Revision Guide: What are Literary Devices?

Welcome to Part Two of our Revision Guides for IGCSE & GCSE English Language. What are Literary Devices? There are two types of Literary Devices: Literary Elements & Literary Techniques. Both kinds of Literary Devices are used by the writer to make their writing interesting, effective & memorable. Literary Elements include: plot, narrator, mood, theme, setting, structure, protagonist & antagonist. Literary Techniques include: simile, metaphor, alliteration, personification, pathetic fallacy, onomatopoeia & hyperbole.


Literary Techniques


1.Simile: A phrase where one object/person/place/is compared to a different object/person/place/. Smilies use the words "as" "like" or "as if". This makes them easy to find. E.g. Her eyes looked as if they were on fire.

Test Tip: Remember a Simile = something is similar to something else.


2.Metaphor: A phrase where one object/person/place/ turns into a different object/person/place. Metaphors do not use the words "as", "like" or "as if". E.g. Her eyes were on fire.

Test Tip: Remember a Metaphor changes one thing into a different thing. Remember the process of metamorphosis, which changes a caterpillar into a butterfly.


3.Alliteration: A sentence which has more than one word beginning with the same consonant. "Give me the silent splendid sun." (Walt Whitman) The repetition of the letter "s". Another example is the famous tongue twister: "She sells sea shells on the seashore".


4.Personification: When an inanimate object or nature is given human or animal qualities.


The sun smiles.

The wind whispers.

The flowers dance in the breeze.

The engine chokes & coughs.

The torch dies.

Test Tip: Remember the "person" in personification.


5.Pathetic Fallacy: When an inanimate object or nature is given a human emotion.


The lonely wind

The somber clouds.

The joyful sunshine

The angry sea


6. Onomatopoeia: Words which imitate, resemble or suggest the sound of the object/place/person they are describing.


The babbling stream.

The hissing pan.

The bleating lambs.


7. Hyperbole: Deliberately exaggerated statements, claims & descriptions.


This pie is the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten!

I haven't seen you for a million years!

The teacher gave us tons of homework!

This chocolate pudding is the best thing ever!


Follow up Activities:

Practice identifying these Literary techniques while reading a variety of fiction .

Read aloud with friends.

Have fun reading aloud with expression.

Experiment with a variety of reading voices for different characters.


Looking ahead to next time:

Part Three: How to analyze Literary Techniques.




Thank you for reading. We hope you have found our post helpful. See you again soon!

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to book a lesson with us.


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