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Genre is a way of categorising texts according to similarities they share with those we already know. Texts that share content (e.g. chain saws, fondling couples), function (e.g. to frighten, to arouse), and form (e.g. books, films) are categorised and 'made safe'. But because, as they say, familiarity breeds contempt, genres can and do change – but slowly (see Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs for evidence).

Genre is an important idea because it affects the production as well as the reception of texts. Writers know what we expect from a particular genre, and – to keep us receptive and comfortable (and hence – importantly for language study – more easily influenced or persuaded) – they will stay broadly within a particular genre’s expectations. Typical genres of fiction are adventure, detective and horror, and of non-fiction, reports (e.g. newspaper, school), biographical writing, advertising, recipes, etc. Taking account of genre allows you to comment on effective genre indicators and stylistic devices within a text. Texts may conform closely to the typical features of their genre, or challenge, mix and play with those genre expectations.


Grammar is the set of rules that tells how words can be put into a sequence and a form that allows their meaning to become unambiguous in a sentence. The order of words in a phrase, clause or sentence is called its syntax and the form of words is called morphology (for example, to show plural we add the morpheme s, to show possession, we add the morpheme  's).


Graphology is too often misunderstood. Its early meaning was to refer to the appearance of a person's handwriting but in linguistics it more often means the formal aspects of a written and printed language: its layout and general visual appearance on the page. Students studying A-level English Language are often warned not to spend too much time on discussing graphology.

Typography is the correct word to refer to different choices of typeface.