What Would We Do Without Grammar

No one is crazy about grammar, except me. It’s a good thing because I teach grammar. It is the basis for all good writing. So between writing and teaching, I’ve learned to love those pesky words called hyperboles, similes, metaphors, and personification. Oh no, not those things again! Yes, those things again. They are the work horses of figurative speech.

That’s just great, but what is figurative speech? Figurative speech is what makes our speaking and writing colourful. It creates clear and vivid images for the reader and the listener.

You will often hear me say, after a day riding horses, “I could eat the backside of an elephant!” Since there are no elephants in the meat department at our local grocery store, and an elephant’s backside is quite large, you have to realize that I am exaggerating to make a point of how hungry I am. This is called a hyperbole. If I just said, “I’m hungry”, you’d be bored out of your gourd. Stating the exaggerated version lets you know just how hungry I really am. It also creates a bit of humour in an otherwise humdrum sentence. As a matter of fact, hyperboles are often used in humour to exaggerate a point.

Riding horses this time of year makes my hands cold as ice. If my hands were really as cold as ice, the medical examiner would be zipping me up in a body bag. Using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ makes the statement a simile, comparing the temperature of my hands to ice.

Metaphors are used comparatively, as well as similes, except that metaphors do not use the words like or as in a sentence. When I rode my horses outside last week, we rode on the wings of the wind. In other words we were going pretty fast. “Wings of the wind” is much more poetic and creates a lovelier image than the words, “going pretty fast”. You can change this metaphor into a simile by saying, “we rode like the wind”. Using the word like makes the sentence a simile.

While going pretty fast we decided to jump some timbers. When we got back to the barn my horse turned around and looked up at me in the saddle as if to say, “Wouldn’t it have easier to walk around the timbers?” This is called personification; when we give something, such as an animal, human characteristics. I always give my horses human characteristics. I need to get real. What my horse was really looking for was a treat!

Keep your prose colourful by interspersing hyperboles, similes, metaphors, and personification into your writing. It makes your prose much more colourful to your readers, allowing them to hear the real you, as you create visual images with words.

About the author: Pamela Beers is a freelance writer, and educator. Visit her website at http://www.FreelanceWritingEtc.com Pam can help you save time and money marketing your business.