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What is Figurative Language?

English Worksheets | 7-14 yrs | Interactive, Reading Pod, Learning Pod

“Help! Help! There is a frog in my throat!” You are bewildered to hear this and stare open mouthed. Relax, a frog is actually not residing in my throat, but I am using figurative language to express how badly my throat hurts.

Figurative Language Definition

Figurative language is a form of the English language, which writers use to express an idea or a thought, dramatically and drastically. Figurative language is a few words put together that when translated literally would make no sense.

When your friend says, “Stop bugging me,” your friend does not mean that you are a bug but means, stop pestering her. It’s raining cats and dogs does not imply that cats and dogs are falling out of the sky; but means it’s raining heavily.

Figurative language is fun to hear (ears), easy to say (mouth), eye catching and fascinating and memorable, thus using multiple senses. Figurative language lets your imagination run wild.

Types of Figurative Language and Their Examples

  • A SIMILE is used to compare two things with the words “as” and “like.”
    Ex: like a cat on a hot tin roof- you wonder is the cat jumping up and down furiously or is the poor cat stuck on the hot roof.
  • A METAPHOR pencils in a stronger visual image and makes an indirect comparison.
    Ex: you are what you eat- rudely it is being stated that if you eat only cheese burgers and French fries, you will become fat and not gain the proteins your body needs.
  • A PERSONIFICATION is when animals and non-living objects are expressed having human characteristics.
    Ex: The cow jumped over the moon- creates a fun image. Peas, mangoes, plums and peas are doing the tango- another creative and amusing image of inanimate objects dancing like people.
  • ALLITERATION is when sounds and letters are repeated to create a mesmerizing effect.
    Ex: Garry’s giraffe gobbled goose berries greedily, getting good at grabbing goodies. Gggg effects not only are funny to speak but enchanting to hear.
    Coca Cola- one of your favorite drinks but always easy to recall. See how your mouth repeatedly makes an O and then an Aa.
  • ONOMATOPOEIA is when a word is used to describe the sound created by an object.
    Ex: water plops into a pond or Chug, puff, ding dong, the train rumbles over the tracks.
  • HYPERBOLE is an overly dramatized exaggeration that immediately tells the readers it is a tall tale.
    Ex: It was so cold that polar bears were wearing jackets. We know polar bears love freezing temperatures and would never wear jackets. But you feel that it must be really cold.
  • I love you till Africa and China meet- can two countries poles apart actually travel and join?
    An IDIOM is a saying with an underlying meaning.
    Ex: When we say someone is all bark and no bite, it means the person just comments and performs no actual action.
  • CLICHES are figures of speech that have been repeated countless times and have seemed to lose their flavor and became stale.
    Ex: Cat got your tongue or a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Figurative language adds a splash of color to your otherwise boring writing. They make language pop out. When I say “there were a million people standing in line at MacDonald’s today,” you know it’s a fib; but still you laugh.

Figurative language is like adding bright colored fondant and rich sugary icing to a plain vanilla cake. Figurative language engages the reader and creates various emotions like laughter or a groan. They are used in ghost stories or comics or serious articles, poems, attractive advertisements on televisions and billboards, and in our every day speech.

For more interesting English Grammar worksheets and lessons, go to : http://mocomi.com/learn/english/