Difference Between Diction and Syntax

Main Difference – Diction vs Syntax

Diction and syntax are two important aspects of style; both these aspects play an integral part in the formation of sentences in a text. The main difference between Diction and Syntax is that diction refers to the choice of words while syntax refers to the arrangement of words. Therefore, they both play an equally important role in forming a sentence. In this article, we are going to look at the connection between these two aspects by analyzing the difference between diction and syntax.

What is Diction

Diction refers to the specific choice of words by a speaker or a writer. It is the choice of words or diction is an important aspect in deciding the quality of a text. When selecting diction, a writer has to pay attention to factors like accuracy, clarity of a word as well as suitability to the context. An author can use different types and varieties of words in a text; he can use simple, common words or formal, unique words. Words can also be classified according to different registers.

For example, the word home can be also used as house, lodging, place of residence, adobe, domicile (formal), digs, pad (informal). Diction should depend on the context. If you are writing an informal text, i.e., an essay, a letter to a friend, the word home is appropriate. But, you will probably find the term place of residence in an official document. The following sentence pairs has the same meaning but contain different diction.

Example 1:

He gazed at the cerulean firmament.

He looked at the blue sky.

Example 2:

He found the silence intolerably irksome.

He didn’t like the silence.Main Difference - Diction vs Syntax

What is Syntax

Syntax is the arrangement of words in a language. It can be also described as the set of rules and principles that govern sentence structure in a language. Syntax is generally concerned with aspects like word order, subjectverb agreement, case, mood, etc. Every accurate and proper sentence or utterance can be taken as an example of syntax. However, syntax alone doesn’t make a proper sentence. For instance, the sentence ‘Colorless, green ideas sleep furiously.’ is syntactically correct, but it has no meaning.

Syntax plays an important role in the written word. Just like in diction, it is the duty of the writer to choose a suitable syntax to suit the context. For example, if he is writing a story for children, he should use simple sentences. But if he is writing for a more mature audience he can use a combination of compound and complex sentences.

In literature, especially in poetry, the writers have the freedom to use deviant word arrangements. For example,

‘So fair and foul a day I have not seen.’ –  I have never seen a day so fair and foul.Difference Between Diction and Syntax

Difference Between Diction and Syntax


Diction is the choice of words in a sentence.

Syntax is the arrangement of words in a sentence.


Diction is concerned with registers of language, formality level, etc.

Syntax is concerned with the word order, agreement of subject and verb, etc.

Though diction and syntax deal with two different aspects of language style, both are essential to form a meaningful sentence. The choice of syntax and diction create a unique style for the author.

Image Courtesy:

“Major levels of linguistic structure” by James J. Thomas and Kristin A. Cook (Ed.)derivative work: (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons 

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