Fiction texts

Figurative language

Figurative language

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Figurative language

In a nutshell

Writers use figurative language mainly in descriptive, narrative texts. Figurative language is when words or phrases are used in a non-literal sense. This makes writing more interesting and varied, and it aims to paint a vivid picture in the mind of the reader. The different types of figurative language explored in this summary can be used to achieve different effects.


A simile describes something as being similar to something else. Similes compare things using the words like and as.


She came into the room like a whirlwind.

They were whispering as quiet as mice.


A metaphor describes something by saying it is something else; equating the two things. 


Tom is my best friend, he is my rock.

My niece is a ray of sunshine.


Personification is when an animal, object or idea is compared to humans or human behaviour. In other words, personification describes something as having human qualities, emotions or behaving like people might.


The flames danced elegantly in the fire pit.

The microwave beeped angrily and impatiently.


Imagery is about painting a vivid picture for the reader. Imagery isn't a type of figurative language itself, but it is often made up of figurative language. Imagery is highly descriptive language which often appeals to the five senses. 


The snow crunched under their boots and the wind whistled through the trees.

As she opened the door, the familiar smell of fresh coffee made her feel at home.


Hyperbole is exaggeration. Hyperbole describes something as being much better, worse or more extreme than it really is as a way of emphasising it. 


The car's headlights are brighter than the sun.

The kid reads books at the speed of light.


Alliteration is the repetition of the same letter or sound at the start of a number of words which follow each other, or are in close succession. Alliteration grabs the reader's attention, but it can also make phrases and lines more memorable.


Brian bought a bag of old brown bananas to bake bread.

Sarah saw the show but she didn't sing along with the songs.


Onomatopoeia is when words sound like the noise they are describing. Onomatopoeia brings descriptions to life and can create powerful imagery.


The car crashed into the barrier of the race track.

A swarm of bees were buzzing up above.

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