Know Your Figures of Speech

Guilt-Free English


Figurative language is another problem area for beginning learners of English. The English language is replete with figures of speech in written language, and you will also hear it it in spoken language from time to time.

A figure of speech is a phrase or an expression that expresses an idea by using words in a non-literal and imaginative way in order to persuade or explain an idea. In contrast, literal statements uses words exactly according to their conventionally accepted meanings.

Some non-native beginning learners of English confuse the figurative from the literal. For example, I once told a story to my student about my friend who asked for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage. My student then asked why my friend was only asking for the hand and not the whole girlfriend. I explained that the hand is a mere representation of the girlfriend as a whole.

Although there are over…

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