Figures of speech

Tons of homework! Tons of homework! Figures of speech are phrases that cannot be taken literally. In other words, they do not mean exactly what they say.

An example is “I have a mountain of homework” or “Our relationship is on the rocks”. Figures of speech paint a picture - i.e. a “figure” - that shows or suggests a stronger meaning than literal words could. (Consider: I really have a lot of homework. Our relationship isn’t going so well.)

Two types of figure of speech:

  • A metaphor is a comparison of an idea to an image, i.e. “She has a heart of gold”.
  • A simile is a comparison using the words “like” or “as”. Figures of speech are often used in literature, but they are common in everyday speech and can be found in all written genres from advertisements to textbook articles.