The Big 5: Textual Analysis

At the heart of the English A: Language and Literature course is textual analysis. In order to prepare for Paper 1 and the individual oral commentary, you will want to learn how to analyze various texts. This lesson introduces you to a method of analysis that we call the ‘Big 5’. It presents five lenses through which you can look at texts. Since not all texts are the same in nature, you will find some lenses more useful than others when analyzing different texts. Since analyzing texts is a skill, the more you practice, the better you will become and the more you will see!

The Big 5

There are several questions that you can ask of any text. Here are five major questions that apply to almost all types of texts:

  1. Audience / purpose – Who does the text target? What does the author wish to achieve through the text?
  2. Content / theme – What is literally ‘happening’ in the text? What is it about? What are the main ideas of the text?
  3. Tone / mood – How does the text make you and/or the target audience feel? Describe the atmosphere of the text.
  4. Stylistic devices – How does the author use language to convey a sentiment or message? What kinds of linguistic tools does he/she employ?
  5. Structure – How is the text organized, literally (i.e. layout/formatting)? What kinds of structural elements of a particular text type do you see?


Try applying the big 5 to the text below.

Tata motorcycle

Mnemonics CATTS  !!!



In the exam you have to be able to demonstrate an accurate use of the language, including the right grammar, the right words and right organization of ideas.

EXERCISE: What type of grammar, words and organization would you use to answer each of the above questions in a textual analysis?

For question number 1:

For question number 2:

For question number 3:

For question number 4:

For question number 5:

Your first evaluation consists of a textual analysis in which the use of language and writing style are a priority.

Textual analysis

Transition words HERE 

Transition words in PDF HERE


TONE WORDS: admiring, amused, angry, anxious, celebratory, cheerful, confident, clear, determined, dignified, direct, encouraging, euphoric, formal, gloomy, hopeful, humorous, ironic, matter of fact, ominous, passionate, resigned, pessimistic, playful, sad, serious, wistful, witty.

MOOD WORDS: depressed, desolate, disheartening, eerie, fanciful, frightening, frustrating, gloomy, happy,  jolly, optimistic, romantic, sentimental, solemn, sorrowful, suspenseful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s