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Mrs. Stephanie G. Lavarias, M.Ed., NBCT Mrs. Stephanie G. Lavarias, M.Ed., NBCT
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(Attitude and Tone)

What the author thinks/believes about his/her topic.

S/he may be very SUPPORTIVE, UNsupportive, or perhaps NEUTRAL.

Supportive means that the author has positive feelings and uses positive language/connotations to express his/her ideas.

Unsupportive means that the author has negative feelings and uses negative language/connotations to express his/her ideas.

NEUTRAL means in the middle-- not expressing ANY feelings or expressing both sides of an issue. 

To determine the Author's POINT of VIEW, listen to the TONE of the message in which he/she writes.


A good reader can identify the TONE or attitude revealed by an author in a piece of writing.

Any human emotion may become the author's tone. Gestures, voice inflections, pauses,
facial movement, even the sparkle of his eye can reveal a speaker's attitude toward his subject.

However, an author's attitude or tone may have to be inferred from less obvious clues. Listen carefully to the sound of his/her writing voice. 

Is the author ...
serious? humorous? sarcastic?, patriotic? sentimental*? moralizing*? defensive? compassionate? pessimistic (negative)?, cynical (doubting)?, nostalgic*? criticalhorrifying? or rejoicing

in his attitude toward his subject.

*see below for an explanation

Remember, an author may color his/her ideas with these or any other emotions.

A keen reader recognizes these attitudes or tones by identifying the subject, the length and flow
of the sentences, the atmosphere, the word meanings/contexts/ connotations, the point of view and purpose of the author.

Authors may blend many elements together to unify and focus an overall tone which reflects his attitude. Some explanations and examples follow.

NOSTALGIC TONE. Reveals a kind of homesickness for the past, a desire to return to "the good ole days." The following statement reflects nostalgia:(remembering the past)

"Oh, for the halcyon days of our childhood when there was time for playing family games,reading good books, enjoying dinner conversation; we knew each other; we shared our joys and disappointments...," the mother reminisced.

SENTIMENTAL TONE. Identifies that which is emotional instead of rational; it may also reveal romantic feelings. A good example is the paragraph which follows:

Jim and Mary Smith had looked forward to the trip for months. They were returning to a city they had fallen in love with during the five years it was their home over a decade ago. So many memories were rooted in those years when they lived near Washington D.C. They had bought
their first house while they lived in a nearby suburb. Their two sons had begun school during those years, and Jim and Mary had established many close friendships. Above all, they had become caught up in the excitement of living in the nation's capital, with its continual political intrigue and constant awareness of international affairs. Indeed, they were more than eager to return, see friends, and visit the beautiful city they loved.

MORALIZING TONE. Attempts to explain or interpret good or bad features of something. It is explicitly and clearly trying to reform or change you. There is no subtlety or under-handedness involved. An example of moralizing is the
following statement:

"Well, if you want to live like a yuppie, you better study hard and complete your education. That piece of parchment is the bottom rung of the yuppie ladder!"

Reveals a sense of helplessness and hopelessness toward life--a feeling that nothing really can be changed, that evil will prevail, that man is basically selfish, incapable of being reformed. As an example of cynicism, consider the following statement made by a person of voting age.

"Don't talk to me about voting or politics. I'm not interested. All politicians are self-serving and corrupt. My vote won't change a thing."

Adapted from:

Attachment of Tone Words

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Mrs. Stephanie G. Lavarias, M.Ed, NBCT
Bair Middle School, Broward County, FL
Bair Middle School
9100 NW 21 Manor
Sunrise, Florida 33322