Application of Interpersonal Meaning in Hillary’s and Trump’s Election Speeches

Kuang Ping, Liu Lingling


Presidential election speeches, as one significant part of western political life, deserve people’s attention. This paper focuses on the use of interpersonal meaning in political speeches. The nine texts selected from the Internet are analyzed from the perspectives of mood, modality, personal pronoun and tense system based on the theory of Halliday’s Systemic Functional Grammar. It aims to study the way how interpersonal meaning is realized through language by making the contrastive analysis of the speeches given by Hillary and Trump. After making a minute analysis, the paper comes to the following conclusions: (1) As for mood, Trump and Hillary mainly employ the declarative to deliver messages and make statements, and imperative is used to motivate the audiences and narrow the gap between the candidates and the audiences, and interrogative is to make the audiences concentrate on the content of the speeches. (2) With respect to the modality system, the median modal operator holds the dominant position in both Trump’s and Hillary’s speeches to make the speeches less aggressive. In this aspect, Trump does better than Hillary. (3) In regard to personal pronoun, the plural form of first personal pronoun is mainly employed by the two candidates to close the relationship with audiences. (4) Regards to tense system, simple present tense are mostly used to establish the intimacy of the audiences and the candidates. Then two influential factors are discussed. One is their personal background and the other is their language levels. This paper is helpful for people to deeply understand the two candidates’ language differences.


systemic functional grammar; interpersonal metafunction; presidential election speeches; mood system; modality system; personal pronoun system; tense system

Full Text:



Brydon, S. R. & Scott, M. D. (1997). Between One and Many—the Art and Science of Public Speaking (2ed edition). California: Mayfield Publishing Company.

Buhler, K. (1934). Theory of Language. Translated by Donald Fraser Goodwin. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Durey, J. (1998). Middlemarch: the role of the functional triad in the portrayal of hero and heroine. In Birch & Toole (Eds.), Functions of style. London and New York: Pinter, 231-241.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1973). Explorations in the Function of Language. London: Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An Introduction to Functional Grammar (2nd edition). London: Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M. A. K. & Matthiessen, M. I. M. (2004). An Introduction to Functional Grammar (3rd edition). London: Edward Arnold.

Hunston, S. (2000). Evaluation and the planes of discourse: Status and value in persuasive texts. In Susan Hunston & Geoff Thompson (Eds.), Evaluation in Texts: Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 176-206.

Klein, W. (1994). Time in Language. London & New York: Routledge.

Largerwerf, L. & Boeynaems, A. & Egmond-Brussee, C. V. & Burgers, C. (2015). Immediate Attention for Public Speech: Differential Effects of Rhetorical Schemes and Valence Framing in Political Radio Speeches. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 34, (3), 273-299.

Lyons, J. (1997). Linguistic Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Martin, J. R. (1992). English Text: System and Structure. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co..

Martin, J. R. (2000). Beyond exchange: Appraisal system in English. In Thompson, G. & Hunston, S. (Eds.), Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 142-175.

Rashid, B. N. & Jameel, A. F. (2017). A Linguistic Analysis of Halliday’s Systemic-Functional Theory in Political Texts. AL-USTATH, 220, (1), 1-24.

Thompson, G. (2000). Introducing Functional Grammar. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

Wood, J. (1998). Speaking Effectively. New York: Random House.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.