How to use Connotation
Connotations are basically present in every sentence that we hear, write, and speak. Therefore, words are essentially chosen based on their connotation. When writing or speaking, a word’s connotation should help set the tone as positive or negative, and should be selected with its implications in mind. The most important thing when choosing words is intention, and they should be selected based on the answer to the question, “what feeling do you want to convey through your words?” For instance, the word “thin” can be expressed in different ways: imagine a friend saying, “WOW, you’re so slender, you look amazing!” versus “oh my God, you’re so skinny, do you ever eat?” The first use of “slender” has a positive connotation, implying that you look great, but the second word “skinny” has a negative connotation, implying that you look sickly.
When to use Connotation
Proper word choice is essential when it comes to speaking and writing. Certain situations may call for words with a positive connotation, i.e. when a manager is praising an employee; while others may be better served with words carrying negative connotation, i.e. when a manager is reprimanding an employee. Connotation sets the tone, and using one word or another can seriously alter a sentence’s meaning or tone. Read the following two sentences:
“The woman slammed the door behind her, threw her bag on the floor and slumped into a kitchen chair, where she poured herself a much-needed glass of wine.”
“The woman closed the door behind her, hung up her bag and perched herself in a kitchen chair, where she poured herself a well-deserved glass of wine.”
The first sentence uses words with negative connotation—slammed, threw, slumped, much-needed; giving the feeling that the woman had a difficult day. The second uses positive and neutral—closed, hung up, perched, much-deserved—giving the feeling that the woman had a long but successful day. As can be seen, choosing words based on their connotation can make for two very different tones. The words you choose to describe the beauty of a paradise should connote positive images (as does the word “beauty here), but those describing the gloom of a slum require should connote negative images (as does the word “gloom”).