Tone, style, and figurative language are all ways in which an author expresses him or herself. These are terms that we use as readers to describe the ways in which an author changes the meaning of a passage through specific techniques. It may seem pointless to even care about how an author is writing something, but this kind of analysis is critical in improving your ability to communicate your ideas in clear and creative ways! For this reason, many standardized tests (and classes) will test you on how well you can understand the use of figurative language.
Importantly, you need to understand the ideas of:
Many students are already familiar with these terms from their English classes, but let’s take a minute to define each of these clearly.
Some questions for tone, style, and figurative language could be phrased as:
Consider the following sample passage:
A question that asks about the tone, style, or figurative language of this passage could be:
1. The overall tone of the passage is
(A) one of diffidence and infatuation.
(B) one of veneration and admiration.
(C) one of hostility and playfulness.
(D) one of respect and satire.
The first thing to remember is that tone refers to the author’s attitude towards the subject. This means that we are being asked about the author’s opinion towards the subject matter in the passage.
Since this question asks about the passage as a whole, we must consider how the tone is the same throughout and how it shifts in meaning during the passage.
There are only two paragraphs to analyze in the whole passage:
The first paragraph focuses most heavily on how Rodin became an incredible sculptor and is better than any other sculptor of his time.
The second paragraph focuses most heavily on how beautiful Rodin’s sculptures are due to their playing with light.
Both paragraphs have an incredibly positive view on Rodin as a sculptor and artist. Therefore, we are looking for adjectives that mean respect, admiration, and appreciation.
Now, we must find an answer choice which highlights only positive aspects of Rodin:
(A) This is incorrect because diffidence means shyness and infatuation means a short-lived obsessiveness, which are both negative words.
(B) Veneration means great respect or adoration, while admiration means respect and warm approval. Both of these words are incredibly positive and align with the author’s attitude towards the subject matter. This is most likely the correct answer!
(C) Hostility is an incredibly negative word meaning unfriendliness, while playfulness is positive, it also doesn’t really fit. Therefore, C is incorrect as well.
(D) Respect is one of the words that we highlighted earlier, so this could be correct! However, satire is humor that is used to ridicule or criticize others, which this author definitely does not do.
This means that of all the answer choices, only B is correct!
Remember to develop a sense of what all the figurative language terms are and how they present themselves in passages and questions. Figurative language extends well beyond what you are tested on for the ISEE and offers you expressive capabilities in your own language. Be sure to master these concepts now and you’ll be set for high school and beyond!
Answers to Practice Questions