English: Non-fiction

Non-fiction can be anything: a letter, a memoir, an advert, a website... Regardless of which exam board you are on, for Englsh Language you will be required to analyse these kinds of texts.

Before tackling any question, it's important you read the question (obviously) and understand what it's asking you to do. Notice I'm making key phrases here bold? Do that in the exam...


How does the advertisement use language to pursuade the reader?

How does the advertisement use language to pursuade the reader?


Everywhere has different ways of remembering the key things... Here's one...

Form What kind of text is it? A newspaper / leaflet / poster / article / extract of a novel?
Audience Who's the text aimed at? Is it formal or informal? Adult / Child / Teen / Elderly / Disabled / Professional?
Topic What's it talking about? Football / Bitesize Fish / Teaching... All the other billion different subjects out there...
Purpose Why's it written? To pursuade / Argue / Inform / Describe / Amuse


PEE is a framework to help you structure an analytical reponse. Whether you're discussing a poem, a novel, a non-fiction article or anything else, this structure can really help. But remember, it's just a framework. Don't feel you have to use it, if you feel constrained...

Point. What point are you making? This usually relates to the question that you are answering.
Evidence. What is your evidence for your point? What part of the text are you using? Make sure you include speech marks "...". It's best to just use a short quote of just one of two words. Make sure your quote it relevant to your point.
Explain. This is the most important part of the structure. How does your evidence support your point? Why is that word/phrase/etc being used? What can you say about how the writer achieves his or her effect? The more you can say here, the better your response will be. Say a lot about a little.


Right, so let's see PEE in action, by using a random newspaper article from the interwebs... Imagine you have to answer the question: "How does the article create sympathy for the woman?"


The article creates sympathy for the woman with its use of emotive language.

Straight away, we are responding to the question and choosing to explore how one aspect of language is being used. It's a nice, simple sentence to give the paragraph a direction.


For example, the woman is called a "girl" and a "mother" in the headline, and the adjective "young" describes her as the article begins.

We are not just dumping the entire headline into our paragraph as evidence, but carefully selecting short quotations, which we embed into a sentence that tells the examiner a little more information: we explain where the quotes are from and also explain that an 'adjective' is being used, showing our understanding of language.


By using these emotive words, the writer foregrounds the youth of the woman, to impress upon the reader a sense of tragedy: we feel that the woman is far too young to have her life taken away. The use of the noun "mother" also makes us think about how the tragedy affects other people in her family: we imagine the child, who will never know its mother, and the sense of tragedy multiplies. By using a few carefully chosen words, then, the writer aligns our sympathies with the woman right at the start of the article, overcoming any desire we might have to ridicule her for her stupidity.

As you can see, this part of the paragraph is much longer than the rest of the paragraph. This part is the most important part. You must explain what the writer is doing, and why he or she is doing it. What effect does he or she hope to achieve. Think about the reader, and how he or she might be affected by the writer's choices.

Remember that a writer always has a purpose, and is always thinking about the best way to achieve that purpose!

If you can do all this, in the kind of detail shown above, you'll be scoring MASSIVE TICKS with an examiner!


Persuasive Writing

Whether reading or writing, there are a number of things to look out for...

Technique: Use of personal pronouns "you" "we" "us".
Reason: Involves the reader in the text.

Technique: Use of "I".
Reason: Makes the writer seem sincere as it makes it more personal to them.

Technique: Repetition.
Reason: Help key phrases stick in the reader's head and make them take them away... To stress them too, of course.

Technique: Short, sharp sentences.
Reason: Again to help stick them in the reader's head. They stand out, and as usual, can be used for impact.

Technique: Alliteration.
Reason: To stress key words, and make the reader more likely to recall them.

Technique: Imagery. (Similes, metaphors, personification, etc...)
Reason: Create a more powerful image (whether positive or negative) leading to the reader being more likely to remember them.

Technique: Emotive Language.
Reason: Powerful word choice will capture the reader and their emotions will mirror those being created.

Technique: Lists
Reason: Used to stress and exaggerate things. The "magic three" (three words/phrases in a row) is usually highly effective.

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All text copyright © 2006 to EJ Taylor. Page Template created by James Taylor. Site created: 10 April, 2006. Last revised: 2 August, 2015