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Tone
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Tone is important in your appreciation of the
passages you are given to read. There is
nothing worse than taking everything seriously
only to discover later it was all tongue-in-cheek.
It is important to take an overview before you
become involved in the individual questions.
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Because tone is so subjective, there are
often a number of acceptable answers, but
identification of tone is usually only worth
something if you justify your choice of that
tone by referring to the passage.
Don’t put down a list and hope that one of
them is right – you won’t get any marks!
Identify and justify!!!
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Tone reveals the feelings and attitudes of
the writer
It is how the voice/ how the writing might be
said if it were read aloud
You will be asked to identify it, justify it
and/or explain its impact
Having a tone vocabulary helps.
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humorous
tongue-in-cheek
ironic
emotional -name the
emotion eg angry,
depressed, elated,
moody, indignant,
Conversational
Sarcastic (only if
there is something
quite nasty to it)
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
business-like
curious
chatty/friendly
mocking
disapproving
critical
contemptuous
menacing
dismissive
approving
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Despairing
Superior
Admiring
Uplifting
Hectoring
Doubtful
Self-deprecating
So . . .
1. Identify the tone
2. Provide the evidenceusually a quote
3. Comment on how the
tone creates the
effect or impact as
required by the
question.
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Identify the tone
Explain how the tone is conveyed. You will
usually need to quote for this. Often you will
be commenting on word choice, sentence
structure etc.
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I am fed up listening to scaremongers about
the E-coli virus, telling me my child should
never come into contact with farm animals. I
am weary of organisations that are dedicated
to promulgating the idea that threats and
dangers are lurking everywhere. I am sick of
charities who on the one hand attack
overprotective parents and at the same time
say children should never be left
unsupervised in public places.
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6ai – Identify the tone
ii- Explain how this tone is conveyed.
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Is the writer serious? – Yes. (a bit unhinged
perhaps, but serious)
Is she conveying strong emotion? Yes.
What voice/ emotion would be used when
reading the paragraph? Anger/ outrage
The answer: anger, contempt, frustration, ...
Do not accept: tired, bored, weary, …
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Highlight particular words/ phrases in the
paragraph that are particularly effective in
conveying the tone.
Quote them and explain how they create the
tone, commenting on any relevant language
features.
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I am fed up listening to scaremongers about
the E-coli virus, telling me my child should
never come into contact with farm animals. I
am weary of organisations that are dedicated
to promulgating the idea that threats and
dangers are lurking everywhere. I am sick of
charities who on the one hand attack
overprotective parents and at the same time
say children should never be left
unsupervised in public places.
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Repetitive structure of all three sentences.
Each starts with ‘I am’ followed by an
example of how outraged the writer is by the
actions of the ‘paranoid’ helps to forcefully
reinforce her anger, making it seem as if it is
building to a furious climax.
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The only solution—and I am just waiting for
the politicians to recommend it explicitly—is
for none of us to go anywhere. Stay at home
and save the planet. But that would be a
craven retreat from all the social, professional
and cultural interactions that unrestricted
mobility makes possible—and which, since
the Renaissance, have made great cities the
centres of intellectual progress.
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Identify the tone
Explain how it is conveyed.
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Is it serious? Extremely when putting forward
the writer’s views; far less so when
paraphrasing the ‘anti-flying’ lobby.
Is there an emotion? Angry when considering
restrictions on travel.
What is the tone- dismissive, angry, scathing.
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The only solution—and I am just waiting for
the politicians to recommend it explicitly—is
for none of us to go anywhere. Stay at home
and save the planet. But that would be a
craven retreat from all the social, professional
and cultural interactions that unrestricted
mobility makes possible—and which, since
the Renaissance, have made great cities the
centres of intellectual progress.
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Short, simple sentence ‘Stay at home and
save the planet.’ The simplistic nature of this
sentence mirrors what the writer’s believes to
be the misguided and overly simplistic
approach of the environmental groups. By
shortening it to this, she suggests it can
easily be dismissed.
Word choice of ‘craven retreat’ suggests that
restrictions on air travel would be cowardlysomething to be despised and rejected.
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Mood is very similar to tone.
However, rather than the voice (tone) of the
passage, mood deals with the emotional
dimension of the text such as fear,
excitement, sadness, calm, determination,
reflection, elation, optimistic, concern,
reassurance etc.
It is detected through the language of the
text and should ‘fit’ with the sense of the
passage.
1.
2.
3.
Identify the mood
Provide the evidence- usually a quote
Comment on how the mood is created or
creates the effect or impact as required by
the question.
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I have a halcyon library memory. I am sitting
under a cherry tree in the tiny central
courtyard of the Cambridge University
Library, a book in one hand and an almond
slice in the other. On the grass beside me is
an incredibly pretty girl.
Identify the mood of these lines/
Explain how this mood is conveyed.
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1 (very) happy
2 idyllic
3 carefree
4 nostalgic
5 calm, peaceful
6 any other answer which conveys a positive
feeling or the importance of the memory to
the writer
Unfortunately, nauseating was not an option.
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I have a halcyon library memory. I am sitting
under a cherry tree in the tiny central
courtyard of the Cambridge University
Library, a book in one hand and an almond
slice in the other. On the grass beside me is
an incredibly pretty girl.
Identify the mood of these lines/
Explain how this mood is conveyed.
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Word choice of’ halcyon’ has positive
connotations of something peaceful and
pleasurable. This is reinforced by the
references to the pretty girl and the cherry
tree. It is an almost over romanticised version
of the past.
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