A trope is simply a figure of speech. When using this literary device, you intend for the word or words to have a meaning that is different than the literal meaning. In other words, there is a shift from the literal meaning of a word or words to a non-literal meaning.
There are many different types of tropes depending on how the meaning is changed. Here is a list of commonly used tropes with a description and examples of each.
This trope uses exaggeration to get its point across. Examples include:
With irony, a word or words are taken in the opposite way from their literal meaning. Examples:
This trope understates to emphasize a point and is opposite to a hyperbole. Examples:
The metaphor compares two things that have very little in common but do share a trait or characteristic. It says something is something else to show what they have in common. Examples:
With the metonymy trope, a word or phrase is substituted for another that is closely associated to it. Examples:
The oxymoron literally means "sweet and sour" and uses words that contradict each other. Often, these are quite humorous. Examples:
This trope gives human attributes to things that are not human. Examples:
A pun repeats a word or phrase but means it in a different way. A good example is from Groucho Marx:
This is a question that you do not expect anyone to answer. Examples:
This trope compares two things that have some things in common. Examples:
This uses a part of something to represent the whole. Examples:
This trope uses one verb with two or more words and each time there is a different meaning. Examples:
Tropes and schemes are both figures of speech that add color and interest to language. These are devices that contribute to the style of the author and can help to get the point across. One way they do this is by appealing to the emotions of the recipient.
The main difference between a trope and a scheme is:
Often, a scheme will repeat a word or phrase several times for emphasis. A good example of scheme is the repetition of "I have a dream" in the famous speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. This type of scheme is an anaphora.
So, now you know what tropes are and have some examples, and you should be able to both recognize them and use them in your own writing.