Methods of expressive means you need to know

You have most probably already heard or read about the types of expressive means at the language lessons at school. If you are a student of humanitarian studies, you will study them more profoundly. Professional writers and literature analyst get the feeling of expressive and stylistic means on the intuitional level, however, it is good even for them to revise form time to time the whole list. There are different classifications with some minor differences. We would like to list here the most common ones which may feel like spice and salt in a dish if used correctly. Besides phonetic expressive means, like alliteration (repetition of consonant) and assonance (repetition of vowel) that are used primarily in poetry, here are the lexical ones:

1. Epithet and Simile

Both terms compare two notions, whereby simile almost always has the “like” word for comparing one thing to another (Shine like a diamond). Epithet would look like this: The earth is crying-sweet.

2. Metaphor

Metaphor is another device similar to epithet and simile, but it is not as pathetic as the epithet and unlike simile it does not contain the “like” word: The snow is a white blanket.

3. Metonymy

Metonymy is describing a part of something as a whole and vice versa. You often hear metonymy in news, when the journalists name the capital of the country referring to the official government of the whole state.

4. Irony

You usually use it to give an opposite meaning to the word you use. For example: “It was so smart of you to copy my homework without any changes and hand it in to the teacher”. Hear saying “smart” you actually mean silly or foolish.

5. Hyperbola

Hyperbola means exaggeration. We also use it every day in our conversations. For example “I am dying of hunger” does not mean you are starved to death, but just you are pretty hungry.

6. Litotes

Litotes may be described as opposite from hyperbola, whereby double negations are used. For example: This day was not one of the best in my life. This device may also have euphemistic meaning. If you want to say that someone is ugly, you may say “He is far not Mister Universe”.

7. Aphorism

These are full phrases either said by famous people or written in famous literature since ancient times, that we sometimes use in our everyday life as well. The example for it would be the famous Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage”.

8. Oxymoron

Oxymoron is a nice figure that unites opposite notions and brings together incomparable things: Walking dead, pretty cruel, disgustingly delicious.

Generally, stylistic devices and expressive means help us describe something in an originally way. It is curious that little children are often unable to distinguish stylistic means from literal meaning of the word. So if you say that their bed is as high as a mountain they might imagine that all the mountains of the world are of the size of their bed.

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