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Paper 1 Q5 - Language


  Focus: Description / Narrative                     Marks: 40                           Time: 45 mins


You've seen how experts use language for effect in Q2 - now it's your turn.

Show don't tell

The key thing to remember is 'show don't tell'. Look at this example:

The old man was lonely.

This tells the reader the situation explicitly. They don't have to guess or work out anything. It's boring.

The man's wrinkled hands clutched the photo as a tear splashed down onto the faded face of his wife.

This shows the reader a scene and they have to work out what's happening. Why does he have wrinkled hands? Why is he crying? What does the photo mean to him? Where is his wife? It also contains descriptive adjectives and verbs (wrinkled/clutched), onomatopoeia (splashed), and alliteration (faded face).


Choose vocabulary that's interesting and matches the mood/tone/situation of your writing. If you're writing a horror story then choose scary, tense words. A dog described as 'fluffy' will not come across as scary. It's better to use an interesting word even if you're not sure how to spell it. The marks you get for vocabulary will outweigh any marks you lose for spelling.

Top Tips!

- Use sense description but avoid phrases such as I can see.../I can hear.../ I can smell... It's too simple.

- Varied and interesting vocabulary is as important as language techniques.

- Avoid really common similes such as big as an elephant / fast as a cheetah. They don't show any imagination.

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