ELA 5: Figurative Language

Lend us your eyes and ears, because today we're learning about figurative language. And don't worry, we'll totally give you your eyes and ears back after. 

5th GradeLanguage Arts
Elementary and Middle School5th Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:27

But if someone says they want a hand, they probably don't want you to give them a literal hand.

00:31

Not unless you’re working on a prop shop or building a haunted house.

00:35

Most of the time when a person says something that would be strange to treat literally,

00:39

we've entered into the realm of Figurative Language. Oo-oo-oo. [Girl enters figurative language realm]

00:44

Figurative language is the use of words that mean something other than their literal meanings. [Coop explaining figurative language]

00:49

There are all sorts of tools used in figurative language, including similes, metaphors, and idioms.

00:55

And, no, that last one is not an insult.

00:57

Call someone an idiom and you'll be the one who ends up sounding like a dummy. [People pointing to a dummy sat on a bench]

01:01

So consider the sentence: "America is a melting pot."

01:05

We don't mean that America is literally a cooking apparatus.

01:08

Even if it can feel that way in certain parts of the South.

01:11

Phew! It is hot!

01:12

Instead, we're using figurative language. The melting pot is a metaphor for the way [Melting pot cooking food and national flags appear]

01:16

in which so many people from so many different backgrounds mix together in America to create

01:20

one common culture.

01:22

Which is great, but not exactly helpful if you’re in the mood for fondue.

01:26

Here's another one: "This classroom is like a circus."

01:29

Unless you’re in clown college,

01:31

this sentence probably isn’t in reference to the tightrope in the middle of the classroom. [Boy balancing on a tightrope in class]

01:35

Again, it's a case of figurative language, a simile comparing a wild and chaotic classroom

01:40

to a different wild and chaotic thing, a circus.

01:43

Why is this one a simile when the last example was a metaphor?

01:47

Well because we may something is something else, even if we actually don't mean it literally, it's a metaphor.

01:53

When we use a comparing word like "like" or "as" it's a simile.

01:58

Okay. Finally, let's think about the sentence: "It's raining cats and dogs."

02:02

We wouldn't utter this this sentence in the incredibly rare instances of a downpour of household pets. [Woman standing outside and cats and dogs fall from the sky]

02:07

You guessed it: it's figurative language. "It's raining cats and dogs" is an idiom:

02:12

a group of words that have an established meaning. [Dino discussing idioms]

02:14

People use the phrase all the time and it's implication is common knowledge.

02:18

In this case, it just means a heavy rain. So no need to worry about Fluffy.

02:22

We can even use figurative language without really meaning to.

02:25

You've probably heard the expression "give me a hand" so often that

02:28

you automatically understand that it means asking for help rather than asking for five actual fingers. [Man on a ladder and girl appears holding a hand]

02:34

Which is a huge relief to fingers everywhere.