Figurative Language Study Guide
In this lesson, you'll discover three special ways authors use words to add interest to their stories.
AS YOU KNOW, authors use words to help readers create images in their minds. Most words are literal—they mean what they say. But sometimes authors use more creative, or figurative, language, like idioms, personification, and hyperbole.
An idiom is a group of words that doesn't mean exactly what it says.
"That homework we had last night was a piece of cake!" Bill said.
Does Bill mean that the teacher handed out cake for the class to eat as homework? No, of course not. "A piece of cake" means the task was easy. Look for content clues to help you figure out the meanings of idioms.
Personification gives human qualities to animals or objects.
"I cannot see in this tall grass, Moon," cried the tiger. So Moon smiled down while Wind puffed her cheeks and blew the grass aside.
In this example, the tiger has the human ability to speak, the Moon can smile, and the Wind has human-like cheeks and a mouth. Readers relate to the actions because they share the qualities. Personification adds interest to some stories, especially fables and myths that teach lessons about life and human behavior.
Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration to make a point.
"This suitcase weighs a ton!" Ray grumbled. "No wonder my back hurts!"
Does the suitcase really weigh a ton? Not likely, since a ton is 2,000 pounds! But the author wants to make the point that the suitcase is really heavy. Don't you wonder what's in it? The author hopes you do!
Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:
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