Mammoth Memory

1. Language features and their effects


What are language features?

Language features are literary devices or techniques used to improve the effectiveness of the writing, making it more interesting and memorable. Language features include:

  • Alliteration
  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Hyperbole
  • Personification
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Oxymoron


You can see a more complete list of these and revise them all in our sections, English Language – Words You Must Know, and English Literature – Words You Must Know.

The list of language features is quite long, but the good news is that they can be grouped under just four headings. This helps make them easier to spot when you’re working out what language features have been used in a piece of writing.

If the writing in a given text is purely informative – such as a report from a news website or a letter – it is unlikely that it will deliberately contain language features such as those listed above. If you were to try to comment on the use of these features where none were intended, you would not gain any marks – in fact, you might lose marks for failing to identify the type of writing correctly.

However, in texts where language features ARE used extensively, such as extracts from novels and writing designed to get you to buy or support something, be prepared for a question that goes something like this:

“How does the writer use language features for effect?

Remember to:

  • Give some examples of language features
  • Explain the effects”


You can be prepared for this type of question by memorising a list of language features used by writers and learning how each one works. You will also need to know the type of effect a particular language feature has on the reader.


More Info