6.4 Analyzing Tone and Shifts in Tone

2 min readjanuary 29, 2023

Hayley Potter

Hayley Potter

AP English Language ✍🏽

224 resources
See Units

Analyzing Tone

Analyzing tone is super duper very important! To misread tone could mean to lose the whole purpose of the passage. If you can not identify the tone of the author you will have a difficult time identifying the meaning of the author. 

So… how do we identify tone?

Analyzing tone takes all the skills we’ve developed so far in this course. You’ll need to analyze diction, imagery, syntax, and details the author uses. These are all choices the author makes to create the tone of the work. 
Deciding on the tone also takes knowledge from outside this course. Use your context clues. When was this written, who is the author, what groups does the author belong to? This will help you identify tone. 
Word length, sentence length, and tempo all affect tone. Look at these examples.
The coffee was bitter. The beans are over roasted and essentially flavorless.
The latte was a work of art. The aroma I was met with when it was first presented transported me. 
Imagine the describing words that are not even present. Just look at the word choice, length, and sentence length. They take on different tones. The first example is short, abrupt, and to the point. 
The second example uses a metaphor. Uses better jargon and diction. It makes the writer seem more educated and they sound impressed. 
Identify when a shift of tone happens, then as the reader discusses why you think the author’s tone shifted. Remember a tone shift in writing is like an attitude shift in speaking. 

Identify Tone Split

Also be able to identify tone split. This is when the author has one attitude toward the audience and another toward the topic they are discussing. 
Imagine a character has just been betrayed, and yet their partner says something along the lines of “I’m sorry. I love you.” They may respond with “I love you too,” but we as the reader know to read this with an ironic tone. 
Whereas if the response was made toward a loving action, we would know this is meant to be affectionate. Context means a lot when analyzing tone.
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🤔Exam Skills
🥇Unit 1 – Claims, Reasoning, & Evidence
🗂️Unit 2 – Organizing Information for a Specific Audience
👀Unit 3 – Perspectives & How Arguments Relate
🔚Unit 4 – How writers develop arguments, intros, & conclusions
🎀Unit 5 – How a writer brings all parts of an argument together
👥Unit 6 – Position, Perspective, & Bias
🥊Unit 7 – Successful & Unsuccessful Arguments
😎Unit 8 – Stylistic Choices
😈Unit 9 – Developing a Complex Argument
📚Study Tools

Stay Connected

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.