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Tone is a literary technique that is a part of composition, which encompasses the attitudes toward the subject and toward the audience implied in a literary work. Tone may be formal, informal, intimate, solemn, somber, playful, serious, ironic, condescending, or many other possible attitudes.[1] Tone and mood are not interchangeable.


Under the element of cadence, the tone of a piece of work can be found in many ways. All pieces of literature, even official documents, have some sort of tone.

In many cases, the tone of a piece of work may change or evolve. Elements of tone include diction, or word choice; syntax, the grammatical arrangement of words in a text for effect; imagery, or vivid appeals to the senses; details, facts that are included or omitted; extended metaphor, language that compares seemingly unrelated things throughout the composition.

Tone is an element used frequently in poetry to convey feeling and emotion, and set the mood for the work. It is important to note that tone and mood are not the same thing.


  1. ^ Words to Describe Tone List of words that describe tone, Accessed 23 Jan 2008


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