Language Techniques


Literary techniques add flavour to a piece of writing; adding depth of meaning. They should be used with the intention of stimulating logical thinking and motive the reader to act.

You are expected to write a discursive piece, therefore, you need to be discriminate in your choices. Select techniques which will enable you to convey your thoughts and ideas in a clear manner.

Listed below are some common techniques (I remember them as MATES PROOF READ) .

Writers use some of these devices to make their writing more engaging:


Figure of speech that gives meaning through a comparison which is not literal: The Headmaster is a dragon.

EFFECT? The reader thinks about the meaning within the comparison.


Using a succession of words that begin with the same letter: Timid Trevor tried to navigate.

EFFECT? It creates a mood within the text. Also, the reader ponders on the significance of the emphasis on the particular letters.

Threes / List

A group of nouns, adjectives or verbs: Bold, courageous, gallant King.

EFFECT? Imagine the items that are mentioned.

Emotive Language

_Stirs emotion in the reader through specific choices in vocabulary: ___The grieving, pot-bellied orphans were destitute.

EFFECT? Stirs an emotional response in the reader which could motivate them to act.


_Giving an object human characteristics: ___The trees danced gracefully in the tender sunshine.

EFFECT? The reader can relate to the movements and feelings of the inanimate object.


_Reoccurring words or phrases: ___He was a very, very, naughty child.

EFFECT? Heightens the importance of the particular words and makes them memorable.


Offering your ideas and thoughts on a matter: Homework is a waste of time.

EFFECT? Mentally engages the recipient, as they decide whether they agree or disagree with the statements being made.


Words that imitate the sound when spoken: ping, crashed, slurring.

EFFECT? Appeal to the auditory sense. The reader can imagine or hear the word in action.

Facts / Figures

Numerical values that offer logical information: T_wo men walked down the street, 72% of the population…_

EFFECT? Makes the recipient accept the reasoning as more authentic and plausible.

Rhetorical Question

Evoking a reasoning response from the reader by asking a question that doesn’t require an answer: Who knows?

EFFECT? The recipient will feel like they are participating in a conversation, as they mentally formulate an answer to the question.


Magnification or understatement about a matter: His leg was broken into thousands of pieces.

EFFECT? Compare the comparison with relate and discern the intended meaning of the statement.


Figure of speech that makes reference to a place, event, literary work, myth, art, etc. but it must be recognised by the intended audience: She is my Juliet.

EFFECT? Recipient is mentally engaged with the text, as they draw on their own knowledge of the comparison.

Direct Address

Talking directly to the audience: You should buy this perfume!

EFFECT? The recipient feels included in the rhetoric and they mentally engage with the speaker.


Ask yourself, which technique will best convey the message at this time? Make sure that you do not overuse certain techniques. Using a variety and on specific occasions will stimulate the recipient. Which technique will make a lasting impression on the reader or audience?

Making deliberate decisions in your writing will help you to produce a successfully engaging piece.

What is the purpose of using language techniques?
Your answer should include: Stimulate / Senses / Add / Meaning / Flavour
What is a quick method of remembering 14 language techniques?
Your answer should include: Mates / Proof / Read
Which techniques encourage the reader to participate in the discourse?
Your answer should include: Rhetorical / Questions / Direct / Address / Opinions