By Cookie Davis
The grass wasn't really (literally) a magic carpet; it wasn't a colorful woven piece of cloth you'd put on your floor. The asparagus wasn't really (literally) an entire forest of trees painted silver. The author, E.B. White, wasn't being literal when he wrote these lines, he was being figurative. He meant that the ice covering the grass made it sparkle and look fancy, like a carpet covering the ground. He meant that the ice covering the asparagus made it shimmer in the light so that it looked silvery and with all the stalks standing up out of the ground, it resembled a tiny forest .
Both of these examples are similes, but there are lots of other types of figurative language.
Idioms are any type of figurative language that is used so often, it becomes commonplace. An example you've probably used yourself is, "killing time." You didn't mean that you grabbed time around the throat and choked it to death, you meant that you did something unimportant while you were waiting. "We killed time until the movie started."
Idioms are often unique to a region or culture. In México, they don't use the phrase "killing time," they instead say, "está picándose los ojos" which means he's "poking his eyes." They don't literally mean he's poking his eyes, of course, just like in the U.S. we don't literally mean we're killing time. It is an idiom that means they are wasting time while waiting for something.
"It's raining cats and dogs."
Flocabulary. "Flocabulary - Figurative Language." YouTube. YouTube, 15 Nov. 2012. Web. 09 Jan. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPjAiUbdl14>.
Lewis, Ryn. "Language Arts Figurative Language Tutorial." YouTube. YouTube, 9 Nov. 2010. Web. 09 Jan. 2016.
Luna, Rulo. "45 Funniest Mexican Expressions (and How to Use Them)." Matador Network. N.p., 2 Mar. 2015. Web. 9 Jan. 2016.
Warner, Joanne. "Figurative Language." Mrs. Warner's 4th Grade Classroom. Arlington Elementary School, n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2016.
I often struggle to find websites with thorough explanations in simple language to help kids understand historical events or scientific concepts, so I decided to create some of my own!