Classifying Figures of Speech

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13714

There are many kinds of figures of speech. Are you familiar with anaphora, antithesis, apostrophe, assonance, chiasmus, or understatement? Learn more in this lesson!


Grammar, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Simone Biles, 2016

  • If someone said, "Simone Biles is pretty good at gymnastics," what would be your reaction?

Other than shouting "Pretty good?!" you might be thinking that's a major understatement.

And you'd be right. Understatements are a figure of speech; one of the many you'll learn if you read on!

A figure of speech is a word or phrase that is used non-literally in order to create an effect for the reader, including:

  • to emphasize
  • to compare
  • to make the reader think differently

In this lesson, you'll learn about the following figures of speech.

  • anaphora
  • antithesis
  • apostrophe
  • assonance
  • chiasmus
  • understatement

You might notice that most of those terms have Greek roots.

Ancient Greece was the birthplace of rhetoric as we know it. So these terms explain ways of using language to create meaning that have been used for hundreds of years!

To begin, research the meaning of each figure of speech term listed above. Literary Devices and Terms is a good place to start.

You can take notes in the space below or your notebook. You will want to keep these terms to refer back to later.

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Check Your Knowledge

Now put away your definitions. No peeking!

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  • How did you do?

Some of these figures of speech are a little tricky to understand.

Watch the video below to see parallel structure explored in depth with special attention paid to chiasmus and antithesis, the two trickiest terms in this lesson.

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  • Ready to identify examples of these figures of speech?

thinking statue

Click through to the Got It? section.

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