Figurative language can be found in literature and poetry where the writing appeals to the senses. It can do this by giving a word or phrase a specific meaning that may be different than the literal definition. Sometimes figurative language compares two things in such a way that you find the comparison interesting and descriptive.
You are using figurative language when your writing goes beyond the actual meanings of words so that the reader gains new insights into the objects or subjects in the work.
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 many types of figurative language. Some include the use of a specific type of word or word meaning such as:
Some sound devices are also viewed as figurative language because they give a new perspective on the word such as:
Following is an explanation of each type of figurative language (including the sound devices), each with an example:
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 between the two words.
A simile compares two things like a metaphor; but, a simile uses the words “like” and “as.” Examples include:
Personification gives human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, or ideas. This can really affect the way the reader imagines things. This type of figurative language is often used in children’s books, poetry, and fictional literature. Examples include:
A 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:
Symbolism occurs when a word has meaning in itself, but is used to represent something entirely different.
Common examples in everyday life are:
Examples in literature include:
Alliteration is a sound device. It is the repetition of the first consonant sounds in several words. Some good examples are:
and tongue twisters like:
Onomatopoeia is also a sound device. It uses words that sound like their meaning, or mimic sounds. They add a level of fun and reality to writing. Here are some examples:
Regardless of the type of word used, figurative language can make you look at the world differently; it can heighten your senses, add expression and emphasis very simply, and help you feel like you are having the same experience as the author.
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