Difference between Literary text and non-literary text/types

Literary text and non-literary text

literary text is an artistic, original and subjective work that makes use of rhetorical resources, has a poetic function and lacks a practical purpose. This type of text does not have a defined audience and is connotative, ambiguous and polysemic, so its interpretation tends to be open. Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

non-literary text is a text that has a referential function , has a specific purpose, is aimed at a specific audience and is objective. This type of text avoids ambiguity and the use of rhetorical resources, connecting the audience with a reality external to the text itself.

Literary text Non-literary text
Definition It is an artistic and original work that has a poetic or aesthetic function, with a polysemic character and lacks any practical purpose. It is a text that has a referential function and makes use of denotative language, in order to inform about a matter, to persuade or direct the conduct of a specific audience.
Language function Poetic or aesthetic. Referential.
  • Subjective and connotative (what is written has a particular meaning for each person).
  • Ambiguous and polysemic (it has more than one meaning).
  • It lacks a pragmatic purpose.
  • It is not aimed at a specific audience.
  • It is original and fictional, even if it is based on real events.
  • It is self-referential, it presents complete worlds in themselves.
  • Use rhetorical resources to express and provoke emotion.
  • There is no defined or particular audience.
  • It becomes long-lived and can be accessed in different contexts.
  • Objective and denotative (what is written refers to reality and is not freely interpretable).
  • It has a practical purpose.
  • Your audience is defined.
  • It may not be an original work.
  • It is referential and its message is more important than any poetic sense.
  • Its content is based on reality.
  • Its objective is to inform, instruct, or direct people’s behavior.
  • Valid within a specific context.
Examples Odes, stories, Christmas carols, plays, novels, songs, fables, hors d’oeuvres and sacramental cars, among others. Conferences, journalistic notes, manuals and instructions, legal documents, dissertations, academic articles, philosophical texts, opinion articles and advertising messages, among others.

What is a literary text? Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

A literary text is that original work, generally written, that makes use of rhetorical elements that provoke a reaction in the reader, has a poetic or aesthetic function and has no practical purpose .

It is ambiguous and polysemic (it has more than one meaning), so it can be interpreted in many ways. It uses rhetorical resources to express the subjectivity of the author and obtain the participation of the reader. It is self-referential , which means that it is a complete work in itself.

This type of text is characterized by being an original creation. Even if it is inspired by real events or people, or describes a physical and verifiable reality, each work claims to be a unique creation.

In the case of the narrator of the story, this is the voice that tells the events. In most cases you are separated from the author, even if you can represent their point of view.

The language he uses is primarily connotative (the words have a personal meaning, both for the author and for the reader), usually charged with emotion and subjectivity.

Furthermore, it is not limited to the particular time and space of its creation. As an artistic work, the literary text has the capacity to be long-lived and read by a wide variety of audiences in many places and times.

Characteristics of the literary text

  • The literary text is ambiguous, so it is common for it to have different interpretations.
  • It is polysemic, and acquires new meanings with each reading.
  • It does not have a pragmatic purpose or a specific objective, even though whoever produces it may have a specific intention.
  • It is not directed at a specific audience.
  • Its function is aesthetic or poetic.
  • It makes use of rhetorical and stylistic resources to fulfill its aesthetic function: onomatopoeia, hyperbole, metaphors, similes, alliteration, etc.
  • It is common that the present language is not used in everyday life, due to its polysemic and rhetorical nature.
  • It presents a fictional and self-referential world full of details (even when it is based on reality).
  • It has a connotative character, since it is an artistic work created from the subjective point of view of the author.
  • It is an original creation. Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

Function of the literary text

Its main function is poetic or aesthetic, so rhetorical figures are used to provoke some feeling or reaction in the receiver. That is, the literary text does not have a referential function, as is the case with the non-literary text.

The world created within the text is a whole in itself. In this way, this type of text is not subordinate to an informative function, even if it communicates something about external reality (as in detailed and highly descriptive realistic or naturalistic novels).

Relationship between sender and receiver in the literary text

The relationship between the author and the reader is deferred. The reader is not able to respond to the author directly. For example, during the process of creating the text, the author finds himself estranged from the audience. It is not possible to respond to the message that is transmitted through the text without modifying it (which would create a new work).

The reader is not defined , he is not a concrete person. The text is open to be read by an audience that can go beyond that to which the author originally intended to address. This implies that your audience is not easily quantifiable or identifiable.

However, the reader participates in a communicative act, accepting the subjectivity of the text and its lack of referentiality. Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

Fictional character of the literary text Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

The literary text is a fiction , so it does not pretend to be a real representation of the facts. However, different types of texts can be interpreted as literary texts, even if they were not written with that intention.

In any case, both author and reader (generally) are aware of the fictional nature of the literary text, which is intended to be a complete world unto itself. That is to say, what the text offers is nothing more than a subjective creation of the author, it is not a retelling of facts from the real world.

Absence of purpose in the literary text

The literary text has no specific purpose . There may be an intention behind the production of the text, for example, moral or educational, but it is not one of its defining characteristics. Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

Genres of the literary text Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

Literary texts can be classified according to the form they take, the function that the author wants them to have, the symbolic and semantic content, among other peculiarities that differentiate them from each other. Three major literary genres are generally considered: lyrical, narrative, and dramatic. These texts have primarily an aesthetic or poetic function, however, they make use of other functions, due to the form and content they present. Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

Lyrical Epic or narrative Dramatic
Author Generally shows the subjectivity of the author, expressing a high level of emotion. The author introduces a narrator who is in charge of telling the story. The characters in the play are the ones who speak and perform the actions in the story.
Principal function Expressive Referential. Appellate or conative.
Subgenres Poetry, ode, elegy, epistle, eclogue, epigram, Christmas carol, song and others. Short story, novel, epic, fable and others. Tragedy, comedy, drama, tragicomedy, melodrama, hors d’oeuvre, auto sacramental, and others.

What is a non-literary text?

A non-literary text is one that has a referential or informative function , a specific purpose, has an objective character and makes use of denotative language.

This type of text does not make use of rhetorical resources, which are used in literary texts to express the subjectivity of the author. It is at the service of a specific purpose and designed for specific audiences. The information they communicate is external to the text itself.


  • They have a referential or informative function.
  • Its content is not fictional.
  • They depend on a context.
  • They are written seeking objectivity.
  • They have a specific audience.
  • They have a particular purpose.
  • The message takes precedence over any poetic sense.
  • The language used is denotative, which makes them unambiguous.

Function of non-literary text

It is referential, so in this kind of text the message refers to something external. The sender tries to fulfill a purpose with his production, while the receiver wants to obtain information or knowledge about something specific.

In the same way, the transmission of the message is one of its most important objectives . What it communicates can be a fact, a process, norms, description of an object or person, etc. For example, an auto mechanic manual refers to the process of repairing cars. Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

This implies that the non-literary text must be objective , so it is expected that it is not ambiguous and that it lacks the polysemic density of the literary text. That is, it is a denotative text (what is written refers to reality), what is written in it, generally, does not leave room for free interpretation.

However, whoever produces a non-literary text can use elements of literary texts to communicate a message or transmit information. For example, rhetorical devices can be used when describing or narrating a news event in a newspaper. In this case, the reader may find a certain literary character that leads him to feel empathy or react adversely to what is communicated.

Relationship between sender and receiver in non-literary text

Depending on the type of text and its purpose, the relationship between sender and receiver varies. The audience is defined from the moment it is going to be produced.

In academic or scientific texts, for example, the person who produces the text is a person with some level of specialization in an area of ​​knowledge. The receiver or audience of this type of text is expected to be able to understand the technicalities of the text, in order to reduce any ambiguity.

In other cases, if it is an expository text, the author may have the objective of informing the receiver about some topic or event. In the case of normative texts, whoever issues them intends that the audience not only be informed about a particular matter, but also act in a certain way. Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

Purpose of the non-literary text

Non-literary texts have a particular purpose . The purpose may vary depending on the information to which they refer and the nature of the text. They can be texts that are intended to transmit knowledge about a scientific topic, educate, or communicate norms and rules, among others.

The end is also dictated by the audience to which these texts are directed. If it is advertising copy, generally, your ideal audience is delimited first, and then the text is elaborated. In the same way, if it is an academic text, the technical content of your vocabulary already considers your ideal audience.

Types of non-literary texts Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

Non-literary texts can be classified according to their purpose. These can have the objective of disclosing information, explaining an issue, communicating the results of an investigation or making known how a person acts. Even though these texts share the function of the referential language, it is possible that they have other functions according to their specific purposes.

Expository or informative Normative or instructive Academic or scientist Argumentative
objective Inform and facilitate understanding of a topic. Inform and provide directions or orders about how someone should act in a specific context. Communicate or disseminate knowledge on a specific matter. Expressing or communicating a point of view or opinion with the intention of persuading or convincing someone.
Main language function Referential. Appellate. Referential. Appellate.
  • Impersonal, use of the third person.
  • Simple and organized structure.
  • Objectivity.
  • It proposes to disclose, expose or report any topic
  • May present technical or specialized vocabulary.
  • It can present characteristics of literary texts.
  • Produced within an institutional framework.
  • Formality and technical vocabulary.
  • Clear and succinct.
  • Objectivity.
  • Focused on the receiver.
  • Regulates behavior in a certain context.
  • Linear or step structure.
  • Usually produced in an institutional setting.
  • Intertextuality and reference to other texts.
  • Specific receptor.
  • Formality and specialized and technical vocabulary.
  • Organized structure.
  • Communicate results or a state of the art.
  • Comprehensive and methodological.
  • Present a hypothesis that must be tested.
  • You can follow inductive, deductive, or emotional reasoning.
  • Presence of discursive elements to demonstrate the hypothesis.
  • Formal and organized structure.
  • There is an emphasis on the issuer, their opinions or perspectives.
Examples Lectures, reports, news, essays, biographies, and others. Cooking recipes, instructions, manuals, legislative and legal documents, political constitution, and others. Dissertations, theses, academic articles, encyclopedic entries, monographs, scientific essays, and others. Speeches, philosophical texts, essays, opinion articles, advertising messages, and others.

Difference between Literary text and non-literary text

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