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Review of Figurative & Descriptive Language. Figurative vs. Literal. To understand . figurative language. one has to understand the difference between . and literal. figurative. More on Literal. To be literal is to mean what you say. For example:. My meaning is exactly what I say.

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figurative vs literal
Figurative vs. Literal

To understand

figurative language

one has to understand the difference between

and literal


more on literal
More on Literal

To be literal is to mean what you say.

For example:

My meaning is exactly what I say.

If I tell you to sit down,

I mean it literally: “sit down,” as in: “sit in your seat now, please.”

2 nd figurative
2nd Figurative

To be figurative is to not mean what you say but imply something else.

I’m not suggesting we get into the freezer.

For example:

If, I tell you: “let’s go chill!”

figurative continued
Figurative continued

“let’s go chill” …

It has nothing

to do with temperature.

…means let’s relax together and do something fun.

why figurative language
Why Figurative Language?

Also known as descriptive language, or poetic language, figurative language helps the writer paint a picture in the reader’s mind.

types of figurative language
Types of Figurative Language
  • Idiom
  • Simile
  • Hyperbole
  • Alliteration
  • Metaphor
  • Personification
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Oxymoron


  • An idiom or idiomatic expression refers to a construction or expression in one language that cannot be matched or directly translated word-for-word in another language.
  • We use idioms everyday in the English language and do not usually realize it but we are able to determine the meaning based on its usage and context.


  • To stick your neck outis to say or do something that is bold and a bit dangerous. A similar idiom that is used for slightly more dangerous situations is to "go out on a limb." In both idioms, the idea is that you put yourself in a vulnerable position.
  • To break the iceis to be the first one to say or do something, with the expectation that others will then follow. Another idiom that means something similar is "get the ball rolling."

Literal language says exactly what it means. Idioms, on the other hand, have meanings that rely on imagery and symbolism.

For example, “let the cat out of the bag” figuratively means someone has accidentally revealed a secret or surprise. If you interpret the idiom literally, you would assume that someone has let a real cat out of a bag.

Drawing “literal idioms” can be a fun way to explore how confusing the world of idioms can be to someone who is not familiar with the native language. Grab your art supplies and create a masterpiece that shows the literal meaning of one of your favorite idioms.

Feel free to pick an idiom from the list below for more inspiration.

Chip off the old block

A piece of cake

Add fuel to the fire

Put all your eggs in one basket

Open up a can of worms

Cold feet

Face the music

Barking up the wrong tree

Cry over spilled milk

Throw in the towel

You are what you eat

  • A figure of speech that compares two unlike things, using the words like or as.

Example: The muscles on his brawny arms are asstrong as iron bands.

  • A figure of speech that compares two unlike things without using like or as. You simply state one thing is another thing.

Example: The road was a ribbon wrapped through the dessert.

  • Repeated consonant sounds occurring at the beginning of words or within words.

Example: She was wide-eyed and wondering while she waited for Walter to waken.

  • A figure of speech which gives the qualities of a human to non-human things (an animal, an object, or an idea).

Example: “The wind yells while blowing."

The wind cannot yell. Only a living thing can yell.

  • Also known as an overstatement, is an exaggerated statement used to impress or stress something. It is not used to mislead the reader, but to emphasize a point.

Example: She’s said so on several million occasions.

figurative language hyperbole
Figurative Language- Hyperbole

The opposite of hyperbole is understatement. With hyperbole, someone exaggerates to the extreme. With understatement, someone plays down what he or she is describing.

For example, imagine that Tyler turns red, throws his books into his locker, and slams the door so hard that the whole line of lockers rattles. An observer comments, “Tyler is upset.” That person is using understatement.

Think about situations in which you have heard an understatement used. When do people use this device? Why?

  • The use of words that mimic sounds.

Example: The firecracker made a loud ka-boom!

additional techniques of figurative language
Additional Techniques of Figurative Language

There are additional forms of figurative language which we will also be exploring next class

  • Allusion
  • Symbolism
  • Allegory
  • Pun

STYLE is the way the author uses words, phrases, and sentences.

The author’s

  • personal word choice/vocabulary,
  • types of sentences,
  • point of view from which the text is told,
  • organization of the text.

These 4 components will reveal his/her style.


So, when analyzing an author’s style, we need to consider:

  • point-of-view,
  • formal or informal writing,
  • organization/structure of text,
  • level of complexity in the writing, and
  • overall tone.

By using these features in writing, different meanings of the content (what the story/text is about) are shown to the audience.

  • Tone is the attitudethat an author takes toward the audience, the subject, or the character. Tone is conveyed through the author's words and details. Use context clues to help determine the tone.
  • Tone must be inferredthrough the use of descriptive words.

The possible tones are as boundless as the number of possible emotions a human being can have. Has anyone ever said to you, "Don't use that tone of voice with me?" Your tone can change the meaning of what you say. Tone can turn a statement like, " You're a big help!" into a genuine compliment or a cruel sarcastic remark. It depends on the context of the story.

Some adjectives to describe TONE:

Formal, informal, serious, humorous, amused, angry, playful, neutral, satirical, gloomy, conciliatory, sad, resigned, cheerful, ironic, clear, detailed, imploring, suspicious, witty…

  • Mood(sometimes called atmosphere) refers to the overall feeling of the work
    • Some literature makes you feel sad, others joyful, still others, angry. The main purpose for some poems is to set a mood. Writers use many devices to create mood, including images, dialogue, setting, and plot. Often a writer creates a mood at the beginning of the story and continues it to the end. However, sometimes the mood changes because of the plot or changes in characters.

Some adjectives to describe MOOD:

Fictional, imaginary, fanciful, idealistic, romantic, realistic, optimistic, pessimistic, gloomy, mournful, sorrowful…


Read the Langston Hughes poem and respond with the following:• 1 paragraph explaining the TONE with evidence; 1 paragraph explaining the MOOD with evidence

Madam and the Rent Man by Langston Hughes

The rent man


He said, Howdy-do?

I said, What

Can I do for you?

He said, You know

Your rent is due.

I said, Listen

Before I’d pay

I’d go to Hades

And rot away!

The sink is broke,

The water don’t run,

And you ain’t done a thing

You promised to’ve done.

Back window’s cracked,

Kitchen floor squeaks,

There’s rats in the cellar,

And the attic leaks.

He said, Madam,

It’s not up to me.

I’m just the agent,

Don’t you see?

I said, Naturally,

You pass the buck.

If it’s money you want

You’re out of luck.

He said, Madam,

I ain’t pleased!

I said, Neither am I.

So we agrees!