green bar

Words Used to Describe Tone

green bar

Click here to go to this list with Hmong translations

Click here to see the correlation to standards


Bold words are the most general and/or the most commonly used to describe passages you  may read  (study these!).
Bold bright blue words have appeared on the California High School Exit Exam released exam items for English Language Arts (



Spanish Translation


blaming other people acusador
ambivalent having conflicting feelings ambivalente
amused entertained; thinking it is funny gracioso; entretenido
angry mad enojado
anxious worried or excited inquieto; preocupado
apathetic indifferent; doesn't care; not interested apático
apologetic sorry compungido
appreciative grateful; thankful agradecido
arrogant too proud arrogant; alternero
awe solemn wonder; amazement asombro; temor
beguiling deceptive; cheating engañoso, tramposo
bewilderment confusion perplejo; desconcierto
bitter angry or hateful amargado
bored, boring not interested aburrido
callous insensitive insensible; duro
calm relaxed; not excited tranquilo
candid straightforward; blunt franco; sincero
cheerful happy alegre; animado
concerned worried or interested afectado; preocupado
condescending looking down on other people; feeling superior condescendiente; dando aires de supioridad
contemplative studying; thinking; reflective contemplativo


disrespectful; scornful despectivo; despreciativo
courteous nice; respectful cortés; educado
critical finding fault crítico
cruel mean; hurtful cruel
curious wanting to find out more curioso
cynical questioning the truth or sincerity; skeptical cínico
defensive defending defensivo
defiant going against authority de desafío
depressed unhappy, sad deprimido
desperate  frantic; without many options desperado; urgente
determination  not giving up determinación; persistencia
determined not giving up decidido; persistente
didactic trying to teach something didáctico
diplomatic trying not to offend people diplomático
direct straightforward; honest franco; sincero
disappointed discouraged; unhappy because something went wrong decepcionado; desilusionado
disdainful scornful desdeñoso; despectivo
disgusting yucky asqueroso, repugnante
dissatisfied unhappy; not satisfied descontento; insatisfecho
dramatic theatrical impresionante, notable, teatral, dramático
earnest sincere; honest; intense serio; formal
eccentric odd; strange; different excéntrico
egotistical thinking only about himself; self-centered egocéntrico
eloquent expressing ideas in a nice way; poetic; good with words elocuente
encouraging optimistic; trying to convince you to do something because of a belief that you can do it alentador; prometedor
enthusiastic excited; energetic entusiasmado
envious jealous envidioso; celoso
excited anxious entusiasmado
expectant waiting ilusionado
fanciful using the imagination; imaginative caprichosos
fearful afraid temeroso
formal respectful, appropriate behavior formal
forthright direct; honest without hesitation franco; directo


the way a person treats friends


frustrated angry because of not being able to do something



humorous; amusing gracioso; divertido
gentle not hurtful; careful tierno
gloomy dark; sad; depressed pesimista; melancólico; triste
happy cheerful; in a good mood feliz
hateful hating something or someone; angry hate odioso
haughty proud; vain; arrogant altanero; arrogante
honest truthful honesto; honrado
hopeful looking forward to something; optimistic optimista
humorous funny gracioso; divertido
hysterical very scared histérico
idealistic thinking of what is best; optimistic; not realistic  idealista
imaginative creative; using the imagination imaginativo; creativo
impersonal not personal impersonal
indifferent unconcerned; not interested indiferente
indignant angry because something is not fair indignado
informal not formal; relaxed informal
innocent not guilty inocente; no culpable
inspirational encouraging; reassuring inspirador
intimate very familiar; the way one talks to close friends or family íntimo; familiar
ironic different than what is expected or the opposite of what is meant irónico
irritated annoyed irritado; molestado
jovial happy jovial; feliz
judgmental judging others; critical persona que juzga a otros; crítico
lackadaisical lazy perezoso, vago
lethargic sleepy letárgico
lighthearted happy, carefree alegre, despreocupado
lofty arrogant altivo, arrogante
macabre about death macabro
malevolent mean; angry; purposely hateful malévolo
malicious purposely hurtful; very mean malévolo
matter-of-fact truthful; accepting of conditions; straightforward realista
melancholy sad melancólico
mischievous playing tricks for fun travieso
mocking scornful; ridiculing; making fun of someone burlón
negative unhappy; pessimistic negativo
nervous worried nervioso
neutral not good nor bad; not for nor against neutral
nostalgic thinking about the past; wishing for something from the past nostálgico
objective without prejudice; without discrimination; fair  objetivo
optimistic hopeful; cheerful optimista
patient willing to wait; not in a hurry paciente
patronizing looking down on others; acting superior condescendiente
pensive thinking, thoughtful pensativo
perplexed confused; puzzled perplejo
persuasive trying to convince persuasivo
pessimistic seeing the bad side of things pesimista
poetic expressing beautiful thoughts or words poético
proud full of pride in something; thinking that something is better than others orgulloso
quizzical questioning; eccentric; odd; amusing burlón; curioso
reflective thoughtful; meditative; thinking  pensativo
regret feeling bad about the past arrepentido
relaxation, relaxed relaxed; not worried; not busy descanso, relajado
relieved stop being worried aliviado, tranquilizado
remorseful very sad; sorrowful; regretful lleno de remordimiento
reverent respectful; treating something with honor and respect reverente
rude not polite maleducado, grosero
sad, sadness unhappy triste, tristeza
sarcastic sneering; saying the opposite of what you mean as a way of being unfriendly or making a point  sarcástico
sardonic scornful; very sarcastic sardónico
satirical making fun of something to show its weakness or to teach a lesson satírico
sentimental thinking about feelings, especially when remembering the past sentimental
serious not funny; not joking serio
sincere honest; truthful; earnest sincero; honrado; honesto
snobbish acting as though one is better than everyone else; egocentric esnob
solemn sad or quiet reflection solemne; serio
solitude loneliness soledad
stiff formal, serious serio, formal
straightforward direct; honest honesto; sincero
stubborn refusing to give in testarudo; terco
surprised startled; amazed sorprendido
suspense, suspenseful wondering what will happen next incertidumbre
sympathetic compassionate; understanding of how someone feels compasivo; comprensivo
tearful sad lloroso, lacrimoso
tense nervous tenso
thankful grateful; giving thanks agradecido
threatening menacing amenazador
tolerant accepting of others tolerante
tragic very sad trágico
urgent insistent; saying something must be done soon urgente
vindictive revengeful; wanting to get back at someone vindicativo; vengativo
whimsical playful; funny; odd caprichoso

green bar

Related California English-Language Arts Content Standards for ninth grade for which these words may be used:

Reading Comprehension 9.2.8 Evaluate the credibility of an author's argument or defense of a claim by critiquing the way in which the author's intent affects the structure and tone of the text

Literary Response and Analysis 9.3.9 Explain how voice, persona, and the choice of a narrator affect characterization and the tone, plot, and credibility of a text; 9.3.11 Evaluate the aesthetic qualities of style, including the impact of diction and figurative language on tone, mood, and theme, using the terminology of literary criticism.

Writing Strategies: 9.1.1 Establish a controlling impression or coherent thesis that conveys a clear and distinctive perspective on the subject and maintain a consistent tone and focus throughout the piece of writing; 9.1.9 Revise writing to improve the logic and coherence of the organization and controlling perspective, the precision of word choice, and the tone by taking into consideration the audience, purpose, and formality of the context. 

Listening and Speaking: 9.1.11 Assess how language and delivery affect the mood and tone of the oral communication and make an impact on the audience.

green bar

Atwater High School

Go falcons!

Home of the Falcons!

Atwater High School Homepage

green bar

This page was created on October 6, 2002 and modified on December 23, 2002.