Add Color to Your Language

Have you or your child wanted to be more descriptive?  Did you want to be more creative? Then you using figurative language is a must.  To learn how, watch on. 


Hello Xin Chao, this is Tony and today we are going to discuss one of the biggest challenges for Vietnamese students when writing in English.  How to add color!

Have you or your child wanted to be more descriptive?  Did you want to be more creative? Then you using figurative language is a must.  To learn how, watch on. Here we go!


Wait a minute, is love really an “open door”? Definitely not, Anna and Hans are just trying to explain love perfectly. When you have feelings for someone, you can walk through the “open door” together to a new adventure.

In other words, they are using “metaphor”, which is a part of figurative language.

So, what is figurative language?

Whenever you use words or expressions to convey a meaning that’s different from the literal interpretation, you are using figurative language.

Figurative language typically exaggerates what is literal in order to convey a point, which helps connect with people, especially through writing.

For example:
“The moon is so bright.”
“The moon is as bright as a spotlight.”

Which one is more descriptive and engaging?
Figurative language brings voice, tone and emotion to your language. It makes your language more colorful.

There are several different kinds of figurative language, such as alliteration, metaphor, personification, imagery, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, idiom, simile, and so on. In this video, we will be looking at the five main types of figurative language: Simile, Metaphor, Hyperbole, Personification, and Idiom.

First, let’s meet the Simile.

A simile compares two items using the words “as” and “like.”
For example: “I feel as light as a feather.”

This is a figurative statement because an elephant can’t weigh exactly the same as a feather. As light as a feather just means you feel happy and stress-free. In this situation, yeah, maybe a heavy feather!

Let’s try another one. What do you think the following simile means? ”My teenage brother is like a bear when he gets up in the morning.” Is the teenage brother furry like a bear? The simile means that he’s especially grouchy, like this!

So again, how do you know if one statement is a simile or not? Find “like”, or “as”.

Metaphor, on the other hand, is similar to Simile, but without “like” or “as”.
A metaphor compares something to something else by stating that it IS that thing.

For example:
My little girl is an angel, which actually means my little girl is very nice and sweet.

Let’s check one more example: “I am titanium”
Of course, David Guetta did not mean that he is made out of titanium, he is suggesting “I am very strong”.

A metaphor is very expressive; it is not meant to be taken literally. You may have to work a little to find the meaning in a metaphor.

How about Hyperbole?
You probably heard this many times: “It’s a million-degree outside.” This is a good illustration of Hyperbole.

Hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration of facts to stress the significance of a point. Hyperbole helps us paint a more vivid picture for our audience, in order to evoke strong feelings, to create an impression, and convey emphasis.

Like me always say this to my mom: “I’m so hungry that I could eat a horse.”

Personification is when you give human traits to non-human things.

Example: “The leaves are dancing in the wind.” Personification makes things come alive. By bringing non-human objects to life, it makes it a lot easier for us to carry out our message. Can you think of any examples of personification? Does chocolate cake ever ‘tempt’ you to take a bite? Does your dog talk to you?

Last but not least, Idiom
An IDIOM is a common phrase with an underlying meaning, and again, cannot be taken literally.

For example, stating that “it’s raining cats and dogs” does not mean that there are literally cats and dogs falling from the sky.  Instead, it means that it is raining heavily.

There are many common phrase in the English language, such as “a piece of cake” – to tell us something easily achieved. Or “over the moon” – to express extreme happiness about something

Incorporating idioms into your writing is an effective way to make your work more creative. For example, “once in a blue moon” is a more dynamic way to say something happens very rarely. Or are you trying to convey that you agree with someone? Perhaps you could say that you “see eye to eye.”

Figurative language helps us express our ideas in vivid and creative ways. So when you speak, read, or write, try to recognize and use different types of figurative language to engage the imagination, emotion and feeling of your audience.

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For those in Vietnam, come to see these figurative language skills in action. Sign up for our English Language Arts classes at your nearest Everest Education learning center.  Or find out more about us on the website.


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