Applying Figurative Language to Test Questions: Lesson Five

Part One: Examples Questions

Here are some examples of what these questions might look like on the GED® test.

  • What does the personification in sentence four suggest?
  • Why might the author have used the word “_______” in paragraph 2? 

Part Two: Understanding How to Apply Figurative Language”

When writing a passage, writers make specific choices about the language they use in order to best convey their meaning. Examining the author’s choice of figurative language helps readers to understand the text on a deeper level. To understand these choices and the impact they have on a passage, let’s first explore the different elements of figurative language and their meanings.

Figurative language is used as a way for words to appear as something other than their literal meaning. One technique is through using similes. Similes use “like” or “as” to make a comparison between two, unlike things. Chances are good that you hear cliched similes every day. Below are some common examples:

””> “snug as a bug in a rug”
We use this phrase to explain how comfortable someone is by comparing it to a small bug nestled in a  rug.

””>“life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll get”
We use this to compare the uncertainty of life to the uncertainty of choosing a random chocolate from a box.

Another technique of figurative language is a metaphor. A metaphor is simply a comparison of two unlike things.

””>On the drive home from work, the highway was a parking lot.
This comparison of a busy highway to a parking lot, telling readers that cars were caught in stand-still traffic.

The last technique we will discuss is personification. When an author uses personification they assign human characteristics to something that is not human.

Part Three: Now let’s read a text and get a little practice.

When I arrived at the station, I was overcome by the noise. The train exited abruptly behind me, leaving a cloud of smoke to sit beside me in the heavy heat. (3) A family with mocha hair and thrilled smiles embraced one another: arms entangled like the spaghetti they would have for dinner later tonight. A man with a dog read the station time. (5)His dog, panted in short breaths, puff, puff, puff, a locomotive releasing steam to travel. Even animals were keenly aware of the rising temperatures of the season. I felt comforted by his natural instincts.

Despite the heat, people stood closely to one another as they waited for the train. Watching them from my bench, I felt relief that my train travels had ended for now. (10)They were sardines in a can, and I was happy to be admiring distance. I tried to acquaint myself with the culture around me. I had been planning my trip to Rome for three years, and now that I was here, I more than excited by my dream. I pulled my travel book from the front pouch of my hiking bag. I ruffled through some pages, then placed it back in my bag. It was too hot to make a decision, so I stood and began down the street. According to the map I had consulted on the train, my hostel was only three blocks from the station. I read a street sign, named after a historical figure, and walked down the street. My adventure was finally beginning and I was ready for what was to come.

1. Why is the simile in sentence 3 important to the passage?

A. It gives a cultural influence to the setting.
B. It tells us that they are very skinny and need to eat.
C. It offers important information to the character description of the main character.

Answer:A. It gives a cultural influence to the setting.

2. In sentence 4, the dog is being compared to what?

A. The heat
B. A train
C. His owner

Answer:Answer: A The heat

3. Sentence 10 “They were sardines in a can, and I was happy to be admiring them from a distance” is an effective use of a metaphor because:

A. It helps describe the author’s intentions for coming to Rome.
B. It explains why the author doesn’t respect the culture he is visiting.
C. It gives readers a clearer visual image of the people and the setting.
>p>Answer: C. It gives readers a clearer visual image of the people and the setting.