Literal Versus Figurative Language

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Figurative Language versus Literal Language
Sharon D. Dove
Strayer University
October 29, 2012

Author Note

We use language to communicate with each other regardless of where we live in this world. We can either speak or write literally or figuratively. In literal language we say or write exactly what we mean while in figurative language our meaning is less obvious. In the following pages we will look at some of the figurative language adopted by the English language. For each term I will give the definition, followed by an example. I will then describe an appropriate circumstance for using the example and when it might lead to misunderstanding. Idiom: The language peculiar to a people or to a district, community, or class. Don’t give up your day job. This idiom is commonly used to describe someone who believes they are very good at something and could make a living doing just that when in fact in the eyes of others they are really actually no good. Analogy: The inference that if two or more things agree with one another in some respects. They will probably agree in others. During election times we can hear candidates saying things like, Bill Clinton, Rhode Scholar is to genius as Mitt Romney is to ignorance. Metaphor: A figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something important in common. The weather was so heavy on Saturday, it was raining cats and dogs, is an example of a metaphor. We use this metaphor to explain that it was raining heavily. We do not mean that cats and dogs were falling out of the sky. Simile: A simile is a figure of speech where two unlike things are compared, generally by using the word like or as. "Good coffee is like friendship: rich and warm and strong." (slogan of Pan-American Coffee Bureau). Good coffee is like the friend who is always there to comfort you and make you feel good in spite of all that’s happening around you. You may not want...
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