Showing posts from February, 2015

Tone versus mood

Tone and mood in literature are not the same things. They are often mixed up and at the beginning difficult to grasp.
Tone is the attitude of the author, narrator or speaker towards the characters and actions in a piece of writing. Probably, the best answer for how to find out the tone is to read the piece aloud to understand the emotions of the speaker.

Mood is what the reader feels while reading a book. The very simple example from the non-fiction.

Compare the two sentences:

Keep off the grass!
Please use the pathways, thank you.

These two sentences talk about the same thing but using different tones: first is very authoritarian and the second is friendly. What about the reader's moods?
As for me, the first make me angry for being treated like a child and for ordering me. The second, the friendly tone finds immediately obedient Jola, who looks around to be sure that she is on the pathway.

Well, when to come to the literature it is not always so obvious, as good authors tend to h…

Mastering pronouns

Mastering writing in English is not easy. On one hand, we need to employ the variety of sentence structures in our writing, and on the other - be in full control of the pieces which may be differently ordered. Also, it is important to be able to use different pronouns as subjects and objects to avoid repetition, when not wanted.
The English language is rich in pronouns: there are nine categories of them.
Subject Pronouns - I, you, she - always function as subject of a sentence.Objective Pronouns - me, him, her, us, you, them - they are always the objects of the action: direct, indirect or the object of a preposition.Indefinite Pronouns - may function as subjects or objects: there are three subcategories of them: singular (someone, anybody, each, one, little, either), plural (many, others, several, few), both (all, any, some, none, more, most).Relative Pronouns - they introduce relative clauses: that, which, whom, whose Demonstrative Pronouns - may function as subjects, objects and adje…


Have you ever heard about MOOC? This stands for Massive Open Online Courses accessible for free for everyone that has the Internet. Absolutely wonderful idea, as for me, and I may only wish to have more time to learn and learn.  Here is one of them: Exploring English: Language and Culture prepared by the British Council, and here what I have learnt so far from it.
There are a few expression I have barely used: in the sense that, in a geographic sense, in terms of and their usage from the course:
This laptop is much more expensive than that one but in terms of performance and reliability, they’re quite similar.

English spelling can be difficult, in the sense that letters are not always pronounced the same way.

The event was successful in terms of visitor numbers, but we didn’t make a lot of money

Canada is bigger than Brazil in a geographical sense, but Canada’s population is smaller.
My post on technology, learning English and new expressions: 
I started to learn English as an adult, for …

Why do we need a colon?

Today I want to discuss one of the punctuation marks, as it happened that I used it incorrectly a few times, and I had thought that I was good at punctuation. Well, we learn the whole lives.

Colon is not often used, and often misused. It has three functions and introduces the list, quotation and idea.

Let's start with the list as it is its main function. There is one trap, and also my problem with this structure. We may use a colon when the clause preceding a colon is an independent clause. There is NO place for a colon between a verb and a noun following. 

There are four ingredients in this meal: sugar, pasta, basil and cheese. 

My best friends are John, Mary and Tom. (No colon)
I have a few best friends: John, Mary and Tom. 
There are my best friends: John, Mary and Tom. 

Before the text which is quoted we may use a colon or a comma, depends on the style.

My dad told me: 'Go and tidy your room!'
My dad told me, 'Go and tidy your room!'

The last but not the least fun…

Repetition of phrases and clauses

All the figures of repetition from the previous post - 'Repetition of words' have the same names and meanings when we discuss phrases and clauses though there is a few new, specific to these longer structures, which I am going to present.

Isocolon (Bicolon, tricolon, tetracolon...) is the repetition of similar grammatical form, a kind of parallelism.
'Pity is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the sufferer. Terror is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the secret cause...'
(A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce)

The structure, grammar, meter and rhythm of these sentences are parallel; also there is the repetition of the ending with the slight differences in the beginnings of the sentences. 
Harley Davidson’s slogan (Bicolon)
'American by Birth. Rebel by Choice.'
I cam…

Figures of repetition - words

Repetition of a word or words is divided into several sub-categories, depending on a few things:
the position of the repeated word/wordschanging in the meaningchanges in the a word itself. In my humble opinion, unless you are not going to show off on the exam or in front of your teacher, there is no need to learn all names, but a few. It is more important to spot the repetition and the effect of it on the reader than get the right Greek name for it.

The same word/words may occur in a different position within a sentence, close to each other, in different phrases or in different sentences, or they may occur at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of sentence/sentences. There is a special name for a repetition of a word which occur at the beginning and then at the end of a sentence; as well as a name for another figure, when one word ends a sentence and starts another one.

The most important repetition of words in this group are:

Anaphora (repetition of the first word/words in lines…

Figures of repetition - sounds

When I started my GCSE course in English, little did I know about the figures of speech. In actuality, I knew some basics figures, which probably most of us learnt at high school.
In my pursuit of figures of speech, I discovered that there are literally tons of these figures (over 1300 on one of the linguistics websites) and for an average person it is neither sense nor fun to learn all by heart.
In a book, "Figures of Speech" by Arthur Quinn, I have discovered many strange Greek-sounding words for "operations" on the language, but also I have learnt that the best way to understand the figures of speech is to group them logically.

There is an interesting definition of a figure of speech:
An intended deviation from ordinary usage.

Thus, if we pretend that there is an ordinary sentence, what kind of operations can we execute on it?

It slightly sounds like mathematical stuff, but there are a few possibilities:
addition, omission, repetition, substitiution, arrangement.