High School

Figurative Language

The use of figurative language, which is language enriched by word images and figures of speech such as similes, metaphors, and personification, is an excellent way for writers to “paint.”

A simile is a figure of speech in which two unlike things are compared with the use of the words like or as.
An example of a simile would be: The clouds are as fluffy as a new pillow (notice the use of the word “as” to compare the fluffiness of the clouds to a new pillow. The reader can picture the images and have more of an understanding of the way the cloud looks)
An example of a simile using the word “like” would be: The clouds are like a row of sleeping bags at a slumber party (notice the use of the word “like” to compare the clouds to a line of puffy sleeping bags)

A metaphor serves the same purpose as the simile, but does NOT use the words like or as.
An example of a metaphor would be: He is a lion on the battlefield (notice that the man is being compared to a lion to create the image of a brave fighter on the battlefield. The words “like” and “as” are not used)

Personification is a figure of speech in which inanimate objects are given human qualities or are represented in a human form.
An example of the use of personification would be: The wind blew me a kiss. (notice that the wind does not possess the human quality of being able to blow a kiss, but by giving the wind those abilities, the image of the breeze comes to life.

To teach my students about the artistry of writing, I gave them an assignment that involved sitting on the bluff overlooking the ocean. They took notes on the ocean, the sky, the weather, the sounds…and then cut out their notes and put them into separate piles by categories. They worked on taking an average sentence and painting more of a picture with the use of similes, metaphors, and personification.

Download PDF Examples: no. 1 | no. 2

Although you may think that there is too much use of figurative language in the pieces, remember that this was specifically an exercise in creating similes, metaphors, and personification.