Think you’re barking up the wrong tree? Three easy steps to mastering language analysis.


The figurative language assessment can be daunting and I often have students bemoaning their fate in pursuit of other obstacles, like algebra. But Alas! English too has a code that can be deciphered and a method is in sight for those wishing to coming to grips with interpreting language.   Very similar to the approach for sourcing and inferring, language analysis, once again uses a three step process.

Remember the following when souring figurative language

  • To look for objects/people which are explained in terms of something else
  • That appear strange.
  • That cannot literally exist in terms of the comparison

Three steps to creating a motivated argument.


  1. 1.       Quote your piece of figurative language
  1. 2.       Explain what is being compared/what it means
  1. 3.       Extend this to relate what the effect is/how it changes the meaning ( Turning it from literal language to descriptive/figurative language – relate the connotative and denotative meanings.)


They say she is climbing a ladder to the stars…


Example response expanded in the three steps to develop fully expressed ideas

E1 The Valley

  • The writer makes use of the description “Bowl-Shaped Valley.”
  • The writer compares the Valley to a bowl in order to suggest its shape and help the reader to imagine its roundness.
  • This is effective as it describes the Valley which we cannot see in terms of something we can imagine. It could also suggest that it is secluded or hidden and cannot be seen from the outside, like the inside of a bowl.

E2 The Valley

  • The writer suggest that the “sheep drift” across the valley.
  • Sheep are not normally associated with the word ‘drifting’ it is more commonly associated to the movement of water, or objects moving limp at the sea edge.
  • The use of the word is effective because suggests the slow and tranquil movement of the animals in their natural surroundings.

E1 Duidui

  • The writer describes her eyes as “dark eyes sharp and quick.”
  • This gives her eyes a quality of their own in which the imagery is concentrated to focus the reader’s attention on her appearance.
  • The description is effective as is suggests that she is alert and could even relate intelligence. Her eyes are described as fast and sharp rather than slow and hallow, which could be expected of an elderly women. She is active and responsive despite her age.

E2 Duidui

  •  The writer described her face as “weathered into a map of wrinkles.”
  • The comparison between her face and a map suggests that her wrinkles are extensive and very visible resembling lines depicting roads on a map.
  • It is effective because it suggests her age but could also connote knowledge, as maps are associated with holding knowledge.  It is both highly suggestive of her appearance and relates a deeper meaning of her as a wise old woman.


Some sources of information

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