How To Answer a Literary Question?

Are you worried to answer a literary question? Here are the few tips in this article that can build confidence in students to write a well-structured answer for a question.  

how to answer a literary question

How to Answer a Literary question?

Theme is the key part of the question. When students are writing an answer, first they have to ponder on the main theme of the question. This is very important. Usually, students do not read the whole statement of the question and they just start writing whatever comes to their mind. It is all due to the lack of time. Students have so many questions to attempt so they cannot afford so much time. At that time, students need to draw the complete structure of the question. They must make an outline of the question before going to write down the answer directly. Students may have a lot of ideas about the asked question but it is necessary for them to figure out the most important content that they are supposed to write. Always divide your answer into three main parts.

  • Introduction
  • Main Body
  • Conclusion

Introduction and conclusion in any question are of vital importance. Because if students do not introduce any question at opening of answer or do not conclude it at closing end then it will create a bad impression for the examiner. They must follow the alpha and omega of asked question.

We know that all words have different meanings and they are used in various contexts in questions. Let us discuss those various words that would be asked in an exam and what their meanings could be.

Different Types of Question Asked in Exams


This is very common term. The word define means students are to provide a definition of asked term e.g., Renaissance in mentioned below question. When student are writing about definition they need to state a proper and a precise definition. It should be authentic one and clear in wording. This question is asked in three ways. Examiner can ask definition generally or in students own wording so student is free to put forward his ideas and can choose wording freely according to his choice. He may put other authorsโ€™ definitions for reference to strengthen his point of view. When an examiner asks a specific definition by any author, then students are bound to define it according to the authorโ€™s ideas. Students may use their own wording but they cannot put their own ideas into the definition.

Q: Define Renaissance in few lines.

Q: Define Renaissance in your own wording.

Q: How John defines Renaissance in his book; โ€œThe Medieval Literatureโ€?


Some time an examiner asks students to describe something. It means students have to give complete information about something e.g., how it looks or how it happened. Students have to give a complete description in descriptive format. This question may be asked in this way.

Q: Describe the theme of above picture according to the plot.


The term โ€˜explainโ€™ means students have to clarify topic detail as how and why. Students have to write the complete detail of the thing or term asked in a question. Things should be mentioned in proper layout and for this chronological order is the suitable form. This question needs thorough details and students should be careful for the proper order. They must make an outline for long answer; distribute it into short sections to avoid mixing of ideas. They should take start from introduction and then main boy and fininally they are to conclude their answer in proper way.


Another way of asking a question is to elaborate something or idea. It means a statement that students have to expand it to make it clearer. They have to explore all areas of it. They have to draw a complete picture and elaborating every segment of that picture. For example, if students are talking the Renaissance Period in England so they are to elaborate every aspect that is involved in the renaissance. Students have to take start from very beginning of the renaissance in Italy and then flourishing in England by university wits and how it got significance in that era.

๐—–๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐˜† ๐—”๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น๐˜†๐˜‡๐—ฒ

Such questions are frequently asked in literature to critically analyze the idea, situation, or thing. Sometime students get confused and they start criticizing something asked in question but it never means to criticize anything. It generally means they have to talk about the positive and negative aspect of that thing according to their own thought. For good critical analysis, they should include references by authentic writers to strengthen their point of view. One thing should be kept in mind that do not criticize any author for his negative comments but students are to consider it as it could be true. If one author is praising poetry and second is against it so students should refer both but do not criticize any of them individually but they are to analyze it by comparing both.


Compare means students are to compare one thing with another. Students are to focus on the similarities and dissimilarities between two things. For example, in question, they are asked to compare fiction and drama.

๐—–๐—ผ๐—บ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ข๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป

This question is typically answered by the students to share his own point of view regarding anything asked in the question. It means that what is the opinion of the student regarding asked question. What are the views of the candidate? Students, in answer, can use the word โ€˜Iโ€™ or โ€˜according to meโ€™ while giving their opinion.


Demonstrate is a practical term which show how with an example to illustrate. Students are to give a complete demonstration of anything explained by examples.

What is Literary English?

literary english

What is Literary English?

Literary English is a form of English language used for writing literary content, for analyzing a literary writing or for literary criticism. During Medieval Ages, literary English was often placed at an elevated position among Fine Arts. During that time it was very distinctive from the colloquial English, but with the passage of time this distinction was decreased. At current era, there is no much difference between literary and colloquial English. Still there is a distinction between Literary and conversational English.

English is one of the most broadly spoken languages across the globe. It has taken many shapes and registers. Those who want to learn English language as a second language they opt a suitable register for their appropriate domain. For example a learner want to learn English for business around the world he will chose Business English, one who in only migrating to some native country he will learn English for general purpose and those who want to practice their abilities in literary field they will chose literary English.

Some exceptionally well-documented forms of literary writings are the works of Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Sir Francis Bacon, and William Wordsworth. Shakespearean sonnets and plays are one of the classic examples of English literature and studied around the world in most of the universities. Sir Francis Bacon is also prominent classic prose write of his age. These literary works require supplementary effort to understand it. Literary language is rich with figurative language and literary devices such as metaphors, paradoxes, sarcasm, ironies, similes, and many more. On the other hand, Business English is the written and spoken English that is especially for business context and it is proper both in word choice and of the suitable tone for conducting business. In business, you may be required to speak, read, and write in a language that your co-workers, supervisors, and clients can understand quickly and effectively in business context.

Characteristics of Literary English

Structure of Literary English

Literary languageย is theย formย of aย languageย used in its literaryย writing. It has complex sentence structure and lays meaning in its context in literature. Its structure varies according to the literary form. In poetic form, its style is different from prose writing. Further, in one form, like in poetry, it varies its structure according to different sub-form of poetry. In a sonnet its style and structure is different from a heroic couplet. Literary books also have divergent forms depending on sub genre of literature.

Function of Literary English

Literary English is generally used for literary writing or for criticism or analysis on literary work. Even though literary content also do have a function, e.g., to criticize a literary work, to educate general public, to mock a society for its wrong pursuits or even just to entertain a reader. During Medieval Age, Fine Arts was at an elevated position and that era created lot of writers who took English as a tool for literary writings. They used rich language full of literary devices such as similes, metaphors, paradoxes, ironies, sarcasm, and many more. These literary devices are some time called figures of speech.

Click here for Figurative language

An ironic language

Literary English is not clear and state forward like Business English or English for General Purpose. Business English or English for General Purpose are generally free from ironies as these are designed for clear and effective communication while literary English is quite rich with ironies. ย For understanding a literary text, a reader has to ponder upon it with full wit and efforts.

An Ambiguous language

People generally accept the view that literary form of English is far more ambiguous and more complicated than non-literary form (Business English or English for General Purpose). In Literary content, a reader cannot rely on surface text only but he has to ponder into the context of writing while on other hand it is not the case in non-literary texts. For example, a market price-table has to be precise in order for people to be able to rely on it and many people using the same market price-table should reach around the same result with common understanding. While on other hand if these ten people read a novel, they will come up with rather different interpretations of what a specific literary text โ€˜meansโ€™ or what it tries to convey.

Descriptive and Indirect language

Literary English does not convey direct meaning but reader has to search for the hidden message in the text. If a literary piece of writing is handed over to various students and they are asked for the message written in that text. All the students will conclude different message from the text depending upon their way of extracting a message from the text.

High Grammar level and Rich Vocabulary

Literary content is rich in vocabulary and carry complex sentence structure. Borrowing is too much in literary writings that make it more complex and difficult to understand for a common reader. Some genres of literature are free from grammatical rules as poetry or drama written in poetic form.

Our main literary articles

  1. What is Literary English?
  2. What is Literature?
  3. Different Types of literature
  4. History of English Literature (Anglo-Saxon Period to Current Era)
  5. What is Metaphysical Poetry?
  6. John Donne as a Metaphysical Poet
  7. Characteristics and History of Sonnet Writing
  8. What is Figurative Language?
  9. Most Commonly Used Figures of Speec