Adjective A word which describes and gives more information about a noun or pronoun, e.g. it was a hot summer, he is ugly.

Adverb A word which gives more information about a verb, e.g. The man skipped childishly. The girl ran quickly. Adverbs can tell us about manner (childishly), time (yesterday) and place (here).

Allegory An extended metaphor where characters, events and locations represent or symbolise other things.

Alliteration The term used to describe a series of words next to or near each other, which all begin with the same sound/letter. This creates particular sound effects, e.g. hairy hand, the luscious, leaves, the gutter gargled.

Ambiguity Words, phrases or texts which are open to different interpretations, having several or unclear meanings.

Assonance The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighbouring words. It is distinct from rhyme in that the consonants differ while the vowels match e.g. Shark, breathing beneath the sea. The crumbling thunder.

Bias Putting across an unfair or unbalanced opinion. If you are biased you are emotionally involved or hold an opinion on a matter.

Caesura A pause in the middle of a line of poetry.

Climax A moment of great or culminating intensity in a narrative or drama, especially the conclusion of a crisis.

Connectives Also known as connecting words, linking words, conjunctions, or discourse markers. These are words that help you link paragraphs together.

When you want to add to your argument or emphasize a statement use: … moreover, further ,indeed, furthermore, in addition, additionally, next, secondly, thirdly…

 When you want to make comparisons use: …similarly, likewise, in the same way, equally.

 When you want to highlight contrast use: …although, for all that, however, on the contrary, conversely, otherwise, yet, but, even so, despite.

 When you want to show differences or similarities use: …yet, even so, despite, notwithstanding.

 When providing reasons use: …for this reason, to this end, for this purpose, because, since, so that.

 When explaining results use: …as, as a consequence, as a result, hence, therefore, thus, inevitably, so.

 When providing examples use: …for example, for instance, in other words, by way of illustration, such as, this demonstrates.

 When drawing conclusions use: …as has been noted, finally, in brief, in short, to summarize, consequently, therefore, in conclusion, so, in other words, accordingly.

Dramatic Irony When the audience knows something that the characters on stage do not.

Emotive Language Language that provokes a strong emotional response.

Enjambement Where lines of poetry are not stopped at the end, either by sense or punctuation, and run into the next line/stanza.

Fact A fact is something that can be proved to be true.

First Person Refers to text written from the point of view of ‘I’.

Foreboding A strong feeling that something bad is about to happen.

Foreshadowing An advance sign or indication of something to come

Free Verse Poetry which seems to have no set pattern, stanzas or rhyme scheme.

Genre A kind or style of writing.

Hyperbole Exaggeration for the sake of emphasis, but without intending to deceive, E.g. A thousand, thousand thanks.

Iambic Pentameter A line of poetry made up of ten syllables with alternating light or heavy beats, e.g. ‘Is this the face that launched a thousand ships?’ Most of Shakespeare’s plays were written in this style.

Imagery Words used to create a picture, or image, in the mind, through the use of descriptive language.

Imperative A command. The form of a verb used to give an order, e.g. Leave now!

Irony A relationship of inconsistency or contrast between what is actually said and what is meant.

Juxtaposition Putting two things side by side in order to show a relationship between them and create a contrast.

Rule of Three A structure used in rhetoric to persuade and make an argument more effective, involving giving three examples, e.g. ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen’.

Metaphor In metaphor, one thing is compared to another without using the linking words like or as, so it is more direct than a simile. One thing is actually said to be the other, e.g. Mr brother is a pig.

Monologue A long continuous speech by one person.

Narrative Verse Poems, including ballads, which tell stories.

Noun A word which names a person, thing or idea. There are four types of noun:

1. Common noun: train, pizza, dogs.

2. Proper noun: Pepsi, China, Rebecca.

3. Abstract noun: life, sorrow, freedom.

4. Collective noun: pride of lions, herd of cattle.

Onomatopoeia Where words sound like the things they describe, e.g. hiss, crash, buzz, creak, murmur, bang.

Opinion An opinion is something that somebody else might disagree about.

Oxymoron A figure of speech that combines two contradictory terms, e.g. bitter sweet, living death, wise fool.

Pathetic Fallacy The description of a natural phenomenon, for example, the weather or the sea, as if it could feel emotion and is in sympathy with the mood of the poet or the characters.

Personification A form of figurative language in which animals, inanimate objects and abstract ideas area addressed or described as if they were human, e.g. The breeze whispered gently. The trees waved their branches welcomingly.

Pronoun A word which can be used in place of a noun, e.g. “The Mayor visited today. Did you see him?” In persuasive writing, words like you and I can be used to involve the reader in the argument.

Pun A play on words, often for a humorous effect, in which two different meanings are suggested either by the same word, or two similar sounding words. For example: “you can tune a guitar, but you can’t tuna fish. Unless of course, you play bass.” (Shakespeare uses many puns. In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the dying Mercutio says, ‘Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man’… grave also means serious).

Repetition The action of repeating something that has already been said or written.

Rhetorical Question A question asked only in order to emphasize a point of view and to persuade the reader to agree, not as a real request for information, e.g. Do we really want to encourage young people to smoke?

Rhyme Rhyme is often used in poetry to create patterns of similar sounds. Words are said to rhyme when their end sounds match, or sound the same.

Semi-colon A punctuation mark (;) indicating a long pause. It provides a stronger division than a comma but not as final a break as a full stop, e.g. I like to eat cows; they don’t like to be eaten by me.

Sentences To get good marks in your writing assignments you will need to vary your sentences.

Syntactical Parallelism Using a series of similar sentences for effect – a kind of repetition. Remember Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream…” speech: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up… I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

Declarative. A statement – most of your sentences will be declaratives. E.g. – The sky is blue. Milk comes from cows. I am hungry.

Interrogative. A question… think of the word interrogate. Can you write a question? Where will you write it?

Comparative. When you compare two things, usually using the word “than”. My sentence is better than yours but your exercise book is neater than mine.

Imperative. A command. An imperative is when you tell someone to do things – not ask, but tell. Clean my car! Eat your dinner! Others ways that you can vary sentences involve the way you start sentences.

Synonym A word which has a similar meaning to another word. Synonyms for fire include: blaze, flames, inferno, conflagration. One way to improve your writing is to use synonyms like “wondrous” or majestic” instead of just duller words like “good” or “nice.”

End Rhyme When the last word in a line of poetry rhymes with the last word in another line.

Full Rhyme When two words rhyme completely. E.g. cry and dry, heaven and Devon.

Internal Rhyme When a word in the middle of a line rhymes with a word at the end of the line.

Rhyming Couplet A rhyme scheme where one line of poetry rhymes with the Following, e.g. ‘And moveless fish by the water gleam / By silver reeds in a silver stream.’ 

Slight Rhyme Where two words look from their spelling as if they should rhyme, but in fact the sounds of the words do not rhyme, e.g. love and move, cost and post.

Rhyme Scheme The pattern in which rhyming lines occur in a poem is called its rhyme scheme. To describe a poem’s rhyme scheme, letters of the alphabet are often used to show which lines rhyme with which others. Each different rhyming word is given a different letter.

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud (a)

That floats on high o’er vales and hills (b)

When all at once I saw a crowd (a)

A host of golden daffodils (b)

Beside the lake, beneath the trees (c)

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. (c)

Second Person Refers to text addressed to ‘you’.

Simile In a simile, one thing is compared to another using the linking words like or as, e.g. as big as a giant, he smoked like a chimney.

Soliloquy A dramatic convention allowing a character to speak directly to the audience as if thinking aloud their thoughts and feelings. No other character is able to hear the speech.

Stanza One of the sections into which a poem is divided, consisting of a number of lines – also known as verse.

Symbolism Objects / ideas which are used to represent something else, E.g. a flag symbolises its country, a dove symbolised peace.

Theme The main idea or topic that a piece of writing is about; a recurrent idea or image.

Third Person Refers to text written from the point of view of ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’.

Tone The mood or atmosphere created by the poet / writer. 

Tragic Hero A protagonist who begins as a great character and is destroyed.


A LOT – Two words! Hopefully, you won’t have to allot (meaning share out) a lot of time to this problem.

ITS/IT’S – The apostrophe marks a contraction of “it is.”

RHYME – Actually, “rime” was the correct spelling until 1650.

SEPARATE – there’s a rat in separate.

THEIR/THEY’RE/THERE – They’re all pronounced the same but spelled differently. Possessive is “their” and the contraction of “they are” is “they’re.” Everywhere else, it is “there.”

UNTIL – I will never stop until this word is spelled with an extra [l] for the last time.

WEATHER – Whether you like the weather or not, you have to write the [a] after the [e] when you spell it.


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