Figurative Language

Literal language means something we understand exactly how it’s written. Something that is literal means what it says and nothing more.

Figurative language means more than what it says on the surface. Something that is figurative usually doesn’t only mean what says; it usually means a lot more. Sometimes, it doesn’t even make sense literally. “My love is a rose” is something we can’t take literally; we can only understand it figuratively.

There are three major forms of figurative language we study in eighth grade: metaphors, similes, and personification.

  • Metaphors compare two unlike things by directly calling one thing the other.
    My love is a rose.
  • Similes compare two unlike objects using “like” or “as.”
    My love is like a red, red rose. (Robert Burns)
    My love is as fragile as a rose.
    My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun. (Shakespeare)
  • Personification gives human traits to non-human things.
    The trees dance in the wind.

In class, we use a figurative language graphic organizer while looking at examples of figurative language.

English I Honors

English I Honors looks at the following:

  • Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration for effect.
  • Idioms are phrases that have a non-literal, culturally-based meaning.

Finally, we delve a little deeper into the metaphor, looking at the tenor and the vehicle.

  • The tenor is the original object described.
  • The vehicle is the thing with which the tenor is being compared.

In “My love’s eyes are stars in the heavens,” the tenor is “eyes” and the vehicle is “stars.”

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