You’re just about to tackle Paper 2 on the GCSE English paper and you’ve been given two sources to read.  One from the 19th Century Non Fiction and one from the 20th or 21st Century Non Fiction.

I’d always assumed it was easy to tell which was which.

Until recently when I heard a Year 11 GCSE English student ask her teacher which of the two Sources was the 19th Century one?

I’m going to assume that you can tell one from the other.

But just in case, here are some simple clues that should help;

• It may sound obvious but take a look at the top of the Sources provided in the exam. The 19th Century piece will say something like this; Source B – 19th Century literary non-fiction

In the unlikely event you manage to overlook this, here are a few more simple clues to look out for:

• Old-fashioned or archaic expressions such as “Our Master has arrived, I am induced to write to you..” and “I shall esteem it an additional favour
• The arrangement of words and phrases in the sentences seem rather stiff, formal and unfamiliar to our 21st century ears and eyes – here’s an example; “It is now two years come October since I left you at Islington, but I hope, my dear Father,  you will let me come home at Xmas that we may once more meet again alive – if God permit me to live as long.”