure, but it's a dependable way of including everything you need for a perfect non-fiction text analysis.


English; Analysing non fiction; KS4 Year 10; Analysing language in non-fiction
First, make your point. You should lead with an effect that the text has on the reader. Don't mention literary devices just yet.
Next, give evidence for your point in the form of a quotation. This can be a whole sentence or perhaps just a simple word or phrase. 
Now it's time to mention the device used. Explain how the example you have chosen supports the point.
Link to the question
Finally, wrap up your paragraph by linking it back to the question. If it's a good point, you should be able to directly answer the question. Think of it as a "mini-conclusion" at the end of your paragraph.

Back to basics

Remember, when evaluating the effect that the author's language has on the reader, it is not only the devices used that you can comment on. Go back to the basics. Think about the vocabulary used: which nouns and pronouns are used, and why? Which verbs create an effect, and how does tense and person alter this effect? Are there any interesting choices of adjectives or adverbs? Is the sentence structure simple or complex, and how does that affect the reader's interpretation? 


Literary device
A literary device is a tool or technique used by writers to express ideas stylistically and to create a certain effect.
An acrostic is a piece of writing in which the first letter of each line spells out a word.
The property of a verb that indicates the time in which it takes place. For example, "I play" is in the present tense, "I played" is in the past tense.
The property of a verb that indicates who is doing it. For example, "I play" is in first person, "he plays" is in third person.

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What are the language features in a non-fiction text?

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