Guide to Literary Terms

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Diction refers to an author or speaker’s choice of words. The diction used in a text often changes based on context or setting and helps to convey the writer’s tone and meaning while setting the mood. Diction can be divided into two main categories: formal and informal.

Formal diction typically involves elevated language, a lofty tone, complex words, an adherence to the traditional rules of syntax and grammar, and an absence of contractions.

Correct example:

  • “That is no country for old men. The young In one another’s arms, birds in the trees —Those dying generations—at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long...

(The entire section is 230 words.)