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Reading comprehension

Figurative language: metaphors and similes

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Figurative language: metaphors and similes

In a nutshell

Figurative language refers to the use of non-literal language such as metaphors, similes and hyperbole. In this summary, you will discover how to use and identify figurative language.

Figurative language

Figurative language is a way of expression that does not use words or phrases in a realistic manner, but rather in a non-literal sense. Figurative language is very useful in narrative writing, scripts and poetry.


Metaphors are words or sentences that describe or explain something as if it were something else. Metaphors do not use words such as 'like' or 'as'.


Pam is such an angel!

Pam is not a spiritual being, but she has qualities that resemble an angel such as innocence and kindness, so the metaphor is used to describe those qualities in her.


Similes are used to describe things by using comparison, as a result, similes use words such as 'like' or 'as'.


This soup is as hot as lava!

The soup does not actually have the same temperature as lava, but the comparison is used to describe how hot the soup is.


Hyperbole is a form of exaggerated language used to emphasise or highlight a particular point. Like all forms of figurative language, hyperboles are not meant to be taken literally. 


I have cleaned this spot a million times and it is still there!

The speaker has not literally cleaned the spot a million times, so hyperbole is used to emphasise that he/she feels as if they have cleaned the spot many times.


Personification is the attribution of human characteristics or feelings given to a non-human form such as animals or objects.


I had never seen such a lightning storm. The sky must be really angry.

In this example, personification is used to describe a natural event. The sky does not have actual feelings, however the adjective 'angry' is used to depict how strong the storm is.

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