Tone or Attitude: #

The tone is the attitude or feelings of the composer towards their audience and the subject matter. In oral presentations this may be carried by the voice, while in written communication it is conveyed by the choice of words and sentence construction. The following columns are varied attitudes that can be expressed.

Neutral Tones:

considered, restrained, monotonous, ironic, impartial, impersonal, deliberative, disinterested, apathetic, apolitical

Reflective Tones

Sad, anguished, grieving, dejected, melancholic, mournful, plaintive,

Despairing, gloomy, saturnine, resigned, pessimistic, cynical, distressed,

contemplative, pensive, reflective, pondering, reminiscent, nostalgic, introspective, ruminative, brooding, vexing, rapt, fugue-state, maudlin,

longing, yearning, craving, wistful, pining, needy, supplicating, pleading, urgent, lustful….


Disparaging Glib beseeching brooding Bombastic Slick diplomatic melancholic Critical romantic maudlin longing Contemptuous personal compliant sad Arrogant intimate flattering anguished Supercilious jovial unctuous dejected Haughty jocular agreeable yearning Disdainful genial respectful gloomy Scathing pleasant humble
Aloof ingratiating despairing hostile servile
Aristocratic sarcastic
cringing satunine

blunt crawling resigned

Patronising direct
snivelling pessimistic

polite craven cynical

sincere obsequious distressed

false toady grief-stricken

Dismissive modest
sycophantic contemplative

Derisive meek forelock tugging pensive

Judgmental affectionate brown nosing reflective

Denigrating enthusiastic
submissive pondering

passionate consensual reminiscent

Insistent hyper-critical
begging nostalgic

pleading introspective

Suppliant ruminative

supine brooding

obliging pining


|Negative|Positive|Happy|apathetic |

Cold Bright
glowing distrusting

Demanding sympathetic
humourous morbid

Brutal Supportive
frivolous bored

Aggressive euphoric
vitalised uninterested

abrasive blissful
tedious Nihilistic

caring satirical complacent

Argumentative Optimistic
keen smug

vitriolic Positive
arduous self-satisfied

sarcastic assuring
wonder apathetic

acerbic consoling
awe comatose

bitter warm
merriment negative

Combative solacing

tender excited

Inflammatory sensitive

Intemperate Cheerful





Exercises on Tone:

Tone as Attitude

Identify the tone or attitude of each of the following speakers:

a) “Get out of here! How dare you question my authority?”

b) Would you mind leaving the room and giving us some respite please?

c) “I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but I don’t think you have the ability to complete this course.”

d) “You’re despicable! You have the manners of a pig!”

e) “You and I both know that the government has completely failed to inspire its citizens. You are too intelligent to put up with this for long.

f) Of course the parliamentarians need another raise. Why everyone knows they are destitute. One look at their faces and you can tell how gaunt and emaciated they are.

g) Mr Jackson,
My daughter tells me that you and other teachers call her Sarah. Please note that her name is Zara. See that you call her that name in the future.

h) Dear Mr Robinson,
I should deem it an honour to be considered for the position of junior salesman in you establishment. I have always wished to work in a progressive organisation like yours and I assure you I will give every satisfaction.

i) “People are important to me” expressed the personnel officer signing the dismissal notices.

j) Mr Squeers is modest; he told us so – frequently.