Mammoth Memory

More examples – 3

This is another example from a real GCSE exam. It’s a leaflet from the British Heart Foundation about a fund-raising bike ride.

English language exam, how to identify language features, past exam examples

The question about language features used in this piece is:

"How does the writer use language features for effect in the leaflet?

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


Follow the usual procedure:

1. Write down the four language feature (PSPS) headings:

  • Pretending
  • Sound
  • Persuasion
  • Speech


2. Highlight each of the headings in a different colour, e.g.:

Highlight each of the headings in a different colour, e.g

3. Write down the four effects headings, numbering them 1 to 4:

  • Understand
  • Sense
  • Respond
  • Remember


4. Now read through the source text and highlight every language feature heading you encounter in the highlight colour you’ve given it.


5. Consider the effect that each highlighted language feature has on you and write down the number of the effect heading (from step 3 above) next to the appropriate highlighted text.


The source text should now look something like this:

English language exam, identify language features, example flyer, leaflet, past exam paper

Answering the question:


Here’s how we chose to respond to this one. Again, words in red are for your guidance only – not part of the actual answer.

Brief introduction

The purpose of this flyer for a sponsored bike ride is to help get as many people as possible to take part. Repeated use of personal pronouns (e.g. you, yours) and a sprinkling of language features such as alliteration and metaphor, make this flyer an effective recruiting device.


Language feature: sound – alliteration, consonance and sibilance

There is a wealth of alliteration and consonance, and some sibilance, in the opening paragraph which lends it an almost poetic air. “Ride through starlit lanes, leave the city behind you and let the Blackpool illuminations lead you to the sea for sunrise” repeats “l” and “s” sounds to very pleasing effect.

Effect: sense and remember

The sentence is more memorable and the pleasing sounds in the mind’s ear make the reader more likely to read on.


Language feature: persuasion – use of second person pronouns

The sentence quoted above includes two instances of “you” to give a feeling of inclusiveness for the reader:

. . . leave the city behind you and let the Blackpool illuminations lead you to the sea.”

Effect: respond

This makes the reader feel included, helping them to see themselves heading through the countryside for the distant illuminations, and so more likely to respond positively. (Of course, the reality is that the destination, Blackpool, although a town, is itself a major conurbation with social problems on a par with many cities, this would hardly be a selling point).


Language feature: sound – alliteration

The next sentence makes further use of alliteration – e.g. “pedal power”

Effect: sense and remember

Again, the effect is to create pleasing sounds for the reader, making the words more memorable.


Language feature: Pretending – metaphor

The same sentence makes clear this is not just a bike ride: a memorable metaphor suggests would-be participants will “fight for every heartbeat” – almost a call to arms against heart problems.

Effect: respond

The effect is to make the reader feel that they can make a difference in the prevention of heart-related medical problems.


Language feature: persuasion – imperative

“Register now” is an imperative that, following the somewhat poetic introduction and the imploring “fight for every heartbeat”, might well get the reader to immediately go to the website or call the number to register for the event.

Effect: respond

The hope is that people will respond by registering straight away. (However, if they do, they might be surprised to find that registration actually costs £30. Those who read on will be forearmed with this knowledge).


Language features: sound – alliteration and exaggeration

The heading, “Join us on a magical moonlit adventure” uses more alliteration and suggests, again, this is no mere bike ride: it is a romantic event! Whether it is moonlit will depend, of course on the weather, and “magical” probably errs on the side of whimsy and exaggeration, but the reader may well be inspired by these words.

Effect: sense, remember, respond

The effect is to make the reader feel that they will be part of a very special event.


Language feature: persuasion – personal pronouns

Using personal pronouns makes language appear more intimate and friendly. The paragraph underneath the heading “Join us on a magical moonlit adventure” contains several person pronouns – e.g. we’re, our, us and you’re.

Effect: respond

The reader feels more attachment to the organisation and the event, and so is more likely to register.


Language feature: Pretending – metaphor

The same paragraph again invokes the “fight” against heart disease, as if there is a major, concerted effort and the reader, if they so choose, can be part of it. Although the metaphor of “fighting” a disease is something of a cliché, it can still be an effective recruitment aid.

Effect: respond

The reader may be drawn in by the thought of being involved in a struggle against an unfeeling disease that has claimed so many lives.


Language feature: persuasion –personal pronouns

The paragraph under the heading “When and where” again contains a number of personal pronouns – our, we’re, us, you’re – to further create the impression of friendliness and inclusiveness.

Effect: respond

The reader will be more likely to respond positively.


Language feature: pretending – metaphor

The same paragraph uses a metaphorical term – “winding” – to describe the bike journey. This gives the impression that the bike ride will be more interesting than a simple dash to the destination – rather a journey with twists and turns and therefore perhaps more interesting. (It’s notable that this “winding” journey will be through “starlit lanes” – a repeat of the consonance and sibilance we encountered in the first paragraph.)

Effect: respond

This is gently persuasive language that is more likely to produce positive results than a straightforward explanation of the event.


Language feature: persuasion – use of personal pronouns

The paragraph under the heading “Need a ride” has six occurrences of the personal pronoun “you” which, again, gives the reader a feeling of inclusiveness and friendliness.

Effect: respond

Being addressed individually by the writer is more likely to elicit a positive response from the reader.


Language feature: persuasion – facts and statistics

Under “Find the cure” there are a few facts and a statistic that helps make the case for getting involved and trying to do something towards preventing and treating heart failure. Without being overburdened with copious detail, we learn of the scale of the heart failure problem (three-quarters of a million people affected in the UK), and that it causes “frightening and prolonged suffering”, but there is hope through the funding of “ground-breaking research”. Held up to scrutiny, the compound adjective here might be seen as non-specific and vague, but it sounds exciting – and who wants to support research that is mundane? Then there’s the confident assertion that “The money you raise will turn that hope into reality.”

Effect: respond

We all know that hope may be dashed, but many will form the view that by taking part in the ride, they will genuinely be helping to achieve something for those with heart disease.


Language feature: persuasion – personal pronoun

Finally, under “How to register”, we find that “you” can sign up as an individual or “you” can start a team and ride with friends and family – two more examples of the repeated use of personal pronouns that makes the text seem friendly and inviting. We also discover that it costs £30 per person to register (apart from raising money from your effort, you must also pay for the privilege. Let’s hope this didn’t put off too many!)

Effect: respond

You have been empowered by the writer – “you” can do this, “you” can do that – you have free will and you can make a difference. As a result, “you” are more likely to sign up.

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