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english language techniquesEnglish language techniques and elements can be found everywhere a story is being told.  English techniques help make a story, poem, novel, or even movie plot or purpose better understood.  Take the story of Pinocchio for instance, that utilized plenty of motifs, foreshadowing, and an ultimate epiphany for a classic story line.  If Pinocchio was never transformed into a donkey and single-handedly saved Gepetto, he would have never had the chance to prove to the audience, or himself and Jimmy Cricket (of course), that he was a real boy.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in a great story and overlook the language techniques that are essential to making a story great and timeless.

If you want to better understand the English language and the techniques involved, we are going to help you get a closer look.  With all this knowledge you can attain about the elements found in English language techniques, you will be able to identify all of the details that make a story work.  Soon enough, you will on the lookout for dramatic irony in The Lion King!  Hint: there definitely is some.

Purpose of English Techniques

Before we go over some English language techniques, let’s take a look at to why it is important for authors, writers, students, or just you and me to apply these techniques to our work.  English techniques and elements:

Common English Techniques

Now, on to the most common English language techniques!  These include literary techniques and figures of speech that we use in the English language to convey messages, meaning, or depth in our writing, poetry, or story lines.

Alliteration:  An alliteration is a repetition of sounds that are similar.  These similar sounds are generally consonants and will appear at the beginning of words.  For example, the phrase “sweet-scented stuff” from Robert Frost’s poem, “Out, out” is an example of alliteration.

Allusion:  An allusion occurs in a literary work and will a reference a literary, historical, or biblical person, place, or event from another piece of literary work or a separate occurrence in itself.

Assonance:  Assonance is like alliteration, although this time the repetition occurs in the vowel sound of the word.  For example, the sentence, “The mother spoke in a low mellow tone” contains the repetition of the “o” sound.

Caricature:  This technique involves a description or characterization that is a little far-fetched.  It is usually used when mocking a character or attempting to amplify some of its features to make it appear more cartoon-ish.

Cliché:  You have probably heard someone say a cliché before.  Clichés are a technique of expression.  However, usually clichés have been used over and over so many times that it has lost its effect.  Still, people are able to get the gist of its meaning.

Epiphany:  Have you ever had a sudden, powerful realization or life-changing thought?  This is what happens in an epiphany, and in a story, authors often have characters can experience these extraordinary moments.

Foreshadowing:  This technique involves the author, writer, or narrator’s use of hints or suggestions that will give a sort of “preview” of events that may occur later on in the story.  It is up to the audience to decipher the use of foreshadowing for themselves.

Hyperbole:  Here is another use of exaggeration or overstating in order to get a point across.  For instance, the phrase, “I have told you a million times!” may not be exactly true.  However, the person may have felt they repeated themselves over, and over!

Idiom:  Like clichés, these are expressions that you have probably heard before.  Idioms, however, do not have a literal meaning.  For instance, the phrase, “It is raining cats and dogs!”

Imagery:  This is a popular English language that will set up an image or scene in the audience’s mind to make a sensory impression.  The use of imagery is very useful when there are no pictures or visual references to adhere to.

Irony:  Irony is used to differentiate or contrast two things: the first being the way things are expected to be, and the second being the way things actually are.  It is common to hear people say, “That was ironic”, which will mean that they were surprised because it was completely opposite as to what was expected, yet, not totally overdone.

Metaphor:  Metaphors are English literary techniques used to compare two like things without using “like” or “as”.  An example of this could be the line from Macbeth which states, “Like is but a walking shadow.”

Motif:  A motif will work to develop a story’s major theme.  You will have to think of the overall themes, scene, and feel of a story to get an idea of its motif.  For instance, a novel may have a gloomy, rainy, and depressing scene or setting that will contribute to an overall dark motif.

Onomatopoeia:  An onomatopoeia are words that sound exactly like they are.  For instance: hiss, boing, or pop.

Oxymoron:  These are two words that are close together that contradict each other.  For instance, “same difference” or “smart fool”.

Paradox:  With a paradox, there is a deeper and more meaningful truth than what the audience or reader perceives on the surface.  For instance, the line “All men destroy the things they love.”  This does not literal mean men destroy the things they love.  Instead, it has a deeper truth and meaning.

Personification:  This English language technique uses human characteristics to describe things that are not human, such as: animals, ideas, or objects.

Pun:  Puns are two words that sound the same but have completely different meanings, such as, “Was it hard to bite into that hard apple?”

Rhetorical question:  You might even ask these sometimes yourself.  They are questions that do not require or ensure an actual response.  Instead, they are intended to call attention to something.

Sarcasm:  We see this all the time!  Sarcasm is a form of verbal irony where the character or speaker will say something that means the exact opposite of what they actually mean (which sounds confusing).  For instance, saying “That was graceful” when someone falls or trips.

Simile:  Like metaphors, similes compare two different things.  However, this time, “like” or “as” are used.

Symbol:  A symbol can be anything from an object to an actual person that will represent an idea or a concept in a story.

Thesis:  Most all essays or literary pieces need a thesis, and this is the central argument that the author will make in their piece.  Usually, a thesis can easily be spotted at the beginning of an essay or a story.

Theme:  The theme of a piece is an overall idea that is explored throughout.

Write With Confidence!

As you can tell, there are plenty of English language techniques that are used to make writing, reading, and analyzing the English language more enjoyable.  Try out some of these for yourself, and learn how to transform your writing with hundreds of other students around the world with this online course!  Happy writing!

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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