Figurative Language is one of my favorite topics to teach.  Writing is an art form, and Figurative Language is like the paint that makes writing colorful.  A good writer uses Similes, Metaphors, Hyperboles, Personification, and Idioms to paint vivid pictures in the reader’s mind.


Comparisons  (Similes and Metaphors)

The difference between a Simile and a Metaphor is that a Simile uses the words “like” or “as” to compare two unlike objects.

That lawyer is a shark.  (Metaphor)
The tomatoes were red like rubies.  (Simile)

Click on the picture to play a game!metaphor

Exaggerations (Hyperboles)

Hyperboles provide the reader with an exaggeration for dramatic effect.  If a character says “I will die if nobody comes to my party!” , she is really saying that she will be very upset, but the dramatics of it expresses more than the word “upset” ever could.

Attribution of human traits (Personification)

We (humans) are all quite aware of our emotions and actions.  We understand when we are sleepy, hungry, or excited.  This is why, when writers give these qualities to objects, we can identify so well with the image it creates.  It enables the reader to relate to the object and imagine how a lifeless thing would have behaved, had it been human.

For example: The sun played hide and seek with the clouds.
                             The wind whispered softly in my ear.
                              Time never waits for anyone.

 – Idioms

An idiom is a phrase that has been around a long time.  Every language has their own particular idioms.  For example in Spanish, you have idioms such as:  “Sarten le dice a paila”, “Voy a trabajar a toda maquina”, “Amor a primera vista”, etc.  Native Spanish speakers know exactly what they mean…and what they mean, has nothing to do with the dictionary definitions of these words.  

 There are more that 3,000 idioms in the English language.  It would be quite a task to learn them all this year, but the more you get familiar with them, the better your understanding will get.  Check out the following website to start learning some English Idioms.

 Click here to play an Idioms game!

FL Click on the picture to watch a video about figurative language (sometimes called figures of speech).

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