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40+ Examples of Literary Units and How To Train Them

A literary gadget is a method that helps an writer obtain their function. Technically, there are a whole bunch of examples of literary units, however a whole lot of them are very technical and probably not relevant to most college students (and even writers). This checklist contains examples of literary units that can assist children of all ages learn and write extra successfully.


In an allegory, the author makes use of one factor to face in for one more. In different phrases, what looks like a easy story has a a lot deeper, hidden that means. Allegories are sometimes used for political or ethical commentary.

Instance: George Orwell’s Animal Farm seems to be a narrative about cattle rebelling towards the farmer. However Orwell was truly writing in regards to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, utilizing the animals and farmers as stand-ins for actual folks like Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin.

Tips on how to educate it: Aesop’s Fables are a wonderful introduction to allegory, since every one has an ethical message. Study extra at Collaboration Cuties.

Alliteration, Assonance, and Consonance

Infographic showing similarities and differences between Alliteration Consonance Assonance (Examples of Literary Devices)

Supply: The Hyperbolit Faculty

These examples of literary units all discuss with the sounds of phrases. In alliteration, all or a lot of the phrases start with the identical sound (normally a consonant), whereas in assonance, they use the identical vowel sound all through. Consonance is the repeated use of comparable sounds all through phrases—assume tongue twisters!


  • Alliteration: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • Assonance: Attempt as I’d, the kite didn’t fly.
  • Consonance: She sells seashells by the seashore.

Tips on how to educate it: The iPhones and Alliteration exercise at Primarily Talking works for assonance and consonance too.


An allusion is a approach to name one thing to thoughts with out stating it instantly. It requires the reader to have shared background information with the author. Allusions are sometimes historic, mythological, literary, or non secular in nature.

Instance: “He by no means needs to spend cash on something. He’s such a Scrooge!” This allusion requires the reader to be accustomed to the character of Ebeneezer Scrooge from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a infamous tightwad.

Tips on how to educate it: 3 Questions To Ask College students To Assist Them Higher Perceive Allusion from The Daring English Instructor


An analogy reveals how two seemingly dissimilar issues are literally alike, to assist illustrate a bigger level. It’s just like a metaphor or simile, however normally extra advanced. Writers usually use an analogy to assist a reader perceive a tough subject by relating it to one thing they already know.

Instance: Maybe the simplest analogy for college kids to grasp is Forrest Gump’s well-known assertion that “Life is sort of a field of candies. You by no means know what you’re gonna get.” In different phrases, whenever you select a chocolate sweet from a field and chunk into it, you haven’t any method of understanding what’s inside. It is perhaps good or unhealthy, relying by yourself preferences. Life is identical method—we will’t predict what experiences will occur to us subsequent, and what’s good for one is perhaps unhealthy for one more.

Tips on how to educate it: How To Train Analogies to Elementary College students at Preserve ‘Em Considering


When an writer makes use of anthropomorphism, they provide human traits to non-human beings or objects. It’s just like personification, however in anthropomorphism, the being or object typically truly acts like a human.

Examples: Black Magnificence, by Anna Sewell, is the story of a horse’s life, narrated by the horse only a like an individual writing their autobiography. The Little Engine That May tells the story of a steam engine and its efforts to make it up a steep hill, sharing the ideas and emotions of the engine as if it had been a human.


When a personality shares their ideas instantly with the viewers, that’s referred to as an “apart.” (That is typically referred to as “breaking the fourth wall” for the reason that character is acknowledging that the viewers exists.) That is mostly utilized in performs, however you’ll additionally discover it in third-person narration, when the narrator expresses an opinion in regards to the motion as an alternative of merely telling the story.

Instance: Within the musical Hamilton, George Washington speaks on to the viewers through the quantity “Proper-Hand Man.” Because the motion round him pauses, he turns to the viewers and asks, “Can I be actual a second? For only a millisecond? Let down my guard and inform the folks how I really feel a second?”

Tips on how to educate it: Definition and Well-known Examples of Asides in Literature


You’re most likely accustomed to a caricature drawing, by which an individual’s most figuring out (and sometimes worst) qualities or options are emphasised. In writing, caricature is comparable. A author emphasizes a personality’s qualities, usually for humorous impact.

Instance: Many Disney villains are caricatures, corresponding to Gaston in Magnificence and the Beast. Gaston is portrayed as the proper instance of the type of man any girl would love. “Nobody’s slick as Gaston / Nobody’s fast as Gaston / Nobody’s neck’s as extremely thick as Gaston / For there’s no man on the town half as manly / Good, a pure paragon!”

Tips on how to educate it: Political Cartoons within the Classroom at Brainy Apples

Connotation and Denotation

Infographic demonstrating the difference between connotation and denotation

Supply: Storyboard That

These examples of literary units discuss with a phrase’s that means. A denotation is the dictionary definition of a phrase, whereas connotation refers back to the cultural and emotional associations of a phrase. Phrases can have constructive and unfavorable connotations.

Instance: Wall Road’s denotation is a avenue in decrease Manhattan the place the New York Inventory Change is situated. However it’s usually used connotatively to discuss with wealth and energy. “He has McDonald’s revenue however Wall Road aspirations.”

Tips on how to educate it: How To Train Denotation and Connotation at Vocabulary Luau

Dialect and Diction

Two extra examples of literary units which are usually taught collectively are dialect and diction. Dialect is the phrase utilization, syntax, and grammar of a particular group of individuals, whereas diction refers back to the method they pronounce phrases. These teams may very well be by area (Southern American English), class (British cockney), or different cultural variations. Use of dialect and diction helps to create a robust feeling of character, although it may well typically be more durable for a reader to grasp.

Instance: Mark Twain makes use of dialect extensively in works like Huckleberry Finn, as does Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird. Within the Harry Potter sequence, Hagrid speaks with a particular West Nation accent: “I’m what I’m, an’ I’m not ashamed. ‘By no means be ashamed,’ my ol’ dad used ter say, ‘there’s some who’ll maintain it towards you, however they’re not price botherin’ with.’”

Tips on how to educate it: Studying a Dialect Worksheet at Nice Colleges

Double Entendre

This French phrase (pronounced “ahn-TAHN-druh”) interprets to “double that means,” and it describes a phrase or phrase that has simply that—a couple of that means. These can usually be somewhat risqué or off-color.

Instance: Within the quick story “The Most Harmful Sport,” the title itself is a double entendre. “Sport” can discuss with each the creature being hunted in addition to the “sport” of the hunt itself.

Tips on how to educate it: Double Entendre Examples and Worksheets at Kidsconnect


A flashback interrupts the stream of a narrative to inform readers about an occasion that occurred beforehand. They can assist present a better understanding of a personality, and reveal necessary components of the story that haven’t been shared with the reader but.

Instance: The Harry Potter books use flashbacks extensively to fill within the backstories of Harry and his nemesis, Lord Voldemort. For instance, when Harry makes use of the Pensieve to view different folks’s recollections, the author is utilizing flashbacks.

Tips on how to educate it: How To Write Flashbacks, With Examples, at Self-Publishing Faculty


This literary gadget helps an writer construct suspense by hinting at what’s to return. These hints are normally much less apparent the primary time you learn one thing however develop into very obvious whenever you reread. Foreshadowing will be dialogue, symbols, omens, and even the setting of a narrative itself.

Instance: In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” the characters specific and show refined indicators of worry, despite the fact that they appear to be gathering for a joyous occasion. Their apprehension turns into clear when the reader realizes the “winner” of the lottery will truly be stoned to demise.

Tips on how to educate it: High Quick Tales To Train Foreshadowing and Suspense in Your Center Faculty ELA Classroom at Language Arts Academics

Hook (or Narrative Hook)

If you begin studying a guide and are captivated from the primary chapter (and even the primary sentence!) this is named a “hook.” A hook is perhaps an intriguing assertion, an odd setting, an uncommon character, or an enticing theme.

Instance: “Marley was lifeless: to start with.” Within the opening of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the narrator emphasizes again and again that Marley was certainly lifeless, main the reader to surprise why that’s so essential to the story. The one approach to discover out is to learn on.

Tips on how to educate it: 7 Sensational Essay Hooks That Seize Readers’ Consideration at Educational Writing Success


An idiom is a phrase that has a that means totally different from the precise phrases, used generally by a bunch of audio system. Each language has its personal idioms, they usually’re obscure on their very own for these studying the language. (Idioms are examples of literary units that may typically be overused by authors. As an alternative of utilizing another person’s phrases, attempt to give you expressive language of your personal.)


  • It’s raining cats and canine.
  • Don’t beat across the bush—simply inform us what occurred.

Tips on how to educate it: 50 Idioms To Train Youngsters and Use in Idiom of the Day Classes


Infographic showing three types of irony (Examples of Literary Devices)

Supply: What Is Irony? at Grammar Monster

There are a number of examples of literary units that should do with irony. Although the time period “irony” is usually used to discuss with a state of affairs that’s opposite to what one expects (“She gained the lottery however was already a millionaire—how ironic.”), its literary definitions are totally different.

Dramatic Irony

In dramatic irony, the viewers is conscious of one thing a personality shouldn’t be. This provides very totally different that means to a personality’s phrases or actions.

Instance: Romeo and Juliet accommodates one of the well-known examples of dramatic irony. When Juliet is in a deep drugged sleep (which the viewers is aware of about), Romeo finds her and assumes she is lifeless. He takes his personal life in response. The viewers can solely watch in horror.

Situational Irony

When one thing occurs that’s totally different than what is anticipated, that’s known as situational irony. Suppose of a fireplace station burning down, an English instructor making a grammar error, or a wedding counselor divorcing their partner.

Instance: O. Henry’s “The Present of the Magi” is usually cited for instance of situational irony. The spouse sells her lovely hair to purchase her husband a series for his beloved watch. In the meantime, the husband has offered his watch to purchase ornaments for her hair. (O. Henry was the grasp of situational irony, and practically all of his quick tales incorporate this literary gadget.)

Verbal Irony

Within the literary sense, verbal irony is utilizing language that’s seemingly contradictory to what you imply. That is usually expressed as sarcasm or hyperbole.


  • “That rationalization was as clear as mud.” (Sarcasm)
  • “What pretty climate we’re having at the moment,” she stated, because the hurricane-force wind blew her umbrella down the road. (Hyperbole, understatement)
  • “That is the worst factor that’s ever occurred to anybody!” he stated, as he noticed that the shirt he’d ordered had come within the unsuitable coloration and measurement. (Hyperbole, overstatement)

Tips on how to educate it: 3 Enjoyable Methods To Train Irony at Mind Waves Instruction

Jargon and Slang

Jargon refers to phrases or phrases utilized in a particular job, commerce, or subject. Scientific fields usually have a whole lot of technical jargon, which may make it obscure for an outsider. Writers ought to be cautious about utilizing jargon with out explaining the that means. Jargon and slang are examples of literary units which are straightforward to confuse. Nevertheless, slang is casual language used inside a specific neighborhood, and it is vitally informal.

Instance: “Sarabeth didn’t present up for work at the moment; I suppose she’s AWOL.” AWOL is a army time period that means “Absent WithOut Depart.” If the author used slang as an alternative of jargon, they could say “Sarabeth ghosted us at work at the moment; I don’t know the place she is.”

Tips on how to educate it: Free Slang and Jargon Worksheet at Academics Pay Academics


A metaphor is a determine of speech that makes a comparability between two very various things, with out utilizing the phrases “like” or “as.” These are normally quick statements, however prolonged metaphors perform the comparability extra absolutely.


  • Love is a battlefield.
  • Life is a freeway.
  • Prolonged metaphor: Sylvia Plath’s poem “Metaphors” is a group of metaphors about being pregnant, starting with “I’m a riddle in 9 syllables.”

Tips on how to educate it: The Metaphor Problem at Studying in Room 213


In a monologue, one character speaks for an prolonged time frame. Writers use it to permit a personality to inform their very own story or share their ideas, each with different characters and the viewers.

Instance: Shakespeare used monologues to nice impact, corresponding to Hamlet’s well-known “To be, or to not be” speech.

Tips on how to educate it: A Ten-Step Course of for Educating Monologues at Edutopia


A motif is an object that repeats itself all through an editorial and represents a theme of the work. A motif is a sort of image, nevertheless it’s one which sums up an important message of an editorial. Motifs are typically straightforward to grasp and fairly apparent when you search for them.

Instance: In The Wizard of Oz, the Yellow Brick Highway represents Dorothy’s journey again to the place she calls house. The street twists and winds, taking her alongside an adventurous path. However ultimately, Dorothy may have returned house with out ever taking the street, just by clicking her heels collectively. The Yellow Brick Highway is a motif representing the theme of discovering house inside ourselves wherever our journey takes us.

Tips on how to educate it: Motif in Literature at Twinkl


Bang! Crash! Zap! Any phrase that seems like what it refers to or describes is onomatopoeia.

Examples: Comedian guide phrases head the checklist, after all, however different examples embody phrases like hiccup, buzz, splash, cough, and roar.

Tips on how to educate it: Add a Pop! to Your Author’s Workshop at Thyme to Learn


An oxymoron is a pair of descriptive phrases that appear contradictory. They’re usually used humorously.

Examples: Pleasant hearth, residing historical past, silent scream.

Tips on how to educate it: Oxymoron Lesson Plan at Training.com


In literary phrases, a paradox is a press release that appears to contradict itself at first however is definitely true.


  • Much less is extra.
  • The extra you give, the extra you get.
  • The one fixed is change.

Tips on how to educate it: What Is a Paradox in Writing? at MasterClass


A parody is an imitation of the model of a author, style, or artist, normally for comedian impact.

Instance: Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is among the most well-known parodies, a tackle the favored journey narratives of the day. (It’s additionally a satire; see under.)

Tips on how to educate it: Writing a Parody at Musings From the Center Faculty


Personification examples infographic (Examples of Literary Devices)

Supply: What’s Personification? at Study Simple English

When an writer personifies one thing, they join it with human attributes and feelings. Personification is totally different than anthropomorphism, although, as a result of the objects don’t truly speak or really feel the emotion described. The writer merely leads you to imagine that they could.


  • My laptop hasn’t labored proper all day; it clearly hates me.
  • As she lastly stood up, her again cried out in ache.
  • That chocolate cake over there may be calling my title.

Tips on how to educate it: Educating Personification By means of Poetry at Learn Write Suppose

Poetic Justice

Poetic justice describes an final result the place the great are rewarded and the unhealthy are punished, in a becoming method.

Instance: In Romeo and Juliet, the Montagues and Capulets face poetic justice for his or her vicious feud. Each households pay the value by dropping these which are most valuable to them.

Tips on how to educate it: For the Birds Pixar Quick Video Information at Academics Pay Academics


A pun is normally outlined as “a play on phrases.” They use phrases with a number of meanings, or phrases that sound alike however imply one thing totally different.


  • Make like a tree and depart.
  • It’s tough for crabs to share, as a result of they’re shellfish.
  • Character names like Kim Attainable and Cruella de Vil.
  • “Now’s the winter of our discontent / Made wonderful summer season by this solar of York.” (On this Shakespeare quote from Richard III, the phrase “solar” additionally means “son.”)

Tips on how to educate it: 10 Tearable Puns: An English Language Exercise at Ellii

Crimson Herring

A crimson herring is a false or deceptive clue that sends readers down the unsuitable path, particularly in a thriller. In line with LiteraryDevices.web, the time period dates again to the early 1800s. “The journalist William Cobbett is credited with originating the time period ‘crimson herring’ in an 1807 story. Cobbett criticized the press for prematurely reporting Napoleon’s defeat, and in contrast that act to utilizing strong-smelling, smoked crimson herrings to distract canine from one other scent. Cobbett was accusing the press of deliberately utilizing a fallacy to distract the general public.”

Instance: The character of Snape is an epic crimson herring all through the Harry Potter books. Till the very finish, the reader assumes Snape is on the facet of evil Lord Voldemort, although he’s truly been working for good the entire time.

Tips on how to educate it: Decoding and Utilizing Crimson Herrings at Study Vibrant


Satire makes use of humor, irony, exaggeration, and mock to show and criticize stupidity or vices. Writers use satire to attract consideration to social conventions, present occasions, tendencies, and extra that they really feel are unsuitable. Web sites like The Onion use satire to touch upon present occasions, particularly politics.

Instance: Aldous Huxley’s Courageous New World is usually cited for instance of satire, as is Gulliver’s Travels. In additional present phrases, TV reveals like South Park or books like Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Information to the Galaxy sequence additionally depend on satire.

Tips on how to educate it: How To Train Kids Satire at Classroom


Infographic with examples of simile

Supply: What Is a Simile? at Grammar Monster

A simile is just like a metaphor in that it compares two various things, however similes at all times use the phrases “like” or “as.” This makes similes a lot simpler to search out whenever you’re studying a textual content.


  • Sly as a fox.
  • Struggle like cats and canine.
  • Candy as sugar.

Tips on how to educate it: How To Train Similes Like a Rockstar at Rockin’ Sources


A stereotype makes use of one particular person or factor to symbolize a whole group, assuming that they’re all alike. They’re overgeneralizations, although they could usually have some fact to them. These overgeneralizations will be dangerous, particularly once they discuss with race, gender, tradition, or sexuality.

Instance: A Disney princess like Cinderella is a traditional stereotype. Stunning, charming, form, and candy, she is at all times moving into hassle that solely a good-looking prince can rescue her from. (The good-looking prince is one other stereotype.)

Tips on how to educate it: Bursting Stereotypes at Training World

Stream of Consciousness

Some examples of literary units are simply what they sound like. Stream of consciousness is a kind of examples. It’s a stream of ideas, with out essentially utilizing correct punctuation, paragraphs, grammar, or different commonplace writing varieties.

Examples: James Joyce rose to prominence with stream of consciousness writing in Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Younger Man. “He’s younger Leopold, as in a retrospective association, a mirror inside a mirror (hey, presto!), he beholdeth himself.” (Bloom, Ulysses)

Tips on how to educate it: How To Grasp Stream of Consciousness


In its easiest type, symbolism is when one factor is used to symbolize one other. Most writers rely closely on symbolism so as to add depth to their work, relating on a regular basis objects to deeper emotions and themes.


  • In Moby Dick, the white whale symbolizes many issues, together with evil, nature, and destiny. The symbolism is totally different relying on the character viewing it.
  • The titular chook of To Kill a Mockingbird symbolizes innocence.
  • Balloons symbolize hopes and desires within the Disney Pixar film Up.

Tips on how to educate it: Educating Symbolism to Center & Excessive Faculty College students at The Literary Maven

Tragic Flaw

A tragic flaw is one which brings in regards to the downfall of a hero or protagonist. The character is mostly in a position to overcome most issues effortlessly, however their tragic flaw (usually a secret) in the end causes their demise. Frequent tragic flaws embody delight, ambition, and greed.

Examples: In Shakespeare’s Othello, the primary character’s tragic flaw is jealousy. Though Desdemona by no means truly betrays him, he believes she has and in the end kills her in a match of ardour.

Tips on how to educate it: Educating Tragic Flaw By means of Visuals at Participating and Efficient Educating

In search of extra examples of literary units and the right way to educate them? Drop by the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Fb to ask for recommendation and share concepts.

Plus in case you preferred this text with examples of literary units, take a look at a few of our favourite implausible figurative language anchor charts.



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