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Grammar and Punctuation: Figures of Speech

Figures of Speech 

A figure of speech is a rhetorical device that achieves a special effect by using words in distinctive ways. There are hundreds of figures of speech!

Figurative language is often associated with literature - and with poetry in particular. But the fact is, whether we're conscious of it or not, we use figures of speech every day in our own writing and conversations.

For example; common expressions such as "falling in love," "racking our brains," "hitting a sales target," and "climbing the ladder of success" are all metaphors.

Likewise, we rely on similes when making explicit comparisons ("light as a feather") and hyperbole to emphasize a point by exaggerating ('I'm starving!")

When discussing poetry or literature, it is important to be able to use vocabulary related to literary techniques and devices like figures of speech. Once individuals understand a common vocabulary, it makes it possible to discuss the literary works in more specific detail. 


This guide was created/compiled by Amanda Wills and last updated by Claire Pienaar in 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY NC SA 4.0 International License.