English Essay Language Analysis

Language features

When analysing language you must show that you are aware of how it is written. This means identifying the language features used, and explaining their effect.

The following are some language features you may notice while reading.


This is where consecutive words begin with the same letter and, more importantly, the same sound.

An example is . The repetition of the 'r' sound echoes the sound of machine guns being fired.


This is where a word makes the sound of the thing it describes.

An example is . This implies the whip making a sharp sound.

Another example is . The stuttering imitates the action of a machine-gun being fired.


A simile is a comparison where one thing is described as something else, using 'like' or 'as'.

An example is . This really means he looked obvious and noticeable, he stood out, could not be missed.

Another example is . This implies she was light, delicate, pure, insubstantial, fragile.


This is a comparison where one thing is described in terms of something else.

An example is . The idea here is someone feels their house is a place where they feel trapped, imprisoned or locked in; a place where they lack freedom.

Another example is . This makes James sound like a missile, moving quickly and powerfully.


This is a comparison where something non-human (inanimate) is described in human terms.

An example is . Death is being portrayed as a figure or person hunting for someone.

Often beginning a Language Analysis essay can be tough. How do you start? Do you even need to write an introduction? There are many answers to these questions- some say that because an introduction is not explicitly worth any marks, you don’t need to bother. However, an introduction can be a great way to organize your thoughts and make sure you set up your analysis properly … as long as you don’t waste a lot of time writing unnecessary sentences. 

To do this, you can use a simple, easy to remember formula that will help you to identify the key aspects of the piece very early on, and will show your examiner that you know exactly what you’re talking about- all you have to do is to remember the acronym “CDFASTCAT”.

  • Context
  • Date
  • Form
  • Author
  • Source
  • Title
  • Contention
  • Audience
  • Tone

Here is a breakdown of each aspect and its importance:

Context: This gives the audience some background information on the issue, and “sets the scene” for the article or text. In ANY language analysis article/piece you come across (whether it be in the exam or in practice), there is always a box with the context of the article explained. ALWAYS read it and let it influence your analysis. If you exemplify consideration of the information provided to you in your analysis, you will show a deeper understanding of the issue, and your analysis will be more accurate and detailed. Aim to demonstrate that you understand why the article was written, and its surrounding circumstances.

Date: This gives the article a wider context, and helps the audience to understand why the author may have a certain viewpoint. It is also good practice to properly reference the article in your analysis, which includes the date, author, source, and title.

Form: The form of a Language Analysis text can vary, from newspaper articles, blogs, comics, or even speeches. Each form has its own set of conventions which can help you identify language techniques, and can change the way the message is communicated to the audience. For example, in a speech, the speaker is more likely to directly address their audience than the editor of a newspaper may in an editorial.

Author: When writing a Language Analysis essay (or any essay for that matter), always refer to the author by either their full name, their surname only, or a title and a surname- NEVER by their first name alone. For example: “Lyle Shelton”; “Mr. Lyle Shelton”; “Mr. Shelton”; “Shelton”, and “Lyle Shelton” are all ok to use in your essay. However, you would never use “Lyle” on its own.

Source: The source of a text can influence your understanding of the audience. For example: an article written on a blog about gardening is likely to have a different audience than a financial journal. Including the source is also an important so that the article is properly referenced.

Title: Including the title in the introduction is critical to properly introducing the article. Remember to analyse major techniques in the title if there are any during the body of your essay!

Contention: Identifying the author’s contention can be the most difficult aspect of Language Analysis for many students. The trick is to ask yourself the question “What is the author’s argument?” If you want to break it down even further, try asking: “What does the author want to change/why/what is it like now/what do they want it to be?”

Audience: Depending on the audience, different techniques and appeals may work in different ways. For example, an appeal to the hip-pocket nerve is more likely to have an effect on single parents who are struggling financially than it is on young children or very wealthy people.

Tone: You should not include a tone word in your introduction as the author’s tone will shift throughout the text. However, identifying the tone early is important, and so you can later acknowledge any tonal shifts.

Picture: Often articles will include some sort of graphic; it is important that you acknowledge this in your introduction and give a brief description of the image- enough so your analysis can be read and understood on its own. The description of the image is the equivalent of an embedded quote from an article; both are used to provide evidence to support your analysis.

If you follow this, hopefully your Language Analysis introductions become easy to write, straight to the point, and full of all the most important information- good luck! ☺

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