Diction or Word Choice
Formal: are not angry
Casual: aren’t mad
Slang (very informal): ain’t ticked
Slang (vulgar): ain’t pissed
Useful source: The Urban Dictionary
Also consider positive or negative connotations of the words chosen.
Positive: She was slender
Neutral: She was thin
Negative: She was skinny
"Want to walk back?"
"Through the park."
We climbed down. It was clouding over again. In the park it was dark under the trees
Hemingway # 2
They left me alone and I lay in bed and read the papers awhile, the news from the front, and the list of dead officers with their decorations and then reached down and brought up the bottle of Cinzano and held it straight up on my stomach, the cool glass against my stomach, and took little drinks making rings on my stomach from holding the bottle there between drinks, and watched it get dark outside over the roofs of the town.
One way to achieve proper tone is to imagine a situation in which to say the words being written. A journal might be like a conversation with a close friend where there is the freedom to use slang or other casual forms of speech.
Label each sentence as formal, casual, or slang based on its diction.
- Let’s go get some dinner.
- Shall we dine, my lady?
- Let’s go to Mickey D’s and bust a grub.
- It is vital to understand the text one reads.
- Ya dig that shit?
- Computers are a pain in the neck.
- Computers are a pain in the elbow.
- The Mona Lisa looks weird from up close.
- Pickett’s charge at the Battle of Gettysburg was surely an awe-inspiring sight.
In the following sentences, choose between the words in parentheses to make the sentence have as negative a connotation as possible.
- The leader was his nation’s most (notorious, well-known, famous, HMFIC) politician.
- Immigrants (thronged, flocked, swarmed) to the large cities.
- The man was (inebriated, drunk, intoxicated, fit-shaced).
- Where did you find that (outfit, get-up, attire, lust have)?