Generic structure

       a series of entries, written on a regular basis but not necessarily every day

  • entries are dated; the place of writing is also given in some diaries

Subject matter

a chronicle of events that have occurred in the writer's life since the previous entry

the writer's reflections and comments on life,

personal emotions, fantasies, hopes, plans


Cohesive ties

  dates at the start of each entry establish a time frame, provide a means of headlining and linking each separate piece of writing

  • entries often contain reference to information already mentioned in a previous day's writing
  • many sentences start with, or contain, the personal pronoun I


.     reflects the writer's age, background, historical period-but uses mainly words that are common in ordinary conversation

  • verbs are a mixture of 'doing' and 'thinking', showing what is happening in the writer's life, and how she or he thinks/feels about it
  • may use contractions and abbreviations (e.g. 'pleuro' for pleurisy)


  writer speaks in first-person singular (or occasionally plural)

  • audience is sometimes addressed directly-second person pronoun 'you' sometimes signals this (note that some writers speak directly to the diary as their audience, e.g. 'Dear Diary, you will see I haven't written anything for. a month')
  • elision (omission of words not absolutely necessary) is common-as in '( I ) had a lovely dream'; 'Two hundred and six out of fifteen hundred [are] dead' '[There are] not enough men left over to cut wood'
  • sentences generally in the form of statements; where questions appear they are addressed to the unseen audience
  • some variety of sentence length, but many are short and simple
  • mixture of verb tenses-past, present and future - as writer recounts what has already happened, describes current situation, looks ahead

Paragraphing and punctuation

 entries vary greatly in length (compare those of 17th June and 9th July)

  • longer entries are broken into short paragraphs

ยท     simple punctuation (full stops [periods], commas, capital letters, dashes)


Spelling and letter pattern

    standard spelling

  • handwritten entries-some of these have been reproduced as they appeared in the original diary


     date (and maybe place) appear as headline at top left of each entry

  • date underlined to give it prominence (note that when a diary is published, this underlining is usually converted into bold type or a different font)
  • a line may be drawn underneath to indicate the end of each entry