Figurative language

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FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE
Figurative Language
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Figurative language is any language that is not
used in a literal (meaning exactly what is says) way.
It’s a way of saying one thing and meaning another.
Figurative language helps create a picture for the
reader.
Overused Figurative Language
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Figurative language is useful, but it can be
overdone.
When a figure of speech is used over and over
again, it loses its freshness and originality and
becomes a cliché.
A cliché is a stale and overused expression.
Example Clichés
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Pretty as a picture
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Quiet as a mouse
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Laughter is the best medicine
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Every cloud has a silver lining.
Avoiding Clichés
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You want to avoid clichés as they no longer capture
the reader’s attention.
Instead, you want to create new figures of speech
that will interest your reader.
Types of Figurative Language
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Simile
Metaphor
Personification
Hyperbole
Symbols
Irony
Imagery
Paradox
Oxymoron
Simile vs. Metaphor
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Metaphors and similes are used to compare things
that are usually not seen as similar.
Metaphors imply the comparison, while similes state
the comparison directly.
Metaphors
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That test was a bear!
The comparison here is implied – you are
identifying the test with a bear.
You are not literally saying the test was a bear, but
rather that the test was unpredictable and hard to
deal with.
Similes
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That test was like struggling with a bear!
The comparison is explicit – you have directly stated
the comparison.
Similes have signal words that help you recognize
them – like, as, than, similar to.
Literal terms vs. Figurative Terms
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Metaphors and similes have literal terms and
figurative terms.
The literal terms is what we are comparing to
something else.
The figurative term is what is being compared to
the literal term.
Literal terms vs. Figurative terms
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That test was a bear!
 Literal
term = test
 Figurative
term = bear
Personification
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Personification is a special kind of metaphor that
gives human qualities to something that is not
human, such as an animal, object or an idea.
Ex. The tree sighed sadly in the cold.
 The
tree can’t really sight or be sad.
 Literal term = tree
 Figurative term = a person (the tree is not really a
person who can sight and be sad)
Figurative Language # 1
I was seven, I lay in the car
Watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past
the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.
--Naomi Shihab Nye, “Making a Fist”
1. What is the metaphor in this poem? What is the
literal term? What is the figurative term? What does
the metaphor mean?
Figurative Language # 1
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How would the meaning and impact of these lines
change if Nye said simply, My stomach really hurt?
Now you try it
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Rewrite the figurative term in Nye’s metaphor. Try
to express feelings of anxiety and pain – both
physical and emotional – with your metaphor.
My stomach was __________________________.
Figurative Language # 2
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The Tangerine Times printed a special pullout
section on the Lake Windsor Middle School sinkhole.
The photos were spectacular. They had one huge
shot of the splintered walkways sticking up in all
directions, like Godzilla had just trampled through
there.
 Edward
Bloor, Tangerine
Figurative Language # 2
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1. Is the phrase the splintered walkways sticking up in
all directions literal or figurative? Explain.
2. …like Godzilla had just trampled there is a simile.
Why is it a simile and not a metaphor? What are
the literal and figurative terms?
Now you try it
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Write one sentence which describes a park. First
describe it literally (how the park really is), then
support your description with a simile. Use this
pattern for your sentence.
The park ________________________________
_____________________ , like ______________
_________________________________________.
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Figurative Language # 3
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Frantic, Cole struggled to fly, but he could escape
the nest. All he could do was open his beak wide
and raise it upward toward the sky, the action a
simple admission that he was powerless. There
were no conditions, no vices, no lies, no deceit, no
manipulation. Only submission and a simple desire
to live. He wanted to live, but for that he needed
help; otherwise his life would end in the nest.
 Ben
Mikaelsen, Touching Spirit Bear
Figurative Language # 3
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This paragraph contains an extended metaphor, a
metaphor that continues over several sentences and
is developed in several ways. The literal term of
this metaphor is Cole, the name of the boy who
struggles to survive. What is the figurative term?
How do you know? What evidence can you find in
the paragraph that supports your understanding?
Figurative Language # 3
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The figurative term in this metaphor is never directly
stated. How would the impact of the paragraph
change if Mikaelson had written it like this?
Frantic, Cole was like a little bird struggling to fly, but he
couldn’t do it. Like a baby bird, he was powerless. There
were no conditions, no vices, no lies, no deceit, no
manipulation. Only submission and a simple desire to
live. He wanted to live, but for that he needed help;
otherwise his life would end.
Now you try it
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Write an extended, implied metaphor like
Mikaelsen’s. Picture a man eating with very poor
manners at a party. Your literal term should be the
man’s name (make up a name). Your figurative
terms is shark. However, don’t state that your
person eats like a shark. Instead, compare the man
to a shark by giving him the actions of a shark,
implying that he eats like shark. Write at least two
sentences to extend the metaphor.

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