Review of Figurative Language

Review of Figurative &
Descriptive Language
Figurative vs. Literal
To understand
figurative language
one has to understand the
difference between
figurative and literal
More on Literal
To be literal is to mean what
you say. For example:
If I tell you to sit down,
I mean it literally: “sit down,”
as in: “sit in your seat now,
My meaning is exactly what I
To be figurative is to not mean
what you say but imply
something else. For example:
If, I tell you: “let’s go chill!”
I’m not suggesting we get
into the freezer.
Figurative continued
“let’s go chill” …
…means let’s relax together
and do something fun.
It has nothing
to do with temperature.
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
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 out is 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 ice is 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
figure of speech that
compares two unlike things,
using the words like or as.
Example: The muscles on his
brawny arms are as strong as
iron bands.
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
Example: She was wide-eyed and
wondering while she waited for
Walter to waken.
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
The opposite of hyperbole is understatement. With
hyperbole, someone exaggerates to the extreme. With
understatement, someone plays down what he or she is
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
Think about situations in which you have heard an
understatement used. When do people use this device?
use of words that mimic
Example: The firecracker made a
loud ka-boom!
Additional Techniques of Figurative
There are additional forms of figurative language which we will also be
exploring next class
STYLE is the way the author uses words,
phrases, and sentences.
The author’s
1) personal word choice/vocabulary,
2) types of sentences,
3) point of view from which the text is told,
4) organization of the text.
These 4 components will reveal his/her style.
So, when analyzing an author’s style, we need to
 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 attitude that 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 inferred through 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,
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
Madam and the Rent Man by Langston
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!