National 4 Basics







A device of comparison

He is a pig when he eats


A device of comparison

He eats like a pig


A type of metaphor, human abilities are given to an object

The engine coughed into life


Where the word copies the sound it is describing

Sizzle, whoosh


Where the repetition of consonants creates a sound

Fiona’s five fingers were freezing


Where the repetition of vowels creates a sound





The repetition of consonants makes something memorable, or draws attention to an idea or word

The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler

A four foot box a foot for every year


The repetition of vowels makes something memorable or draws attention to an idea or word

How now brown cow


Two words, ideas or objects are brought together to form a contrast so that the opposite of what is expected or intended happens

Having recovered from a life threatening illness Sarah died when the ambulance taking her home crashed.






Much the same as irony but there is an edge to it – usually unpleasant or ridicule

“Nice trip?” – said to someone as they fall down the stairs


Exaggeration or overstatement

I’ve told you a million times to memorise what hyperbole means




Question Types



Questions which ask you to explain the meaning of a word or phrase

In your own words

Try to (a) underline the piece of text which contains the answer; then (b) put the underlined section into your own words. Look out for a ‘how much’ (intensity) word and make sure it is also put into your own words

Questions about word choice ie where you have to think about why the writer chose certain words

Word choice questions will be linked to a task, e.g. explain how the writer uses word choice to convey a positive attitude.

Questions about imagery – all imagery is a comparison and is designed to help one of your five senses

You may be asked about why an image is effective – think about how it helps you to see … hear … feel …. how much ….

Questions about sentence structure

There are at least seven types of structure to consider when answering a question about sentence structure:

(a) look for lists - most of the time the answer is a list - know the effect of the different types of lists (see next section)

(b) look for repetition – usually to draw attention to a point

(c) look for a long sentence followed by a short one - the dramatic impact often falls on the short sentence;

(d) look for word order which is out of the normal (inversion) - an adverb placed at the beginning of a sentence, for example or at the beginning of a series of sentences;

(e) look out for questions that may create a questioning tone – or questions where the writer already knows the answer – a rhetorical question


Identifying a list is not the whole point of the task you also need to consider the effect of the list.

- to build up a series of items or ideas to a climax

- to build up a series of items of ideas to imply extent, how many, range.


T. W. I. S. T

Tone is established through Word choice, Imagery, Sentence structure (eg punctuation) or sound words as well as typography.

Common tones: humorous, sarcastic, angry, questioning … at the very least try and work out whether the tone is positive or negative and take it from there.


: colon

Introduces quotation, explanation, further information

can also balance two concepts

; semi colon

it joins together two clauses instead of a period which would have separated them. It can also be used to construct lists.

- dash

Introduces explanation, further information, may create a pause

- - OR , , OR ( ) Parenthesis

Further information about a point

inverted commas”

Quotation – or distancing from the words said or the ideas

… ellipsis

The idea is continued or interrupted, it may imply hesitation

Linking questions – where you are asked to identify how a sentence links one paragraph to another

Or the question may be about the purpose of a sentence – and in this case the answer is “it forms a link”

File Attachments