Words and language are a quite amazing - and unique - human attribute and invention. For a start, words don't just create meaning, they also create feeling. Meaning can be straightforward and literal (some people call this a word's denotation; or it can be quite 'deep' and 'hidden', that is, we can say that a word literally means one thing but somehow suggests quite another (this is also called a word's connotation).

This is the process of interpretation and this always relies on context. It is the effect of context that helps us towards a particular interpretation of a word; context means the word's relationship to other things - for example, other words - around it: but also the social situation surrounding its use; even because we know what it is not (i.e. we understand the term 'coward' more because we hold the term 'hero' in such high regard rather than because of any meaning the word 'coward' itself contains).

Language has two key qualities that allow it create and shape meaning. It has content - that is, it contains meaning; and it has form - that is, it makes shapes and sounds. Form and content are two aspects of language you are expected to discuss in your essays as writers use them both to help make and shape meaning.

The formal aspects of language - sight and sound - are especially important in poetry as, unlike any other form of writing, its user is allowed to split sentences apart at will and be playful with sound and shape to help add to the meaning created.

A third important aspect of language is structure - the way its meaning unfolds in, for example, interesting, compelling and persuasive ways.