Language Features – Method

When you are looking at how the writer has written something (the ‘method’), you need to look for things in the writing which create a particular effect (make the reader think or feel something). Below is a list of different language features you might see but you MUST comment on the effect of these things. You don’t get any points for JUST spotting them in the writing.

  • Narrative voice (1st Person ‘I’ or 3rd Person ‘He/She’)
  • Verb tense
  • Emotive language vs. Informative language
  • Contrasts
  • Evocative / vivid description
  • Rhyme
  • Rule of three
  • Metaphors / Similes / Personification / Onomatopoeia
  • Alliteration
  • Lists
  • Statistics and / or facts
  • Connotations
  • Anecdotes
  • Imagery
  • Repetition or circular structure
  • Direct speech
  • Quotations used
  • Direct address

Content vs Method

The questions on the Language exams fall roughly into two categories: content and method.


Content questions are those that deal with WHAT the source is saying and suggesting. These questions will be phrased in different ways but some examples are: ‘What do we learn…?’; ‘What does Source X suggest about…?’; ‘What are we told…?’; ‘List 3 details…’.

For these sorts of questions, you need to show you understand the content of the source by picking quotations and then making inferences or interpretations about them WHICH ANSWER THE QUESTION. Get full marks by identifying a pattern (similar things) or by noting the cumulative effect of all the points you are making by making an overall statement about what these things tell you about the source.

Your answers should include phrases like:
this žquotation…

emphasises …
žunderlines …
žhighlights …
žtells us …
žgives the reader the impression…
makes the reader feel / think…


Method questions are those that deal with HOW the writer achieves a particular effect or HOW the writer has written something. These questions might be phrased ‘How does the writer make you..?; ‘Explain how the writer…’; ‘What impression do you get…’; ‘Explain the writer’s feelings about…’.

For these sorts of questions, you need to be understanding HOW the writer has written the source by identifying particular techniques and what the effect of these techniques are. It is NOT necessary to name the technique used. You MUST say how it makes the reader feel / affects the piece of writing.

In these questions, ask yourself: what impression do I get? Why do I get it? It will be the specific language choice of the writer that is making that impression on you. Good things to look for are powerful adjectives, metaphors, similes, alliteration, rhetorical questions, direct address, facts/statistics etc.