How Language Reveals a Story’s Mood and Tone | Reading

September 20, 2015 thetasctest

How Language Reveals a Story’s Mood and Tone | Reading

The storm raged through the night. I sat alone, shaking. Thunder shook the entire hut, lightning lit up the room as if it were daytime, and I swore the next gust of wind was bound to take the roof with it. I was thankful to have stumbled upon this abandoned hide-a-way, but I knew I couldn’t stay there long. It wasn’t safe. The violent creatures after me were hot on my trail.  

What did you feel while reading this passage? What made you feel this way? What words helped create this feeling? These questions help determine how an author uses language to convey a specific tone and mood.

As you further your reading comprehension skills for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Reading subtest, it is important to also know how to identify the mood and tone of a story or passage.

 

Tone

An author’s attitude toward a subject is called the tone. Tone is recognized by understanding what words and phrases an author chose. The tone of a passage or story can be optimistic, pessimistic, bitter, compassionate, friendly, negative, or positive. But the list doesn’t stop there. Any human emotion can express a tone. In the passage above, language such as “The storm raged,” “It wasn’t safe,” and violent creatures” gives the passage a negative tone.

Mood

The feeling you get when reading a story is called the mood. Moods can range from feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, fear, loneliness, excitement, anxiety, and so on. Authors use a story’s setting and language to describe the mood. From the passage above, the setting can be described as a stormy night in an abandoned hut. The author used language to create a fearful mood in readers.


While a story’s mood and tone may seem similar, they are two different literary components. As you prepare for the TASC test, remember the difference this way: Tone is the attitude, and mood is the atmosphere.  

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