Figurative language can be found in poetry where the writing appeals to the senses. Figurative language can make you look at the world differently; it can heighten your senses. It compares two things in such a way that you find the comparison interesting or even a bit surprising.
One of the best ways to really understand the concept of figurative language is to see it in action such as with these examples:
There are seven categories of figurative language. They are:
You are using figurative language any time you compare two things. When writing goes beyond the actual meanings of words, then the reader gains new insights into the objects or subjects in the work.
Following is an explanation of each category, with the examples of figurative language following each one.
Imagery is a type of figurative language that appeals to the senses. The descriptions can be about living things or inanimate objects.
A good example is from Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud":
A host of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
He doesn’t say “many” or “a lot of” daffodils, he uses the word “host.” That means a huge number of daffodils. Later, he personifies the daffodils, and personification will be covered later on.
Another example is from “The Eagle” by Tennyson,
“He clasps the crag with crooked hands."
The hard consonant sounds add even more to the imagery here.
A simile compares two things using the words “like” and “as.” Examples include:
When you use a metaphor, you make a statement that doesn’t make sense literally, like “time is a thief.” It only makes sense when the similarities between the two things become apparent or someone understands the connection.
Alliteration is the easiest of the examples of figurative language to spot. It is a repetition of the first consonant sounds in several words. Some good examples are:
and tongue twisters like:
Personification gives human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, or ideas. This can really affect the way the reader imagines things. This is used in children’s books, poetry, and fictional literature. Examples include:
Onomatopoeia is the use of words that sound like their meaning, or mimic sounds. They add a level of fun and reality to writing. Here are some examples:
Hyperbole is an outrageous exaggeration that emphasizes a point, and can be ridiculous or funny. Hyperboles can be added to fiction to add color and depth to a character. Examples are:
Regardless of the category, figurative language helps you feel like you are having the same experience as the author.