As students begin to read more sophisticated texts, understanding how authors use figurative language becomes critical. In this unit, students will revisit some of the figurative language they learned in fourth grade and also study some new ones too, including onomatopoeia, hyperbole, puns and oxymorons. Analyzing how figurative language is used in texts will help readers apply what they have learned.
Figurative language is the more colorful partner of literal language. It uses words or expressions that may not be the actual, or literal, meaning, but conveys a more in-depth or heightened understanding of what the writer is trying to say. Figurative language can be found in different types of writing such as prose and nonfiction, but it is most common in poetry. Figurative language comes naturally to very young children, though they may not necessarily know the formal types. With our resources, help them hone their understanding and mastery of figurative language.
Figurative Language 101
Where literal language is “just the facts,” figurative language is just the facts plus some extra. It adds vibrancy to language in a number of ways by not necessarily sticking to precise definitions. Here are the most common types of figurative language that young students will enjoy learning:
A simile compares two different things in an interesting way. It uses the words “like” or “as” to achieve more depth in the language.
Examples: My bedroom is as clean as a whistle. She entered the room like an angry storm.
A metaphor is like a simile in that it compares two things, but metaphors do not use the “like” or “as.” It simply states that one thing is something else.
Examples: My sister is an angel. My love for my children is a vast ocean.
Personification is a kind of metaphor in which human qualities are assigned to things that aren’t human or even alive, like nature or emotions.
Example: The stars winked at us from the sky.
Hyperbole is a fun one to learn because it lets you exaggerate language for emphasis or effect.
Example: I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!
Symbolism is using symbols to give significance to objects, events, or relationships. Symbolism can also take the form of a metaphor.
Example: Life is a roller-coaster, so hang on for the ride.
Onomatopoeia is a word conveyed as a sound effect. It’s one of the most fun uses of figurative language for young readers, as it makes words come alive on the page.
Example: The water splish-splashed down the slide.
There are many more types of figurative language that add vibrancy to language. Students will enjoy learning all about them and become more imaginative writers in the process.