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Text (Identifying Different Types) 01
"I wandered lonely as a cloud /That floats on high o'er vale and hills/ When all at once I saw a crowd/ A host of golden daffodils." This is a famous example of poetry by William Wordsworth.

Text (Identifying Different Types) 01

As an English student, you will read and write many types of texts such as poetry, prose, biography, autobiography, letters and plays. Each genre has particular features which give them a certain look or feel helping you to distinguish between each type.

Biography, as you know, is a text written about someone's life, with the aim of producing a reasonably factual account (although all biographies demonstrate bias). An autobiography is similar, except that the author writes about his or her own life, presenting a sort of personal history. Autobiographies use first person narration whereas biographies use the third person. Both are written in the past tense.

Letters are different in form and are part of a conversation usually, unless the original recipient of a letter never responds. Because of this feature, letters might use the second person. Sometimes letters are reproduced in biographies and autobiographies, if they are important to the historical account. Some authors of novels also include letters, although these are fictional since they are supposedly written by characters, rather than by real people. This is not as confusing as it sounds - practice makes us into sophisticated readers who can tell the difference between historical letters and fiction, even when genres are mixed in this way.

Plays are intended to be staged, so include lots of information to help the director and actors to perform the script. You wouldn't typically find stage directions in an autobiography!

Sharpen your identification skills by playing this quiz on the subject.

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1.
Where might you read the following excerpt?
Mr. Wright / saw a light / in the middle of the night.
Autobiography
Biography
Play
Poem
Not all poems have rhyme, but they are all laid out differently from prose
2.
Where might you read the following excerpt?
I always wanted to become a doctor.
Autobiography
Biography
Play
Poem
The "I" narrates autobiography
3.
Where might you read the following excerpt?
Dear Editor .......
Autobiography
Biography
Letter
Play
This example sounds like the beginning of a letter to a newspaper editor
4.
Where might you read the following excerpt?
Mr Walter Smith was born in 1901, the eldest son of .......
Autobiography
Biography
Play
Poem
Biography uses the third person, e.g. "he lived in ......."
5.
Where might you read the following excerpt?
My father ran a carpentry business, my mother .......
Autobiography
Biography
Letter
Play
Autobiography uses first person narrator: "I was ......." or "my ....... "
6.
Where might you read the following excerpt?
....... so readers take action now! Yours, Disgruntled of Mull.
Autobiography
Biography
Letter
Poem
This is the ending of a letter
7.
Where might you read the following excerpt?
Waiter: Can I help you sir?
Man 1: I'm just looking .......
Biography
Essay
Play
Poem
A playscript sets out the characters and speeches
8.
Where might you read the following excerpt?
She began her teaching career in a small school in .......
Autobiography
Biography
Play
Poem
Third person narrator; this is biographical writing
9.
Where might you read the following excerpt?
Oliver: Can I have some more?
Teacher: More? No!
Autobiography
Biography
Play
Poem
In play scripts the character's name precedes the speech so actors know who should be speaking
10.
Where might you read the following excerpt?
Join us later / alligator / take a while / crocodile.
Autobiography
Biography
Letter
Poem
Rhyme is very obvious here

 

Author:  Sue Daish

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