The Language of the Lost Generation: Fitzgerald & Hemingway

Cartoon stack of multicolored books.


      The research that I have done is to explore and distinguish the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. I analyzed six sentences from the texts of The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises. By looking at the writing style and grammatical syntax from both texts, we see how similar and different both writers are. Like how Fitzgerald’s syntax seems to be more verbose than Hemingway. Getting to know their grammar is like getting to know them personally. For example, what they went through after the first World War.    

      War, decadence, and loss are some of the several themes that are explored in The Great Gatsby and in The Sun Also Rises. We can clearly see those themes by looking at a few of those sentences a little bit closer. 


      In this research, my methodology was to examine several sentences from both novels. I noticed several patterns with each of the sentences after dissecting and analyzing them, which made it easy to compare and contrast the novels after that. The following is what I assessed from both texts: 

  • Prepositional Phrases – Prepositional Phrases are a two-part structure consisting of a preposition followed by the object of the preposition, which is usually a noun phrase. (Kolln 24). 
  • Adjectives/Adjectival Phrases – Adjectives are descriptive and are used to describe and identify. It usually answers the question of “which one?” or “what kind?” 
  • Adverbs/Adverbial Phrases – An adverb modifies the verb, and usually answers the questions like “what?” or “where/when?” 
  • Types of sentences – Simple/Compound/Compound Sentences
  • Identifying the verbs – verbs such as linking, predicate, transitive, or intransitive verbs.


The Great Gatsby Coggle
The Sun Also Rises Coggle

For image descriptions of both Coggles, click here.


       After conducting this research, I noticed several things. One can easily see that Fitzgerald’s writing has more diction than that of Hemingway’s. His writing is more poetic compared to Hemingway’s precise writing style.  I noticed this because the three sentences that I selected from The Great Gatsby had more prepositional phrases than that of The Sun Also Rises. He wants us to not forget nouns nor the object of prepositions in his writing. The reason behind it is because of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s sentences in the novel tend to be complex sentences and compound-complex sentences, while Ernest Hemingway’s sentences are more simple. Even though his writing style is longer, I am trying to understand why Fitzgerald does this, and it is because he wants to provide as many details as possible. I think it is because he wants the reader to get to know the narrator, Nick Carraway, more. Which is most likely why there are more determiners in the sentences than Hemingway’s.

       Of course, both authors do tend to describe and tell a story from their narrators, but also do it differently in their own way. What Hemingway had in his writing was that he used more adverbials in his sentences. Even though the sentences are simple and to the point, Hemingway is determined to answer the what, where, when, and how, in his writing. He doesn’t use as many adjectives/adjectival phrases as Fitzgerald, who tends to answer the questions of what kind, which one, and how many? Hemingway also uses verb phrases more like linking, transitive, and intransitive verbs within the sentences. We can see that both writers use modals in their sentences which are verbs that accompany another type of verb (i.e. can, will, may, etc.). 

        Despite the many differences that the writers have in their writing style, we also see many similarities. Both authors use past tense in their sentences lightly, but on almost all of the sentences we see the use of present tense in the sentences. So what does this mean? I analyzed this figuratively in a way that explains that both writers tend to not live in the past, like the horrors of the war, and are most focused to live in the present. Of course, that does not mean that both narrators get what they want and live in a fairytale. Both Nick and Jake go through difficulties in the novel, and their futures after the novel ends seems uncertain. I initially thought that I would see a lot more similarities than differences in their writing style. Both of these writers do come from the same era and a time that was full of war and loss, and you can tell that by the tone which is serious, somber, and even sometimes a little hopeful. It was important to see the texts a little closer because we got to see that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway are different individuals, and even though their experiences were similar, their stories to tell are unique. 

– Dianytzel Mares Lingsch


Fitzgerald, F Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 2004. 

Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. Scribner, 2006. 

Kolln, Martha. Understanding English Grammar. 10th ed., Pearson, 2016. 


    A very special thanks to my wonderful professor who I have learned so much from, Dr. Hill! 


Published by modcasters

We’re a group of graduate students studying English Literature and Language on a mission to discuss literature, provide access to those on the deafness and/or blindness spectrum, and rock mustachios.

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