Here the story ends with the meaning of the text

Write interpretation

What is an interpretation?

An interpretation is the investigation (formal text analysis) and interpretation of a text in the form of an essay. The possible intentions of the author as well as biographical and historical backgrounds are included. In addition to the actual content, linguistic means and the effect they create on the reader are important parts of the interpretation.

With the help of the interpretation of a reading, a deeper understanding of the text can be gained. They are therefore an integral part of German lessons and usually offer a lot of material for discussion.

How do you write an interpretation?

In order for the interpretation to succeed, we have here the main steps in writing interpretations listed. The instructions can be used for almost all types of text such as short stories, novels, dramas, etc.

1. Thorough reading

Before interpreting, it is very important that the Read text carefully and to know the content. You should always keep the task in mind. Otherwise linguistic subtleties, contextual connections or allusions to certain topics or events could easily be overlooked. A good knowledge of the text is the best prerequisite for avoiding possible misinterpretations.

At best, the text should be read more than once. This is the only way to show abnormalities in the text that you may not have consciously noticed when reading it for the first time. Clarify words that you don't yet know, as these can be important for understanding the text.

2. Notes and markings

It is helpful to note down interesting statements and stylistic devices while reading. Depending on the scope of the text, there are Underlining, Notes next to the text or Bullet points on a separate piece of paper. If you write down quotations and important passages in the text, you can easily substantiate your own interpretations and explanations of the text later. Every assertion (hypothesis) must be justified in an interpretation with the appropriate text passages or quotations from the text.

3. Logical structure

A good interpretation is logical, understandable and comprehensible in structure and answers the questions from the task.

Building an interpretation

Interpretations are always written in the form of a running text (essay) and have a classic structure introduction, Bulk and Enough on.


In the introduction, the title, the author of the work that Publishing year and the Text type called. A short summary of the text or the text passage to be interpreted and a small text passage on the main character. Make sure that you really only explain the table of contents briefly in one or two sentences and write it in the present tense. The detailed table of contents is part of the main part of the interpretation.

  • Correct title of the work
  • Full name of the author
  • Text genre (short story, drama, novel, etc.) or text type (letter, speech, etc.)
  • Place and time of the action
  • Short summary
  • If it is a text excerpt from a larger work, it should be placed in the context.
  • What happened before
  • What happens after the corresponding text passage?


The Bulk an interpretation consists of several sections. Now the text analysis and the actual interpretation (interpretation of the content) takes place.

  • Synopsis: First, the content of the text is shortened and presented in the correct order. You should only show the most important things, that is, the course of history, the most important people and events.
  • Hypothesis: Briefly describe how you understand the text and point out that you want to substantiate your assertion in the following with appropriate text passages.
  • Interpretation: The text is examined. You have to pay attention to content, form, biographical and historical peculiarities. It is important to note selected passages in the text with quotations that prove your own interpretation (assertion). The line and page of the relevant text passage must also be specified. In the interpretation one should try to read “between the lines”, that is, to think about what the author wanted to express. Historical backgrounds or the author's biography can be included in the analysis.

Content-related and formal features:

  • What is the text about?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • Where and when does the action take place?
  • What do we know about the main characters?
    • e.g. age, appearance, situation, character etc.
  • What is the relationship between the people like?
    • e.g. love, enmity, desire etc.
  • How does the main character develop or change in the course of the text?
  • How does the text begin and end?
    • e.g. sudden start, open end etc.
  • How is the text structured or structured?
    • Appearance of new characters
    • Change of location
    • Change of narrative perspective
    • Flashback / preview

Narrative perspective:

  • Which narrative perspective is used?
    • First-person narrator
    • Personal narrator (narrator reports from the perspective of one or more people)
    • authorial narrator (omniscient narrator)

Language and stylistic devices:

  • What language is used?
    • Colloquial language or everyday language
    • Old or modern language
  • Are linguistic stylistic devices or rhetorical questions used?
  • Does the author use paratax (simple main clauses) or hypotax (complicated, nested clauses with subordinate clauses)?
  • Is there a lot of verbatim speech in the text?

Time and epoch classification:

  • At what time was the text written?
  • Are there true historical elements or is the text unrelated to reality?
  • When does the action of the text take place?
  • How can the work be classified historically and socially?
    • new scientific discoveries
    • Wars and tyranny
    • State foundations

Interpretation of the text:

  • Are there any references to the personal life of the author (author biography)?
    • Escape experience
    • birth of a child
    • Loss of a friend
  • What should one feel when reading?
    • deep compassion
    • Serenity
    • shame
    • fear
  • Does the topic sound familiar to me?
    • similar works by other authors
  • Is it a modern or historical text?
  • What does the author say about modern man?
    • E.g. life in the big city
  • What did the author want to say / express with his text?
  • Is the text or the topic still valid today?

IMPORTANT: Always substantiate the answers and your own interpretations with quotations or text passages.


In the final part there is a Conclusion drawn. You briefly summarize the results of the interpretation and give your own assessment of the text. It is important that the own opinion factually reproduced.

  • Was the claim (hypothesis) confirmed in the course of the interpretation?
  • Can the subject of the text be transferred to our time or society today?
  • What is your personal opinion on the text?
  • Does the text leave any questions unanswered?

5 important tips for a good interpretation

  1. Pay attention to the topic and the question
  2. Read the text carefully, pay attention to the author's special linguistic means and use key words
  3. Always substantiate your own statements / assertions with quotations
  4. Writing continuous text (introduction, main part with content analysis and interpretation and conclusion with conclusion)
  5. When writing the interpretation, pay attention to the tense and stick to one tense
Page published on 02/14/2020. Last update on September 3rd, 2020.
Instructions written by Romana Jesse. ©