Differentiating 'Tone' and 'Attitude'

Questions about tone and attitude are found in both English and Literature at Secondary level. Most students struggle with such questions as they cannot differentiate them and do not have the range of vocabulary to answer the question well.

Note that words like Positive and negative, good and bad, are too general to be used in your answers.

Here are two pointers for you!

Pointer 1. Attitude refers to the writer’s opinion/stand about something and tone refers to the way the writer's opinion/stand is revealed in the text.**

Example 1
Father went on affably, "I know the mosquitoes are biting, but are the fish?"

Here, we can say that the narrator's tone is humorous when he spoke to Mr. Duvitch.

Example 2
On the Late Show, the host sampled chicken that was dredged in cricket flour and deep-fried to a crisp; he said, with obvious relief, that it tasted “just like fried chicken”. Who would have thought?

Here, we say the writer's tone is sarcastic when he states "Who would have thought?". From this, we can infer that the writer is cynical or that the writer has a cynical attitude towards the way others expect insects to taste bad.

Pointer 2: Develop a list of words that you can use to describe attitude and tone. You can split the words into positive and negative to help you remember and apply them well.

We have started you off on your word list! Download it now and add to it.

Download this worksheet.

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